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J. Arthur Miller, Architect
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Username: Artmiller

Post Number: 2
Registered: 05-2001
Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 10:47 am:   Edit Post Print Post

During terrain modeling and RenderZone rendering of a fairly large model, times are quite long (one terrain test has been underway for 45 mins.), so I've been watching the Task Manager Performance graphs.

CPU usage has been running between 25% and 40%; in spite of 2GB RAM, page-file usage ranges around 1.2 GB, constantly. It appears that formZ is taking advantage of only 1 or 2 of the CPU cores (?). Is this the limit?

I'm careful not to run hungry apps. concurrently.

My system: 1 year old Polywell-built: two dual-core AMD Opteron CPUs; 2 GB PC3200 ECC reg. RAM; Asus K8N-DL mobo; Nvidia GF 7800GT video card; 4 SATA HDD's in RAID 0+1 array; twin 20" Viewsonic LCD monitors.

Any suggestions or comments? Upgrade(s)?

Thanks in advance.
Art
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support@formZ.com
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Username: Tech

Post Number: 1470
Registered: 04-2001


Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 11:30 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Art,

Modeling operations are generally not able to be split between multiple processors. We are looking into this (but it is in more of the "research" phase than the "development" phase...). So currently, the faster your "core," the faster the modeling. ("More cores" will primarily be used with Raytrace rendering.)

Since it appears that you do have plenty of RAM, one thing you could do would be to run a second copy of formZ so you could continue modeling another portion of your project. To do this, simply make a copy of the entire application folder, and run the copy of the application. Does this help?

ZWebTech Support
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J. Arthur Miller, Architect
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Username: Artmiller

Post Number: 3
Registered: 05-2001
Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 12:58 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Thanks for the info.

1) I am using Full Raytrace in RenderZone. For test renderings, would Preview Raytrace be faster, and would the multiple processors use it?

2) You say "MODELING operations are generally not able to be split between multiple processors", but is RENDERING able to do so? (I've never gotten around to setting up my network rendering --4 machines-- after my initial failures a couple of years ago).

3) You say "it appears (you) have plenty of RAM", but if so, then why is the page-file constantly so big while calcs. are running? I understood that PF only comes into play when RAM is overloaded. I've learned this morning that I could add another 2GB of RAM to my machine (yielding 4GB total), but would that help? I understand that XP will support up to 4GB RAM: will formZ utilize 4GB as well?

Art
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J. Arthur Miller, Architect
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Username: Artmiller

Post Number: 4
Registered: 05-2001
Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 01:01 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I'll also try the "run two-copies" you suggested: never thought of that!

Art
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support@formZ.com
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Username: Tech

Post Number: 1474
Registered: 04-2001


Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 01:09 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Art,

1. Preview Raytrace will be faster than Full Raytrace, and it will use multiple processors. (You will probably NOT want to use a Preview render mode for a final rendering...)

2. Yes. Raytrace rendering will use multiple processors regardless of whether you are using formZ or Network Rendering.

3. Page files are always used. The problem comes when the page file is larger than your actual ram, when information is swapped back and forth from the ram chips to your hard drive.

XP (32) will be able to "support" 4 gigs of ram, but this will use 2 gigs for your applications and 2 gigs for your system. You can change this to 3 gigs for your programs and 1 gig for your system by using the 3gb switch. See THIS Link for more details.

This will work regardless of whether or not you add more ram. But if you find yourself regularly using more than 2 gigs, then more memory would prevent things from slowing down.

ZWebTech Support
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Craig Williams
Advanced Member
Username: Craigwilliams

Post Number: 148
Registered: 04-2001


Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 02:30 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

In my research, I've never been able to find where Windows XP 32bit supports 4gbs of RAM. The BIOS will recognize it, but windows will only show a maximum of 3gb. Only Windows XP(64) and Server 2003 will recognize more than 3gb.

Here's a single link, among many, that explain this.
http://www.dellcommunity.com/supportforums/board/message?board.id=pw_other&message.id=4779

Regardless, the 3gb switch works great with XP(32). However, without the additional gb of RAM you would get if XP(32) recognized 4gb, you will not be able to utilize all 3gb with formZ since the other processes on your system will be using some of this as well.

If someone can tell me how to get XP(32) to recognize 4gb of RAM, I'd be very appreciative.

Craig

Windows XP, service pack 2

(Message edited by craigwilliams on February 01, 2007)
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J. Arthur Miller, Architect
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Username: Artmiller

Post Number: 5
Registered: 05-2001
Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 03:22 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Support:

Responses follow my earlier item numbers as follows:
1) I would not use "Preview Raytrace" for a final rendering in any case.
2) Good.
3) Ah-ha! So, in effect, the size of the page file shown under "performance" in Task Mgr. is the TOTAL memory being used, INCLUDING physical RAM. We learn something new every day.

I'll read up tonight on the 3 gig switch trick, but it sounds as if you're saying that --even with only 2GB of physical RAM, which I have now-- I could take advantage of the 3 gig switch routine, eh?

Craig:
Thanks, and I'll also read your links tonight.

Art}
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J. Arthur Miller, Architect
New member
Username: Artmiller

Post Number: 6
Registered: 05-2001
Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 04:05 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Support:
While updating formZ to version 6.1.1, I just read the various links from above posts.
1) Right at the top, the Microsoft "3gig switch" information link says it will only work with Win2K, or Server (not with XP, apparently). Should I bull ahead and try it anyway? Have you-all done this successfully?
2) Craig: I also read your link, which clarifies a bit more: thanks.

Art
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J. Arthur Miller, Architect
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Username: Artmiller

Post Number: 7
Registered: 05-2001
Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 04:09 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Support:

You say, of the 3 gig switch, "This will work regardless of whether or not you add more ram."

Really? That sounds like magic: I can gain access to 3 gigs of RAM for my apps, when I only own 2GB? Naw! For real?

Art
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support@formZ.com
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Username: Tech

Post Number: 1478
Registered: 04-2001


Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 04:13 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Art,

Yes, the 3 gig switch works fine with XP. You can access more than your actual 2 gigs of RAM, but if you do, Virtual Memory will slow you down (at least somewhat).

Craig,

I am not positive on exactly how Windows XP (32) handles RAM, but my guess is that XP only shows the RAM that is available to a user process, and hides the RAM that is reserved for the system. (If anyone knows the exact truth (Bill??), please let us know...)

ZWebTech Support
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Craig Williams
Advanced Member
Username: Craigwilliams

Post Number: 149
Registered: 04-2001


Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 04:19 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Art,

The 3gig switch works perfectly on XP. I've used if for almost (2 years?) now with no problems.

The link I provided isn't the best information regarding the max 3gig available issue, but it does sum it up. If you really care to look into it further, you can simply do a web search for "XP 4gb limit".

To overcome this (and save some money) we are purchasing a new 64bit PC for my workstation and installing Windows Server 2003 on my "old" machine. We will then use that machine as another render client. Both will then be able to utilize 4gb RAM. However, Z will still be limited to 3gb on the Server 2003 machine.

Craig
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Craig Williams
Advanced Member
Username: Craigwilliams

Post Number: 150
Registered: 04-2001


Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 04:23 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Ztech,

I did find one forum post somewhere on the internet that suggested turning off the Page file would allow the machine to recognize the extra 1gb RAM. However, this didn't do it either on my machine.

Craig
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Silicon
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Username: Treebeard

Post Number: 12
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 04:31 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Craig,

Well, straight from the horse's mouth, this page claims windows XP should recognized 4 GB:

"The 32-bit versions of the Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Windows NT Server 4.0, Enterprise Edition, operating systems were the first versions of Windows to provide applications with a 3-GB flat virtual address space, with the kernel and executive components using only 1 GB. In response to customer requests, Microsoft has expanded the availability of this support to the 32-bit version of Windows XP Professional and all 32-bit versions of Windows Server 2003."

http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/system/platform/server/PAE/PAEmem.mspx

I'm curious to exactly where you are looking to see only 3 GB? Off the top of my head you can look at the system control panel (aka System Properties) or look at the total physical memory in the Task Manager.

You can also use the cpu-z program to get a second opinion:
(This program runs inside of windows, check the Memory & SPD tabs)
http://www.cpuid.com/cpuz.php

(Message edited by treebeard on February 01, 2007)
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support@formZ.com
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Username: Tech

Post Number: 1479
Registered: 04-2001


Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 04:43 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Craig,

Yes, formZ 32-bit will be able to utilize 3 gigs of RAM on a 32-bit operating system with the 3gb switch, 4 gigs of RAM on a 64-bit operating system, and up to 8 terrabytes of RAM with formZ 64-bit on a 64-bit OS... (of course this will be limited to something less than this by your motherboard -- at least for the near future...).

ZWebTech Support
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Craig Williams
Senior Member
Username: Craigwilliams

Post Number: 151
Registered: 04-2001


Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 05:19 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hey Silicon,

Thanks for the information.

Both the System Properties and the Task manager show only 3.00GB of RAM. CPU-Z shows 4gb.

After researching some more, I found some info that suggests that PCI Express could be using this other gb of RAM.

???

Craig
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J. Arthur Miller, Architect
New member
Username: Artmiller

Post Number: 8
Registered: 05-2001
Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 08:18 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

All,

while I do find this thread fascinating and informative, the answer to my basic question still hasn't become clear to me (perhaps I should be embarrassed, but ...): are you-all saying that -- if I do all the right things with the 3 GB switch, and considering that I'm running XP Pro (32 bit)-- I should be able to make use of 3 GB of RAM, even though I have only 2 GB RAM in hardware on this, my main machine? That's the issue I need to understand first, before I either 1) follow all of the foregoing excellent advice, or 2) actually BUY another 1 GB of hardware RAM?

I'm willing to do either, but it still seems like magic to me! 3GB for the price of 2GB?

I'll much appreciate an answer to this one question before I proceed.

Thanks, all: what a great forum this is!

Art
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Craig Williams
Senior Member
Username: Craigwilliams

Post Number: 152
Registered: 04-2001


Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 11:10 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Art,

Yes, you will be able to use 3gb of RAM with the "3gb switch". However, in your case, only 2gb of the 3gb are "real" RAM. The remaining 1gb will be virtual RAM (accessed from your hard drive). Since virtual RAM is much slower than real RAM, you will notice reduced performance as a rendering begins using virtual RAM.

If you rarely cross this boundary (using more than 2gb RAM) then you may be OK by only having 2gb of real RAM. However, if your projects are consistently using more than this, you should really considering buying an additional 1gb of RAM. If you have enough remaining slots in your computer, you can save some money by getting two 512mb sticks instead of one 1gb stick.


Craig
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support@formZ.com
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Username: Tech

Post Number: 1482
Registered: 04-2001


Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 08:32 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Art,

In addition to Craig's good advice, I would suggest that you just set the switch and continue with your renderings. Then watch your memory usage. If your Task Manager or your formZ Memory Meter indicate that you are using Virtual Memory (ie, your PF Usage is above 2 gigs, or your memory meter is in the Red) then you will be slowed down by virtual memory. At which point you have 3 choices: Live with the slower speeds, adjust your model so that it requires less memory, or add the extra RAM.

But adding extra RAM will only help if you need it -- so give it a try and see if it is necessary. Also, I would recommend setting the 3 gig switch for anyone that has at least 1 gig of RAM. This can prevent Windows from causing formZ to crash if you ever do exceed ~1.6 - 1.7 gigs of ram usage for formZ.

ZWebTech Support
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J. Arthur Miller, Architect
New member
Username: Artmiller

Post Number: 9
Registered: 05-2001
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 09:26 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Will wonders never cease!

Through this dialog, I've learned 1) there's no free lunch; 2) representations as to the "page file" INCLUDE the RAM on one's machine, whereas I always understood the system began using the page file only after RAM was maxed out (still true, but not according to Microsoft's "Performance" tab in Task Manager); and, 3) I gained an understanding as to how the formZ "Memory Meter" counts. I've always been puzzled by the Memory Meter being almost-always in the green, while the "PF" meter in Task Mgr. is at, say, 1.4 gigs. Now I know whom to believe: I should have known it would be ADS, not MS!

I will do the 3 gig switch monetarily, but today I'm going to watch the Memory Meter more closely. I may not need more physical RAM after all, but all this inquiry was not to avoid that: Polywell --who built my machine-- will sell a 1GB stick of PC3200 EDD reg. RAM for $120. Not much, if it will save computation time.

I knew about the virtual memory limitations, of course, but the above should explain my mis-reading.

I also hope using the 3 gig switch will reduce the number of formZ hangs: I'll bet I had to restart the program six times or more just yesterday, but it didn't seem related to memory usage, rather to opening model files, and other rather routine operations.

Again, thanks to you-all: what a marvelous group!

Art
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Silicon
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Username: Treebeard

Post Number: 13
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 02:10 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Craig,

After some further research, I can tell you you are on the right track. The complete explanation requires some relatively arcane understanding of how computers actually manage their memory.

Computers keep track of each byte of their memory with a unique tag called an "address". 32 bit computers can manage 2^32 different addresses, which works out to ~4 billion different individual addresses (this is where the 4 GB RAM limit of 32 bit systems comes from). The OS then dolls out these addresses to keep track of how much RAM the computer actually has installed. Be it 512 MB in a low end system, up to a maximum of 4 GB.

The problem comes in when you add peripherals like network cards, hard drive controllers, sound and graphics cards, etc that can directly access system memory (referred to as DMA). The addresses needed to keep track of this memory is pulled from the same 4 GB pool as is used to keep track of system RAM. So if the system uses 1 GB of addresses to keep track of its peripherals and has 3 GB of RAM installed you don't see a problem because the total number of addresses in use is still under 4 GB. However, if you have 4 GB of RAM installed, the system has no more addresses available to track this extra 1 GB memory, hence it can't see it, much less actually use it.

Graphically, this looks like this:

http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/99609816/m/421004692831?r=120 001992831#120001992831


Generally the larger amount of on board memory on the graphics card the less addressable memory you are going to have left over to keep track of your system RAM. The best solution to this problem is to use the 64 bit version of windows.
(The other solution is to run Server 2003 in PAE mode with the proper chipset support, and then you are at the mercy of your peripheral card vendor. Read the rest of the posted thread for the gory details)

Mac users running G5 based systems (G4 based systems only support 2GB of RAM) and later don't run into this problem because G5 chipset and the OS X driver architecture were designed to avoid it from the start (It has an IOMMU and the I/O kit has an API to handle the driver's memory requests. aka Apple forced their driver vendor to do it right, something MS has difficulty doing because of the size and diversity of PC hardware universe)

(Message edited by treebeard on February 02, 2007)
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Craig Williams
Senior Member
Username: Craigwilliams

Post Number: 157
Registered: 04-2001


Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 02:26 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hey Silicon,

Thanks so much for finding this information. I'm sure I've already read this somewhere. However, even though I was interested, it was a little over my head. In all the forum discussions I followed, I just kept seeing both sides of the argument and no final answer on the issue. You've done a great job, at least as far as I'm concerned, of summing this up. The graphic you linked above was great as well. Thanks so much.

Since we just sent our order for a new 64bit machine today, this is welcome news.

Craig