Julian and the rest...

(1) You should get as much memory as you can afford.  With modern OS's like
Win2k and WinXP the performance of the machine scales directly with the
amount of memory you have.  Only in rare cases where you have 4GB+ of memory
can you actually decrease memory performance due to addressing limitations.
But RAM is cheap... you should at least have minimum 512MB for any modern
based system.

(2) Scrap win98 based machines.  Win98 only optimizes up to 128MB of memory
(was 64MB with win95).  All of the NT kernel based OS's (NT, win2k, XP) have
had much better memory scaling and optimization.  Win98 is just an outdated
piece of crap that has no stability unless you reboot it every few days.  Its
pretty awful from the memory management perspective.

(3) As many recommended, the Matrox G450/G550 are great cards for doing CAD
work.  They have very stable drivers and the best 2D performance in the
market.  True protel doesn't utilize any of the advanced 3D features except
for the OpenGL 3D board viewer that is (a) a toy and (b) will look fine on
primarily 2D cards like the matrox's.  Also 2 monitor support is awesome.. my
system at home is built around a G450 with dual 21" Sony Trinitrons.  Its
amazing how much more you can get done with that much screen real estate.  As
for the ATI cards... many people from Altium technical support have told me
flat out there are many known issues with Protel and ATI cards and they
recommend you not use Protel on any ATI graphics based computers.

(4) Get a decently fast CPU but you shouldn't have to have the latest
screamer to get your work done.  Most of it will just determine how long it
takes the autorouter to run.  What is key is getting lots of memory so that
the OS doesn't run out of physical memory and have to cache to virtual memory
in order to get the job done.  Hey it could be worse... you could be using a
Mac that has no concept of virtual memory, no protected memory space, and no
dynamic memory allocation (pre OS-X obviously).

(5) Get a good motherboard with a known stable chipset.  I prefer boards from
Asus or Abit.  Make sure to check any incompatibilities with the different
flavors of chipsets.  IE if you need something that is PCI bus intensive you
would want to get something other than a VIA because of its known limitations
in PCI performance.  Get something like an nForce, etc.  But anyway.. if you
are building your own machine you should pay particular attention to aspects
like that.  If you are buying something like a DELL... then you don't have
much to worry about since what you are buying when you get a PC like that is
known tested hardware configurations.  If you are getting any kind of BSOD's
(blue screens) you totally need to troubleshoot your hardware.  With Win2k by
no means should you ever get a blue screen unless there is a hardware
problem.  The win2k kernel is very solid.  Hardware configuration and
component selection is key to a stable machine.  I have an older PPro 200Mhz
with 128MB of RAM that I use for a FTP/Fileserver/Print
Server/Router/Firewall and it has been up 200+ days using NT4+SP6 and
constantly being slammed usage wise.  Solid hardware makes all the

(6) As for the person who asked about good power supplies vs generic ones.
Most of what you are paying for other than features like fan control and low
noise is basically component selection and power quality ultimately leading
to MTBF.  I would recommend getting an Antec, Enermax, or PC Power and
Cooling PSU.  If you got PC Power and Cooling's web page and you wonder why
the hell are their PSU's listed for so much more than generics etc ... look
at the MTBF spec.. they last 3-4X as long.  But both Antec and Enermax PSUs
are solid as well for a little less cash.

Julian, if you are looking to build something and you know your price range I
could give you some suggestions on a great configuration... just what
features you are looking for a price always makes the bottom line.

Hope that helps,


-----Original Message-----
From: Julian Higginson [mailto:J.Higginson@;lake.com.au]
Sent: Tuesday, October 15, 2002 9:31 PM
Subject: [PEDA] Protel99se and win2k fun

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. (We've just found another 128 meg stick lying about and put it in
this computer, which makes it run a bit more smoothly, but it has still
managed to crash) I'm operating on a PCB that is 6 layers and quite large.
(the PCB file is almost 8 meg) Oh, and it has an ATI video card, which I
read about in the archives... hmm... so I spoke to my boss and I'm getting a
new computer to work on, so I'm wondering what kind of specs are necessary?

My guess is I need a good FSB speed more than I need the fastest processor.
I'll need at least 512Mb of RAM. I'll need 7200rpm drive speed, for faster
sustained disk transfers, and I'll need an OK graphics card, but no need for
some super monster 3D engine....

What sort of success has everyone on the list had with their computer
ie specs vs board size? and are there any manufacturers other than ATI to
What features will help with screen redraw speed?
what features will help with DRC time? (about 15 minutes per DRC at the
How much RAM do I need to throw at the thing to stop it going to swapfiles?



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