Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 16:29 UTC
Mac OS X Adam Fields and Perry Metzger have been investigating the serious performance issues people are experiencing with Lion. "Frequent beachballs, general overall slowness and poor UI responsivness, specific and drastic slowdowns on every Time Machine run, high memory utilization in Safari Web Content, mds, and kernel_task processes, large numbers of page outs even with a good deal of available RAM, and high amounts of RAM marked as inactive which is not readily freed back to other applications, with page outs favored." Apparently the issue is that the "virtual memory manager is bad at managing which pages should be freed from the inactive state and which ones should be paged out to disk". I won't make myself popular with a certain part of our readership, but really, is this considered a new problem? Mac OS X has always had terrible memory management, and where Windows has continuously become better at it, Mac OS X seems to have been stagnant and even getting worse. This is what happens when the company earns 2/3s of its revenue somewhere else.
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I have the same problem. The inactive memory grows as i open/close applications, or surf the web etc., and the free memory shrinks. And when it falls to something like 100-150 MB, the system starts to hang, everything slows down dramatically.

I finally managed to reproduce the problematic scenario, so i run the test and recorded the screen, into video.

I run the tar+bzip command, which is basic unix stuff, on the large amount of picture files, in my Pictures/ folder. Just before start, i run the "purge" command, to delete inactive/cached program data. You can see on the video that free memory starts to drop very fast, and inactive is constantly rising. When the free memory dropped below 100mb, i started some apps, like Safari, iPhoto and MS Word, and you can see in the video, that it takes even minutes (!) to start an app, when normally (when there is free RAM), it would take some 3-5 secs to load. I run the same scenario and the same commands on my Linux Centos 6 box, no problem there ! Memory usage is some 10-20mb, no problems with cache/buffer.

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