Monday, January 14, 2008

I'm going x64

I just bought a new computer! I put it together last night and it's fast. I get a 5.9 (the current max) rating in Vista in every section except video performance where I get a 5.6.

The specs are:
I kept my Logitech keyboard/mouse, Altec Lansing 5.1 speakers and dual Sceptre 20" LCDs.

As I mentioned in the title, I am running the 64-bit version of Windows. If you are buying all new hardware anyway, you should run a 64-bit operating system. There is definitely a bit of a performance increase and, in my case, is required since have 4 GB of RAM. Coding Horror has a detailed post on why you can't utilize 4 GB of RAM on a 32-bit system but it's a little confusing still.

Basically a 32-bit system means you have 32 bits to address data. A bit is the smallest amount of data in a computer, either a one or a zero. So the biggest number possible is 232 or 4,294,967,296. Memory is addressed in bytes (8 bits) so the maximum memory is 4,294,967,296 bytes or 4 gigabytes (huh?).

So why can't you use 4 gigbytes of memory? This maximum is the amount of memory you can address total, not just system memory. Of your 4 GBs, the first MB is for legacy DOS, BIOS and old add-in cards. Then there is a section for your motherboard, flash memory, video memory and all other devices. If you have a newer video card with 512 MB of memory, that is 1/8th of your address space right there! Your system memory is the last thing to get addressed so whatever is left is the amount of RAM your OS and programs get to use; usually around 3 - 3.5 gigabytes.

There are some older hacks to get around this but the best way is to use 64-bit hardware and OS.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

RIP Gemina the 'crooked-necked giraffe'

Gemina the 'crooked-necked giraffe' was put down yesterday at the age of 21. Over the last two weeks she stopped eating. The zoo keepers noticed it was affecting her quality of life so they euthanized her. I was lucky enough to see her in person as she was what the Santa Barbara Zoo was known for.