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Memory Question

Posted on 2011-09-24
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I was just looking at my pc and noticed in task manager under performance, my Physical Memory ammounts were wrong so i started looking in "System Information, ControlPanel\System, and of course in the Task Manager,(see attached picture)  so why would my ram not be registering?, I have 4GB RAM installed, you can see most of the pertinent system information in the picture, i have also checked my system logs for any Memory errors. this machine has locked up a few time randomly in the last year requiring a reboot with no other isses for some time in between occurances and no error logs explaining the crash. So did some of my RAM fail and windows shows no error for it? I guess the ports on the mother board could also be bad? Almost no symtoms though, aside from the occational unexplained crash.
Question by:Rebol
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Author Comment

ID: 36593940
attached picture

Author Comment

ID: 36593949
simpler question is why is the RAM show to be 4GB, but only 2.5GB physical memory is used?
LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 36593951
This is normal.  You are running a 32 bit version of Windows.  32 bit versions of Windows (32 bit TECHNOLOGY) limits the total accessible RAM to 4 GB.  HOWEVER, hardware, such as your graphics card, also has memory and it needs to be accessed.  For years, the hardware counted RAM from 0 to the total amount installed and the device memory (such as that from your graphics card) from 4,000,000,000 to 0.  If they overlapped ANYWHERE, the hardware had priority.  That's what you're seeing.  With 4 GB of RAM, the hardware needs memory address space as well and steals it from the RAM address space.

I may not be doing the description justice, so I'd recommend reading Mark Russinovich's blog for a detailed explanation:

Bottom line - you may be able to gain access to the additional RAM *IF* you reinstall a 64 bit version of Windows AND your hardware properly supports it (some hardware does not).

(Also, some versions of Windows Server 32 bit can address more RAM *IF* the hardware supports what's called 36 bit addressing (Physical Address Extension or PAE) - but Windows Client operating systems (Vista, 7, XP) CANNOT.
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Author Comment

ID: 36594270
this explanation doesn't make sence, i also have 2GB of Video RAM, which unlike most systems which force it to share in one direction(i.e. take system RAM to be used as Video RAM) my system allows for unused video RAM to be shared back to the system. But that is another story all together. what does the 4GB installed have to do with the system having to access Video RAM, and how would that cause it to miscalculate my physical ram in some locations and not others? i have seen countless systems running same amount of RAM with same OS, and not seen anything like this. Based on memory addressing  i understand the limits and even the suposed lose due to rounding (i.e.not using a 1024 bit  base) this is a huge lose compared to any other systems i have checked even since i just found this. (3 other systems: vista, win7, xp)
LVL 34

Expert Comment

ID: 36594303
A 32-bit os can only address 4gb of total memory this includes system memory, bios cahce, video ram(shared and dedicated), and pretty much every other piece of hardware that addressable memory. If you want to be able to use all your available memory you'll need a 64-bit OS(which your system supports).
LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 36594504
Quoting myself:
I may not be doing the description justice,
In case that's not clear, I mean I may not have explained it in enough detail with enough accuracy for you to fully understand.  In which case, again quoting myself:
I'd recommend reading Mark Russinovich's blog for a detailed explanation

LVL 69

Accepted Solution

Callandor earned 1000 total points
ID: 36598745
You have an abnormally low amount of physical RAM available, but I think that is due to the large amount of memory on your video card.  Typically, a 4GB system running a 32-bit OS will have from 3.2 to 3.5GB RAM available, but the presence of your video card takes away more address space.  If you ran with a video card that didn't have as much RAM, more would be available for the rest of the system.

>my system allows for unused video RAM to be shared back to the system

I think this is the source of your crashes - sharing video RAM with the system is not typical and the way it was implemented may be contributing to instability.  Video RAM is usually only available to video applications such as 3D games with textures.

Author Comment

ID: 36709404
thanks for addressing my question about the software and hardware i'm am using instead of what i could change it to.  I didn't think of it that way, (i.e. the video RAM causing the crashes) that certainly sounds plausable. If for no other reason, the system saving data into non system RAM, having to not only save but retrieve it from a non-standard location. RAM can be quarky sometimes all by itself without adding extra variables/points of failure. Besides, i wonder what system contraols the RAM being shared, what i mean is, if a portion of the RAM is currently used by the system and the video decides to start using more than it was is there overlap? or would it just over write it, etc. Finally, i don't believe i have the control to tell the system not to share the video RAM back.  Anyway thanks for the insite.
Oh and leew, I DID! my responce was based on that article and what you said. thanks for making the attempt to clarify, as apposed to just repeating what you had already said. that was helpful.


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