My next Workstation

Billie Walsh bilwalsh at
Sat Jul 10 17:34:09 UTC 2010

On 07/10/2010 11:16 AM, Ken wrote:
> On Thursday 08 July 2010 10:11:15 Billie Walsh wrote:
> <[snip]>
>> 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?

The Rampat board was an IDE card with four memory board slots. I maxed 
it out with all it could hold/manage. The 8088 couldn't use that much as 
"memory". the only thing it was useful for was as a "ramdisk", kind of 
like a USB jump drive today. I even had to "southern engineer" a hard 
drive for that old beast.

With a processor speed of 8 MHz, 12 in Turbo mode, running programs from 
a ramdisk gave that old beast a real performance boost.

> <[snip]>
>> 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.
> Ken

Well, the "college fund" remark was more as a joke really, but..............

As I stated in another reply, a slightly slower processor with more 
memory can have the performance of a faster processor with less memory. 
My 2.8 dual core processor with 4 gigs ram is faster than my 3.2 dual 
core with 2 gigs. Logic would seem to indicate the 3.2 would be faster 
but the extra memory more than makes up the difference. If both had 4 
gigs the 3.2 would be faster I'm sure.

The idea I was wishing to make was that you need to balance what you 
want with what you need, both against the $$$$$$$$ in the budget. If you 
run across a slightly slower processor at a really unbelievable price 
don't pass it by just because it's slightly slower. Use part of the 
difference in price to buy the extra ram. Keeping always in mind that 
whatever you buy today will be obsolete by the time you get it fired up.

If all you want to do is use it to check your e-mail then you could 
probably get buy with 1 gig and no issues. If you want to actually use 
the computer for something add as much as you can.

Right now I have seven programs running, one a 430 Meg PDF file, 16 tabs 
on Firefox, and six more in Konqueror. This is a light day. I haven't 
needed to edit any large images yet today in Gimp. And I'm not a power 
user. [ or at least consider myself one ] This is just my normal day. On 
a "heavy" day, when I get three or four images going at once along with 
everything else, this quad core with 4 gigs gets a little stressed.

"A good moral character is the first essential in a man." George Washington

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