03/18/2001

About DDR… I should have stated the difference between the two types yesterday. PC1600 DDR runs on a 100 MHz double-pumped bus. PC2100 DDR runs on a 133 MHz double-pumped bus. Obviously PC2100 is much more desirable, providing about 33% as much bandwidth. Crucial is selling PC1600–a fact I didn’t notice–at the price of PC133 SDRAM. That’s less than 50 cents a meg. They aren’t currently selling PC2100 directly, which is what you probably want. PC2100 is currently selling for about a dollar a meg from other sources.

The short term bang-for-the-buck option is to go with a KT133A-based board, a 133 MHz FSB Athlon, and PC133 SDRAM. You’ll get 85-90% of the performance for $100-$150 less. Long-term, however, a DDR solution will make more sense from a performance standpoint and an economy-of-upgrading standpoint. Take a look at what EDO memory costs today and you’ll see what I mean. It’s more expensive than Rambus memory–while Rambus sells for about $2 a meg, antiquated EDO memory sells for about $3 a meg. The price of FPM memory, an even older technology, is over $3 a meg.

So… If you’re swapping out a motherboard and can afford PC2100 DDR, it makes sense to go ahead and get a board that uses it.

What’s this PCxx stuff mean anyway? It’s fairly easy to understand SDRAM monikers–PC100 means the memory bus runs at 100 MHz, PC133 means the memory bus runs at 133 MHz. But manufacturers have gotten ridiculous with the naming schemes of new memory. Along comes Rambus with PC600, PC700, and PC800 memory. But the slowest Rambus memory isn’t 4.5x faster than PC133–far from it. And then comes DDR, not to be outdone, calling itself PC1600 and PC2100.

Here’s what it means. PC600 Rambus is running at a memory bus speed of 300 MHz. PC700 Rambus is using a 356 MHz bus speed. And PC800 Rambus is using a 400 MHz bus speed. CPUs still run at their old bus speeds of 100 or 133 MHz when using Rambus.

Now, PC1600 DDR runs on a 100 MHz bus, while PC2100 DDR runs on a 133 MHz bus. Their names refer to the amount of memory bandwidth available.

So, PCxx isn’t a direct comparison of speed at all. Comparing SDRAM, Rambus, and DDR by their names is like comparing apples, oranges and bananas.

And now for something totally different…

The height of hypocrisy. The RIAA is saying  that paying royalties to songwriters for their work is too difficult–a similar argument to the one Napster used in its defense. The RIAA can’t have it both ways. (Never mind everyone else has to pay to use the songs, and rightfully so.) Hopefully the government will agree. Otherwise the only thing the past year has proven is that the RIAA can bully around anyone who’s smaller than they are.

The story goes like this. Now that the RIAA has turned Napster (who had little ground to stand on) and MP3.com (who had all the ground in the world to stand on) into shells of their former selves, they’re poised to launch their own online service(s). But the RIAA, who represents the record labels, has tried to cut the NMPA, who represents the songwriters, out of the deal.

I’ve heard people advocate pirating music, then tracking down an address for an artist and paying the artist directly. That’s more honorable than paying the RIAA. An honorable and legal approach is to just buy music from artists who also own their record label–when you constantly bend the rules in your favor, it’s hard to keep friends, as the powers that be at the RIAA seem to have not learned on the grade-school playground.

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