LARGEADDRESSAWARE for 32bit applications

Posted on 2008-11-11
Last Modified: 2013-11-29
I have been reading up on Microsofts articles with regards to the LARGEADDRESSAWARE and how to turn this on so a 32bit process can take advantage of the extra memory in combination with the boot.ini /3GB switch on the OS.

We have a 3rd party product which seems to be struggling with the workload on the main server and normally hits a peak at around 1GB Physical Memory/ 1.1 GB Virtual Memory on Windows Server 2003 x32 Enterprise Edition. No doubt this causes alot of issues when people are trying to use the server which fails to respond correctly as its out of memory and starts to throw memory exceptions.

Talking with the vendor of the product, they seem quite stubborn and not very willing to change their product or look at issues in helping us overcome this problem, as they believe that its a restriction of the OS and not their product, no doubt this application is storing alot of its data in memory and is hitting a peak at the moment.

I have no options at the moment apart from turning this switch on as I have conducted a small test using a plugin that is loaded by the main server on Windows Server 2003 x32 Edition and x64 Edition which allows the process to acquire alot more memory that it can at the moment.

What are the main issues I should be concerned about if I enable this switch on the process? I believe there are threads that say the 32bit app may not be able to handle addresses greater than 2Gb, I thought a 32bit application could handle 32bit addresses which should really allow it to use 4Gb address space.

Any help is appreciated.
Question by:odlsecurities
    LVL 41

    Expert Comment

    Hang on...   that's a compile time switch for developers.   It isn't designed to be used on an existing (compiled) exe file (particularly for one you don't have source code for).

    Author Comment

    You can enable the switch using editbin.exe. Theres plenty of threads around which show people have actually used this switch to enable applications/games to take advantage of the extra memory.

    Talking to a colleague, the main reason he thinks you cannot use this switch is that the high bit in a 32bit address is signed, therefore you can only use 31bits which is 2Gb.

    Anyone agree on this?
    LVL 41

    Accepted Solution

    Yes, you can use EditBin, but I wouldn't recommend it...
    Modern applications are written using standard libraries that are used for managing memory for the stack and local heap.   This flag changes the libraries that are loaded at runtime, so it's not something that you'd do without knowing a lot about the inner workings of the application.  For example, a 32-bit application might rely upon some pointer arithmetic that will fail with different libraries.
    But if this isn't part of a critical system, then I guess you could live dangerously and give it a whirl and see if it crashes or provides freaky data

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