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Notebook Makers Moving to 4 GB Memory As Standard 567

Posted by Zonk
from the living-in-the-wacky-future dept.
akintayo writes "Digitimes reports that first-tier notebook manufacturers are increasing the standard installed memory from the current 1 GB to 4GB. They claim the move is an attempt to shore up the costs of DRAM chips, which are currently depressed because of a glut in market. The glut is supposedly due to increased manufacturing capacity and the slow adoption of Microsoft's Vista operating system. The proposed move is especially interesting, given that 32-bit Vista and XP cannot access 4 GB of memory. They have a practical 3.1 — 3.3 GB limit. With Vista SP1 it seems that Microsoft has decided to fix the problem by reporting the installed memory rather than the available memory."
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Notebook Makers Moving to 4 GB Memory As Standard

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  • by G-News.ch (793321) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @08:27AM (#21790020) Homepage Journal
    Because OS X Leopard CAN access 4GB of RAM. Let's see if Apple also joins the fray. Then again, 4GB is way too much, because after all 640KB should be enough for everyone.
    • Re:That's great (Score:5, Insightful)

      by boredMDer (640516) <pmohr+slashdot@boredmder.com> on Saturday December 22, 2007 @08:31AM (#21790040)
      '...because after all 640KB should be enough for everyone.'

      Nope, that isn't played out.

      At all.

      And of course... [wired.com]:
      "Meanwhile, I keep bumping into that silly quotation attributed to me that says 640K of memory is enough. There's never a citation; the quotation just floats like a rumor, repeated again and again."

      Silly quotations do have a way of floating like rumors.

      Well, the truth starts here.

      He never said it.
      • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @08:39AM (#21790098)
        I like the fact that your \. ID is in the 640Ks
      • Re:That's great (Score:5, Informative)

        by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmail.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> on Saturday December 22, 2007 @09:19AM (#21790338) Journal
        He never said it.

        He may not have said it, but he believed it;

        Bill Gates Challenges and Strategy Memo (16 May 1991)

        I laid out memory so the bottom 640K was general purpose RAM and the upper 384 I reserved for video and ROM, and things like that. That is why they talk about the 640K limit. It is actually a limit, not of the software, in any way, shape, or form, it is the limit of the microprocessor. That thing generates addresses, 20-bits addresses, that only can address a megabyte of memory. And, therefore, all the applications are tied to that limit. It was ten times what we had before. But to my surprise, we ran out of that address base for applications within--oh five or six years people were complaining.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Nimey (114278)
          In reality it's IBM's fault because they chose to use the 8088 processor instead of the 68000.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Daimanta (1140543)
        Agreed, 640k jokes about this ought to be enough for ANYBODY.
    • by zakezuke (229119)

      Because OS X Leopard CAN access 4GB of RAM. Let's see if Apple also joins the fray. Then again, 4GB is way too much, because after all 640KB should be enough for everyone.
      In all fairness 512meg is a reasonable about for XP, 1gig however is better. I don't see your average joe 6-pack user benefiting from more than 2gigs.

       
      • Oh, I dunno. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xstonedogx (814876)
        In all fairness 512meg is a reasonable about for XP, 1gig however is better. I don't see your average joe 6-pack user benefiting from more than 2gigs.

        After all the auto-updating software for their printer, mouse, keyboard, webcam, etc.; all the spyware, adware, trojans; and all the extra applications like AIM, anti-virus, anti-malware, non-driver device software (syncing, calling home, etc.), and media software playing music in the background, I can see joe 6-pack user making use of more than 2 gigs if he a
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Planesdragon (210349)

        In all fairness 512meg is a reasonable about for XP, 1gig however is better. I don't see your average joe 6-pack user benefiting from more than 2gigs.
        \

        Have you ever actually used a computer?

        Joe Sixpack benefits from a computer that runs faster, swaps less, and has a shorter boot time. In fact, I'd wager that he gets more benefit from memory than the typical /. user's second box.

        • Re:That's great (Score:4, Interesting)

          by RulerOf (975607) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @10:58AM (#21791014)

          Have you ever actually used a computer?

          Joe Sixpack benefits from a computer that runs faster, swaps less, and has a shorter boot time. In fact, I'd wager that he gets more benefit from memory than the typical /. user's second box.
          A friend of mine was running an XP computer with 512 of ram. He couldn't play Warcraft III at acceptable frame rates or resolution, and if he hit the windows key on accident, he would be dropped from the game because his computer couldn't swap data fast enough to get him back to his desktop within the 45 seconds that the game gives you to start responding again.
           
          After I gutted his computer from all excess hardware (modem, spare NIC, etc.), turned off almost every service that wasn't required to boot the computer, and repartitioned his hard disk, was he able to play the game acceptably and not get screwed by alt-tabbing.
           
          So, in short, I agree with you based on experience with "Joe six pack's" computer, and the GP is nuts.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Dogtanian (588974)

            A friend of mine was running an XP computer with 512 of ram. He couldn't play Warcraft III [..] After I gutted his computer [..] was he able to play the game acceptably and not get screwed by alt-tabbing.

            Quite frankly, given the cost of RAM these days, wouldn't it have made sense for him to upgrade that by at least 512MB anyway (at least in addition to the work you already did)? If he can afford to play WOW, he can clearly afford a half-gig stick of RAM.

            Of course, if you weren't charging him for your time (or you consider your time worth nothing), then it makes more economic sense for him to get you to fix it- it's not costing him anything, so it's cheaper than spending a massive $45 on a new stick of RA

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by coryking (104614) *
            Wow... how many hours did you spend doing this? If it was more than a couple hours, you probably spent more billable time dicking around than just ordering another stick of ram. Once you start dicking with services, odds are good you might make things more brittle too.

            Time is money. In most cases, hardware is a lot cheaper than labor.
      • Re:That's great (Score:4, Informative)

        by Ephemeriis (315124) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @11:30AM (#21791244)

        I don't see your average joe 6-pack user benefiting from more than 2gigs.
        There is no such thing as too much RAM. If you have it, you'll use it. Sure, 512 MB is enough to make a machine run...that's what I usually recommend as the bare minimum for an XP machine... 1 GB is better of course... But even if you've got 2+ GB you'll use it. Your average home user has the OS, antivirus of some kind, a couple different instant messengers, a web browser, a media player, maybe some games or an email client, and a crapton of automatic updaters all running at the same time.

        And that's all assuming the computer isn't full of crapware and that they don't play any real games.

        I've always told people that the quickest and easiest way to see a real speed increase in your computer is to upgrade the RAM, and that's still true today. Anything you add up to around the 3 GB limit where XP falls over is almost guaranteed to improve performance. There is always something being paged out to disk that would probably be happier sitting in RAM. There is always something that could be pre-fetched or cached.
      • by justin12345 (846440) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @01:57PM (#21792216)
        I'm sorry, I can never keep this straight: Is Joe Sixpack a jock or a drunk? Or both?
  • by Laglorden (87845) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @08:31AM (#21790036) Journal
    for obvious reasons :D

    Nice "fix" though, then people can keep adding memory and think it helps :D
  • by Naito (667851) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @08:33AM (#21790056)
    What an ingenious solution! No wonder Microsoft is the leading innovator in IT! That's SO innovative it makes me sick. It's hard enough trying to explain to customers why they shouldn't waste their money on 4GB of memory and a 1GB video card only to lose a quarter of it in real life, now the OS is trying actively trying to make me look like a liar too.
    • The simple solution is don't run 32-bit Vista. If you have mission-critical apps, hassle their makers constantly, asking for a 64-bit Vista version. Once all of them comply, switch to 64-bit Vista and use all the RAM you want.

      (Same for s/Vista/Linux/;, of course.)

      • by Cyberax (705495) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @09:07AM (#21790260)
        Vista x64 is a regression in functionality. For one thing, it _requires_ signed drivers.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by jfim (1167051)

          For one thing, it _requires_ signed drivers.
          No. It requires signed kernel drivers. Drivers for all bus-attached devices should run in userspace on Vista(so your USB printer can't crash the whole system but your video driver might).
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Cyberax (705495)
            Userspace drivers are very limited (that's why they are _userspace_) - they can't do anything that requires more than PASSIVE IRQL.

            Vista x64 is the first step to locked-down systems, so it should be boycotted.
          • No. It requires signed kernel drivers. Drivers for all bus-attached devices should run in userspace on Vista(so your USB printer can't crash the whole system but your video driver might).

            Unlike printer drivers, drivers for input devices must run in kernel space. This includes drivers for assistive input devices used by people with disabilities. Some hobbyists building assistive input devices in low volumes cannot afford to pay $499 plus tax per year to VeriSign for a code signing certificate.

      • by joss (1346)
        > If you have mission-critical apps, hassle their makers constantly, asking for a 64-bit Vista version

        Fuck that. Use Windows 2003 64bit.
    • 4GB RAM isn't such a waste of money anymore, and it's stock anyway. I think 4GB costs less than $100 now, even for notebooks.
    • by IhuntCIA (1099827) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @09:04AM (#21790236)
      In boot.ini file add switch /PAE at the end of multi(0)disk.. line

      multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect /usepmtimer /PAE

      It will not solve Your PR problem nor will solve the problem with incorrect reporting of available RAM, but will allow 32-bit Windows XP Professional to use all of it. In my experience, most programs / games can't use all 4GB of RAM, but if user is running more than one RAM hungry application (multitasks), 4GBs becomes useful.
      Also we have to think about future Vista service packs so, 4GB is must have :)
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @08:38AM (#21790092)
    Stop with the kludges and force the developers along. 32 bit came with the 386 era and lasted a good while - a very good run indeed. 64 bit would last beyond our lifetimes anyway, I doubt we will even come close to the limits of addressable memory there (hopefully this isn't the new 640k comment) -- so there is no point in stalling it indefinitely.
    • It's enough that Vista can't run a lot of programs and devices as it is (I'd think that's enough pressure for devs right there), you want it to run fewer programs and devices by insisting on 64 bit? I think we're maybe couple years away from being able to reasonably justify that for a lot of people.
    • by _KiTA_ (241027) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @10:08AM (#21790660) Homepage

      Stop with the kludges and force the developers along. 32 bit came with the 386 era and lasted a good while - a very good run indeed. 64 bit would last beyond our lifetimes anyway, I doubt we will even come close to the limits of addressable memory there (hopefully this isn't the new 640k comment) -- so there is no point in stalling it indefinitely.


      Dunno! I have a fun project for you though -- try printing out your comment, popping it into a time capsule, and burying it in your yard. Dig it up in 10 or 20 years and giggle.

      For laughs, include some recent computer ads.

      Personally, I had a similar moment when buying my first 20 gig HDD about 10 years ago. I remember seeing a 100 GB HDD and marveling at how big it was, and how we'd never, ever use that much space. Now my WinNY/Share (Japanese P2P) folders are over 100 gigs each.

      Time is odd.
      • by NoOneInParticular (221808) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @06:30PM (#21793812)
        Don't be too hasty with ridiculing the GP. At a clock speed of 10 Ghz, (which we're not going to reach quickly), simply accessing all the addressable memory of a 64bit machine once (around 18 exabyte), assuming that we can access one byte per CPU cycle (we can't), would take 2^64 / 1e10 / 3600 / 24 / 365 = 58.5 years!

        So, to actually make use of a full 64 bit address space, assuming that you would want to go through all memory in less than an hour or so (because if you don't why use RAM?), you would need an SMP type architecture with 512K cores working concurrently on this memory. Given that at 10 Ghz, light can only travel an inch or so, the memory banks should be very close to the CPU's.

        But then, 2^67 transistors (the memory banks in bytes), at say a 1 nanometer distance between the transistors (we're now at 45 nm), layed out on a single wafer (2D because the heat needs to dissapate), would have a surface area of a little over 94 acres. So there goes the 10 GHz access speed, and far-away bytes cannot be reached fast enough, needing even more cores to read the damn thing, and more space for these cores.

        The difference between past predictions and the current situation, is that we're reaching physical limits, and these are unforgiving. Yes, we might find a need for larger addressable spaces, but it's not going to be RAM, and it's not going to be serial CPU's accessing them.

  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Saturday December 22, 2007 @08:40AM (#21790104)
    Its pathetic how poorly Microsoft has moved towards 64 Bit vs. Other OS's out there...

    Solaris Way Back in the 90's with Solaris 7 I think... Had 64 bit support with perfect 32 bit
    support of backwards compatability.

    OS X goes a step further one OS Package and support for PowerPC, 32 Bit and 64 Bit and Intel 32 Bit
    and 64 Bit. And appliactions seem to work for all of theme for the most parts (with the ovious
    exceptions of apps that require the advanced features of the newer Chips.

    Reporting that you have 4 Gigs installed is not a real feature it just makes it easier for the
    hardware companies to scam people saying here buy this with 4 Gigs of Ram and the OS says there is 4
    GIgss of Ram while it only supports 3. I would be Pissed If I knew I couldn't access all my RAM.
    Say I had VMWare on my Laptop and I allocated a VM with 2 Gigs and an other with 1.5 Gig and ran both
    figuring that I had 4 Gigs of Ram available. I would be annoyed that I couldn't run both of my VMs
    and Not knowing seeing that it supports 4 gigs of RAM I would want to know who is taking up 512 Megs
    of Active Ram. I could blame Windows for being more of a memory hog. I could blame VMWare for sucking
    up all the extra memory to run. But the fault is the Hardware Manufacutre put more ram then the
    PC with the preinstalled Software can handle to make a few bucks and Microsoft just plays in their
    hand making everything look hunky dory.

    If it says you have 4 Gigs install It should also say there are 3.3 Gigs that can be access
    • by canuck57 (662392)
      You mentioned Solaris, but didn't it too runs on 64 bit x86_64 and can used more memory if it is there. In fact put 8GB in there for good measure, have one running like that as I speak. Ditto Linux. Running mysql? Add the RAM and tweak the config to use it and watch it go like smoke. Seems like only MS is having the 3.1/4GB issue.
    • Uh... MS has had 64 bit OS's available for quite some time. In fact, AMD's CEO testified in Microsoft's favor at its antitrust trial, and in exchange MS chose AMD64 as the way to push its software to 64 bits (Itanium support is a joke).
      The problem is, there has not been a lot of demand for 64 bit, and drivers for many pieces of hardware have not been written. Another point: Your VM example is plain wrong. XP CAN access all 4 gigs... just not all at the same time for the same application
  • by l3v1 (787564) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @08:42AM (#21790114)
    to fix the problem by reporting the installed memory rather than the available memory

    I wouldn't have expected any other `solution' from MS :P

  • by JOrgePeixoto (853808) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @08:46AM (#21790138) Journal
    From the summary: "They claim the move is an attempt to shore up the costs of DRAM chips, which are currently depressed because of a glut in market."

    The article says: "While first-tier notebook vendors such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Toshiba are planning to roll out 4GB notebooks starting from the first quarter of 2008, the move is expected to give a boost to the DRAM market, according to memory module makers."

    The article does not say that this is a deliberate attempt to increase DRAM price. And if it was, wouldn't it be illegal?
    • by Rolgar (556636) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @10:14AM (#21790716)
      The ones buying the parts are the ones changing the market, by increasing demand. That is legal because the one to profit isn't the one changing the market situation. The RAM chip makers artificially restricting demand at a level below demand would cause a shortage and price spike, and that would be illegal. That is how OPEC controls oil prices to a degree, although its legal because they are sovereign nations instead of businesses.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bert64 (520050)
      Well, what incentive do these OEMs have to keep memory prices high? They buy memory, surely they want to buy it as cheaply as possible.
      It looks more like these manufacturers are taking advantage of the low prices to boost the perceived value of their systems, and also offset some of the slowness associated with vista.
  • by Bandman (86149) <bandman@@@gmail...com> on Saturday December 22, 2007 @08:47AM (#21790140) Homepage
    It sounds like they should be making wiis and not memory. Solve a few problems at once
  • Video ram? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by B-a-Z.nl (765901)
    My Laptop uses the ram as video memory, if they use 256/512 MB as video ram it is not that much more than the maximum allowed by 32bit operating systems.
  • by kma (2898) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @09:09AM (#21790270) Homepage Journal
    Or at least, supervision by people who know how computers work? 4GB is perfectly sensible for a 32-bit x86; the virtual address space is only 4GB, but the physical address spaces is larger (at least 36 bits on all popular processors). Yes, that means it's awkward to use more than 4GB in a single application, but so what? Using more than 4GB across the system is perfectly transparent.

    Also, what's with slamming Microsoft over the "slow" transition to 64-bit? 64-bit XP has been out for, like, three years now. It runs 32-bit applications, because the x64 architecture makes it so ridiculously easy you'd have to intentionally break it. 64-bit Linux does the same, because it takes, like, a line of code to do so. If software makers aren't producing 32-bit apps, it's probably because their customers haven't demanded they do so yet; and the customers probably haven't demanded it because it's unusual for a single application to need 4GB of RAM. Finally, those applications that can frequently use gigondo amounts of RAM in a single virtual address space (e.g., Oracle) for the most part had 64-bit binaries available right out of the gate.
  • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @09:11AM (#21790282)
    Laptops, which have been a nice fat cash cow to OEMs, are steadily becoming cheaper and cheaper. Nowadays, we have retailers selling laptops for about 500 euros with specs that a couple of year ago were selling for a lot more than 1500 euros. A while back the average laptop price tag was about 1200 euros and nowadays it went down to 800 euros. That's a heck of a revenue cut.

    So the OEMs are forced to add another fancy selling point, like upgrading the specs once again, in order to keep making the big bucks. They don't give a damn if it brings any added value to the product or if it even functions properly. What matters is some fancy little side remark on the laptop's brochure that makes their fancy little product be picked by the vast hordes of consuming sheep. Who cares if it makes sense or if it's even usable. What's important is that them flock falls for that "OMG! IT'S N+1!!!" and promptly spend their cash, specially for the "it's bigger than my neighbour's" bragging rights.

    This sort of thing isn't exactly new. In fact, it's the repeat of another similar marketing push, which was the "32-to-64bit" campaign. The fancy stickers advertising the new and improved 64bit 'puters for the "OMG IT'S TWICE THE BITS!!" effect were all over the place, which earned quite a few hardware sales. Yet, the fact is that the brand new 64-bit 'puter could only run on the 32-bit legacy mode, as they were shipped with a 32-bit operating system and the OEMs shipped hardware without ever thinking on releasing 64-bit drivers or even releasing the hardware specs.

    So those OEMs will, once again, sell hardware that will not be usable by the user, at least as advertised. It doesn't matter to them. The only thing that matters is the sales revenue, specially in this day and age where we are starting to see sub-300 euro hardware. And screw the consumer.
    • by eebra82 (907996) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @10:29AM (#21790802) Homepage

      So the OEMs are forced to add another fancy selling point, like upgrading the specs once again, in order to keep making the big bucks. They don't give a damn if it brings any added value to the product or if it even functions properly. What matters is some fancy little side remark on the laptop's brochure that makes their fancy little product be picked by the vast hordes of consuming sheep. Who cares if it makes sense or if it's even usable. What's important is that them flock falls for that "OMG! IT'S N+1!!!" and promptly spend their cash, specially for the "it's bigger than my neighbour's" bragging rights.
      I don't think it's so much about the laptop stickers. It used to be, but something significant has happened lately. You see, three or four years back, the performance of a budget laptop was relatively slow. It feels like the hardware finally caught up with the software (except for games). You can actually buy a 500 laptop because it CAN and WILL perform in almost every everyday application (except for games and such, of course). And it's so cheap because the components are dated and/or low-end enough and cheap to produce. In addition, market got bigger and we all know that the larger the scale of the production, the cheaper it gets to produce as well.

      Of course, every now and then, PC makers push the limits to set new standards. For example, TFT panels used to come in 14" and 15" flavors, but nowadays it's kind of difficult to get a screen that small. And it's not like they decided to make more money by setting 17", 19" and 20" standards, because they didn't. The demand for larger panels was there and as technology advanced and more consumers got into flat screens, prices also went down. By today's standards, you can get a 20" screen for what, 250 bucks? A few years ago, getting 15" for 250 bucks was a dream.
  • I've got a MacBook (not the x3100 model), 2.16Ghz BlackBook, and the max in theory it can hold is 4gigs but according to apple the max it can support is 3gb, and according to the forums, it can access 3.3.

    What happened to 4gb? a chipset limitation or Apple castrating their hardware like usual?

    ps. this is an honest question, I can't seem to get a straight answer from anyone :(
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @09:24AM (#21790376)
    How many Microsoft engineers does it take to change a light bulb?

    None. Microsoft just redefines darkness as the standard.
  • by jhines (82154) <john@jhines.org> on Saturday December 22, 2007 @09:41AM (#21790504) Homepage
    I'm guessing this is Moore's law in action, in that the memory chips have scaled. Notebook motherboard space hasn't increased, so they probably aren't increasing the number of chips, but going to the next gen of memory chips.
  • Ubuntu (Score:4, Informative)

    by chill (34294) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @10:39AM (#21790886) Journal
    Nothing new here. Ubuntu 7.10 32-bit -- the latest shipping version -- only supports 3.3 Gb or so. They haven't bothered to turn on BigMem in the kernel. I upgraded two desktops and one laptop last week, all to 4 Gb of RAM, and was seriously disappointed when the BIOS showed 4 Gb but Ubuntu did NOT.
    • Re:Ubuntu (Score:5, Informative)

      by Inoshiro (71693) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @02:23PM (#21792356) Homepage
      32-bit OSes can't reach 2^32 bits of memory due to hardware IO ranges. Duh.

      So why didn't you install 64-bit Ubuntu? Flash works'n'everything in 7.10 64-bit. VMware? They have 64-bit builds. Everything else I run is FOSS. There is no reason not to install it, AFAICT!
      • Wow, that was blunt (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cbhacking (979169)
        Here's an equally blunt response for you: You're wrong, 32-bit OSes can access up to 64GiB of RAM using a feature called PAE [wikipedia.org]. It's a bit of a hack and has some downsides - for example, no individual 32-bit program can access more than 4GiB, and some drivers aren't compatible with it (which is why it isn't enabled by default in client versions of Windows). However, the hardware has been capable of it since the Pentium Pro CPUs (mid 90s)

        In reference to the GP, there are typically two variants of standard Linu

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