Visual Studio 2010 Hardware Requirements

Soma’s been talking about the upcoming Visual Studio 2010 release on his blog, which means I’m starting to get questions about what type of hardware you’re going to need to run VS2010 on.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you an official answer yet (other than to say, it depends on what you’re doing – obviously building small apps with one of the Express versions of Visual Studio won’t require the same resources as a multi-million line app using full blown Visual Studio Team System with lots of third party add-ins).

What I can do is help put some of the things we’ve said about Visual Studio 2010 into context, to maybe help you make some better hardware decisions today:

1) Memory – we’re trying to make VS2010 as frugal as we can here in order to run in as little memory as possible; however, we’re also adding a lot of functionality, and systems with more memory do tend to perform much better. So the general rule of buying systems still applies – spring for as much memory as you can afford. It’s hard to have too much memory, at a minimum you want to make sure that you’re not paging. That said, there’s very little benefit to making a text editor 64 bit (and lots of reasons not to), so anything over 4GB is likely to be wasted (unless you’re running or writing apps that need more).


2) CPU – modern CPUs with their larger caches and tuned instruction pipelines tend to perform much better than one’s from just a few years ago (see our blog). If you’re going to do multi-threaded programming, you’ll want at least a dual core processor (and with the new Parallel Computing support in VS 2010, you will want to do multi-threaded programming).


3) GPU – VS2010 will leverage WPF heavily to create richer editing and visualizations, so a decent GPU that supports at least DX9 is highly recommended (DX10 is preferred, but requires Vista).


4) Disk – If you’re building a large project or working with a large database, a large high-speed disk is pretty important. For large projects, you can often benefit by spreading your work across multiple disk spindles. At an extreme, putting your tools on one drive, your source code on another, and your object files on a third drive allows the three major sources of disk IO in building a project to be carried out independently of each other. If you have to use a slower disk (e.g. a notebook) then be sure to get lots of memory. Also keep in mind that modern hard drives tend to have more built in caching, so the same speed drive bought recently will likely outperform one bought a few years ago.

So now that I’ve given you my thoughts on what hardware Visual Studio 2010 will need, what are your thoughts? What kind of hardware are you developing on today, and what do you expect to be using in the next couple years? What are your expectations on how we should be leveraging your hardware to create a productive development environment?