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What are the hardware requirements to run Stata?

Title   Hardware requirements to run Stata
Author Kevin Crow and Jeremy B. Wernow, StataCorp
Date October 2005; updated June 2013

We receive many questions from users who are about to buy a new desktop or laptop computer and want to know what type they should buy for Stata. Below are factors to keep in mind before purchasing your computer.

RAM

The most important consideration when buying a computer on which to run Stata is the amount of RAM (memory) you will need. You need at least 1 GB of RAM for Stata to run smoothly. Stata loads all of your data into RAM to perform its calculations. You must have enough physical RAM to load Stata and allocate enough memory to it to load and analyze your datasets.

Stata will be drastically slowed if the operating system has to use virtual memory to load your data or perform its calculations. One of the issues you have to consider when deciding how much RAM to purchase is the size of the datasets you will be working with. We recommend that your computer contain 50% more memory than the size of your largest dataset. Stata needs the extra room in memory to perform calculations, create temporary variables, etc., once the data have been loaded.

If you need help figuring out how large your dataset might be, point your web browser to the URL below to read an FAQ on calculating dataset size.

stata.com/support/faqs/data-management/approximating-dataset-size

Architecture

The two main computer architectures are 64-bit and 32-bit. All modern computers have 64-bit architecture, but some of them are still sold with a 32-bit operating system. If you plan on working with datasets larger than 1 GB, we recommend you purchase a computer with a 64-bit operating system. A 64-bit computer does not have the 2 GB memory limitation of a 32-bit computer. To learn more about the memory limitations of a 32-bit computer, point your web browser to the URL below.

stata.com/support/faqs/windows/large-datasets-and-memory

Also you might want to read our FAQ on the difference in speed of a 32-bit computer vs. a 64-bit computer. To read the FAQ point your web browser to the below URL.

stata.com/support/faqs/windows/32-bit-versus-64-bit-performance

Processor

Assuming you have enough RAM, the next greatest effect on the performance of Stata is the processor. The faster the clock speed and the more cache a processor has, the faster Stata will run.

There are two main types of processors, RISC (reduced instruction set) and CISC (complex instruction set). In general, a CISC chip running at the same clock speed (such as 2 GHz) as a RISC chip will accomplish more in a given amount of time. RISC chips are fast at certain types of operations, such as integer math, which makes them faster for certain applications like graphics packages. However, for general computing, a CISC chip will be faster at a given clock speed. Intel and AMD are the main producers of CISC chips, whereas Sun SPARC and some other Unix computers use RISC chips.

For best performance, consider a dual-core, multicore, or multiprocessor machine, Stata/MP can take advantage of these computer systems and allow “threads” of computations to be split across multiple processors. This can dramatically increase the speed of many Stata commands. All the modern multicore processors on the market today are of the 64-bit variety and will allow Stata to take advantage of physical memory over 2 Gigabytes allowing very large datasets to be loaded into memory. Click here for more information on compatible hardware architectures.

Hard Drive

Stata requires under 1 GB of drive space to install. The speed of the hard drive where Stata is installed will affect Stata's performance when using some commands. These commands write temporary files to disk, so a fast hard drive will help, but most of Stata's commands are not affected by the hard drive speed because Stata does its calculations in RAM. Users that make heavy use of their hard drive from writing temporary files or as a result of Stata swapping information may want to look into a RAID 0/RAID 5 array.

Servers

Depending on the operating system and your network setup, Stata can use either the server or client computer's resources when running. Point your web browser to the URL below to read an FAQ on our website about networking Stata on different operating systems.

stata.com/support/faqs/windows/network-license

If you decide to set up Stata to use the resources of a server, please determine the number of possible simultaneous Stata users. For ideal performance, there should be at least as many CPUs on the server as there will be simultaneous Stata sessions running on that server. Also make sure the server has enough physical RAM to handle the total amount of RAM that all Stata users may need to allocate to Stata while performing their analyses.

Stata will run on any Novell or Windows 8/7/Vista/XP network. Stata will also run on Unix-based or Mac-based networks.

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