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// Tales from software development

Using the PAE switch to enable 4GB RAM in Windows Server 2003 SP2

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In theory, the more recent versions of 32 bit Windows all support up to 4GB of memory and some support additional memory beyond 4GB when the Physical Address Extension (PAE) switch is enabled in boot.ini.

I’ve just upgraded a Windows Server 2003 SP2 server from 2GB to 4GB and so was disappointed to find that Windows only recognised 3GB. A few blog posts suggested that although the PAE switch is intended to enable use of memory above 4GB it seems to affect how Windows handles memory in the 3-4GB range too.

It’s an easy enough change to try. Just add /PAE to the end of the parameters in boot.ini:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Windows Server 2003, Standard" /noexecute=optout /fastdetect /PAE

It worked in this case – after a reboot Windows reported 4GB of physical memory.

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Written by Sea Monkey

December 14, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Environments, Hardware

Tagged with ,

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