My next Workstation
kmmos1 at verizon.net
Sat Jul 10 16:16:55 UTC 2010
On Thursday 08 July 2010 10:11:15 Billie Walsh wrote:
> In my experience with computers memory is always going to be faster than
> mechanical hard drives.
Yes, pretty much by definition. The average access time of a rotating hard
drive is on the order of magnitude of milliseconds, and the average access
time of RAM is on the order of magnitude of nanoseconds. The difference is
six orders of magnitude, or, stated another way, RAM is a million times
faster than hard drives.
> Back in the dark ages I had an old 8088 computer that I installed what was
> called a "Rampat" board with 100meg of memory on it.
Really? I don't remember those 16-bit ISA cards holding more than 16 MB of RAM
on them. Were memory boards marketed to the general public in those days of
640 KB MS-DOS addressability capable of recognizing 100 MB of RAM? Remember,
we're writing about rows of discrete, spidery-legged DIP chips, not today's
snap-in memory modules. And back then, what would a 100 MB board, if it had
existed, have cost?
> Something else. Never skimp on memory. Use as much as possible or until
> your dipping into the kids college fund, whichever comes first. Best
> investment in computer performance.
Thanks for the Saturday morning laugh. Yes, RAM is the best performance
investment for PCs, but there are a couple of considerations. One is that RAM
prices are relative to their time. I can remember buying a new Pentium
machine to run the then brand-new Windows 95 when RAM prices were $40 per
megabyte, and 64 MB of EDO RAM would cut into the kid's college fund -- or
mine, for that matter. Today's memory prices, per megabyte, are two orders of
magnitude lower than fifteen years ago, and really are a performance bargain.
(I was too young to participate, but I've heard a 1960's era IBM mainframe RAM
upgrade of 32 kilobytes was about a quarter of a million dollars.)
The second consideration is a physical one. If one installs multiple gigabytes
of unused RAM, the machine still takes time to manage all of the installed
RAM all of the time, as opposed to just accessing hard drive memory locations
when specific locations are needed. Even though RAM is a million times faster
than rotating platters, it still takes machine time even to manage RAM the
operating system and applications are not using. The result may be measurable
performance lags, not to mention power usage and heat generation, from system
boards over-packed with RAM that is not actually needed.
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