windows 2003 server standard 32bit - 4gb of memory limit?

Posted on 2011-10-07
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
can windows 2003 standard SP2 32bit handle 4gb of memory? i have 4gb installed per 1gb per slot (4 slots total) yet dell diagnostics software(this is a dell server) reads:

Location System Board or Motherboard
Use System Memory
Installed Capacity 4096 MB
Maximum Capacity 4096 MB
Slots Available 4
Slots Used 4
ECC Type Single Bit ECC

 [Back to top]  

   Total of Memory Array(s)  

  Attributes Value
Total Installed Capacity 4096 MB
Total Installed Capacity Available to the OS 3584 MB
Total Maximum Capacity 4096 MB

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   Details of Memory Array 1  

  Click the connector name of Memory Array 1 to view its memory device details.  

  Status Connector Name Type Size
 DIMM1_A DDR 1024 MB
 DIMM1_B DDR 1024 MB
 DIMM2_A DDR 1024 MB
 DIMM2_B DDR 1024 MB

does that mean what it says? 4gb of memory installed, but because of windows 2003 server standard 32bit limitation, operating system can only see up to 3.5gb? should i take 512mb out  as its not getting allocated? or is something else?

also i should note that My Computer > Properties reads 3.49gb of ram as well, not 4gb

System: dell poweredge 800 server
Question by:Anti-Mhz
    LVL 76

    Expert Comment

    by:Alan Hardisty
    3.5gb is about the most a 32-bit system can see and use, despite there being a 4gb limit.  What you are seeing is perfectly normal.
    LVL 76

    Expert Comment

    by:Alan Hardisty
    LVL 15

    Expert Comment

    that is normal. although some of it could be used by the video adapter.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    thanks @alanhardisty
    ive actually enabled /PAE switch for boot.init and have rebooted the system

    and my computer > properties now reads Physical Address Extension underneath the cpu/ram
    yet ram still reads 3.49gb with PAE
    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    Everything is fine.    Your OS supports a 4GB address space;  but some of those addresses are required for PCI addressing, BIOS shadowing, video aperture, etc.     Whatever's left is available for RAM ... thus the 3.49GB

    You do NOT want to remove any of the RAM.    It's installed in 2 sets of 2 x 1GB pairs, which results in dual-channel operation for the memory.    If you didn't have matched pairs, the memory subsystem would run in a less-than-optimum configuration at a reduced bandwidth.

    Note that PAE is used by the Enterprise and DataCenter editions of Server 2003 to allow addressing of > 4GB of RAM within a 32-bit architecture.    But standard edition does NOT support this.
    LVL 76

    Accepted Solution

    You can keep trying to tweak and squeeze the system to display more than 3.5Gb - but it will be a fruitless exercise.

    It is what it is - you have the max it will see / use and there is nothing more you can do.

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