Wednesday, 25 April 2007

The Windows Vista Power Hungry Monster

After upgrading to Windows Vista Premium on my ThinkPad X60t, I have noticed that my power does not last as long as before. Plus when resuming operations from standby or from a “cold” reboot, the system takes ages to be back to peak performance – wasting about 10% of my 100% battery power – just to get the system ready for operation.

I started wondering what could be wrong – was it a driver malfunction? Or just my slow 5400 rpm hard drive that took so much energy – since the hard drive seems to spin and spin and spin during boot.

Digging into Resource Manager in Windows I quickly discovered the first culprit. Windows Readyboost… After every standby it seems like the Readyboost Cache on my 2GB Ultra III SD card needs to be flushed and refilled (or at least checked for consistency) – It seems like the Readyboost architecture reads a lot from the hard drive even when resuming from an S3 sleep state. It keeps at it for 2-5 minutes at high read/write levels – invoking the Readyboost drive and the internal system disk.

Why it is needed from S3 standby state I don’t know, since it should be quite simple to have a “marker” telling vista if the device has been modified.
I do like the speed improvements in application startup from Readyboost, but now I’m starting to wonder if it is worth loosing a lot of power on. So I checked out my Readyboost device J and started debugging the rest of “where do my power go”.

So reboot – and back into Resource Manager.. And there was the next damn culprit. It seems like the Indexing service is another power-hungry bastard while running on batteries. Every single reboot on battery power, (and on ac power) starts the indexing service running full speed ahead – despite power settings being “balanced” or on “low power”. Indexing service simply eats away for 5-8 minutes at very high disk speeds. I have not tried to disable the indexing service yet - because I do love the search in Outlook 2007. But there are clearly improvments that can be done so this does not have to be done on EVERY boot or resume event.

So dear Microsoft, please give your engineers only notebooks and only allow them to boot on batteries for some time. Then I think we will get a solution to the 2 worst power draining items on a vista system. Of course there are plenty of other things that take additional power in Vista, but these two actually kills performance and especially boot performance.

I have pluged in my Readyboost SD card again, but am almost crying when the system has to resume or reboot - so now my X60t is labled "Mr. 90% power"


Mark said...

I could have sworn that my indexing was once turning off when I switch to battery power (and the power savings setting), and there's a setting under Power Options for Search and Indexing. I'll have to do some testing, but I'm pretty sure this is the case.

Kaz said...

There is a "index off" - but that does not take care of the Readyboost "indexing" :-)

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