Some fundamental concepts

The Rambus does not work to 800MHz

What is better: Rambus or PC133?

The chipset i820 and his problems of memory

PC133, Apollo Pro 133, BX and KX133


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Juan Herrerías Rey

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Hardware summer - autumn 1999 - Part 3: Basic badges

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Memoirs and chipsets at the beginning of 2000


What is better: Rambus or PC133?

If the question was: is it the Rambus more rapid than the PC133?, we would answer that yes, undoubtedly. But: is this speed difference worth it? This is already more complicated to evaluate...

Modules of memory Rambus in format RIMM

Although theoretically the Rambus can reach 1,6 GB/s and the PC133 "only 1,06 GB/s, this does not mean that a PC with memory Rambus is going to be 50 % more rapid than other with PC133; by no means. To appreciate the differences, we will have to be in a case in which the microprocessor wants (and be able) to make use of this extra band during a valuable time, which is not so simple.

For example, it is possible that the calculation is realized by a few information that are in the rapid cache memories, in whose case one will not gain access to the principal memory; or that it should to gain access to a much slower device like the hard disk, what begins to lose any profit that we have obtained; or that the bottle neck is in a graphic card unable to process the information that we order him; or that the mike does not calculate the sufficiently rapid thing as to make use of the difference; or simply that the time saving is invaluable (I do not know you, but it is difficult to me to distinguish a little between 0,03 seconds and 0,04 seconds).

To make use of the advantage that the Rambus offers, we will have to use applications of highly professional character: calculation of three-dimensional renderizados and servants overloaded with work and users, for example.

In this class of programs, the use of the Rambus can increase the yield between 5 % and 15 %, according to conscientious analyses published in one of the best web sites on hardware,; on the other hand, in more normal applications as office computerization or games the difference between PC133 and Rambus is almost insignificant, ideally between a 1 % and 5 % (and sometimes, 0 % round).

But independently if it is better or not, the Rambus faces several serious problems that the PC133 does not have, as we will see next. The first one and more seriously the fact is that, at present, the Rambus has a ridiculously exhorbitant price, as it testifies the following graph:

Comparative prices of modules of 64 AND 128 MB memory

And that for not speaking about the extravagantly expensive modules 256 MB Rambus , on the other hand the most difficult to find and with numerous problems of compatibility between them and with the different basic badges...

Because this is other of the problems which the Rambus faces: it is an excessively recent technology, and for it he suffers from many problems before which they give desire of wondering if these most expensive modules are completed products or only prototypes.

An example: although almost nobody comments on it, "not all the Rambus is equal"; since we saw, there exist 3 speeds different from that it can work: 266, 356 and 400 MHz (PC600, PC700 and PC800). Let's remember that to reach yes very commented value of 1,6 GB/s of transference, modules of the last type are needed.

Obviously, these 800 MHz modules ("equivalent" MHz, as we explain more above) are those of major quality and the most expensive. They are so difficult to make that few companies have realized it successfully, in such a way that many people are spending a lot of money in modules that, although they do not know it, are 600 ó 700 MHz instead of 800, for which they cannot give any more than 1,06 ó 1,42 GB / century The question is inevitable: is it a question of prototypes?

And since we will see next, for very rich that we are the maximum capacity of memory of the system she will turn out to be limited by the scarce number of available grooves in the motherboard, something paradoxical if we think that in the professional ambiences where this memory might be made use 128 MB it is considered to be an almost ridiculous number, without being a stranger to find teams with 512 MB... or more.


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