More memory? More speed?

Discussion in 'Parallels Desktop for Mac' started by iduff, May 1, 2007.

  1. iduff

    iduff Product Expert

    So, my MBP is maxed out at 2GB. 2.33GHx, 100GB drive, etc. I would really like to use XP, and a bunch of those nice shiny OS X apps at the same time, but when I do so, the only thing that happens is lots of disk activity to let me know that the spinning beachball might eventually go away.

    I've played with memory allocation for my XP VM, and find that somewhere between 512MB and 768MB is the best I can do. I've told Parallels to optimize for Mac performance, the VM hdd is fixed size, I've done all the usual things to optimize my MBP, but just can't get enough memory to do the things I want.

    One question is WRT active vs inactive memory, and memory in general. Is there some way to play with the parameters that determine when memory becomes inactive? Is there any way to defrag memory, other than rely on what the OS X engineers baked in?

    Also, here's an operational question. I've taken to loading my XP VM as the first app after a reboot, then Daylite, then Mail, then Firefox, etc, working my way down the list in terms of what I suspec to be the worst memory hogs first, then working on down. I do this out of a suspicion that I'm helping these memory hogs lay claim to a portion of memory before lesser apps cloud the picture. Of course, this could be a specious plan. Thoughts?

    When performance starts to suffer, I quit as many big apps as I can, but that doesn't always free up inactive memory, so performance doesn't always improve. The only way to get performance back is to restart. Yuk.

    Does anyone have recommendations on how to optimize memory use so as to be able to run a few apps? Also, any recommendation on how to recover performance when it starts to suffer from too many open apps?
  2. Copilot



    I also have MBP with 2 gigs of RAM and 160 gig HD running at 1.82 ghz. I have only 300 megs of RAM allocated to Parallels and Windows XP is running very well, even when I have all the apps in Office running, I rarely experience slow down. Infact, my Parallels Windows runs noticeably faster than say a 2+ gighz real PC system!

    I would try to optimize Windows rather than boost it's RAM. This is what I've done with my Parallels Windows XP SP2 installation and as a Windows tech, this is what I ALWAYS recommend doing to all of my Windows using clients.

    To optimize Windows performance try this:
    1. Turn off any wall paper and instead choose solid color as your wall paper. Just turning off wall paper will make your system much snappier.
    2. Turn of System Restore. These things will tax your system and usually do not work as expected anyway. (System Restore eats about 15% of your processor power)
    3. Turn off all visual goodies, such as "show window content during dragging, slide open menus, fade menus...all of these are resource hungry.
    4. In Folder Views, turn off these: cache thumbnail, automatically search network folder, show pop up description...

    You will gain far more performance from your Windows while not sacrificing Mac performance.

  3. wingdo

    wingdo Kilo Poster

    The one caveat I would mention with "show current window during dragging" is that coherence mode does not properly show where you are dragging a window with this disabled. It's not a make it or break it type of thing, but it does not work as you would expect if this is disabled.
  4. digiot


    If you have a Core2Duo you can actualy fit 3Gigs of RAM. giving XP about 1 Gig of RAM seems to be the sweetspot. That will leave 1 Gig for OSX and 1 Gig for your Apps.
  5. iduff

    iduff Product Expert

    digiot, with my early MBP Core Duo, I'm having a hard time finding where to attach the liquid nirtogen hose to cool the additional memory I just forced in <grin>.

    Copilot, thanks for the tips, I've been playing with Windows for long enough that I should have thought of optimizing Windows, too. D'oh. Blinded by the obvious.
  6. VTMac



    It sounds like you may not fully understand how OSX allocates memory.
    Here's a quick breakdown:

    Wired - This is memory that applications are actively using and that can't be swapped to disk.
    Active - This is memory that applications are using, but could be swapped to disk.
    Inactive - This is memory that is NOT allocated by any application. It IS free memory. However, instead of putting it back in the free pool OSX (and Linux and most *nix) keep it "as-is" until another application needs it. This way if the original app that freed the memory decides it needs it again, the OS can just hand it back quickly.
    Free - This is memory that is NOT allocated by any application.

    So it's not possible to control Inactive memory. It is a function of all the applicaitons you are running.

    So using the info above, the first question is do you really have a memory problem? Are you getting beach balls when you lots of free/inactive memory?? If so, it may not be a ram problem at all.
    Last edited: May 2, 2007
  7. non-troppo


    Also, turn *off* all bits of parallels you don't use (edit > virtual machine). For example, I don't need sound in XP, and turning off sound for the virtual machine dropped parallels idle CPU use from ~16% to ~7%; turning off everything except network (I rarely use USB devices or CD etc) drops it even further to ~1-2%.

    I also find that turning off "show current window during dragging" makes coherence use less CPU (given the caveat windgo outlined, it is still worth it).

    In terms of memory "optimisation" you can try the shareware iFreeMem - but I think memory optimisers / defraggers are snakeoil and more than not damage performance; YMMV.

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