iBook, RAM, and iPhoto

2006-07-02

in Geek stuff, Photography

Hardware geekery of limited interest to follow:

Every time I open iPhoto (v. 5.0.4), my computer grinds and whirrs for as long as three minutes – and that is when I remember to close iTunes, Entourage, and any other programs aside from Firefox that are running at the time. I then need to close iPhoto before I can even think of opening Photoshop, an iPhoto process that takes as long as opening it. Oddly, any changes made to albums during an iPhoto session are lost if it crashes while trying to close, as it manages to do frequently. The problem is clearly a shortfall of RAM.

My iPhoto library includes 6124 photos, occupying 6.43GB of disc space. Even though it is only showing a handful of photos at a time, the weight of the library seems to have really strained the iPhoto architecture, based on a G4 iBook with 512MB of RAM. Just sitting there, with a single window open and no operations ongoing, iPhoto uses 131MB of physical RAM and 436MB of virtual memory (hence the clicking and grinding, as my hard drive strives to act as RAM). When it is doing something moderately complex, like dealing with a large number of photos at once, it can use more than 300MB of physical RAM.

When I bought my iBook, during the summer of last year, the standard RAM allocation was 256MB. They charged me more than $150 for another 256MB, then inserted it in the form of a second 256MB stick, occupying the only free RAM slot. When you overcharge people like that for an upgrade, you should at the very least provide a 512MB stick and leave the other port free. Now, if I bought a 1GB stick, as I am planning to do when I see a reputable listing on eBay, I will need to remove the 256MB stick I paid for in order to install it.

That said, given that RAM seems to be the major bottleneck in performance and productivity on this machine, it will probably be worth it.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous July 2, 2006 at 1:19 pm

Lots more whining about iPhoto is here. The bit about the trash can is especially obvious.

Anonymous July 4, 2006 at 11:56 am

It doesn’t matter that you will need to toss one 256MB stick:

The Apple iBook G4 1.33GHz 14-inch (M9627LL/A, M9628LL/A) DDR uses PC-2100 type memory and has 1 bank(s) of 1 socket(s) each for a total of 1 memory socket(s) . The Apple iBook G4 1.33GHz 14-inch (M9627LL/A, M9628LL/A) DDR comes standard with 256MB of RAM and supports up to 1256MB of RAM with 256MB of that in Fixed RAM.

Milan January 5, 2009 at 11:14 am

Thankfully, I am now running iPhoto on a 2.8 GHz Core Duo iMac with 2GB of RAM.

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