Know Your Priorities Page 2: Be Smart About Upgrades Page 3: How Much Memory? Page 4: Page 5: Upgrading Your System Drive Page 6: MacBook Pro Upgrades Page 7: Upgrading Mac Pro Memory Page 8: Upgrading Reliability and Backup Page Upgrading Ergonomics and Efficiency Page Case Study: Capacities up to 84 Terabytes! More about OWC Thunderbay Massive speed hit with too little memory Click to read analysis.

Mac Pro Nehalem Tests: Memory and Compute Speed

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Apple Macs. DIMM slots 1, 2, 5, and 6 have their own channels; slots 3 and 4 share a channel and slots 7 and 8 share a channel. For optimal memory bandwidth, all six memory channels should be used, and memory should be balanced across the six channels.

Installing memory in the Mac Pro

Populating slot 4 or 8 slightly drops maximum memory bandwidth, but depending on the applications used, overall system performance may benefit from the larger amount of memory. To determine whether you would benefit from more total RAM or from keeping your RAM in triple channel mode would require benchmarks. It's difficult without measuring usage to say whether there will be any benefit from adding more RAM. The important thing here is to find the bottleneck rather than hoping that adding RAM will make things run quicker.

It may even turn out that the CPU or the compiler is the bottleneck. If you have two 6-core CPUs, can your compiler use all that processing power?


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I know I've probably raised more questions than I've answered but it's worth considering them if you're looking for a performance improvement for your investment. If you are a programmer you probably understand these concepts anyway but here's a link to a codinghorror article just explaining the process of finding bottlenecks which I think is easy to read.

The OS in this case is windows but the principles are the same.

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You can use Activity Monitor or a third party resource monitoring tool to determine the bottleneck. Near the bottom of the window, select the tab button labelled 'System Memory' and take a look at the pie chart and figures listed beneath. Here's an example from my system.

The figures in this screenshot you should be interested in are Free and Page Outs. Free shows how much RAM is currently available, Page Outs is an indicator that your system is running out of RAM and has had to write temporary data to disk. You could perform whatever activity you expect to push your system with Activity Monitor open and monitor these figures throughout. This should help you determine whether you will get any benefit from more RAM.

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nicerrisachar.gq: Upgrading Mac Pro Memory

For completeness, here's what each item represents. Here's a really nice link too for Mac performance questions http: Today's RAM is so fast you may not notice the drop from triple channel to single channel. However, considering you can easily put 12GB or more in the first 6 slots using two 3-channel kits, there's really not much reason to use all 8 unless you need to max out the machine for some reason. And just code compiling will not require so much RAM to need to do that. So, in summation, I'd recommend sticking with two 3-channel kits to still get a large amount of RAM at the fastest speed.

Buying memory

In almost all consumer or end user uses of a Mac Pro, it's highly unlikely that memory transfer speed will be a performance bottleneck the reason that SSD's became such an important upgrade despite the initial high cost is that file access times affected almost all Mac users. Where memory bandwidth would count is in scientific use where the Mac Pro is being run flat out on processor and memory intensive activity.

Lloyd Chambers of Mac Performance Guide did some very in-depth tests of how memory affects performance back in June when the Mac Pro first came out. Chambers in particular tests against Photoshop and various raw processing utilities.

His conclusion:. This applies not just to Photoshop, but to the ability of the system to use unused memory for caching, which speeds up all programs. In my own use web development, photo processing, research , I'm running 32 GB in dual channel 6 core Mac Pro I have noticed no slow down over 24 GB in triple channel after trying both. On the other hand, running out of memory will slow your computer down to a crawl.

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