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  • davemc1584 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Hi Scott R,

    I seem to have a similar problem with the computer really slowing down since installing SL. This is on my main desktop - iMac 2.8GHz with 2GB ram

    Right now, some of the main items my machine is showing are:

    Process %CPU Real Mem Virtual Mem
    kernal_task 0.4 193.2MB 27.5MB
    Firefox 3.2 96.1MB 64.2MB
    mds 0.2 86.6MB 215.0MB

    and when VMWare Fusion is running:
    vmware-vmx 2.3 607.6MB 34.3MB

    and whenever I'm transferring files to an external drive, I get this additional:
    Quick Look Helper 0.0 5.7MB 542.0MB


    The other details, which seem to remain fairly static are:

    Free: 266MB VM size: 162.5GB
    Wired: 204MB Page ins: 5.11GB
    Active: 719.4MB Page outs: 1.48GB
    Inactive: 857.0MB Swap used: 967.1MB
    Used: 1.74GB


    With a bit of luck, that should be all you need to possibly give me your thoughts on a computer that has definitely slowed down since installing SL?

    Really appreciate anything you can offer

    Rgds,
    Dave
  • Chris Howe.au Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    Here a good article explaining how the mac uses memory. Won't solve your problems, but it means you can look at the activity monitor with more of an idea of what is going on!
    http://sg80bab.blogspot.com/2007/03/is-my-mac-using-too-much-memory.html

    Enjoy! Chris
  • Scott Radloff Level 6 Level 6 (14,490 points)
    Dave,

    Everything looks normal, but one thing literally screams out:

    The other details, which seem to remain fairly static are:

    Free: 266MB VM size: 162.5GB
    Wired: 204MB Page ins: 5.11GB
    Active: 719.4MB Page outs: 1.48GB
    Inactive: 857.0MB Swap used: 967.1MB
    Used: 1.74GB


    You see, you have had to "page" 1.48 GBs of data out to disk, from your physical memory. This is called "swapping," and it really, really, really slows down your computer. Now, any amount of swapping activity is a bad thing, but it always must be taken in context. That context is the amount of data that has been paged into memory. Data gets paged into physical memory when, for example, you launch an application for the first time (after a start or restart). If you had a huge amount of data that we could see being paged into physical memory, it would indicate that you have many,many applications that you run, or that your computer had been running for a very long time, or both.

    In this case, we don't see that. We see, instead, that you have only paged 5.11 GBs into memory. So, you have paged well over 1/4 of the entire amount of data read into memory back to disk. Not good at all.

    As it happens, you have also provided us with a very likely explanation for all this "swapping:"

    and when VMWare Fusion is running:
    vmware-vmx 2.3 607.6MB 34.3MB


    Ah, this is what is speeding you right down the road to "swap file perdition!" It is well-known that 2 GBs of RAM is simply not enough to feed the needs of both OS X and Windows in a virtual machine. You can still use both without causing your computer to slow down too much, but you must be careful.

    If it is important to you to have flexible functionality in Fusion, I will recommend that you install as much RAM as you can, up to the maximum your computer will support. If you cannot, or in the meantime, I will recommend that you run only one other application in OS X while you are running Fusion.

    As I have often stated on these boards, additional RAM will never make one's computer run faster. What it will do is prevent those situations that cause your computer to run slower. I rarely recommend additional RAM, because most Macs already come with the amount that is typically "right" for that model's intended use. The aforementioned situation that causes one's computer to slow down is..... swapping(!), and this qualifies you as the exception to my rule.

    Congratulations! Now go buy some RAM!

    Scott
  • davemc1584 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Scott,

    Thanks very much for your time and consideration in your reply.

    I figured it had something to do with Fusion - a program that I must reluctantly run in order to run some Windows-based programs for work.

    I will certainly be upping the RAM to the max 4GB ASAP. I too figured that was the most likely solution.

    I am still surprised though - I have been running Fusion for about 18mths on this machine along with everything else, and the only thing that I have changed (in the last few days) on the machine has been to install SL. Simultaneously, I noticed the slow down after a day or so of use. My usage of the machine in general has not changed over that period.

    Perhaps it's an issue with Fusion vs. SL?

    Either way, more RAM it is for now - should at least alleviate some of the problems.

    Thanks again - much appreciated,
    Dave
  • The hatter Level 9 Level 9 (60,460 points)
    There is, or will be, an update to VMware Fusion.

    Moving its image to another drive also can help.
  • GFNG Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    FYI.. I upgraded my memory today to 4GB and I do not see a significant increase in speed loading programs. The start up was faster only by 5 secs.

    So I have splinted the memory between two computers. Now I have 3GBs in each and the performance is the same.
  • Ed Purkiss Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
    Pondini wrote:
    When a running process releases memory, OSX removes it from Active, of course, but marks it Inactive and doesn't clear it, so it's faster to reassign if the same process needs it again. It only goes back to Free when the process that had it ends.


    This is curious to me ... I have a 10G 8 core MPro. I left the machine running this morning when I went out to see clients, lotsa green in the Activity dock icon. Come home. almost entirely blue. Halt all apps. Barely moves, just like if I start up, start a bunch of apps and turn them back down. Now, blue stays ie., some process still has the RAM and is not letting it go.

    Is there any better way of looking at (who) has a hold of that memory so that I can debug this? It has only started happening since I upgraded to SL, and I've had no major changes in my behavior or apps running since them. There's definitely some kind of leak somewhere, and since I can't see what app it is, it must be a helper process or kernel process...
  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)
    Ed Purkiss wrote:
    Pondini wrote:
    When a running process releases memory, OSX removes it from Active, of course, but marks it Inactive and doesn't clear it, so it's faster to reassign if the same process needs it again. It only goes back to Free when the process that had it ends.


    This is curious to me ... I have a 10G 8 core MPro. I left the machine running this morning when I went out to see clients, lotsa green in the Activity dock icon. Come home. almost entirely blue. Halt all apps. Barely moves, just like if I start up, start a bunch of apps and turn them back down. Now, blue stays ie., some process still has the RAM and is not letting it go.


    Is Blue Inactive? If so, then please read the rest of the quote:

    When a process requests new memory, OSX takes it from Free first; only if there isn't enough there will it take it from Inactive.


    In that case, no process is preventing it from being used; it's available to any process that needs it. You do not have a memory problem.

    Is there any better way of looking at (who) has a hold of that memory so that I can debug this? It has only started happening since I upgraded to SL, and I've had no major changes in my behavior or apps running since them. There's definitely some kind of leak somewhere, and since I can't see what app it is, it must be a helper process or kernel process...


    What does it show for +Page Outs+ ? If that's zero or low, then OSX is not paging memory out to disk. Again, you do not have a memory problem.
  • Ed Purkiss Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
    Thanks Pondini, and I did read the rest of the quote: I was most curious by the, "it can only go back to free when the process that had it ends" - clearly, that process has not ended yet ... given my symptoms this looks to be new behavior. I'd not be worried, but when I'm all blue like this it usually denotes an impending decrease in performance.

    ATM I have 713MB page in, 79.1MB page out. I have no idea what that means, I'm afraid. However, VMsize is 171.91 GB, which looks frighteningly large to me.
  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)
    Ed Purkiss wrote:
    Thanks Pondini, and I did read the rest of the quote: I was most curious by the, "it can only go back to free when the process that had it ends" - clearly, that process has not ended yet ... given my symptoms this looks to be new behavior. I'd not be worried, but when I'm all blue like this it usually denotes an impending decrease in performance.


    Again, if blue is Inactive (which you haven't answered), it is NOT A PROBLEM as INACTIVE MEMORY IS AVAILABLE for any process that wants it. See Activity Monitor's Help.

    ATM I have 713MB page in, 79.1MB page out. I have no idea what that means, I'm afraid.


    Page-ins are a measure of everything that's read into memory. Apps, data, etc. Basically meaningless: that's what you want your Mac to do!

    Page-outs, however, if large, can indicate a problem, since they occur when there isn't enough memory (Free plus Inactive), and OSX must write some out to disk so it can reassign it to another app. 79 mb isn't a lot.

    A better way to monitor page-outs is via a Terminal command. The Terminal app is in your Applications/Utilities folder. Enter the following, exactly as shown, at the prompt (a non-blinking block cursor):

    sar -g 60 10

    This should tell you if you are doing pageouts. You'll see a line in the Terminal window every 60 seconds for 10 minutes (or until you quit Terminal), showing the number of pageouts per second. Pageouts are an indication that you could use more memory. A few pageouts is normal. If you have large numbers of pageouts, then you have a memory problem
    However, VMsize is 171.91 GB, which looks frighteningly large to me.


    No. From DU Help:

    VM size: Virtual memory, or VM, is hard disk space that can be used as memory. VM size is the amount of disk space being used as memory. Mac OS X can use more memory than the amount of physical RAM you have. A hard disk is much slower than RAM, so the virtual memory system automatically distributes information between disk space and RAM for efficient performance.
    |
    On my very small system, with only 40% of the memory in use, and CPU usage under 25%, I show 124 gb.
  • Chris Howe.au Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    Hi Pondini,
    Below is what I see on my home iMac. Admittedly, I do not see the same behaviour on my MBP. Both are on 10.6.1.

    When I reboot my mac, I see lots of 'green' free system memory, a little 'red' wired memory and some 'yellow' active memory and a sliver of 'blue' inactive memory. As I open applications, active memory increases as you'd expect. So does inactive memory, at a much slower rate.

    As the day goes on my inactive memory grows in pace with the closing of apps. Free memory reduces down to a few MB. By itself, this should be an issue.

    However I do not see a reduction of Active Memory as I quit apps. I can quit all my apps, have wired memory around 700MB and Active around 1GB and 300MB of inactive pages. Page outs are low.

    Adding up 'Real Memory' on my MBP (which I have no issues on) my real memory total is approximately equal to my Active memory. When I quit apps, active memory visibly reduces, Inactive increases. Over time, the inactive also reduces and free memory climbs back up.

    This does not occur on my home iMac. Active Memory does not seem to reduce. Adding up 'Real Memory' usage does not come to a fifth of the reported Active memory. Inactive Memory does increase, Free memory goes to a sliver and all apps begin to slow.

    Your thoughts?
  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)
    Chris Howe.au wrote:

    As the day goes on my inactive memory grows in pace with the closing of apps. Free memory reduces down to a few MB. By itself, this should be an issue.


    I hope you mean, "this should NOT be an issue," because it's normal.

    However I do not see a reduction of Active Memory as I quit apps.


    None at all? If so, something's indeed wrong. Quit one at a time and watch the figure closely. If you quit an idle app, you probably won't gain much.

    But do remember, your Mac has a whole passel of processes running at all times, doing this and monitoring for that. Some will use Wired memory, some Active; I don't know which uses what.

    When all apps are slowing, I'd be inclined to look at CPU usage before memory.
  • Chris Howe.au Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    Hi Pondini
    Sorry, yes I meant 'NOT'!

    CPU usage is minimal. I'll record some stats and screens over the weekend and work out how to post them up here.

    Chris
  • Randy Smith1 Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)
    Certainly memory management has changed between Leopard and SL as I too am experiencing the "symptom" of having no free memory, but rather it tends to be tagged as inactive now. This wasn't the case in Leopard; I would see usually 2 of my 4G RAM be free at most any time.

    Now, in SL, only immediately after a reboot do I see any free memory - it's changed to inactive over a fairly short period (hours) of light use (watching a DVD, with no other apps opened after the reboot).

    While there isn't an abundance of pageouts, there is some latency to my MacBook that I really don't recall having when it was running Leopard. Nothing I can honestly quantify, to be sure, but it's there.

    Interestingly, my file-serving Mini doesn't show the same problem, it does show free memory, even after running days on end (since the 10.6.1 update).

    Curious. I too was thinking along the "memory leak" lines but there's never been any process that I can point to as a culprit, all looks normal other than the lack of free memory reported.
  • Ed Purkiss Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
    I've been off to my son's football game and had a think about this thread and the discussion on it.

    Although the sentiment that "If it's working, stop whining" is probably accurate and appropriate, I still think there is something here that needs to be addressed.

    I have 10G of RAM. I have several apps going, but it's not that much by any stretch. With regular old Leopard, I could have my apps running for weeks on end and the memory never got allocated and turned inactive. Now, just by sitting here, and just in a day, SOMETHING allocated memory, even if it did make it "inactive" and it's available as a system resource. There's bad behavior going on that should be identified - irrespective of if it is malignant or benign.

    I'm a coder for over 33 years. I learned my first assembly (6502) in '76. I'm not trying to be a pushy killjoy here, but I think there is more going on than just "new memory management" and we should all be ok with it. The behavior looks wrong. I did not touch my machine for the last 3 hours, came back, and the 1/8th pie of "free" that was there has been completely replaced by blue (inactive). That means something is grabbing memory that it doesn't need.

    There are other problems with SL that make me reboot about once a day - no worries, I understand a new release. But since I can't just let the machine sit for many days, I am unable to see if it starts bogging down hard after all the RAM's been converted to inactive for a while.

    What I'd still really like to know is if there's any way to identify a process number that owns inactive memory ... then we could start getting at what is responsible for the leak.
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