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Discussing Myths: The Intro Post

Mira Yurizaki

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Since I seem to talk about assertions that people seem to throw around left and right, I thought I'd start (yet) another blog series, Discussing Myths, where I take an assertion and explain why it's a myth. Or at the very least, spreading more light on it so people know what's going on beyond the surface.

 

So for an introduction post, I figure a shotgun approach to various assertions with shorter responses are in order. If you have more you want me to look at, feel free to drop a reply!

 

Hardware utilization is how much the hardware is actually being used

Hardware utilization is a statistic that often appears in system monitors and the like which show a percentage of how much some hardware, like the CPU or GPU, is being used. And by being used, it's usually something like "how much of the resources in the hardware are being used" or something vague. Like if a task is only using the FPU on a CPU core, maybe this counts as 50%.

 

Utilization usually isn't that intuitive. For hardware that executes something, like CPUs and GPUs, utilization means the inverse "how long did this hardware spend not doing anything at all?" The OS usually has an idle task where it can do things in the background and this gets run whenever some other app or task doesn't need to be run. It's likely this way due to a historical reason.

 

Computer systems are designed such that apps think they own the computer once they run. Of course, that's not really the case but it makes it easy for application development so they don't have to worry about the specifics. After all, applications don't know what they're running on. This is a carry-over from the early days of computing, where mainframes would use time-sharing to divvy up when a user or application can run on the system.

 

To make said monitors be able to figure out how much is being used would be pretty invasive. I wrote more about it over at

 

You can remove the page file without issue

There may be an issue depending on how much RAM you have and how much memory applications want. When an application makes a request for memory, the OS will reserve some space but not actually turn over that space to the application until the application actually uses it. This reservation is called a memory commit. Windows, and likely other OSes, will reserve more space than the app requested so that the next time the app wants more memory, there's a contiguous block of it ready.

 

What makes removing the page file a problem is it reduces the virtual memory address space. That is, the amount of memory space the OS has is how much physical RAM there is plus the page file. So if you have 8GB of RAM and another 8GB of page file space, the total virtual memory space is 16GB. Removing the page file reduces this to 8GB. As commit counts as being used in the virtual memory space but memory that's in use, you can have a situation where the commit fills up whats in physical RAM. Then when the application wants more memory, it may complain the system ran out of memory even though memory usage isn't at 100%.

 

You need to uninstall drivers to update them (you also need to use DDU to uninstall them)

I feel this one propagated because someone had a problem updating, found uninstalling drivers, either using the uninstaller or DDU (an that scrubs all traces of said driver from the computer), fixed it. However, I think this is only necessary if you have a problem after updating drivers. It shouldn't be something you should do all the time. In fact, the author of DDU specifically stated:

 

Quote

DDU should be used when having a problem uninstalling / installing a driver or when switching GPU brand.

DDU should not be used every time you install a new driver unless you know what you are doing.

 

From what I've seen with updating drivers, the older one will either be uninstalled as part of the install process or be overwritten outright. As the driver's filename doesn't change from version to version, a simple overwrite will be enough to update it.

 

You always need to update drivers

You don't. First figure out what the update is bringing. If it's a security update or it adds something you really could use, then yes, you should update. If not, leave your drivers alone. If your system was fine before the driver update, it's not going to be miles better after.

 

This is especially the case with video card drivers. While there are performance improvements, most times they only affect specific games. So the same thing applies here: unless there's a specific game it lists as having a performance update, there's a feature you want to try out, or there's a security update, you don't have to update your drivers.

 

On another note, this also applies to You always need to update firmware/BIOS/UEFI

 

 



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