Are We There Yet?

Bloat in software has to go somewhere, like RAM and storage…“Main system memory in PCs has been trending downward for several years and, in 2014, grew by its smallest percentage since the 1990s. This low growth rate was partially due to changing dynamics within the computer market and the fact that new versions of Microsoft Windows operating systems do not require more system memory, as was the case in the previous two decades. By 2016, IC Insights forecasts that portable personal computing systems (i.e., tablet PCs) will surpass shipments of desktop and notebook PCs, which are often sold with 6GB or more of DRAM today.” According to IC Insights, the bloat of that other OS has not required more RAM for the first time in decades. That never-ending thirst for RAM drove the Wintel monopoly, requiring most consumers and businesses to either install more RAM or to buy a new PC with more RAM.

Inadvertently, this was a driver for adoption of GNU/Linux as one could install GNU/Linux and get better performance in the same amount of RAM, or one could keep an old PC snappy for years longer. GNU/Linux also increased use of RAM as did browsers… but the need to constantly double RAM every few years was gone for those first-adopters of GNU/Linux. Now it’s gone for everyone else. RIP Wintel.

See Market dynamics and technology hurdles reduce DRAM bit volume growth.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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16 Responses to Are We There Yet?

  1. oiaohm says:

    DrLoser what you have is called a feature phone. A feature phone can run applications like Solitaire

    A dumb phone is fairly much just a phone and watch with maybe an alarm clock and an address book(yes most likely limited to the address book in the sim).

    A true dumb phone normally has no user writable flash memory other than what is in the simcard. Pages and emergency dial phones for young kids and so on fall into this camp.

    “what people call a dumb phone.”

    When I say “what people call” I normally mean you have your term wrong.

  2. DrLoser says:

    That old nokia is still fairly bloated for what people call a dumb phone.

    1) It makes phone calls.
    2) It wakes me up in the morning.
    3) I didn’t mention this, but I can also play Solitaire on it whilst standing up on a crowded train.
    4) If pressed, I could even take a rather grainy picture of a sad, mid-thirties man in a red leather miniskirt, high heels, and fishnet stockings trying to eke out an evening living under a lamp-post in the near vicinity of Dubbo.

    Seems to do everything I expect of a $10 phone, Fifi. Somehow I can’t bring myself to criticise it for “bloat.” But then again, I’m not a FOSS loony.

  3. oiaohm says:

    http://www.instructables.com/id/ArduinoPhone/
    DrLoser if you want something close to the bare min todo the task of making phone calls and being a alarmclock above is it. As far as I know there is no vendor selling premade phones this dumb other than the emergence call devices and pagers.

    That old nokia is still fairly bloated for what people call a dumb phone.

    Yes the true specs of a dumb mobile phone is insanely small 16 kb of ram is enough. That old 64 meg nokia has the means to run applications. Crappy ones but it does run applications.

  4. oiaohm says:

    kurkosdr you can make a nice little graphic how Android requirements have grown. Remember it started off only requiring 32megs of ram and 32 megs of flash. Android has grown a hell of a lot since Android 1.0.

    Like ever other OS it now leveling off. 64 bit support and high DPI screens are most likely the last triggers for major memory usage growth.

    The Android memory growth due to software has in fact been slowing.

  5. DrLoser says:

    My Android/Linux smartphone has 512MB RAM and runs quite nicely.

    As a phone, or as a thin client, Robert?

    My Nokia dumb phone has maybe 64MB RAM and seems to do a good job of making calls and waking me up in the morning.

  6. oiaohm says:

    2013 Nexus 7 kurkosdr I own. I have had 5.0.2 on it and I currently have a custom built image on it. Other than the memory leak that is to fixed it is perfect.

    Guess what. You are meant to run an official image (carrier or not). And just because some ROM baker stripped out the OS to the bare essentials so it runs somewhat OK on old hardware doesn’t mean anything. You can do this with Windows too. Just go to services and let yourself go wild. I judge an OS by the official image that was supplied.
    cyanogenmod equal to android 4.4 for nexuiz one is not stripped out at all. Yes it even supports google Play store with all the hangers on.

    http://www.androidauthority.com/fix-lollipops-massive-memory-leak-coming-soon-ish-577101/

    kurkosdr Google openly states that the fact that Android 5.0 is requiring more than 512 megs on a 32 bit device is a software bug or you have a modern device with a high dpi screen..
    https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/source.android.com/en//compatibility/5.0/android-5.0-cdd.pdf
    64 bit device the 1G is kinda true.

    These are device sizes.
    https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/source.android.com/en//compatibility/4.4/android-4.4-cdd.pdf

    Turns out Android 4.4 is only 340 to be Google certified.

    Android 5.0 worst is 64 bit with high resultion screen and then you can kiss good buy to 2G of ram.

    Please not the specs in those PDF are include all the google provided apps plus ram for user applications.

    kurkosdr Windows Phone is also a memory sucking vampire when you give it high DPI screens. Android 5.0 and Windows Phone have fairly much the same requirements.

    If you want to bring in something with lower requirements firefox os and sailfish.

    kurkosdr next round of android 5.0.x updates your complains will have to die down. Memory usage will drop a bit.

    The high resultion screen problem cannot be fixed easily. Seams that 8G is the level off point. Once there you have enough ram to cope with almost what ever.

    kurkosdr old 32 bit devices with 512 megs of memory are suitable. Nexuis 7 is not a 64 bit device and its not a ultra high result-ion screen.

  7. dougman says:

    Kuku stated..”Android needs 1GB of RAM”

    “Android 4.4 is designed to run fast, smooth, and responsively on a much broader range of devices than ever before — including on millions of entry-level devices around the world that have as little as 512MB RAM.”

    http://developer.android.com/about/versions/kitkat.html

    The LG Optimus L3 E400 uses 384MB of RAM and runs Android fine.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LG_Optimus_L3

  8. kurkosdr blathered on…, “Google won’t dare to sell a device with 512MB of RAM, not even via the Android One program, because when Android tries to run on 512MB of RAM it has to enter a special mode and is generally painfull to watch.”

    My Android/Linux smartphone has 512MB RAM and runs quite nicely. RAM is scarcely an issue these days as Moore’s Law and the market has brought prices down dramatically, but, at least GNU/Linux doesn’t waste RAM like XP used to preloading all kinds of stuff whether or not the user wanted them loaded… I’ve sat at PCs that took 2 minutes for the desktop to be usable. Some folks sued for delays of 15 minutes during which their employer didn’t want to pay them. Don’t talk to us about squandering RAM. M$ is an outlier both in code-bloat and caching and swapping. Intel and others kept cranking out faster hardware with more RAM just so M$ could sell licences. That was an indecent menage a trois if there ever was one. Much of the world was fooled into scrapping perfectly usable PCs after 3 years of use simply for this. Now that M$ has quit squandering RAM, PCs are lasting 8 years or more quite regularly. Take a hint.

  9. dougman says:

    Kuku, are you talking about phones or desktops? First you says “Windows Desktop” then you mention “Android” in the next sentence.

    Roberts post does not mention phones, not sure why you’re off on a tangent here, but nonetheless lets talk “Windows Desktop”. Windows 8 is most specifically made for tablet/touch screen devices. There are many applications which are not usable for desktop users and are kept running when the device is turned on, whether one uses it or not, furthermore these applications keep ones RAM busy which is not desired, but thats Windows for you.

  10. kurkosdr says:

    ” that being that Windows is a RAM sucking vampire.”

    You are kidding, right? Desktop Windows needs 1.5GB RAM to run well, although it runs an antivirus at the backround out-of-the-box.

    Android needs 1GB of RAM, although, as an OS, provides far less services than Desktop Windows and runs no AV out-of-the-box.

    Windows Phone, the latest version mind you, runs on 512MB or RAM, and Microsoft officially sells 512MB devices in their Lumia line. Instead, Google won’t dare to sell a device with 512MB of RAM, not even via the Android One program, because when Android tries to run on 512MB of RAM it has to enter a special mode and is generally painfull to watch.

  11. kurkosdr says:

    “Ok what. I guess you installed a carrier image.

    Please be aware third parties got Android 4.4 and 5.0.0 running on a Nexus One. ”

    Guess what. You are meant to run an official image (carrier or not). And just because some ROM baker stripped out the OS to the bare essentials so it runs somewhat OK on old hardware doesn’t mean anything. You can do this with Windows too. Just go to services and let yourself go wild. I judge an OS by the official image that was supplied.

    Truth is, the 2013 Nexus 7 is a 4.x-era device and is slow with Lolipop, while the Nexus 5 is barely usable. I am talking about official images always, just like you guys do with Windows.

  12. dougman says:

    Kuku busts on Android which is the top-seller mobile OS, but forgets that Windows phone commands a paltry 3% at best, this obviously is outside the topic of which Robert conveyed in his message, that being that Windows is a RAM sucking vampire.

    Linux runs faster than Windows, that is memory usage. Linux is far more efficient at handling memory than Windows is and Windows is still too much hard disk bound to be ever able to realise its true speed potential. It still leaves too much memory free that could be cached and runs its caching procedure at inopportune times as well as trying to swap memory out at any and every opportunity. Linux on the other hand uses memory like it should be used. Virtually all of the available memory is used for both programs and disk caching. Fast changing files are written to virtual directories mounted in memory. Swap disks are only used when needed and how aggressively those swap disks are used can be set in a simple configuration file.

  13. oiaohm says:

    kurkosdr I use Android 5.0 on 4.0 era hardware. A lot of people do. There has been a memory leak in 5.0.1 that is to be fixed in 5.0.3 but there was also a leak in 4.4. Yes pure 5.0.0 does not have the leak.

    Android 5.0.0 is lighter on ram slightly heavier on flash. You can expect 5.0.3 to be the same. AOT comes at a price.

    kurkosdr Android 5.0 and 4.x are all the same min spec. So everything 4.x era should be able to run 5.0.x no problems.

    In fact, after PlayServices is done force feeding “bloat” in the Nexus One, you barely have any space left in the “apps” partition.
    Ok what. I guess you installed a carrier image.

    Please be aware third parties got Android 4.4 and 5.0.0 running on a Nexus One. Its performance is in fact quite decent running either.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47oCVRrcotg

    That is a video of 4.4 on Nexus One.

    kurkosdr basically give up your bull crap. Turns out latest android runs quite well on Android 2.1 hardware. The problem is not the hardware means to run it but OEM/ODM wanting to provide update images.

  14. kurkosdr says:

    “According to IC Insights, the bloat of that other OS has not required more RAM for the first time in decades.”

    Funny how when the topic is about “bloat”, Android is never mentioned, it’s only that other OS that takes the heat (not the statistically “other OS” aka Desktop Linux, I mean the Pog newspeak term for Microsoft Windows).

    Android started as a platform that required minimal storage and RAM, and it evolved in a monstrosity that not even Nexuses (which have beefy hardware for their time) can tame as the upgrades come in.

    It’s always funny to fire up a device of the 2.x era and see Android burst at the seams as PlayServices upgrades itself and some of the bloat of the later versions enters the device (imagine if you could do proper upgrades like in Windows).
    http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/12/android-2-3-gingerbread-four-years-later-the-os-just-wont-die/
    In fact, after PlayServices is done force feeding “bloat” in the Nexus One, you barely have any space left in the “apps” partition.

    Only the SGSII is a usable device of the 2.x era, because it’s one of the rare devices of the era (even among hi-end) that shipped with an huge-for-the-time 1GB or RAM.

    But you know, those are old Android devices and we should not judge Android for not running well on old hardware. Let’s instead bash Windows when it doesn’t run on old hardware. Why have a single standard when you can have double that amount?

    In fact, Microsoft is doing the good thing and keeping Windows requirements mostly stable. Google is promising better performance, but Lollipop will bring your 4.x era device to it’s knees.

    Oh, and in case Android doesn’t count (because Android is not real Linux when it’s problem count time), let’s talk about Desktop Linux’s insatiable appetite for battery mAh’s. Which you know, is one of the most scarce resources on today’s devices.

  15. ssorbom says:

    Or,
    On the pc side you could just use LVM storage pools and combine physical HDs. 😉
    I imagine that makes backups tough.

  16. oiaohm says:

    This is interesting for many reasons. The decreasing nm and introduction of 3d ram design means the amount of ram per wafer in fact quads over the next 2 years. 25% more demand is only 50 percent increase over the next two years. Yes amount of silicon required for ram will halve.

    This is going to get interesting to say the least we can expect a lot more focus on power effect ram like resistance ram. Remember the same factories that produce ram also produce flash. So solid state drives could become a lot more affordable.

    Really I do wonder how long until 10 TB of storage is inside a mobile phone.

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