Hardware Guidelines

Minimum Hardware Guidelines 2011

January 25, 2010
To: Faculty and Staff

From: Mike Zachar
Director of Computing Services

Re: Updated Minimum Hardware Requirements for Desktop Support (Effective January 2011)

The policy of implementing minimum system requirements was first initiated by Social Sciences Faculty Technology Oversight Committee (FTOC) in 2001.  The purpose of the policy is to address the problems of disproportionate burdens caused by old computers incapable of running current software on services from Social Sciences Computing Services.  Service calls on old machines take relatively large amounts of time.  Consequently, Computing Services increasingly struggles to provide satisfactory support for all clients.  To help resolve this problem, the FTOC implemented a policy of requiring all systems that we support be capable of running the latest operating system (OS), common applications, and utility programs.

This policy extends to desktop computers bought with University funds (includes grants and gifts) that are kept at home.  Computing Services supports these machines only if they are brought on-site to the University.  The policy, however, does not extend to machines used as lab instruments, as they are not used in the traditional role of desktop computers.

The division provides desktop support services only to those desktops that meet the minimum hardware requirements.  Each machine, however, does not have to have the latest OS or applications; it just needs to be physically capable of running them.  If a machine is incapable of running the latest OS, applications, or utility programs then it will eventually not be able to fulfill its function.

Building new machines purchased without an OS will also not be supported.  Individuals may like to purchase such machines as they have low prices.  However, the impact on SSCS can be several workdays per machine, thereby increasing costs for Computing Services and taking time away from other clients.

The most current operating systems and primary application for the PC is Windows 7 running Microsoft Office 2007.  The Windows 7 Operating System has video requirements that will preclude many machines that are over five years old from running the OS.  These machines will need to be replaced for continued support after January 2011.  Our staff will locate these machines and inform our clientele affected by these new requirements.

The most current operating system and primary application for the Mac will be OS 10.6 running Microsoft Office Mac 2008.  This is the first OS produced by Mac that will only run on Intel based chips and excludes the PowerPC.  PowerPC based Macs will need to be replaced for continued support after January 2011.  Our staff will locate these machines and inform our clientele affected by these new requirements.

The minimum hardware requirements to run these configurations are as follows:

Apple Computer

Mac OS 10.6 "Snow Leopard"
Intel Processor
1GB RAM
5GB disk space
DVD drive

Microsoft Computer

Windows 7 64-bit
1GHz or faster 64-bit (x64) CPU
2GB RAM
20GB disk space
Direct X 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher

In June 2010, SSD Computing Services will start working on the effected machines to bring them to the new standard. We intend to have the new standard installed and effective across the division by January 2011.  Staff from Computing Services will consult with each faculty member and staff affected by this policy.  We wish to manage this change with as much comfort as possible.

Computing Services will make every attempt to complete the bulk of the work during the Summer Quarter. The Summer Quarter is the least disruptive to our clients and when demand for our other services is lowest. As for future minimum hardware requirement, we anticipate that individuals would replace Macs and PCs every 3 to 4 years (shorter if used machines are bought) to comply with minimum hardware requirements.

We believe that the policy on minimum hardware requirements for desktop computers will continue to provide stable and effective computing for the division.