Scott Hanselman

Hanselminutes Podcast 80 - Vista x64 - Is Now the Time?

September 7, '07 Comments [10] Posted in Longhorn | Podcast
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My eightieth podcast is up. In this one Carl and I talk about our experiences with Vista 64. 

If you have trouble downloading, or your download is slow, do try the torrent with µtorrent or another BitTorrent Downloader.

Links from the Show

Do also remember the complete archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Telerik is our sponsor for this show.

Check out their UI Suite of controls for ASP.NET. It's very hardcore stuff. One of the things I appreciate about Telerik is their commitment to completeness. For example, they have a page about their Right-to-Left support while some vendors have zero support, or don't bother testing. They also are committed to XHTML compliance and publish their roadmap. It's nice when your controls vendor is very transparent.

As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Friday, September 07, 2007 2:14:43 PM UTC
Great podcast. One comment about new machines though;
When I'm putting together a new machine I don't consider it trustworthy until I've run some serious stress testing on the system. You are only asking for trouble if you wait for blue screens to tell you something is wrong.

The *first* thing I do is run Memtestx86+! This for me is the first and most important test of system stability. Almost every problem I've had with a new build has had to do with the memory or the memory controller which in most cases means either RAM or motherboard. Until memtest can run for hours (and in the past I've used 8 hours as an arbitrary point) your machine is not stable. I've had memory tests work fine for a few hours and then start detecting errors! So letting it run for a while is crucial.

Next up for me is CPU stress testing. that means running Prime95 for 12-24 hours on "small FFTs" (You may need to run multiple instances with a multi-core processor). That will put no ends of stress on your CPU and the test pretty much fits into the L2 cache on the CPU so it isolates the problems to it. I've never had this fail on a system that wasn't overclocked and had good memory (see step 1 above), but it could happen - especially if something else in your system is not right (i.e. the motherboard). When overclocking this is a great way to see if you've acheived a stable overclock, but I usually make sure the system is absolutely stable at stock speeds before I worry about that.

Once all of this is good, you can run Prime95 "blend" to do some general stress testing.

The moral of the story: Even if your system seems stable from every day usage it may not be. Stress test your systems or you are asking for the heartbreak of lost or corrupt data. Its not hard to do this stress testing and in the long run it will save you time.
Frank
Friday, September 07, 2007 4:26:35 PM UTC
The "Microsoft-specific RAM tester" mentioned in the last five minutes is officially known as Microsoft Windows Memory Diagnostic. While it can be downloaded for free from Microsoft's website and burnt to a CD for booting, the Vista install discs already include it on their boot menu and the installed Vista boot-time menu has it also.

For "random" blue screens, memory testing is my first check. Has saved me hours of debugging.

Regards,
Friday, September 07, 2007 7:39:48 PM UTC
I expected some talk about the benefits of moving from Vista 32 to Vista 64 or from XP straight to Vista 64 but the issues presented were more of Vista in general and hardware.

So, Scott, why are you using Vista *64*? (other than you enjoy being an early adapter for MS technologies) Does your PC have tons of memory?
abdu
Friday, September 07, 2007 10:25:43 PM UTC
Abdu - You're right. I ran out of time and I didn't effectively control the conversation in this episode. I have 4 gigs of RAM and I find that I have NEVER had any Virtual Memory or "Out of Memory" issues of any kind with Vista64. I run as many as 4 VMs at the same time and it's a joy. I was always running out of resources with Vista 32.
Saturday, September 08, 2007 6:58:29 PM UTC
Scott,

Great show, but I was expecting you to talk about the development experience on a 64-bit box. Like what does not work and what are the showstoppers, IIS behavior, etc... Whether anything is slower, do applications take a lot more memory (particularly 64bit .net apps). Things like this.

Do you plan to do another show on this topic or was just everything peaches with development on Vista64?
Saturday, September 08, 2007 10:50:34 PM UTC
RobertG - You're right. I think I'll do a Part 2 with just me and talk about these issues. Thanks for your feedback.
Sunday, September 09, 2007 10:40:15 AM UTC
This was the first episode of your podcast I ever listened to. I tuned in to hear "why we should move to Vista 64bit" and found that the discussion was more general. That's okay.

Imagine my happy surprise when 19 minutes into the show you folks turned to the issue of BSOD and mentioned the BIOS SPD setting as the culprit on your home built boxes. What wonderful serendipity that was.

I built a Vista Ultimate 32bit machine last November. I experience BSODs when I pushed the system's RAM use. This was typically happened when running VMware Workstation VMs in addition to my normal 10-12 applications.

I like to think that I know a lot about PCs, yet I had never thought about SPD settings before. I immediately went into my system's BIOS and changed the SPD setting from automatic to manual. I left the individual default settings under the SPD manual items, saved the settings and rebooted.

I have not had a BSOD since. I am pushing the memory usage way beyond what I ever would have considered before and the system seems rock solid. Thanks.
Sunday, September 09, 2007 3:04:06 PM UTC
Scott,

No offense to Carl, but I sometimes feel like he's in a totally different podcast than you are. "Speaking of non-sequiturs" . . . I should have known to turn it off as son as I Carl uttered that phrase.
Brian
Monday, October 01, 2007 10:30:28 PM UTC
What method would you suggest for obtaining Vista Ultimate 64? I currently have an OEM version of Vista Ultimate (32 bit). It came preinstalled on my Thinkpad X61 Tablet. I have an MSDN Subscription - Volume License Visual Studio Team Developer. It appears that only Vista Business and Vista Enterprise are available via my MSDN Subscription. I have tried to determine what my options are but am not able to determine the best way to go. I would appreciate any thoughts you have.

Thanks,
Kerry
Kerry Jenkins
Monday, October 01, 2007 10:57:41 PM UTC
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.