Thursday, March 20, 2008

Update on VIsta SP1 install

Well, I installed Vista SP1 on my Quad box (my quad core gaming/media workstation) yesterday, and have been running it for a day.

So far, no exorcism required.

THe intitial install took a ridiculous amount of time; first running a pre-install for over 30 minutes, then taking 20 minutes during shutdown "installing updates". On reboot I got a black screen for over 20 minutes as well, as the system was continuing to install updates without any status indication; so long in fact that my monitors went to sleep.

The only reason I knew things weren't frozen up was because my num lock and caps lock keys were still responsive (though they didn't wake up my monitors), and because my hard drive activity light was still blinking away furiously (shame on some modern case designers for eliminating this very useful status light on many cases.

THen, after the system finished its silent updates and became responsive, it installed several more updates before bringing me to a login screen.

This in fact is where I encountered my only obvious problem with the install; my video settings had been screwed up. I run a dual head setup with two monitors that run a different resolutions. For some reason, the ordering of the dislays had changed, and the settings for each had been reversed (its on an EVGA branded Nvidia 8600gts with the latest forceware drivers) .

After I logged in, the system once again started downloading and updating; and finally it asked me to reboot again, after running a final windows update.

All told, I'd guess the process took 60 minutes. I think the long period of time blanked out with no status indication is a serious problem, because many users will restart their systems, possibly several times, and may end up in an inconsistent or corrupted state. THe video driver, I'll chalk it up to inconsistencies with the system and give it a pass.

Now, I've been running for over 24 hours, doing my normal tasks; mostly iTunes and windows media center, plus bit torrent, some transcoding, and media serving to my TiVO and PS3. I also ran a full system backup, and did some large file copies across the network.

I can report that there is indeed a significant speedup in network file copies, ad local disk to disk copies; especially when multiple simultaneous copy jobs are running. I couldn't quantify it without further tests, but the difference was very significant.

Unfortunately, I've also noted both my boot time, and my memory usage went up significantly.

The boot time issue is quite irritating; as it has added at least 20 seconds to my boot cycle. I have no idea what it's doing, because there is minimal hard disk activity during this extra 20 seconds, nor any on screen status indication.

The memory issue though, could be more serious. Initially, I was alarmed, because my physical memory utilization went from 650-700mb to 1,250mb. I then went through my process list, and discovered that more servicehost processes were running than usual, and they had large memory allocations. It turns out, SP2 re-enables a number of unnecessary services that I had set to manual, or disabled.

Once I killed those services however, the memory utilization still went up from 700mb to 925mb. I've left the system running at idle with the normal background process going, and that utilization has crept up to 1.1 gigs in six hours (I have 3 gigs of memory installed, and a 4gb static page file set).

This is somewhat worrisome; especially as there was no memory leak evident prior to the SP1 install.

I'm just running a test right now. I've got 1.09 gigs allocated as I type this, and 32 hours uptime. I'm going to reboot, and see if the memory utilization drops after the reboot, and restarting all my background processes....

...And yes, it did, all the way down to 750mb.


Well, it seems obvious that theres a memory leak; I'll just have to watch out and see how bad it is. Otherwise, I'm not happy about the increased boot time, and curious about it's cause, but I can live with it; and I'm very happy about the file copy times, because that has bee a major issue in my environment.

UPDATE: 8 hours of absolutely no activity whatsoever, just idling (and nothing scheduled in the background, and no serving media or background file transfers), and the memory usage has gone from 750 to 925.

Although there are other possible explanations, it seems more and more likely that there is a relatively slow memory leak here.