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The Plague of Minimum Requirements

My manager came over to me regarding putting more RAM in some of the developer's machines.

Most of us currently have 512.  We are doing VS.NET web development.

He asked me if we needed a 1GB.  I explained how if you multiplied the minutes of speed increases per day, and multiplied by the hourly rate he's paying us, that it should pay for itself rather quickly.  However, I didn't request it, so it's no skin off my nose either way.  Obviously, all things being equal, I would prefer more RAM.

Then he (slightly tongue in cheek) busts out the system req's for VS.NET 2005 Beta 1, and it lists 128 Meg as the minimum, and 256 Meg as the recommended.  He then basically says "You have double the recommended amount, why buy more?"  Again, he's kind of joking, but kind of not.

I feel forced to justify my comment about 1GB being worth it, and I honestly believe that anyone that's doing VS.NET web development with 256 (or 128 <shudder>), is a masochist, and needs to seek treatment.

Are there any "realistic" minimum requirement sources to look at?  Or am I just supposed to shrug at him and say "Trust me?"

As an aside, I remember a while back there was a topic about where everyone buys RAM, and one site showed up 3 or 4 times as extremely cheap and reliable.  Any pointers?

Pseudo Masochist
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

There will be no cost savings from the increased RAM until someone is laid off due to the multiplied effects of these minute "productivity" increases. 

Ankur
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"There will be no cost savings from the increased RAM until someone is laid off "

Wow, a walking/talking PHB.

Haven't you every heard of increased output? Doing the same task in less time isn't a cost savings?

Tom H
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

What about when you want (or need) to simultaneously run: Outlook, IE, Firefox, MSDE, Word, Excel, Photoshop, Anti-Virus, etc..... on top of the already bloated Windows ???

That 512 MB is starting to look like a joke!

Jerry
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

You should point out that VS.NET isn't the only thing running on your system.  For one, Windows itself sucks up god awful amounts of RAM.  Then you have Outlook (or whatever email app you use), the multitude of web browser windows open for research, your antivirus software, etc etc etc.  If you run a local RDBMS for development, that adds in there too.  And if you use virtual machines for testing, you'll obviously require significantly more.

My laptop at home only has 256MB, and while I *can* run VS.Net 2003 alright on it, it is sluggish.  Mimimum requirements are just that -- the bare minimum required for the program to run at all.  Making it run *well* is another story.

Joe
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

personally I got 512 MB at work but it wouldn't be very hard at all to justify 768 or even 1 gig...

sure visual studio has bare minimum requirements- but how often are you ONLY using VS.NET? I have a local instance of sql server running + associated client tools, VmWare ( a biggie) and play mp3's nonstop.

If you wanted to justify your position you could throw the laundry list of developer tools you use/need on a daily basis in the mix.

personally I'm cool with 512

PopCulture
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Tell the boss to add up the minimum/recommended memory for all the apps that you run simultaneously.  I wouldn't be surprised if it hit 2 gig.

T. Norman
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Then he shouldn't be running them all at once, its obvious that he can't use all those programs at the same time.

In fact, we have too many copies of all these developer tool thingies you hardly ever use.  We should have a library that you book out your copy of the tool when you need it, and then put it back when you've finished with it.

Its my estimation, using my best cost benefit analysis tools that came free with this spreadsheet thing, that if we reduced our reliance on every machine having every piece of software that we could go back to using those old 486's that are sitting in the basement waiting to be trashed.

After all, how fast can these developers type?  That's all coding is after all.  They can bring their code to the build and test station situated between islands of 4 or so developers.

                                                            The Munudgement

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

You can't actually use a dozen programs at the same time, but if you keep opening and closing them every time you need to use them, you're going to get slowed down.

T. Norman
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

After whining for a long period of time, I was upgraded to 512MB RAM from PIII 1G with 256MB RAM recently.  And I work at a milti-million dollar software company.

I guess I should be extremely happy. 

RM
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Your boss isn't going to add up all those numbers, so do it for him, and present it in a nicely formatted spreadsheet: 128MB for WinXP Pro + 128MB for MSDE + 160MB for Visual Studio...

When it comes out to 2 GB or whatever, present it to him, and neither make apologies nor offer to compromise on less.

Kyralessa
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"As an aside, I remember a while back there was a topic about where everyone buys RAM, and one site showed up 3 or 4 times as extremely cheap and reliable.  Any pointers?"

www.crucial.com

is probably what you're looking for.

Kyralessa
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

If your version of Windows has a graph of memory usage in the task manager, you might be able to use that to help illustrate your case for more memory.

Beth
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

> Then he shouldn't be running them all at once, its obvious that he can't use all those programs at the same time.

Lessee.  I run an email client.  A meeting client.  An SCM client.    Visual Studio.    A couple DOS windows for testing.  An editor, because quite frankly the VS editor sux skunk ass.  And our SDK is documented as HTML, so I've got firefox running.

Which of these do I not need?  If it was me the meeting client would be the first to go.  My boss would probably say it's the last to go.  Out of the others, which do I not need access to constantly?

We won't mention Winamp, because I'm not gonna be a happy programmer without it.

 

Snotnose
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

My work machine regularly uses between 600-800MB, between VS.NET, Eclipse, Mozilla, Outlook, Winamp, and toss in a few other odds and ends.

I have 1GB RAM.  Could I do alright with 512MB?  Yep, that's what I have at home.  But, to put on my manager hat, if it costs me $80 or so to make my developer noticeably happier, it's worth it.  Because $80 is nothing compared to his salary.

Should be working
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Dayum, you missed the invisible :-}

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I second the http://www.crucial.com link. I've bought memory from them a couple times and they've always been just fine.

I Dev PC runs VS.NET 2003, SQL Server 2000, IIS 5 with ASP.NET 1.1, Office XP, IE6, etc on Win XP Pro. It has 2Gb of RAM which never fills up.

The swap file never gets used, no matter what I throw at it, which is exactly how it should be. Okay, so virtual memory is pretty cool, but in this day and age, RAM is so cheap it hardly seems sensible.

I know disks are cheap too, but I don't want to wait 100-1000 times as long for my data thank you very much. Even those "solid-state hard disks" are pathetically slow, compared to RAM, although I guess a lot of that is due to the fact that they are pretending to be SCSI HDDs.

Steve Jones (UK)
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

"Visual Studio.    A couple DOS windows for testing.  An editor, because quite frankly the VS editor sux skunk ass. "

If you aren't going to use the editor, why even load Visual Studio?  You might as well just use the command line tools (ideally driven from your external editor).

(Anyway, FWIW, I think the Visual Studio editor is incredibly good and yes, I've tried [insert your favorite editor here]).

Mr.Fancypants
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I remember the days when Notepad was the "IDE", so I love VS.NET 2003.

Steve Jones (UK)
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Ditto, just make a spreadsheet outlining the usual apps you have open, plus their minimum requirements.  Don't forget all those services you have running in the background, every 5 MB counts.  I am certain that even the minimum will add up to more than 512 MB.  Of course, if he's real smart he might say that you use a disk cache for some of that, but you can point out that the disk cache comes at a huge performance hit to all the applications, including .NET.  Demonstrating that may not be so easy, but try running .NET and compiling with absolutely nothing else running (including invisible services), and then try it with your usual stuff and all invisible stuff running.  Show him all that, and it should be enough to warrant the upgrade, unless from the numbers you can't really convince yourself that the time savings is worth it. (i.e. 1 second faster)

sir_flexalot
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

If he was part-joking, you should have simply laughed. I'm sure that would have taken care of the issue, in a friendly way.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The problem with all these suggestions of show this, show that is that setting up and attending these demonstrations will cost a lot more in manager/developer time than a few memory modules.

Steve Jones (UK)
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

"Haven't you every heard of increased output?"

Ah, the long undelivered promise from MS marketing

.net, the equivalent of MS Bob.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I once ran Windows NT 4 on a machine with 32 Meg. Let me say that although that was the theoretical minimum, the machine was all but useless until we got 128 Meg in it.

Useless unless watching the system page for two minutes while doing a compile is your idea of useful!

.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

NT in 32 meg?

Ptth.  Try OS/2 2.1 on 486/33 with 4 meg.  It WORKED!  :)  486/66 DX2 with 8 meg was a LOT better.

-T.J.

T.J.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

"I explained how if you multiplied the minutes of speed increases per day, and multiplied by the hourly rate he's paying us, that it should pay for itself rather quickly"

You also have to factor in the fact that you'll eventually need more RAM anyway. 

I think its something like:

Cost of RAM = Price of RAM - (Savings from speed increase * hourly rate) - [(Future Price of RAM * (potential investment rate of Price of RAM elsewhere)]

= probably something in the negatives...

Ken
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

TJ -

I sold computer software retail about 12 years ago or so.  There were a couple geeks that came in periodically to buy the latest dev tools/os/whatever just to try it out.  They were pretty excited when NT 3.1 came out.  It needed 12 megs to run, but they took it home and found out you could make it run in only 8.  You couldn't load any apps or actually do anything useful with it, but the os itself would run.

Well, *I* thought it was pretty funny.

Aaron F Stanton
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Thanks for the suggestions everyone.  I'll go over it again, playing up the "it's not necessary, but it will improve things" angle, and if he doesn't go for it, oh well.  The idea of adding up the minimum req's for all the apps I have open will work if he presses it.

He's a down to earth guy, so it shouldn't be any problem.

Thanks again for the http://www.crucial.com link!

Pseudo Masochist
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Ankur said

"There will be no cost savings from the increased RAM until someone is laid off due to the multiplied effects of these minute "productivity" increases. "

The depends on whether you are producing product faster or slower than the market can take it. If you can't keep up with demand then improved productivity means you sell more. If you are ahead of your demand . . . well not many companies do that for long.

WoodenTongue
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

It's very simple, do some timing tests using your software on a machine with 512 then again with 1GB - the time difference is your reason to upgrade...

Chris Peacock
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

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