Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Windows 7 32 Bit accepts more RAM!

One of the most astonishing things about Vista, the modern operating system the Microsoft claims it to be, still can only use up to 3GB of your installed RAM in the 32Bit versions of the OS. So at the moment Vista can only use 3 of the 4GB of ram installed in my new MacBook Pro which sucks, at the moment Mac OS X can handle around 32GB with snow leopard introducing support for 16 terabytes of RAM!!!. The screenshot below was taken from Paul Thurrott's Win Super site preview of Windows 7 M3, notice how the windows rating section indicates 4GB of ram just above the 32 Bit Operating System notification.

Its late and I haven't even started reading about the technical advancements in Windows 7 so if there is any information about these types of specs revealed, please let me know :). This is a nice advancement though, even if its well and truly late. My biggest request for Win 7 is drop the different versions, at least to 2 version, one consumer and one corporate.

Update: This post has gained some decent attention (one of the top windows 7 search results) but for the wrong reasons. I want to clarify and apologize for the way I wrote this post. It was only intended to announce that the 32Bit Windows 7 can see/address 4GB of ram as Vista/XP could only address 3GB. Mac OS X 10.4 was designed to handle more ram due to the 16GB Powermac G5. *All* versions of Mac OS X Leopard are full 64Bit, able to handle up to 32GB of Ram though most current macs have a limit of 4GB due to the Intel hardware limitations. I compared Leopard against Win 7 not for their Ram limits but for the fact that Microsoft's big next gen OS is sold as 32 Bit, though 64bit is an option. Mac OS X mastered the 32Bit/64bit combination before vista was even released. Microsoft needs to step up and release a decent os that they just didn't copy from every one else, transparent windows to desktop? My ass, thats just a poor attempt at the basic functionality of Expose introduced in Tiger.


Anonymous said...

as far as i'm aware that's the performance section of Vista (or similar) which at this time correctly displays the installed amount of ram. However, Vista 32 is still unable to use more than 3gig ish despite seeing all four.
My own Vista laptop shows the same but actual RAM in use is less than the 4gig shown.

jwisser said...

Anonymous there is right. Windows 7 32-bit sees up to (at least) 8GB of RAM, but still only addresses ~3. Very lame.

Anonymous said...

a 32-bit OS can only allocate 4 GIGS of memory including your video card, etc, thus no matter what OS you have you can't utilize a full 4 gigs of ram unless you're using a 64-bit machine with a 64-bit os

Anonymous said...

Snow leopard addresses up to 16TB because it's 64-bit. Don't compare apples and oranges (no pun intended). Check the specs for 64-bit Win 7 to find out how much ram it really supports. You cannot fit more than 4 gigs inside of a 32-bit spectrum, end of story. It has nothing to do with the OS.

Theodor Andrei Baboi said...

Windows Server 2008 Enterprise x86 32-bit supports more then 8GB ram (64 i think). I have 8gb ram and server 2008 enterprise and the os is capable to use all of them (for example if i run 3 virtual machines with 2gb ram each it will show me ~7gb ram load in task manager, with no paging file on the host os). However, it i replace the tokens.dat with the tokens.dat form a vista ultimate x86 it will show me 8GB in system properties but will only use 3.14. If i do the same thing in vista and i replace the tokens.dat with a server 2008 one it will use all the ram.
The amount of ram that windows supports is hardcoded in tokens.dat and it's a deliberated softwere limitation. Probably because microsoft wants to promote x64 system. As far as i konw, a workaround or a patch for this it doesen't exists, other that replaceing the tokens.dat, but then the updates won't work because the system thinks that it is server 2008 and also a problem is the activation...

c. st. said...

My MacOS X Leopard is 32bit and definitely uses my 8GB, so it's not a generic limitation.

Anonymous said...

2^32 = ~4 Billion (Gigs). That's why a 32 bit system can only address a max of 4 GB of memory. I don't know the validity of the posts saying that their Apple systems can 'definitely' use 8 GB of RAM. It might recognize that 8 GB is installed, but if you have a 32 bit system, it is absolutely not addressing more than 4 GB of memory.

Anonymous said...

Mac OS X has been 64Bit since Tiger (10.4) and can accept the full 16GB offered by the previous Powermac G5.

Leopard is Full 64Bit. The only intel processors to not be 64bit are the core solo and duos. Only the Duo 2 and Xeons are 64bit.

Most macs are limited to 4GB which is an Intel hardware limitation. The Mac Pro can have up to 16GB.

victor said...

agreed with Theodor Andrei Baboi. but when PAE enabled, then OS will use 36-bit addresing, so 2^36 = 64 Gigs. Thats the maximum amount that it can allocate! But there is pity software limitations

James said...

Windows Vista 32, and Windows 7 32 only addressing 3.25GB's of ram has nothing to do with them being windows. It is an issue with ALL 32-bit operating systems, you fucking nubs.

Kyle said...

Actually 32bit OS's can support more then 4 Gigs of ram if they have PAE support (

Which extends the available memory allocation bits from 32 to 36 bits. That in turns changes the max from 4 to 64GB. However, no single application can use more then say 3.* Gigs, but running more then 1 application such as more then 1 VM, the extra ram can be useful.

Eric Layne said...

Theodor is correct, James is dead wrong. This 32 bit limitation has been 'disproven' in testing:

Fabs Pro said...

I'm just posting here to express my frustration at how almost any fuckwit says that windows has been 32 bit since windows 2000 advanced server and xp with PAE enabled. Since these operating systems, windows "32 bit" has been 36 bit. You are all fucking retarded. What could 2^36 be? Certainly more than 4GB. It is a microsoft limitation applied to all non server 32 bit products to encourage users to shift to 64 bit with its security features. My 32 bit vista has had this limitation removed via a hack you can google for, and it runs fine with 12GB of ram. You are all fucking retards. Learn to listen to the smart ones around you who aren't just pretending to be so.

Michael said...

Why even use the 32-bit OS? I have never had a 32-bit app fail under vista x64 yet. I still don't get why they peddle the 32bit version if your hardware is capable of 64 bit computing.

monteur said...

because the drivers, dude, are never all available for x64..........

Michael said...

I have about seven x64 machines, both XP and Vista. I have never had a driver issue, I guess maybe if you use older or cheaper hardware it is a possibility.

Anonymous said...

Some hardware vendors do not wish to provide 64bit drivers.

Anonymous said...

to respond to one user boasting about 32-bit compatibility on 64-bit windows 7: one reason not to use 64 bit windows is that Office 2007 (32-bit) crashes on it sporadically

Oh, and 64-bit runs slower than 32-bit because of the lame way Intel and AMD implemented it in hardware: you lose half your registers in 64-bit mode.

Cyber said...

- "2^32 = ~4 Billion (Gigs) That's why a 32 bit system can only address a max of 4 GB..."

- "64-bit runs slower than 32-bit because of the lame way Intel and AMD implemented it in hardware..."

- "windows "32 bit" has been 36 bit..."

Wow! It is blatantly clear that we are surrounded by experts in Intel architecture, here.

Ok, kids. Now go to do your homework. The world is not just black/white as you think.

Anonymous said...

My Ubuntu 9.04 32bit used the full 4GB after a simple command line.

Anonymous said...

wow all macho all you loat arguing over 32bit 36bit and 64bit, who cares each has its pros and cons
deal with it, or run all of them computers can have several os's instaled.
unless its mac and pc where your limited a bit

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say two things:

1. Alex Mills, your original post is mostly incoherent.

2. Clearly, most people that commented on this post are not knowledgeable about this matter. Why try to explain something that you do not understand? I guess that's the definition of ignorance.

Jowunger said...

Here the answer to max RAM for WINDOWS 7

I am pretty sure that the limit is a marketing trick to sell more 64bit windowz's. YES, I know of the addressing imitation of 32bits BUT 4GB is as simple as spitting in the face of an MAC USER (HA!).

We had a limitation over 10 years ago for bios to support more RAM, and we've got a "A20 line".

Everything is possible IF THEY WANT US TO USE IT! (all those corporate bloodsuckers).




Jowunger said...

hmm URL was truncated in my last post, so here is it again:

Jowunger said...

now this sucks... cant paste the url

in the end it should write


Klavdij Lapajne said...


1)32bit systems can use max 4GB of address space - that means about 3.2GB of RAM .... there are workarounds (PAE etc) but if u want more memory get 64bit OS (MAC WIN or LINUx dont really care ;) since they support 64bit applications

2)there is also a big difference between: acknowledged ram, usable ram and virtual memory
also: "win7 can see/address 4GB of ram" -> see and address isnt the same; yes they can see it, no they cant address it

3)PAE means that you use 36bit addresses instead of 32bit ... that still doesn't mean that win were or are 36bit - everything is still 32bit (since its made for 32bit processors with 32bit registers), 36bit addressing will only be used to extend the address space of win

4)Eric Layne said... you're wrong sorry; the article uses PAE to overcome the limit and also misses the fact that 6086 had 20bit address space ;)

p.s.: this stupid article made me install 32bit win7 thinking it has 36bit address space by default (yes im an idiot and should know better) ... the author should correct or erase it since 32bit win7 can't support 4GB by default

yes i study computer arhitecture :)

Klavdij Lapajne said...

for some more info:


(physical memory doesnt equal ram... you need to reserve some for hardware memory)


Bryan said...

Windows 7 32 bit here. Just installed 4 gigs of PC3200 DDR memory.

It tells me that 3.62 gigs are usable.

I take it the rest is used by the graphics card, etc..?

Klavdij Lapajne said...

I take it the rest is used by the graphics card, etc..?

indeed :D ... the usable RAM depends on how much memory gets reserved for hardware (i have 3,25gb of usable ram)

Klavdij Lapajne said...

ok one last comment so u dont get confused... sry but cant find the edit option ;)

it is applied to my previous post (reply to Brian) - since it may be understood in two ways let me clarify

Its not your ram that gets used but your address space - that is the number of addresses you can assign to your memory - hardware has priority before ram so it uses some of that space... the rest of your (unaddressed) ram is unusable

Anonymous said...

Once again Apple is leading the way - nothing new there. But what is new is people forgetting how to address more ram than the "theoretical" limit. Don't buy the BS Microsoft is feeding you about what is possible. A 32 bit OS can address more than 4G with a few tricks.
On the other hand, why have they not just made a 64 bit OS that works well?

Anonymous said...

8bits = 256 addresses
16bits= 256 x 256 =65536
32bits= 65536 x 65536 = 4294967296= 4.2gig giving the maximum of 4.2 memory including VGA on a 32bit opperating system yeee haaa!!

Anonymous said...

Quick question.

When will mac get functionality for all windows programs, without having to run Wine, or Bootcamp (which is the exact same as running windows on a Dell POS)?

When I can play my MMO's on a mac, Run all the programs I know and love, then MAYBE I'll relent that Mac can hold a candle.

Until then I guess I just cant run 600 or so programs at once on my PC.... too bad there isn't a processor in the world that can actually utilize more than maybe 10G. So while you have TB of ram, your bogged down with a quad core CPU. Unless you start making a super computer, but at that point its cheaper to buy a whole bunch of quad cores with 192GB that W7 64 bit can handle, and enjoy..... wait did I say 192GB of ram for W7? Yes I did, and no, youll never use more than a small fraction of that.

32bit anything is limited to 4 gigs.... period.

Anonymous said...

As anonymous pointed out:
8bits = 256 addresses
16bits= 256 x 256 =65536
32bits= 65536 x 65536 = 4294967296= 4.2gig

So if the 4Gb were a hardware address space limit, then 16 bit processors of the past should have only been able to address 65 Kb of memory, but we all know that most of them could use 1 Mb of physical memory using paging. That is all PAE really is.

The fact that 32-bit Microsoft server OS's can use more memory pretty well proves the point. It is an artificial Microsoft limit.

Thank you Microsoft!!


Anonymous said...

Keeping limitation 3GB for x32 systems is policy of producers.
People, do you have such short memory?.
Answer how a 32 bit system is manage to see more than 3GB HDD and govern it.
Also, have forgotten about 32GB HDD winxp limitation that was simply solved.
Answer is very simple: They force you to buy and use 64bit systems.
If they give you enhancement you won't change your comp habits of using x32.
People start to think and combine all facts.
Another word's:
"If a sys does see RAM more than some limitation, examle 3GB, it means that has some mechanism to govern it".
Once more again, there is no sense to give people for free an enhancement if you may sell them a new system and force them to move to x64.
Ain't it right now clear, whats going on?

Anonymous said...

Once more: people don't stack in details just think globally about any problem you face!
Remember HDD and RAM both are memory, of course they differ, but in general are the same.

Anonymous said...

Wow...could these people be any stupider

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...Wow...could these people be any stupider
February 2, 2011 9:58 AM

Judging from your post you take the cake.....

Anonymous said...

Zzzzz what a bunch of bores!

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ya ,really great information .

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