There Are Solutions

By David Strom  |  Posted 2008-05-13 Print this article Print

The Strominator looks at the next wave of memory hogs.

There are solutions: run the 64b versions of Windows, Linux, or even the Mac OS, which can address memory beyond 4 gigs quite nicely. This is nothing new on the Mac or Linux side, which has had 64b operating systems for many years. Indeed, if you go back to the early 1990s, we had Digital Equipment’s Alphas and Silicon Graphics’ Irix and all sorts of workstations that were 64b processors and 64b operating systems. Some apps are now only available in 64b versions, such as Microsoft Exchange 2007. Others, like Oracle 11g, are still available for both 32b and 64b versions.

The problem is with Windows, and in particular, finding the right 64b drivers for these machines. Rewriting drivers isn’t sexy stuff, and it’s generally the province of some very talented coders dedicated enough to stick to the project. One engineering manager I spoke to told me it took his team six months to rewrite his driver set, and it wasn’t a fun six months at that.

“Microsoft’s driver-signing requirements are intense,” he told me. “And at the time we were engaged with them, they were adding and changing tests during the process without informing us, which increased the dev cycles and cost.”

This driver issue is tricky because you don’t usually think about all of them that you need to upgrade when you are looking at your server portfolio, and generally, you don’t know what you need until you install a test machine and see what isn’t supported. Then, the fun begins.

So take some time to plan out your strategy if you are running out of RAM. Take a closer look at the new Windows Server 2008 64b version and whether it will run on your existing hardware. And while you are at it, look at Apple’s Xserve, too: It might be a lower-cost alternative to running all those virtual machines on a true 64b platform.



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