Sunday, November 15, 2009

Solid State Disks: An important improvement for a computer system

I have just replaced the original Seagate Momentus 7200.2 320 GB of a Dell Studio XPS 1340 laptop with a Kingston SNV 225-S2/128GB from the SSDNow V+ Series.

The new SSD disk allowed me to install Windows 7 64-bit in 15 minutes. This time includes the accumulated time spent in the final installation screen of the Windows 7 Install CD (from the "Copying Windows files" step to the "Installing updates" step, which was 10 minutes and 05 seconds), in the "Completing install" (3 minutes) and the final "Preparing computer for first use" (which took less than one minute). The total accumulated time also includes two computer reboots needed in the process: unluckily, the BIOS is quite slow in the boot process so each reboot takes about 30 seconds, withouth the disk being the one to blame.

Some other interesting times:
  • Visual Studio 2008 Professional ISO (3,47 GB) copied from a USB external disk: 4m34s
  • Complete installation process of VS 2008 Pro: 9m47s
  • Complete installation process of VS 2008 Pro: 14m48
It is important to note some things about those times: I included the time to copy the ISO from a USB 2.0 external disk to the SSD in order to note how significant the copy from a external device is related to the actual installation process; and it is also important to take into account that the MSDN install process takes a lot of CPU as file processing by the processor is done in a heavy way (so disk is not the bottleneck).

I also copied an ISO file of Office 2007 Professional (571 MB) from the USB 2.0 external disk in 25 seconds and the install process was performed in 3m22 seconds.

Someday I will review these times by comapring them to the times caused by using the original eSATA hard disk. Ah, all those tasks were made before I installed nVIDIA chipset drivers so times might be even slightly better (my fault! O:-) )

The tests strengthen my idea that it is very important to spend less money on the best CPU or memory chips when the operating system is accessing files or swap space more than often.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Installing a proper Win32 developing environment on Windows 7

I am playing a bit with Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. So far, the experience has been awesome and I absolutely recommend changing to this wonderful OS if you are a Windows user. I have tried to install Visual Studio 2008 this morning and also the Windows 7 SDK. In order to be able to use the latter making use of the former, VS 2008 needs to be updated with its Service Pack 1.

After downloading the installer for the VS 2008 SP1 (please note that the download link leads to the Spanish version), all I got were installation errors. In order to have it properly installed, all you have to do is execute the installer in Windows Vista SP2 compatibility mode.

About the Windows 7 SDK, you have to be aware of the two alternatives for a proper installation process: visit the link for the Web Installer (a small program that reads information about your Windows 7 system and downloads the files which it needs) or visit the page for the download of an image.

Also take into account that there are three ISOs for the three possible target CPU architectures (x86 for 32-bit CPUs, IA-64 for Intel Itanium chips and AMD64, which is the proper one for the Core 2 Duo in the laptop that I am using). If no comments show up in this post, it means that no install problems were found -I am still leeching the 1.5 GB of the SDK). Ah, I forgot one important thing: this is only for the underlying CPU architecture in your computer. Visual Studio allows you to generate code for all the three architectures, no matter which CPU you have.

I do not play with the SDK for pleasure. I want to test if I can compile both the Helix Server and Player for Windows 7 for the work of my PhD Thesis. If not, I guess I will need to install a new partition with Windows Vista or, more likely, Windows XP (where I have already done it in the past). Everytime that a new SDK comes up, headaches reach the Helix Community.