Something that I had not noticed in the first few months of Windows 7 usage, mainly because of the most casual use, was something that I have now experienced a couple of times, and it seems to be something that there is no explanation for.
The Windows 7 on my machine seems to have a memory leakage problem, and today, there is an article on ComputerWorld speaking of the problem of memory usage.
Most Windows 7 PCs max out their memory, resulting in performance bottlenecks, a researcher said today.
Citing data from Devil Mountain Software’s community-based Exo.performance.network (XPnet), Craig Barth, the company’s chief technology officer, said that new metrics reveal an unsettling trend. On average, 86% of Windows 7 machines in the XPnet pool are regularly consuming 90%-95% of their available RAM, resulting in slow-downs as the systems were forced to increasingly turn to disk-based virtual memory to handle tasks.
While a certain amount of this is by design, the disk caching algorithm of Windows 7 was supposed to have been changed from that of Vista. More than that, the problem would not have been one in Vista if not for the fact that the caching algorithm is so slow releasing memory that the machine slows down appreciably. If the release of memory was much faster, no one would complain.
The 86% mark for Windows 7 is more than twice the average number of Windows XP machines that run at the memory “saturation” point, said Barth. The most recent snapshot of XPnet’s 23,000-plus PCs — taken yesterday — pegs only 40% of XP systems as running low on memory.
“The vast majority of Windows 7 machines over the last several months are very heavily-memory saturated,” said Barth today. “From a performance standpoint, that has an immediate impact on the machine.”
The low-memory condition of most Windows 7 PCs is even more notable considering the amount of RAM in Windows 7 systems: According to XPnet’s polling, Windows 7 PCs sport an average of 3.3GB of memory, compared to 1.7GB in the average Windows XP computer. (Machines running Windows Vista contain an average of 2.7GB.)
“Windows 7 machines have almost twice as much memory to work with,” said Barth, “but the numbers show just how much larger and more complex Windows 7 is than XP.”
Here I would have to disagree, as the number of things removed from Windows XP, in order to get to Windows 7, would show that was not the reason at all. The one thing I have noticed that aggravates the problem, which was never a problem with Windows XP, using the same applications, is that hibernation seems to exacerbate the problem, and ach time the machine awakens less of the memory pool comes back. This would seem to show that unneeded things cached were not being released by time. (After all, if something that was cached last night is not being used within, say, 15 minutes after resuming activity, yet the memory is not being released, there is a problem.)
Barth acknowledged that XPnet’s data couldn’t determine whether the memory usage was by the operating system itself, or an increased number of applications, but said that Devil Mountain would start working on finding which is the dominant factor in increased memory use.
Other data that Devil Mountain collates as part of a new metric dubbed “Windows Composite Performance Index” (WCPI) quantifies peak processor workload and I/O performance. Both of those measurements are also higher for Windows 7 systems than for XP machines. While 85% of the former are running at peak I/O loads, only 36% of the latter do; the numbers for CPU workload are closer, as 44% of Windows 7 computers are running a computational backlog that delays processing tasks, compared to 36% of the XP systems.
“This is alarming,” Barth said of Windows 7 machines’ resource consumption. “For the OS to be pushing the hardware limits this quickly is amazing. Windows 7 is not the lean, mean version of Vista that you may think it is.”
Long-time computer users are more familiar with the opposite: that hardware stays ahead of operating system requirements. “On current-generation hardware right out of the gate, Windows 7 is maxing out the resources. The old trend just isn’t the case anymore. Now, everything that Intel giveth, Microsoft taketh away,” Barth said.
“I think this is something that everyone in their gut knew, but now we have data,” said Barth. “The metrics don’t lie.”
Users who want to compare their computers to the current WCPI numbers can do so by registering with XPnet and then installing the DMS Clarity Tracker Agent from Devil Mountain’s site.
I don’t seem to have a processor activity problem, but I am comparing different machines, so it is not a direct comparison. My worry is the memory loss, and I should stress that these same exact programs are being used on both machines. In fact, if the problem was one of my using poorly programmed things, and that being the problem, it would be far more noticeable on Windows XP, as the machine with XP has over 350 entries in the Revo Uninstaller listing, and the Windows 7 machine has only 106.
Strangely, it also too a full month of my regular usage of Windows 7 for this to show up – either I was not noticing (possible, but not likely) or it is a product of actual up time of the OS.
Another thing, which I hesitate to say, because it sound almost as though I’m a dweller in the Twilight Zone, is that the problem seems to increase between midnight and noon. I have absolutely no reason to account for that, but I will be examining the scheduled tasks to see what it might be.
There just might be that need for a Service Pack 1, as last night from about midnight to 3 A.M. I saw my memory dwindle and never come back, though I was fully closing programs, and then using the Windows Task Manager to make sure they were not being retained in memory.
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