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Peak growths for DRAM memory have occured with major Windows launches - Courtesy SEC Marketing
How Vista will affect your next memory purchase...

With Windows Vista’s anticipated launch later this year, a concern on everyone’s mind is how Vista will tax existing PC platforms.  Although the new graphical user interface will require DirectX 9 support, and Intel G965 (or better) graphic accelerators, the real question mark in everyone’s minds is where DRAM requirements will head for Windows Vista.  Baseline Vista offerings will require 512MB of DRAM just to install, with a 1GB recommendation -- but is there more to this story?
Integrated graphics from ATI, Intel, and NVIDIA all use shared memory architectures. This means that even though the graphics core is on the motherboard Northbridge, the graphics controller accesses memory from the system main memory.  Low end, PCIe 3D accelerations from ATI, and NVIDIA also use shared memory support, using in excess of 256MB of system DRAM in exchange for a dirt cheap graphics accelerator.  On these systems the Vista recommendation for 512MB is not acceptable as a significant amount of main memory is consumed by the graphics accelerators.
Furthermore, Windows Vista will come with a new feature called Superfetch.  With Windows XP, Microsoft included a feature called Prefetch: a dynamic service that preemptively loads files into the pagefile in order to speed up application load time.  Superfetch advances further in two steps.  Step one is to build profiles of frequently used applications and store those profiles into the pagefile, and system memory.  Step two is to pool NAND and all other available memory to move as much of the pagefile as possible off the hard drive and onto the solid state memory.  As a result, anyone with a heavy usage profile will have a significant portion of their system memory dedicated to application data.  
At IDF we recently had the opportunity to talk to Tom Trill, Samsung Semiconductor's Director of DRAM Marketing.  An interesting point Trill mentioned to us is that system integrators generally spend 6-8% of the system cost on memory. Retail DDR2-667 crossed over into the $80 USD per gigabyte range a few months ago with the price for system integrators hovering around $60.  AMD and Intel both have new processors expected to utilize DDR2-800 before the Q4 launch of Windows Vista. By conservative estimates, we can expect to see the average system integrator bundle new computers with 1GB of DDR2-667 by the end of this year.
Samsung’s internal research recently published a figure claiming that the average PC system (including SI, OEM and home built computers) averages 871MB of DRAM in 2005, up from 620MB the year before.  The DRAM industry has traditionally seen large growth around the launches of Windows operating system such as Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows XP.  With large growth come large economies of scale, and ultimately lower prices for DRAM are on the horizon.  Furthermore, with cheaper DRAM prices, system integrators are free to integrate more memory into the magic 6-8% budget. With such favorable trends, seeing 2GB of memory as a standard in every PC by the end of this year would be of no surprise to us at all.

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RE: Cause and Effect
By joust on 3/19/2006 10:43:00 PM , Rating: 2
TomZ, you imply there is no causation between the releases of windows and an increase in memory sold. To prove yourself correct, you would need to show some other factors. You did not do that; I find that argument unconvincing. Consumers want the new version windows to run well, so they buy computers with more memory to compensate for the new OS's demands.

I agree there are certainly other factors that affect memory increases, but I find it very hard to believe windows has little to no impact on the memory market. Did you mean to say that memory prices fell, coincidentally, at the same time as windows was released? Even if that were correct, it may have been in response to windows being released, hence windows would still be in the chain of causality.

I agree with your second point -- people buy more ram because it's cheaper, however, I don't believe it to be the exclusive reason; windows releases have a roll to play.

I think people and corporations don't proactively buy for the next OS because they know they will buy another computer in three or four years; Why pay the added expense now when you'll buy a new vista-ready computer later down the line?

RE: Cause and Effect
By TomZ on 3/19/2006 11:04:46 PM , Rating: 2
To prove yourself correct, you would need to show some other factors.

I already mentioned that I think the main reason is that memory prices continually drop. I also suggested, and you also stated, that most computer purchases don't anticipate the requirements of the next OS they'll load in 2-4 years. Therefore, I don't buy the argument that OS releases are driving memory increases.

RE: Cause and Effect
By joust on 3/20/2006 12:22:47 AM , Rating: 2
I never said that OS releases are "driving" memory increases. I said they have "a roll" or "have an impact" in them. Your post seemed to support the notion that windows has absolutely no roll in memory amounts.

The article stating, the "industry has traditionally seen large growth around the launches of Windows..." is not the same as saying, "growth in anticipation of the launches of Windows..."

I think in this context (where we're discussing a ~10 year timeperiod) , "around" doesn't mean 2-4 years before a launch.

There is no doubt that memory prices continually dropping causes more people to buy memory. But what causes the memory prices to drop? Mass quantities. What industry to produce mass quantities? lots of customers. What gets lots of customers? A new release of windows. This is the "chain of causality" I mentioned.

To be clear, ram prices drop FASTER (and, more memory is sold) when an OS is out. (without windows I don't know what it would do). Ultimately, we're BOTH correct; I'm just explaining the spikes in the graph, you're explaining the intermediate logic (which I mostly accepted).

RE: Cause and Effect
By mircea on 3/20/2006 12:08:53 PM , Rating: 2
I still think that the release of an OS does influence and in a big way the price and sales of RAM. It's like the theory of relativity. The price of RAM will always go down at a steady rate but the release of an OS creates a disturbance, a valley in the smooth slope of the RAM pricing and production so things precipitate around the OS release. Yeah it would have gotten there at some point even without a OS release but the release rushes this a bit. Not much but it hapens non-the-less (???)

RE: Cause and Effect
By Egglick on 3/19/2006 11:14:11 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with Tom actually. The article is implying that buyers and manufacturers are preemptively increaseing memory amounts to prepare for Vista, and Tom is saying that he believes otherwise. Because of that, he doesn't have to prove himself right, but rather (if you're supporting the stance of the article), you have to prove him wrong.

The majority of Joe Schmoe users out there don't know that another version of Windows is coming out, nor do they have any idea what it's memory requirements will be.

I think that the drop in DRAM pricing is the main catalyst. Manufacturers are willing to spend a certain amount on RAM, and other manufacturers follow suit because they don't want their systems to look underpowered by comparison.

RE: Cause and Effect
By joust on 3/20/2006 12:36:32 AM , Rating: 2
Because of that, he doesn't have to prove himself right, but rather (if you're supporting the stance of the article), you have to prove him wrong.

There is no way for me to prove he's wrong, (and I'm not trying to, I actually agree with him) because he hadn't presented any other factors. I can't prove that Windows is the ONLY factor (and I wasn't making that assertion). I was just asking for more facts.

The one factor he did seem to support was that Ram amounts increase because of lower prices; the article even accepts that, saying, "With large growth come large economies of scale, and ultimately lower prices for DRAM are on the horizon."

Here's the argument:
windows vista --> more memory demanded --> mass production --> more memory, same price --> more memory sold

RE: Cause and Effect
By joust on 3/20/2006 12:38:53 AM , Rating: 2
more memory, same price

by that I really meant, "more memory, lower price" (where's the edit button? heheh)

RE: Cause and Effect
By drebo on 3/20/2006 7:20:11 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're exactly right.

You don't just buy RAM because you can(well, some people do). You buy it because you need it. You have 2gb now. It does not exceed your needs. Would you buy two more tomorrow just because the price fell? I would guess, no.

On the same side of the coin, software developers see cheap DRAM prices and assume that just because resources are cheap that they do not need to optimize their software. Thus, they build inefficient software requiring more and more ammounts of resources. Thus, consumers are forced to buy more and more RAM to keep up with it.

Demand goes up. Supply goes up even more. Prices go down.

RE: Cause and Effect
By mxzrider2 on 3/20/2006 11:22:42 PM , Rating: 2
whats with writing books in the comments section. one of the comments i read yester day was like 3000 words and there where like 8 of the same sixe. man takes me 30 mins to get through one set of comments

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