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VRAM 2.0 Documentation
(C) Copyright 1987 Biologic Company; ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
P.O. Box 1267
Manassas, VA 22110
VRAM lets you break the 640K memory barrier without additional memory boards or
other hardware. When used in conjunction with applications programs that
support the Lotus/Intel/Microsoft Memory Specification (e.g., Lotus 1-2-3
release 2.0 and Symphony release 1.1) VRAM provides 8 megabytes of memory by
using a hard disk or a RAM disk to simulate an expanded memory board.
Since VRAM can use a RAM disk to simulate expanded memory, and PC AT extended
memory can be used as a RAM disk (and not very much else), it provides a
convenient way to turn extended memory into expanded memory.
Introduction to Expanded Memory
Expanded memory was introduced so that programs such as Lotus 1-2-3 could
access more than 640K of memory. Although the 8088 microprocessor cannot
address more than 1 megabyte, a way was developed to let programs access large
amounts of memory by paging in sections of memory as they are needed. Memory
that is not in use is stored as deactivated pages on an expanded memory board.
How It Works
When started, VRAM sets up a simulated (or virtual) expanded memory board and
creates a temporary file to hold data that is paged in and out of RAM. It then
loads and executes your program. Except for an occasional disk read/write,
your program will operate just as if an expanded memory board is present. When
you exit your program, VRAM will delete the temporary file and return you to
VRAM is distributed as User Supported Software. Please make copies of the
unregistered version of this program and share it with others. Although the
unregistered version cannot create more than 128K of expanded memory, it is
identical to the registered version in every other way. If you find it useful,
we ask that you contribute $25. Contributors will receive a registered version
of VRAM that allows the creation of up to 8 megabytes of expanded memory.
We encourage contributions by providing quality support now and in the future.
Our products are revised continually to correct bugs and to introduce new
features. The next updated version will be mailed to registered users free of
charge; all other updates can be obtained for $10 to cover the cost of postage,
In addition, we're available to answer questions from registered users by
phone. Please call us if you're having problems getting VRAM to work or if
you'd like to discuss ways of improving its performance.
o VRAM will work with the IBM PC/XT/AT and the IBM Convertible, and all
o VRAM takes up about 70K of memory. You'll need enough memory to load VRAM
and the program you are running with it.
o If you are using a disk drive to simulate an expanded memory board, it is
suggested, although not necessary, that it be a hard disk. Some operations
may require a lot of memory paging, which translates into a lot of disk
reads and writes. Hard disks are faster.
o If you are using VRAM with a RAM disk, you'll need a RAM disk program that
can use extended memory, such as DOS VDISK (good name) or AST SuperDrive.
VRAM is compatible with all of them.
o Since VRAM creates a temporary file to hold data that is paged in and out
of memory, your disk free space must be equal to or greater than the amount
of expanded memory you specify on the VRAM command line. In other words,
if you instruct VRAM to create 1 megabyte of expanded memory, you must have
1 megabyte of free space on your disk. This space will remain in use until
you exit your program and VRAM.
To install VRAM, copy the file "vram.exe" from the distribution disk to an
appropriate directory on your hard disk. If you're going to use VRAM with
Lotus 1-2-3, for example, you should copy "vram.exe" to the directory that
contains your 1-2-3 program files.
Step 1. Put the distribution disk in drive A.
Step 2. Make the directory the contains your Lotus 1-2-3 program files the
current directory. For example, if your 1-2-3 files are in "\123" type
"cd\123" and press ENTER.
Step 3. Type "copy a:vram.exe c:" and press ENTER.
Step 4. Repeat this procedure for each program you'll be using with VRAM.
(note: You may want to put vram.exe in a directory for utilities and
include this directory in the DOS path. That way you'll avoid having
multiple copies of VRAM on your hard disk. Read your DOS manual for more
information on the Path command.)
Begin by typing "vram" followed by optional parameters. The last entry on the
command line should be the command you normally use to start your program,
including any parameters.
To use VRAM with Lotus 1-2-3: type vram, any optional parameters, and 123:
VRAM (optional parameters) 123
Parameters begin with a hyphen and a lower-case letter; the corresponding
upper-case letter will have no effect. All parameters are optional and can be
entered in any order. If a parameter is omitted, a default value is used.
The complete format of the command line is:
VRAM [-s] [-d] [-u]
-s Specifies amount of expanded memory to create in 16K increments. Memory
size must be greater than 4 (64K). Don't create more expanded memory than
you need since VRAM is more efficient with smaller memory sizes. If this
parameter is omitted, a default value of 8 (128K) is used.
To use Lotus 1-2-3 with 512K of expanded memory, type:
VRAM -s32 123
-d Specifies the drive where VRAM should put its temporary file. Free space
on this drive must be equal to or greater than the amount of expanded
memory requested on the VRAM command line. Include a colon after the drive
letter. Omit this parameter if you want to use the current drive.
If you have set up a RAM disk designated as drive D, indicate this
drive on the VRAM command line:
VRAM -dd: 123
-u Displays help screen.
VRAM AND EXTENDED MEMORY
Using VRAM with extended memory involves setting up a RAM disk and then using
it with VRAM to simulate expanded memory. This provides an easy way to use
extended memory as expanded memory.
Suppose you have a PC AT with 512K of extended memory and would like to use
the extended memory as expanded memory so you can create larger worksheets
with Lotus 1-2-3.
Step 1. Copy the RAM disk program vdisk.sys, included with the DOS
operating system, to the root directory of your hard disk.
Step 2. Add the following line to your DOS configuration file, config.sys:
This will instruct DOS to load vdisk.sys and create a 512K RAM disk,
utilizing extended memory.
(note: Read the chapter, "Configuring Your System", in the DOS manual for
more information on config.sys and vdisk.sys.)
Step 3. Press Ctrl-Alt-Del to reboot your computer.
Step 4. Make the directory that has your Lotus 1-2-3 program files the
current directory. For example, "cd\123".
Step 5. Start VRAM, instructing it to create 496K of expanded memory (the
RAM disk will have slightly less than 512K of free space) and use drive D,
your RAM disk, to store data:
VRAM -s31 -dd: 123
(note: This example assumes that your RAM disk is designated as drive D.
If your disk is identified by another drive letter, substitute that letter
in the command above.)
VRAM WITH 123 OR SYMPHONY
VRAM works exceptionally well with Lotus 1-2-3 and Symphony. Although memory
paging with VRAM is slower than paging performed by an actual expanded memory
board, most operations are accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.
There are, however, a few points to remember:
o Do not Copy large ranges of cells in one operation while using VRAM. If
you need to Copy a large range, Copy a few rows of the range at a time. It
is also important to Move large ranges a few rows at a time.
When copying ranges, Lotus 1-2-3 and Symphony allocate memory for new cells
in columnwise order. This means that adjacent cells along each row may be
located in different pages of memory. Since 1-2-3 and Symphony save
worksheets in rowwise order, this may cause a disk read/write to occur for
every cell when saving a worksheet. If you find that recalculating or
saving your worksheet takes a long time, you should copy fewer rows at a
time when copying or moving large ranges.
o Set the recalculation order to Natural. Do not recalculate in columnwise
order when using VRAM.
o Set the recalculation method to manual. If possible, do not recalculate
the entire worksheet. You can recalculate sections of your worksheet by
copying a cell or range to itself.
o Do not sort a database while running VRAM. Sorting causes a large amount
of memory paging and may take a very long time.
o It is possible to get the Out of Memory error even when expanded memory is
not full because Lotus 1-2-3 and Symphony use conventional memory for
pointers to the data in expanded memory. You may run out of conventional
memory before expanded memory.
o If a power failure or other mishap prevents you from exiting VRAM normally,
you must use DOS CHKDSK to reclaim disk space taken up by the temporary
When asked if you want to convert lost data to files, respond with N.