I have successfully made it to modern era on my XP machine with 3GB switch and medium graphics setting. After the MAF in the industrial era I deleted the cache before loading the game. I did not another MAF until the modern era. I think some of the problem is occurring because obsolete graphics are being stored in the cache and then swaped into graphics memory even though they aren't needed. I could be wrong and more tollerant of the occasional MAF.