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How can I increase free memory in Mac?

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PCDJ

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How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostFri Mar 12, 2010 7:17 am

My MacBook Pro 2.4 has 4GB memory. I try to load a sample set that requires 3.2GB, but fail due to lack of memory.
I learned that the OS (10.6 Snow Leopard) limits the memory freely available for applications to 65% of its total. That is in this case then just 2.6GB and this could explain why my 4GB is not sufficient to load a 3.2GB sample set.

Is there a way to change the default setting and increase the usable free memory?
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mdyde

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Re: How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostFri Mar 12, 2010 8:16 am

Hello PCDJ,

OS X 10.5+ only allows about 65-67 percent of the physical memory to be 'active' before it starts paging data out to disk and giving a high risk of poor performance (at which point Hauptwerk will warn about low memory). Unfortunately, there's no way that limit can be adjusted within OS X to my knowledge. (64-bit Windows Vista is actually very similar on my 8 GB PC in terms of the fraction of the memory that it allows to be used before it starts paging and giving poor performance.)

OS X 10.4 did allow a bit more than 65 percent to be used, but it wasn't fully 64-bit, so you probably still wouldn't have been able to load a 3.2 GB sample set in full safely (without risk of stability problems). (Also OS X 10.4 could crash if you loaded too much data into memory, whereas OS X 10.5 and 10.6 are much better at handling memory in general.)

Hence adding more memory to your MacBook Pro would probably be the only reliable way to use a 3.2 GB sample set in full.

The current MacBook Pro range can accept up to 8 GB of memory in total. I have a November 2007 MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz with 4 GB, which was the maximum memory option at the time I bought it, but I understand that those models can actually work properly with up to 6 GB (8 GB won't work).

Hope that helps to some degree.
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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organtechnology

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Re: How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostFri Mar 12, 2010 11:22 am

Dear Martin,
Does that apply to all Macs? Does that mean that to load a Sample set, the system memory available needs to be ~66% larger than the sample set?
Pax,
Thomas
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Grant_Youngman

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Re: How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostFri Mar 12, 2010 11:37 am

organtechnology wrote:Dear Martin,
Does that apply to all Macs? Does that mean that to load a Sample set, the system memory available needs to be ~66% larger than the sample set?
Pax,
Thomas


Figure 2/3 of available RAM being available to load sample sets. So it's a 50% overhead -- e.g., if the sample set requires 8G to load, you need to have 12G on the system (roughly).
Grant
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mdyde

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Re: How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostFri Mar 12, 2010 11:39 am

Hello Thomas,

Does that apply to all Macs?


Yes - that's the way OS X's memory manager works. (Windows is actually fairly similar in terms of the amount of memory it allows to be used without paging, at least on my PCs.)

Does that mean that to load a Sample set, the system memory available needs to be ~66% larger than the sample set?


You need approximately 1.5 times (about 50% more: 1/0.66=approx=1.5) as much physical memory installed as the amount of memory needed for the largest sample set you want to use.
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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mdyde

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Re: How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostFri Mar 12, 2010 11:42 am

P.S. Thanks, Grant. I see we both replied at the same time!
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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Grant_Youngman

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Re: How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostFri Mar 12, 2010 12:49 pm

mdyde wrote:P.S. Thanks, Grant. I see we both replied at the same time!


Great minds think alike :-)
Grant
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PCDJ

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Re: How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostFri Mar 12, 2010 4:14 pm

Thanks a lot for your reply, Martin.

I heard once rumors that it would be possible to change this 65% number, hence my question. Unfortunately not much hope left now, I'm afraid...
Regarding adding memory, like you, I've also an older Mac, officially suitable for 4GB max.
Before investing in additional 2GB memory, does anyone have experience that this (non-conform spec) memory extension will work?

Thanks,
Peter
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Jim Reid

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Re: How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostFri Mar 12, 2010 5:19 pm

Try loading the organ using the 14 bit option. Give up some signal to
noise ratio, but perhaps that would be only minimally noticeable, or
even not at all. Save using a bunch of RAM as would be needed for
more bits per pipe sample.

Just a thought for you to try.
Jim Reid
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mdyde

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Re: How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostFri Mar 12, 2010 5:44 pm

Hello PCDJ,

I heard once rumors that it would be possible to change this 65% number, hence my question.


If you do find a way to do it, please do let us know. I looked into it thoroughly when OS X 10.5 was first released, and haven't seen or heard of any relevant changes since then (OS X 10.6 behaves the same in terms of memory handling), but it's conceivable that someone has found a (safe and reliable) way to tune it.

Before investing in additional 2GB memory, does anyone have experience that this (non-conform spec) memory extension will work?


I haven't tried it myself, I'm afraid, although from various previous things I'd read on the Internet I understand that it does work (at your own risk of course).
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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stevebryson

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Re: How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostFri Mar 12, 2010 9:04 pm

PCDJ wrote:Regarding adding memory, like you, I've also an older Mac, officially suitable for 4GB max.
Before investing in additional 2GB memory, does anyone have experience that this (non-conform spec) memory extension will work?


I've had very good experiences with Other World Computing's memory extending my mac pro, officially rated at a max of 16 GB, to 24 GB. OWC has an excellent warranty and return policy. I believe that if they say they've tested a memory configuration on your model of machine then it will work.

Steve
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cknight

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Re: How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostFri Mar 12, 2010 9:46 pm

I've had very good experiences with Other World Computing's memory


+1 for OWC. I've bought memory from them for several Macs over the years and never had a problem.
Clinton Knight
Apex, NC, USA
http://ambassadororgan.wordpress.com/
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engrssc

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Re: How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostFri Mar 12, 2010 11:54 pm

Do I assume Win7 (64 bit) utilizes memory much the same as did Vista (64 bit)?

Rgds,
Ed
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mdyde

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Re: How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostSat Mar 13, 2010 6:47 am

Hello Ed,

Do I assume Win7 (64 bit) utilizes memory much the same as did Vista (64 bit)?


Yes - they both seem to behave about the same.
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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Grant_Youngman

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Re: How can I increase free memory in Mac?

PostSat Mar 13, 2010 10:38 am

Hmmm..

Something interesting. I installed the CHUD tools on my Mac Pro -- these are developer tools. One of the functions CHUD provides is a command-line command "purge". The command purges inactive memory (possibly among other things).

I found that by "purge"ing after reaching the memory warning limit, and doing it a time or two more as the instrument finishes loading, that I end up with quite different memory allocation results.

I reset the Caen Surround parameters to load the main samples all at 24-bit and the surround samples at 16 bits (no compression) -- this is a configuration that exceeds the normal 20.5GB limit on Active memory in my 32G machine. By fiddling with "purge" during loading, I ended up with the following memory stats:

Free: 5.29G
Wired: 1.04G
Active: 24.69G <==== note this 75% not 65%
Inactive: 1.012G <==== much smaller than normal

Not entirely sure what's going on here. There is also no increase in swap space used -- so nothing is being paged out during loading. And the instrument plays fine.

Makes me wonder if there isn't some way to fake out OS X to deliver more Active memory on a routine basis. I'm not much of a Mac developer, so I don't know that much about what's actually happening. Just something I picked up by doing a bit of web searching.
Grant
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