On 11:31 AM 16/10/2002 +1000, Julian Higginson said:

>Hey all,
>I just subscribed, looking for a bit of help if possible.... I have just
>started a new job, and I'm taking over an existing design in protel99. Now
>I'm very familiar with protel, however I'm getting a bunch of problems....
>generally crashing out (have had the whole computer reboot on me once, and I
>have had freezes, exceptions, out of range memory accesses, all the fun
>Basically the computer appears totally underpowered, its a PIII600 with just
>128Mb RAM.

I still do most of my work (P99SE and DXP) on a PIII-450 (256 MB RAM, 
Win2K)  *very* stable machine - that is the one big reason I have not 
changed it.  I am afraid that anything I get now will not be as stable.  (I 
will be watching this thread with interest.)

DXP is slow but P99SE works well enough.

I have opened large designs OK on this machine.  Haven't gone as high as 8 
MB PCB but certainly over 4 MB.

I now stick with Matrox and maybe nVidia graphics cards, reasonably priced 
but good quality drivers and long term support for older cards.

I have thought about dual-cpu machines but when I replace this one it will 
sit around the corner and/or be my word processing email machine so I am 
happy enough running two machines rather than one dual.  The price 
difference, at least where I live, is significant.  Also, I am not only 
doing Sch/PCB work so optimizing for that is no big thing in my situation.

Something I have noticed on some newsgroups is the need for really good 
quality power supplies. There seem to be some $$$ brands that are much 
better than the cheapies - go for a decent number of watts over your 
expectation to ensure a really clean supply - this is especially so for 
some of the dual Athlon boards from Tyan I believe  (They are stable with 
good pwr supply but will quickly find a flaky supply).

I *only* ever put my own machines together from selected motherboards and 
stuff - I never buy IBM/Dell/Compaq etc (apart from a laptop maybe).

There has always been a significant number of Protel users saying their 
machines crash all the time and a significant number saying their install 
of Protel is very stable.  So you will get a range of replies, some like 
this one, not really very useful.  I once did have a very unstable machine 
- I was eventually able to show it was a bad memory stick.  Almost no other 
app crashed on this computer - but I found a really good mem tester and ran 
the check over night and it identified a bad chip.  Replaced the SIMM and 
the machine was good - this machine I am using now in fact.

Far from me to suggest you should try to track down a problem with the 
current HW.  I wouldn't, a machine that is getting slow is not worth 
spending a much time on maintaining any more is it?

I suspect you will get a lot of personal experience, like mine, and 
statements of fact (that aren't) and it will be difficult to distill too 
much - these discussions have been had before and there is not too much of 
a consensus.  Some say dual-cpu is essential, others disagree (P99SE and 
DXP are not really multithreaded in manner that makes dual CPUs really but 
you can open two copies of them if doing a big auto-route or DRC and set 
the processor affinity appropriately).

Good luck,
Ian Wilson

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