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64GB memory in your 8-core Mac Pro! (8GB memory modules)

Other World Computing 8GB memory modules

Yesterday, I reported on the availability of 8GB memory modules from OWC that allow up to 32GB memory in a quad-core Mac Pro, greatly extending its useful headroom, but I lamented the fact that 8-core machines apparently had a 32GB limit.

It turns out that this might not be true after all— apparently booting into the 64-bit Mac OS X Snow Leopard kernel allows all 64GB to be used!

I have been running continuously in 64-bit kernel mode for six weeks or so now on both my quad-core and 8-core Mac Pro. They are working flawlessly, and things are definitely perkier with the 64-bit kernel, especially photo applications. So if no hardware or its driver support precludes the switch to the 64-bit kernel, go ahead, it’s worth it. An eSATA card is one possible sticking point, but I use the FirmTek SeriTek 2ME4-E and it’s rock-solid.

I have eight 8GB modules on the way for testing (on loan from OWC), so I will soon be able report directly how they behave in both the quad-core and 8-core Mac Pro Nehalem (see review).

Few users need 64GB, or even 32GB, but there are use cases for it, such as monster files in Photoshop. A future 64-bit Photoshop CS5 will be a Big Deal for users working with monster files, but lots of memory helps today with huge files even though Photoshop CS4 is a 32-bit application on Mac OS X, see Optimizing Photoshop — my groundbreaking research shows the benefits clearly.

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