Deep dive into SWTOR – Part 1

What does this mean?  Well I am reading a lot in the forums customer service section, provide tips on how people can get things working better, including performance, networking, graphics and so on.  But there is a couple of issues that people in the forums seem to talk about like they have authority over, people, who love to hear negativity, grab it and spread it around like it is gospel.  So I will be looking from an operating system perspective how SWTOR works.

I will be looking into memory allocation, the pages of memory that are in use, the processes that are running and using up system resources as the game is playing.  I will do some PvE content and PvP content, Imperial and Republic.

I will also show the way I did this, please note.  This information is very advanced, you need to have a very good understanding of how Windows memory management works to fully understand the information I will be presenting.  BUT, I will be also providing the details in terms that anyone can understand.  I may talking about Commit Charge, Free and Available pages but this is in no way designed to give you an in-depth understanding to the memory management of Windows.

What is the purpose of this?

I am hoping to be able to shed light on the elements that can affect the games performance.  Everyone seems to blame BioWare for the problems when there is latency spikes or their game slows to a crawl through certain areas like fleet or in Operations or PvP.  But some of these issues may not be down to BioWare but down to the setup of your PC.

The Primer

Fast, Faster, Fastest.  There are many different physical components in the PC that can go fast, very fast but at the same time, there are elements that are slow.  In Windows 7 and Windows Vista there is a performance rating, that gives you a value of performance for memory, CPU, graphics and disks.  Take a look at those numbers.  The number with the highest is the fastest, the number with the lowest is the slowest.  Simple isn’t it?  Yes, but these numbers may mean not much unless you know the impact of these systems on the game.

x86 v x64

Memory, I am running x GB of RAM and the performance of SWTOR sucks.  What version of Windows are you running, well it doesn’t matter what version, SWTOR is an x86 process therefore there is a limit to how much RAM it will use.  The version of Windows and the configuration will determine how much RAM it will use.

  • x86 – It will be a max of 2GB
  • x86 – with /3GB and /USERVA it will be a max of 3GB
  • x64 – It will be a max of 4GB

What, that isn’t right, I am running x64 and I have 32GB?  Well, 2^32 – 1 (This is the physical limit of bytes than can be allocated by a 32bit process like SWTOR).  4,294,967,295 Bytes, or 4,095MB or 4GB.  That is the limitations of the architecture, not BioWare.  Why didn’t they develop x64, well, that is something only they can answer.

Suffice to say, I am hoping to enable people to understand not only the complexities of a game like SWTOR but also how windows handles this information and there are many more factors, outside of BioWare’s control that affect the performance of a game.


Posted on January 8, 2013, in Article, Star Wars and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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