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The term "virtual memory" when used in connection with PostScript printers actually refers to a portion of the physical RAM installed in the printer. This type of printer memory is separate and distinct from the RAM memory on the computer or the free disk space on the computer's hard disk that Windows 386 enhanced mode uses as its own type of virtual memory.

The following sections discuss the definition and description of printer virtual memory, virtual memory settings in the Printers section of the Control Panel, and sources of information about printer virtual memory.

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Description of Printer Virtual Memory

The phrase "virtual memory" used in the context of PostScript printing describes the way that the PostScript language uses certain segments of the printer's RAM memory.

The PostScript usage of memory can be divided into two basic areas. The first area is the area that is reserved for PostScript operations. This area includes the PostScript interpreter and three of its stacks: the operand stack, the dictionary stack, and the execution stack. The second area of memory, the virtual memory, or VM, area, is the area in which the values for PostScript composite objects are stored. PostScript objects are simply data, such as numbers, booleans, strings, and arrays. A composite object may be an array, dictionary, or string.

The interpreter and its stacks manipulate objects and composite objects during the PostScript printing process. Therefore, the first area of memory may be thought of as corrected overhead for operations. The second area of memory is storage area for data that is dynamically adjustable through the Advanced Options dialog box for PostScript printers (see below).

Virtual Memory Settings in Control Panel

After you install a PostScript printer driver in Windows 3.1, the Advanced button will be available in the Options dialog box. (To access the Options dialog box, run Control Panel, choose the Printers icon, choose the Setup button, and choose the Options button.) If you choose the Advanced button, you will enter the Advanced Options dialog box, which has a Memory group box in which you can set the amount of PostScript printer virtual memory. The desired amount is entered in the Virtual Memory (KB) box.

The default setting that appears in the Virtual Memory box is the one recommended by the printer manufacturer. The default value is adequate in most cases. However, when a document uses a large number of TrueType or soft fonts, it may be useful to reduce the virtual memory setting so that the printer's memory is cleared more often. This helps to prevent the printer's memory from being overloaded with unused font information.

The Clear Memory Per Page option performs a similar function. With this option, the printer's memory is cleared after each page is printed, and the fonts are downloaded to the printer again. However, these settings have only limited effectiveness in dealing with PostScript printing problems.

You can determine the actual amount of RAM memory (that is, "virtual memory") on a PostScript printer by printing the TESTPS.TXT file in the WINDOWS directory. Adding more physical RAM to the printer will allow you to increase the maximum effective value in the Virtual Memory box.

Sources of Documentation

Although page 334 of the "Microsoft Windows Resource Kit" guide for operating system version 3.1 implies that more details exist concerning virtual printer memory in chapter 4 ("Troubleshooting") of the "Getting Started with Microsoft Windows" guide, no additional information specific to printer virtual memory exists there. Nonetheless, the "To change a PostScript printer's options" section on page 84 of the "Getting Started with Microsoft Windows" guide does provide information about the Clear Memory Per Page check box. Other information about virtual memory is found by choosing the Help button or by pressing F1 while the insertion point is in the Virtual Memory settings box.


"PostScript Language Reference Manual," Adobe Systems Inc., pages 18-19, 45-46, Addison-Wesley, 1990

"Microsoft Windows Resource Kit" for Windows version 3.1, page 334

"Getting Started with Microsoft Windows," version 3.1, page 84

HELP.TXT, Windows version 3.1

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