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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

I've got a MacPro, which is a wonderful machine: fast, stable, quiet and trouble-free... except that I have to boot it under Windows XP to run some software that interfaces with a microscope in my lab (naturally, it's windows only, and, because it uses a firewire interface with the hardware, it can't be run under VMWare or Parallels).

I'm finding that my disk access is *ridiculously* slow under windows: the 5GB files the software I'm using works with take 25 minutes to save or open. I'm no fan of windows, but this has to be a configuration issue. I can open the same files (with different software) from the same disks in seconds when running OS X, so it's not the hardware.

So I'm wondering if anyone here has some experience with Windows, and might have some suggestions regarding things I might change to get the Windows side of things running more efficiently on this system.

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, the microscope is controlled through both firewire and USB interfaces (there are a variety of devices that the software has to control - cameras, light sources, filter wheels, focus drives, mirrors, apertures, etc) and the software that runs it all is Windows only (more precisely, XP (32 bit) only... won't run on Windows 7 or Vista or even XP64). It really frustrates me that, the more expensive the instrument, the less likely you can get software for anything other than Windows. This is a $95k microscope, and while the company is willing to help out with their software, they've already given me the "unsupported hardware configuration" schpeil (they sell a Dell system pre-configured with XP, but I said that I'd supply my own computer running XP and they said as long as it was a standard XP Pro installation, their software would work... and it does.... it's just slow and I can't figure out why).

The system is a dual quad 2.66 GHz MacPro with 8GB of RAM. I've got two disks in there, one with OS X and one with XP Pro SP2, and I've set it up with bootcamp so I can boot into either OS.

I agree with you that it sounds like driver issues, but my understanding is that the drivers are all provided by bootcamp, and I'd assume that Apple supplies the right drivers for it's hardware.

Interestingly, when I run the microscope software under VMWare, it can open and save files much faster (further supporting the driver issue hypothesis). Unfortunately, because you can't virtualize firewire, the software can't run the microscope when running in a VM, so it's not very useful to me.

Any ideas about how I might go about looking for better drivers, or checking configurations (I'm thinking disk caching, swap file sizes, read/write buffer sizes... but I don't know where to look for any of this stuff under Windows).

Cheers
 

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I can only think of two things - upgrade to SP3 can help. Second - is there enough RAM visible to XP and does it have enough free HD space. Anything taking that long is either thrashing because of lack of ram and/or lack of disk space.

You can tweak performance by:
Start>Computer (right click) select Properties>Advanced>Performance and try Adjust for best performance
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks ChilBear,

There's lots of space on the disk, but Windows only sees 1.98 GB of 8 GB total RAM in the system. I think this is because it's 32 bit, and can't count higher than 2 GB, right? If there's some way to get XP to recognize more ram, I'd like to know about it.

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Did the camera come with any drivers that need installing/updating as I doubt that such a highly sophisticated piece of hardware would be plug and play.
Not drivers, per se, the cameras are Leica high-sensitivity cooled CCDs and they're controlled via Firewire through the software (exposure times, chip temperature, binning, read-out bit-depth, etc.), and the other hardware is controlled via USB signals (filter wheels, mirror positions, illuminator voltages, shutters, axial drives, etc.). So none of it needs drivers, as the software speaks directly to the hardware without intervention by the OS (part of the reason I'm so annoyed to be stuck with such a crappy OS... but I've heard from the Leica guys that a version that will run under Windows 7 will be available in May).

The software actually works pretty well, but when it has to make OS calls (e.g. to open or save files), the performance is abysmal. So I'm pretty sure this is my misconfiguration of Windows.

Cheers
 
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