Is 8GB RAM enough for programming?
This is a question that many computer users ask themselves when they are looking to buy new hardware. We need to look at what type of programming you will be doing and how much memory it requires to answer this question.
For example, if you will be running an operating system like Linux or Windows with multiple virtual machines, you’ll need more than 8GB of RAM. On the other hand, if your programming consists mainly of code in one language with few tasks in the background, then 8GB might be sufficient for your needs.
In this article
- 1 Is 8GB RAM enough for programming?
- 2 Why 8GB RAM and not 4GB RAM?
- 3 Does the number of RAM affect your PC performance?
- 4 What happens if you upgrade your RAM?
- 5 Frequently Asked Question
- 6 Conclusion:
Is 8GB RAM enough for programming?
I’ll be focusing this article on dynamic RAM, which is used by all operating systems. Static RAM, or SRAM, is often found in hardware devices like the memory of a graphics card. But let’s look at what 8GB can offer you even if you are programming for normal use, not just heavy-duty workstation needs.
Computers that have more than one core usually run more tasks simultaneously, with each core having access to its portion of the RAM. This means that it will take less time to perform many tasks because each part does not have to wait until the previous task has finished performing its function before starting something else. Since core programs do not need as much memory as those that require plenty of processor power, 8GB should be good enough for many.
The operating system will also use some of your RAM, but not too much. Windows 7 indeed requires about 1 GB of memory just to get the boot process started, but once it has finished loading itself into memory, you won’t see its processes take up very much at all.
A little bit of RAM, on the other hand, is always a good thing to have in case something needs it since RAM is extremely fast compared to a hard drive or SSD. Having spare RAM can also allow you to run virtual machines without needing another computer with more powerful hardware. Before we answer the question “Is 8GB RAM enough for programming?”
Let’s look at what programming type would require more or less than 8 GB of RAM.
Concurrency and latency:
Low-level languages tend to use more memory for various things that don’t necessarily need it (e.g. object-oriented constructs), while high-level ones use less memory with simplified functions that end up doing the same thing as their low-level counterparts would do if written in machine code. If we take a look at this table, we can see how a program in a high-level language will use less memory than one in a low-level language.
Related: How To Know If CPU Is Dead?
In case 1, we have an operating system running on top of user mode, while the CLR is executing the C# application. In this case, the OS and CLR can cause contention for data, but it will not be that much compared to case 2 where there is no other layer between them other than what they are both using to communicate with each other. When it comes to latency, every time you access RAM there is at least some wait time before receiving your data or instruction.
If you want to know more about RAM latency, check out this Wikipedia article. It also has some interesting information on how latency can make your computer slower by quite a bit if the chips do not fit together properly. However, I doubt having low-quality RAM will cause any issues when it comes to running an operating system and performing regular tasks.
Let’s look at some real world numbers though, shall we? If our memory runs at 1600 MHz, that would mean that the time it takes to access data would be 0.1 ns. If our processor is running at 3 GHz, this means that each instruction will take roughly 0.33 ns per cycle. For simple calculations, 2 x 2 = 4 / (0.3333 * 10) = 100 cycles . Depending on how many instructions you are planning to execute within your program, you may or may not consider getting faster memory modules compared to the one you already have installed.
Why 8GB RAM and not 4GB RAM?
Now that we have a general idea of what RAM does and how it works, let’s take a look at the question: 8GB or 4GB?. We can compare our observations from case 2 with those from case 1 to figure out why 8GB memory modules are more desirable than 4GB ones. In case two, as previously mentioned, there is contention present on both sides of RAM due to its nature as a shared resource. The more-verbose low-level programming language will use less surface area for less complex components, using less memory per program.
This is probably the most relevant reason for having a lot of extra RAM available, but if you want an opinionated answer, I’d say “8 GB is better than 4 GB”.
There are other answers to your question, though, so let’s take a look at them before I give you my own take on things. Having more RAM allows you to allocate larger portions of memory to processes running in the background. If multiple programs are being used simultaneously, this means that fewer data will have to be moved from RAM into swap space by the OS, which results in increased performance.
The easiest way to do that would be to send more power to the processor if it is bottlenecked, but if that is not the case, increasing RAM may or may not help improve overall system responsiveness. At some point, everything becomes about latency and storage speed (e.g., SSDs).
There is also some evidence suggesting that having more RAM “just in case” actually helps improve performance due to the fact that more programs can be kept in memory and thus do not need to reload or become swapped (you’d be surprised, swapping is a huge time waster even if it happens on fast storage like an SSD).
Does the number of RAM affect your PC performance?
I’d say yes.
Having more RAM available increases the number of programs that can be kept in memory at any given time, generally resulting in fewer reloads and less swapping.
The same benefits may vary from system to system, but there is a general tendency for using more memory to improve performance – it just has to be used properly and efficiently.
That said, I’m not convinced 8GB is better than 4GB, even today’s applications and operating systems don’t usually consume much more than 4 GB, so having 8G around might not be worth the investment if you are on a tight budget. We have seen mainstream platforms like Intel’s Sandy Bridge lineup supporting as much as 32GB of RAM without issue these days because the price of extra DRAM modules has dropped so much. This means that even though your average modern desktop or laptop might not use more than 4 GB of RAM, having 8GB or 16GB around will never hurt you.
What happens if you upgrade your RAM?
If your motherboard supports it and you can afford the extra expense, upgrading to 8GB of RAM instead of 4GB will generally help improve system responsiveness (assuming there are no other bottlenecks such as slow storage or a processor that is not powerful enough for what you want to do).
It’s also worth considering that modern applications and OSes tend to use more RAM than older versions. This has actually been the case for quite some time due to increased complexity and better security which means that even if you decide to upgrade your system by adding another 4 GB of RAM, it might not necessarily yield any noticeable benefits down the line unless the rest of your system is already maxed out.
Frequently Asked Question
Is 8GB ram and 256GB SSD enough for programming?
If you are coding on Visual Studio, then 8Gb of Ram would be sufficient. If you are into GPU programming, then you might need additional memory. Same goes for the SSD. But I would say 8Gb of RAM and 256Gb of SSD would be enough for your needs.
Is 8GB RAM enough for machine learning?
That really depends on what you mean by enough. Here is the answer: No. Machine learning is computationally intensive. You can not expect to do machine learning with 8 GB ram. You need at least 32 GB, and it is better to use the above.
Is an 8GB Macbook Pro enough for programming?
Yes, 8GB is more than enough for programming. You will be able to open several applications, 10 or so Chrome tabs, and even work on a video project.
We hope you enjoyed our info about how much RAM you need for programming or is 8GB RAM enough for programming? If you’re in the market to buy a new laptop and you’re a programmer, we hope this will help you decide what you need in your next computer. If you follow our advice, you’ll get a portable laptop that’s powerful enough for programming. Thank you for reading. We are always excited when one of our posts is able to provide useful information on a topic like this!