Gordon Price wrote:

> Ladies & Gents,
>         I have a new Dell 1GHZ Pentium III with 128 megs of ram using 99SE
> SP6 using Windows 2000 Professional. When I am drawing schematics or
> manually placing components everything seems to run very stable. I have a
> medium sized project that has 5 schematics and produces a single PCI long
> card with DSP's and video chips on it.
>         Sometimes for no reason at all, I get exception crashes while either
> routing or un-routing the board or resetting DRC error flags. The errors
> usually point to a "ntdll.dll". Some days the same design behaves stable and
> some days it does not. If you kill the run away task and reboot, the problem
> goes away for a while.
>         I have tried several other machines in my office and they all behave
> the same way, so I can't say it is a specific machine hardware problem.

If the other machines are also 128 MB, that may be the problem.  Yes, it is
absolutely inexcusable that things crash like this due to obvious resource
shortages.  messages should be delivered warning of resource shortages,
or there should be some other mechanism to correct or at least try to
continue functioning with reduced performance under such circumstances.
I ran Vaxes under VMS, and they would slow down, sometimes to the point
that it was easier to reboot than try to untangle the resource exhaustion, but
you knew what happened and what could be done to prevent it in the future.

> The
> design itself is pretty far along the path and seems to be pretty acceptable
> as far as saying is their something real radical in the design itself that
> may be causing the problem. It is a 12 layer board with 3 power planes and 2
> ground planes and 7 signal layers.

Yes, it DOES sound like you are running with too little memory for that sort
of project.  I'm running on 128 MB too, and know it is on the edge, but my
projects are generally not quite so complicated.

>         I am not about to point the finger at either Microsoft or Protel,
> but my question is "Does anyone else experience this kind of crap and still
> put out a professional product??"; " Is Protel just a toy for hobbyists??"
> It makes me very nervous. I am a UNIX type engineer and can not fathom this
> kind of instability.

Yes, it is apalling!  And, I think it is more a Microsoft problem, possibly
compounded
by Protel's being locked into a somewhat obsolete programming environment
for Borland.  Their Delpi environment apparently makes very heavy use on
Windows resources.

Jon

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