Electronic Design

Sorting Out The Requirements For Windows Vista

As Microsoft launches its new PC operating system, Windows Vista, anxiety levels are rising for both IT managers and consumers who have become comfortable with using and administering the previous version of the software, Windows XP. Despite the upheaval such a release brings, the PC industry has undergone many upgrades in its history, and Vista will be no different.

According to Microsoft, Vista will require at least an 800-MHz, 32or 64-bit microprocessor with 512 Mbytes of DRAM. These recommendations define a leading-edge PC from approximately five years ago. Yet despite Microsoft's claims that Vista can run on such trailingedge systems, the reality is quite different.

For desktop PCs, a suitable microprocessor to run Windows Vista should have a clock frequency of 3 GHz for a single-core chip or 2 GHz for a dual-core microprocessor. Also, Vista-capable notebook PCs should use single- or dual-core microprocessors with clock speeds of approximately 1.5 GHz and faster.

The main cost impact of Windows Vista will be in the additional memory required to run the new operating system. Today's typical mainstream desktop and notebook PCs include between 512 Mbytes and 1 Gbyte of DRAM. While Microsoft says this is adequate to run Vista, a more realistic memory configuration will be 1 to 2 Gbytes of DRAM.

By configuring a PC with more memory than is required today, users can build in headroom for the memory requirements of tomorrow. From a corporate perspective, this is a good practice, and a common one. It allows for increased demands on memory either from updates to Vista or from new applications installed in the future.

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