Type of computer

Experimentor Workbench is a traditional Microsoft Windows desktop application.  It will work with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 Pro, but not with Windows 8 RT (which does not support desktop applications).  We have discovered that most research facilities are still using older Windows XP machines, and Experimentor Workbench will work very nicely on such a machine.

Unfortunately however, Experimentor Workbench does not work on MS-DOS, Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me.  It does not run on a Mac or Linux, nor does it run on tablets, your phone, your watch or any other type of device.

Processor speed

Experimentor has been used for real data gathering on Microsoft Windows XP running on very old (circa 2002) Pentium 4 machines with only 1 GB of memory.  The program takes a little while to launch, but then runs sessions very quickly.  

However, when you are running a session Experimentor does a lot of things on your behalf:  updating the screen, running the codes, saving data into the database, etcetera.  To take full advantage of your computer, Experimentor Software was designed for and really shines on computers with more than 1 “core” – such as the AMD Phenom II X2, Intel Core 2 Duo, or Intel Core 2 Quad; older Pentium 4 processors that support Hyper-threading also work nicely.

Notice that in the Experimentor Software status bar (bottom right of the application window) you can see how many logical CPUs you have on your machine:

Memory

When your sessions are running, Experimentor queues up all the data that needs to be saved into the database and saves it to the hard drive (or SSD) as fast as possible without slowing down the performance of the running codes.  However, if your experiment generates a lot of data very quickly then it is possible that your hard drive (or SSD) may not be able to keep-up with saving all of the data being gathered.  In this case the in-memory data-queue may grow quite large (hundreds of thousands of items if you are generating a lot of data).  You can see cases of this when your codes finish and there are still messages displayed in the Application messages window indicating that data is still being saved.

Note however that this will only happen if your codes do not contain any “waits”; if for example your codes are waiting for 100ms or more for the user to click on something then this is largely irrelevant, because while the codes are waiting for the user Experimentor will also be simultaneously saving your data to the hard drive (or SSD).  So you only need to increase your memory if you find yourself receiving out-of-memory messages when you are testing your codes.

For this reason, if you have an older (and therefore slower) hard drive then more memory will allow you to cache more data in-memory to be saved as soon as possible to the hard drive.  So one inexpensive way of making an older Pentium 4 computer quite usable with Experimentor and the experimenter who desires to generate volumes of data is simply to add more memory to it, allowing Experimentor to cache more data (it will also increase the computer’s speed overall).  Alternatively, another option would be to add a newer and faster hard drive.  Unfortunately on older machines you cannot likely add a very fast SSD because most (if not all) SSDs require SATA – and your older computer’s mother board is unlikely to support SATA.

So for the vast majority of users, 1Gb of memory will be sufficient,and 2Gb should be more than enough.

Multiple monitors

Experimentor Software obviously works on computers with only a single monitor, but it also supports computers with a dual-monitor configuration.  You can read about it under the Primary and secondary screens topic.