Solving technical issues for large memory support in Windows 2003 server

Recently I faced issues when I setup the IBM HS20 blade server. I had installed 8 GB physical memory on the blade and I installed the window 2003 32 bit Enterprise operating system. After the OS installation I verified the physical memory availability by using the “systeminfo” command and found that the operating system showed only 4GB RAM present on the server. I was wondering what had happened to the other 4 GB!!

This is because of the hardware limitation. In any 32-bit Operating System, one only has access to 4GB of address space by default. The 32-bit Operating System can actually handle 4GB of memory. Using the /PAE switch allows the OS to handle memory above its maximum range as long as the application can handle it.

Any OS can only handle whatever resources are shown to it by the hardware BIOS.  If the hardware does not support a large enough addressing range, then it won’t report anything above that.  If the hardware supporting 36-bit PAE Intel Extensions or the AMD equivalent is used with an OS that supports PAE, we can enable both and see the entire RAM.

The procedure that I followed to enable the PAE switch in windows 2003 operating system is as below:


Open the My Computer Window from the OS and select the menu Tools from the top of the menu bar


Under the Tools menu select the menu “Folder Options” and select the sub menu “View”



Inside the View menu select the option “Show hidden files and folders” and uncheck the option “Hide protected operating system files (recommended)”


Select the Apply button and press OK button to close this window


Open the primary boot partition (default boot partition is C: Drive). Now we can see the hidden file “boot.ini”.



Open the boot.ini file in notepad and update the /PAE switch on the file. The below screen shot shows the correct format after enter the /PAE switch. Once update the switch we need to save the file and close the file.



Go to My Computer menu on the Desktop and select properties of the My Computer. Now we can see the 8 GB RAM available in the system.



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