Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

The 8GB RAM Laptop Era Begins

The 8GB RAM Laptop Era Begins

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DellM6300 If you've been paying really close attention, you noticed Dell quietly began to sell Windows Vista 64 bit Precision M6300 workstation class laptops.  They've actually been selling them for a while.  What's new is that they are shipping them with Windows Vista x64 and 8GB of RAM.  As you can see at right, this machine doesn't come cheap.

Or if you have some real bucks to blow, checkout the PC MicroWorks Edge.

Now you might be asking yourself how much those rare 4GB SoDIMMs cost, and where to get your hands on some.  I have good news.  A number of memory makers are getting ready to start shipping the 4GB wonders.

If my information is true, the 4GB sticks will be about half the price of what the 2GB sticks were when they released.  As you'll recall, when 2GB sticks first started shipping, they were about $1000 each.  Not many people bought them at that price.  We certainly didn't.  We bought a second laptop instead. 

If you dig around on the grid you won't find them just yet, but they are coming.  Dell obviously has a supply.  You won't see them in the accessories area just yet.   At least I could not find them.

My information indicates the street price for a 4GB DDR2-667 SoDIMM will be in the $400-550 range.  Looks like Dell is offering them on the Precision M6300 at the top end of that scale.  Surprise Surprise.

When?

If the information is accurate, in the next few weeks.  This is good timing for my team.  We are penniless and at the end of our fiscal year end budget.  But a whole new budget starts July 1.  I know what I want for Christmas.

What on earth do I need 8GB of RAM in a laptop for?  Virtual Machines of course.  Just think, I could run approximately eight instances of Windows Vista at one time.  A Vista Fest.  Obviously I'm more interested in a virtualization environment that includes a broader portfolio of our products.  Windows Server 2008, Hyper-V, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, System Center Configuration Manager, System Center Operations Manager, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Exchange, etc. all running on a single laptop.

Think I'm crazy?  Yea, probably.  But by doubling the amount of memory, we certainly have the ability to create some fascinating configurations to mimic very real solutions.  Unless you are pushing the virtualization limits, or have a very advanced workstation requirement, you are unlikely to need 8GB of RAM.  But for those of us that do, it's about time.

[UPDATE for 5/28]  Kingston is now selling the 4GB sticks.  See http://shop.kingston.com/partsinfo.asp?ktcpartno=KTL-TP667/4G.  Hope you have some bucks if you want them right now.

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  • <P>C'mon FY09 Budget... Daddy need's 8 gigs of ram!!!!</P>

  • <p>I am surprised why PCs/Desktops are so limited in their memory capacity. My phone has about 4GB. </p>

  • <p>Ok ill do it....</p> <p>Here's pointing out the fact that Kris doesnt know the difference in RAM and storage.</p>

  • <p>Funny Kris. Yeah the thought of running all those virtual machines sounds great.</p>

  • <p>Just what we need, virtual machine demos from our phones... &nbsp;grin</p>

  • <p>When will the Precision M4300 take 8Gb RAM? &nbsp;I'm hoping the new Centrino 2 chipset (delayed) will help.</p>

  • <p>Martin, </p> <p>Probably right now. &nbsp;Most of the Santa Rosa based laptops will go to 8GB. &nbsp;You just don't see it in the published specs.</p>

  • <p>Hi Keith,</p> <p>Unfortunately I don't want to risk &#163;1500 on it. &nbsp;I'd rather know for sure, so I have to wait.</p> <p>Thanks</p> <p>Martin</p>

  • <p>I'd call Dell and see what they say.</p>

  • <p>They give no insight beyond the published specs :-(</p>

  • <p>Is 4Gigs on your Phone must be storage capacity not memory...</p>

  • <p>Sure we need 8 Gig laptops for VMs ! I have 4 gigs &nbsp;and T61 with Dual Hard Drives, and Xen server, and it still dosnt quite cut it.</p> <p>Bring on 8 Gig laptops with dual drives so we can get some VMs running and move around the globe for Demos and carry just one system !</p> <p>ps: To they guy with 4gb of &quot;memory&quot; on his phone. You shouldnt be reading such blogs. and if you do, Dont post a reply.</p>

  • <p>In case this helps anyone: I had a Precision M4300 and was able to get my hands on 2 of the Kingston 4gb DIMMS. I had the laptop loaded with x64 Win 2008 Server Datacenter, which ran nicely with no real driver issues, just had to load the chipset, video and WLAN drivers for Vista x64. The laptop could see either of the 4gb DIMMS in either slot, and it could see and use one 4gb with one of the 2gb that it came with originally for a total of 6gb fine. However, with both 4gb modules it would hang on the initial Dell boot screen. I tried several different BIOS revisions, different BIOS settings and even tried removing as much hardware as possible (I took out the media bay drive and and the WLAN card) still no luck. I then had a chance to try the same 2 DIMMs on a brand new D830, same results. Interestingly, Kingston shows the D830 as supported with 8gb. Even stranger, I talked to an engineer at Kingston who said simply that he heard the same behavior reported elsewhere. I then opened a case with Dell and spoke with several different levels of tech suppport. The strangest thing yet, they said that at least the m4300 had been tested with 8gb and that, unofficially, it should work. Another Dell tech said that the motherboards on the D830 and the m4300 were exactly the same and that it should work on either.</p> <p>My guess is that they are purposely limiting this in the BIOS at least until the E series latitudes ship with Montevina chipset, which definitley supports 8gb, sometime in the late July, early August time frame. So why ship the M6300 with 8gb support now? Easy, there is no Latitude model with a 17&quot; screen. I also wonder if they had to cut a deal with Intel to allow that with the Santa Rosa chipset since Intel says they don't support over 4gb on that platform.</p>

  • <p>I stopped second guessing OEMs long ago. &nbsp;In many respects, laptops are like cell phones. &nbsp;Expecting to upgrade them with something different than the orginal specs is folly.</p>