MacBook Pro :: Limiting Size Of VM Swap Files Possible?

Jun 13, 2010

I have the new 15" with SSD (80 GB Intel) and HDD (500 GB). I have put System and Apps on the SSD, while the user's home directory is on the HDD. So far so good, performance is great. But I have run into the problem of getting the "Memory on the startup disk is too small" warning twice. That's a pretty unpleasant experience, with apps freezing etc. Of course, nominally my startup disk (the SSD) is far from full, since the apps occupy maybe 30 GB and the System maybe 15. I should have over 30 GB of available disk space. So what happened? I found out that the culprit is virtual memory. Somehow my system at some point thought that it needed a lot of VM (around 40 GB), and the VM daemon started writing swap files (up to 40 of them!) on the startup volume, until it got full. After quitting some apps, somehow the situation gets corrected and the system automatically reduces the number of the swap files again.

What are my options to keep this unpleasant problem from occurring again in the future? Here are the ones I can think of:
1. Move the VM directory to HDD. I don't like to do this because it would significantly hurt performance.
2. Create an additional partition (~10-20 GB or so) on the SSD, then move the VM directory to that partition. This way, I always know the max. size of VM and I won't be surprised. Disadvantages: I will need to repartition the SSD and re-install system and all apps. And I may be wasting precious space on the SSD.
3. The ideal solution would be an option in the VM daemon to limit the total VM size. I have perused the man pages, but I can only see an option to set the size of each individual swap file, not the overall VM size.

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