Saturday, August 10, 2002

Time for developers to consider a hardware upgrade?

I thought I'd share a recent experience. I'd been running a Dell Ispiron 5000 as my development workstation for a year or two, when I decided to upgrade it. Then I upgraded yet again to a new workstation. The differences in the experience of working day to day on the machines has gotten so much better each time. I know it may seem obvious that this would be so, but I wonder how many others have been lulled into a false sense that they're machines are performing acceptably. Sometimes, you really don't know what you're missing.

With hardware upgrades being so cheap these days, I thought I'd share my experience for the benefit of others who may not have considered it. The first was a few months ago, the second last week.

My laptop was a 650mhz p4 with 192m of ram. After having CF5, JRun (3, then 4), CFMX, etc running as services (I know, I could avoid that and run them only as needed), then adding Studio and Outlook running pretty much all the time, and Word, Powerpoint, etc running occasionally, well, the machine was getting sluggish. Some operations were starting to take a couple to a few seconds, but since they were frequent, it became noticable.

My first upgrade was to add 256meg of memory for a total of 448. That really made quite a difference. Clearly, there was some os swapping going on that was hurting me. It was almost like the difference back in the old days of upgrading a win 3.1 machine from 16 to 32 meg. :-) Seriously, it was a very worthwhile upgrade for less than $50.

Then I happened to look at the docs for CF5 and saw that the minimum requirements for enterprise were 256mb with 512 preferred, and then figuring all else I had, it made sense that I needed to add more. So let this be a lesson. We may tend to think our machines that were hot a couple years ago are still capable. Think again.

Then, I was forced recently to get a new workstation. I chose just a no-name clone but with a p4 @ 2ghz, a gig of ram, and an 80g hard drive. My word, what a difference. Of course, some will say that a workstation will always outclass a laptop, but Dell laptops have been quite good as reasonable desktop replacements. And maybe an equivalent upgrade to a new laptop might have been just as imprssive. The new machine's running xp pro over my laptop's win2k pro. I've enjoyed that experience as well. Lots of nifty things in XP (automatic system restore points set at install of software to name just one--don't know if that's pro only). Everything's running fine on it (no weird hardware whose compatibility I need to worry about).

Anyway, I just want to share the experience that regardless of your current platform, you may find that a $1000 for a machine configured with a good bit more horsepower may really improve your day to day experience as a CF developer if what you've got it anything more than a couple years old.

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