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I'm still running with the 1 Gb I got when I bought my laptop. There were only two instances when the thing started to swap (and eventually crashed). One was when, out of curiosity, I decided to render a 3D scene from some molecular simulation program to a file (ps, I think), at ridiculously high quality settings. It choke badly. The other was when working with Inkscape, Gimp, a WindowsXP virtual machine and some other visualization tool performing operations on a fat tiff file (on top of the regular browser, mailer, pdf viewer and what have you).
Most of the time, however, I don't seem to need any more memory. Having said this, if I had a bit more I'd do more often the trick of loading a movie to ram to watch it without banging the HD.
Increased ram does help with some things (gimp and 16k x 16k pixel images - I'm another who sometimes uses that), but I'd say faster ram is more important if you're not dealing with large data sets. Well, I should say lower overall latency ram is more important. Of course, more memory and lower latency is better.
Bill Gates - "640K ought to be enough for anybody"
So we have to decorate our posts with disclaimers now?
"This assessment may not hold in the future. It is not valid for workstation- or server-class workloads. Your mileage may vary."
Btw, I'm pretty sure that wasn't an actual Bill Gates quote, despite its wide circulation. No linky but IIRC Snopes tracked down the original quote.
Edit: Also, faster RAM doesn't really gain you that much. It only plays a role a) if you have enough of it and b) if you already have the best processor and hard disk you can buy. (Paying 50$ for a faster processor will have a much bigger impact in performance compared to faster memory).
I burned a 3.4GB DVD yesterday. While I didn't benchmark it, I could see how the memory monitor went from 1GB allocated to 3.4GB in straight manner. The entire process took less than 5-10 minutes on a 16x DVD burner.
If I recall correctly it took much longer time before.
Do you think my observation was correct? Was it an actual improvement in burning speed thanks to the extra RAM?
When burning, there's a write cache that is used as buffer and is quite small (256MB max). Burning happens from that cache only. The rest simply got allocated by the kernel due to extra caching of files, but that doesn't speed up the burn process.
I have 8GB of RAM of which 2GB is devoted to a tempfs like the others here. If anything, the benefit of haveing a large disk cache is always useful.
It would be nice though, to have more specific tweaks to the caching/preloading formula. For example, many OSes try to "learn" what applications you always want loaded, but I would much rather specify if needed. Or for example to prioritise keeping the major desktop gui in memory.