Vista and the Quest for More Memory
March 19, 2006 8:40 PM
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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
3/19/2006 11:04:46 PM
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
3/20/2006 12:22:47 AM
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
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
3/20/2006 12:08:53 PM
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 (???)
"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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