Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A few words about power management

One of the really neat things about Vista is the new resource monitor. It gives a very detailed in depth look at what is going on with your system. It offers a number of new metrics to see how your system is doing. Some of the readings that I got after installing baffled me a little.

In Vista, under the original task manager (Ctrl-Alt-Delete -> Task Manager) you can find your CPU utilization. I spent a decent amound of time looking at the CPU meter under XP 64 just to see what was going on under the hood. I found that for the most part the CPU never exceeded 30 - 40%. Only when a number of tasks or an installer was running would it go higher. Occasionally I'd leave WoW and EVE running at the same time and wonder why it wasn't quite as fast as it should be. Mind you, I'm overly sensitive and have high expections for my new machine. However when I was not using the machine, I found that the CPU was largely idle (1% Usage)

So after I installed Vista it seemed that my base usage had gone up, a lot. It also seemed that the general responsiveness of the machine was lower. I became curious and investigated further. I found that there is a new button, under the "Performance" tab in the Task Manager. It's the resource monitor. The resource monitor provides a vast amount of information. Amoing it's nice features is a CPU readout. Unlike task manager there are two data points, a blue line "Frequency" and the traditional green line, CPU usage.

I watched the graph and realized in short order that the CPU was by default, not running at 100%. In fact, most of the time it was clocked at 38%, the lowest speed possible. I typed in the word "Power" in the start menu and it brought up "Power Options". Sure enough, Vista is clocked at "Balance" by default. This means that if your cpu supports Cool n' Quiet (Lame name AMD) or SpeedStep Vista will enable it by default. It's nice that Vista supports these features by default.

So, if you feel like Vista is a little slower than XP, it probably is by default, but know that you are helping the environment by keeping the "Balanced" or "Power Saver" setting. You can always change it to give you a boost when you need it.

Share your score

I just found this really cool site for sharing your Windows Vista Score. Pretty cool stuff check it out!

After submitting your info you'll get a little icon like the one on the right bar

A 4x4 Vista Score

After installing Vista I was really interested to see what the experience index would be. Before installing my graphics drivers it was a solid 1.0 based on lowest subsystem score. This was of course due to the fact that the default Vista drivers for my card didn't perform very well. So, I went on to install the 8800 drivers from NVidia and I ran the benchmark again. I wasn't fully sure what the scale was, 1 to 5? 1 to 10? Given the consistency of the results and based on the documentation in the help file I figured the scale is actually 1 to "5" which actually means 1 to less than 6 based on my results. 1 to 10 might have been better!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Vista 32 bit or 64?

Last week I took the plunge and installed Vista on my 4x4 machine.

I purchased a copy of the "limited edition signed by Bill Gates" version of Vista. Lame I know, but it was the same price as the regular version on Amazon.

The ultimate edition comes with two DVD's, one for the 32 bit version and one for the 64 bit version. So of course the first question that comes to mind, which version do I install?

Being a glutton for punishment as well as having some very solid reasons for wanting to use the 64 bit version, I chose to go for the 64 bit.

Here are a few reasons for choosing the 64 bit version: Microsoft has said that they will not allow Kernel level access to outside applications in vista 64. What this means is that malicious programs will have an extremely hard time placing system level "hooks" that could be used for nefarious purposes. This was a major issue in the months leading up to the release in 2006. Many anti-virus vendors were complaining that they would not be able to make their software work properly with vista if it did not allow Kernel level access. Microsoft acquiesced to their request due to political and legal pressure, especially the EU. The compromise was that the 32 bit version would be left "open" and the 64-bit version would be left closed. As a developer I feel that the general direction of pc software will be towards 64 bit - so I'm interested developing under a 64 bit environment. Finally, in reading the list of "known issues" listed by Nvidia for the 8800 it seemed that there were less known issues with the 64 bit version of the 8800 package versus the 32 bit version. Whether this is due to less testing of the 64 bit version, I don't know ^ ^.

It all seems to work however, and overall my impression is a positive one!