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Portables Hardware

Laptops with Big RAM? 172

Posted by Cliff
from the beyond-the-2Gb-barrier dept.
Fubari wonders: "Anybody know when laptops over 4gb might be coming out? Some of the dev-tools I want to run are just obscene RAM-pigs. On the desktop I'm using now (Win2003), it sucks up 1.6gb just to boot. By the time I log in and start doing work, it is stretching 2Gb. Move that to Vista, add a VM-Ware session or two, and I'm worried I'll be pushing 4Gb. I'm torn between buying a 4Bb-max laptop now, or some mini-desktop that can fit in a set of luggage wheels. A friend of mine suggested something like this, but my first choice would be something designed to be portable. Any suggestions?"
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Laptops with Big RAM?

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  • Easy Answer: May (Score:2, Informative)

    You can get a Santa Rosa platform Centrino chipset in May, which will allow for 4 GB of RAM, with 2 x 2 GB sticks. However, 2 GB SODIMMs aren't cheap...
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @03:49PM (#18170822)
    with a few smaller ewes instead?
  • by HardCase (14757) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @03:50PM (#18170838)
    You've got a couple of problems to deal with. The first is power consumption - two 2GB modules will consume a crazy amount of power. It's quite surprising just how much power a couple of modules require. The second is space. Current DRAM components are too large to fit 2GB worth on a single SODIMM. Take a look at the space on a DDR2 UDIMM and you'll see that there's almost no extra room on one of them.

    2GB SODIMMs are built - I've worked on some creative designs that stacked DRAM components to achieve the necessary density, but the modules aren't suited for laptops because they're too thick and a notebook can't provide the necessary cooling.

    It seems to me that you're a year or two ahead of technology, I'm afraid.

    -h-
    • by HardCase (14757) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @03:52PM (#18170888)
      Oh crap, here I am replying to my own post. Where I said 2GB, please substitute 4GB instead. D'oh!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lost Race (681080)

        Oh crap, here I am replying to my own post.

        There's never been anything wrong with replying to your own posting when you have something new to add, unless of course you use a sock puppet [wikipedia.org] to do it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Chryana (708485)
      I verified recently if RAM was a power hog on a laptop, and the consensus was that it did not make that much of a difference (although I will concede that 4GB is a lot). One benchmark was stating that doubling the RAM from 512MB to 1GB reduced the battery life by 8 minutes, which is not too bad on a total battery life of over 2 hours and a half. Additionally, having more RAM, especially when it is used, may result in lower hard disk usage, and the hard drive draws far more power than memory (it was placed s
    • There's another problem that's not in your list... He's moving to Vista!

      (This comment is not meant to inspire hatred of anything. It is meant to make people laugh.)

      (Normally, I wouldn't have to explain that... but this is Slashdot!)
  • Thinkpad (Score:2, Informative)

    by NaNO2x (856759)
    I sugest a Thinkpad. They are durable, small, ment for portible offices. Most allow a preinstalled 4GB or more of RAM. I know some go over 6. They are pricey but they are worth it I feel. So check them out.
  • t60p (Score:2, Redundant)

    by (H)elix1 (231155) *
    You can get an IBM T60P from the factory with 4G of RAM. You will want to make sure you get a 64-bit CPU as well, otherwise you will have issues. Be warned, the 2G SIMs will set you back ~800 each. Much better as a workstation, however. The P also use a higher clocked RAM, 7200 RPM HDD, and some other perks that make it a bit faster than most laptops.
    • There is no way you can get an IBM T60P from the factory. Used yes, from the factory, no.

      Maybe a (nearly) identical with (possibly) lower quality Lenovo T60P, but not an IBM T60P.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by John Harrison (223649)
        I'm typing this on an IBM Thinkpad T60p. One has to look very hard to find the word Lenovo on it. It says IBM in big bright letters. Levnovo has the right to use the IBM brand for 5 years and is partly owned by IBM. I should add that until 10 days ago I worked for IBM.
      • by WMD_88 (843388)
        The T60 line came out after the Lenovo deal. There are no "IBM" T60s. I must also say that my dad got a Z61m recently - a Lenovo, obviously - and the whole "lower quality" thing is a myth. The thing is just as solid as any ThinkPad I've ever seen.
        • I have an IBM T60p. I'm typing on it right now. Yes it is post-Lenovo deal. It says IBM on it in big bright letters. Twice. They have the right to use the brand for 5 years.

      • Care to cite factual sources on your "lower quality" statement? Even to say (possible) require that you have at least some factual evidence to back your claim on the plausibleness of "lower quality"
        • by capsteve (4595) *
          i always loved the thinkpad line. solid fucking laptops.
          i used a 760cd years ago, upgraded to another system, passed it on to a co-worker, and when it had any issues, we contacted ibm one day, received a shipping box the next day, shipped it out the following day, and would get it returned within a couple of days. i was impressed with the build quality and service. but that was then...

          i'll cite you my own experience regarding lower quality... actually it should be lower quality control.
          last month i had a cl
  • The cost of Laptop Ram is probably a limiting factor here, 2GB so-dimms are already obscenely expensive, laptops currently for the most part only accomodate 2 dimms currently so 4 GB requires the 2GB dimms. Larger SO-Dimms would probably have a stratispheric price. The market is probably so limited as to prevent RAM and laptop makers from building platforms to support this yet.
  • by Sneakernets (1026296) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @03:56PM (#18170966) Journal
    good god.


    4 GB should be enough for everyone.
    • by pla (258480)
      4 GB should be enough for everyone.

      I know why this got modded funny (Billy G mockery), but really, we should consider it insightful rather than funny.

      Yes, for servers, you (sometimes!) have a reason to run with huge amounts of RAM. For a desktop machine, even a high-end developer's machine, if you need that much memory, you need better tools. No "but the project requires it" allowed. If the requirements demand more than 4GB on a laptop, you have a problem long before reaching the "physical availabil
      • by hummassa (157160) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @09:04PM (#18175844) Homepage Journal
        that some people need to run the WHOLE shebang and on top of it simulate traffic/load conditions on the db server OR on the app server OR on the client and simluate hundreds/thousands of clients and that this requires immense amounts of RAM but is otherwise feasible to obtain more reliable results using virtualization? And that the same person might want to do it on the road (AKA: using the clients' tools, but away from the clients' control -- so (s)he can tweak the conditions at will) and that if you have 30-50 different enterprisey clients you don't want to have to connect remotely to your datacenter in other state -- you just want to load the whole thing in your laptop and see where is the fscking problem that makes an inventory entry take 5 minutes instead of 20 seconds, so the client will shell out the big bucks that this person deserves? (been there, done that, but in my consultant time I was hitting the road with 3-4 server-class machines in the luggage -- hotels probably hated me when the electrical bill came and yes, I carried some full-sized fire extinguishers with me also)
  • by S3D (745318) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @03:58PM (#18170990)
    Max addressable memory on 32bit XP pro (and probably Vista too) is 4GB, but that is with together videomemory. So actual useful RAM from 3 to 3.6 GB, depending on the board. Some system even only report 2 GB from 4. To have complete 4GB you have to use 64bit Windows. There exist 16 GB laptops, but they run Solaris IIRC.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      He's running Windows 2003. And moving to Vista soon. It says right in the summary.
    • You need to install the Win XPBigMem Kernel to take advantage of the full 64-bit addressing space.
    • by dbIII (701233)

      There exist 16 GB laptops, but they run Solaris IIRC.

      Good luck even getting the people that sell them to talk to you about these expensive beasts - they must live off closed military contracts or something.

    • Windows XP / 2003 supports PAE (paging address extensions IIRC) which allows a 32-bit OS to access ram through a 64-bit ram controller. It can still only use 2GB for the OS and give 2GB to each process, but you'd need a 64-bit OS to get around that.

      Windows seems to have a problem with the ram hole though, because this machine I'm using now has 4GB of ram, with PAE enabled, and windows can still only access 3.25GB (roughly). Memtest32 (32-bit linux-based ram test) successfully accessed the rest of the ram by
    • This is somewhat correct (video RAM has nothing to do with anything, unless you use one of those chips).

      There are quite a few prerequisites if you want 32-bit Windows to address more than 2GB of RAM. Windows can perform paging for applications that use the respective API. Remember the good 'ol days of 16-bit memory segments? It's kind of like that. Some apps, like SQL server, sort-of support large memory, by paging large chunks of it around virtual memory space. It's not efficient at all and it's not as use
  • 16GB Dual-Proc SPARC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KatTran (122906) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @04:01PM (#18171062)
    http://www.tadpole.com/products/notebooks/bullfrog dp.asp [tadpole.com]

    FEATURES AND ADVANTAGES:

            * Powerful Performance and Processing:
                        o Dual CPU 1.2GHz UltraSPARC-IIIi, 1 MB level 2 Cache with 1GB-8GB memory per CPU (Up to 16GB total)
                        o Solaris 9 Operating Environment
                        o Full-length PCI slot supporting Windows co-processor, network adaptors, high end graphics and many other options
            * State of the Art Mobility:
                        o Mobile server consolidation - the 22 lbs Bullfrog Dual Processor replaces a typical 450 lbs server box (with power backup modules) with no loss in performance or connectivity
                        o Permits a "work from anywhere" environment
                        o Consolidation of Solaris and Windows onto one box
            * Redundancy:
                        o Dual Disk Drives with capacity of up to 200GB (100GB + 100 GB)
                        o Built in UPS
                        o Dual Processors
            * Efficiency:
                        o Total costs reduced by as much as 50% over equivalent conventional server system
                        o Total weight savings of as much as 90%
            * Reduced Complexity when deployed with Comet 12/15 Thin Clients:
                        o Wireless Solutions are simple to deploy
                        o Reduced System Admin overheads
                        o Manage services not desktops
                        o Reduce desktop productivity licensing by a factor of 10
            * Accessories & Upgrades: A wide range of accessories that enhance Tadpole Bullfrog usability
  • by skinfitz (564041) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @04:04PM (#18171134) Journal
    Why not have a big behemoth server sitting on the net somewhere and access it remotely using a nice wireless OSX machine?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Because he comes from a less sophisticated world (windows) and does not know about such things. :) Quit given away all our secrets. :)
    • by dave420 (699308)
      Why OS X? If the work is being done remotely, just use an even smaller notebook than Apple's offerings. Or spend as much and get a faster notebook from another manufacturer.
  • Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @04:06PM (#18171164) Homepage
    ...you could always hop on Ebay and buy one of those old-school lunchbox style portable computers...just gut the innards and install your own stuff...

    Heavier and larger than a laptop, but capable of carrying around a tower's computational power...not very convienient, I know, but still...it is an option...
  • I think its pretty safe to assume that given the initial info the user is probably doing Windows development. Thats really only going to work on a x86 or x86_64 machine running windows, and windows development tools. Anything else is just fracturing the issue, and not contributing to a solution. Face it Open Source, MAC, Unix, and all the rest are wonderful, but some of us....ALOT of us are stuck in a WinTel world.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      submitter: How can I install a 120-gallon gas tank on my car? I need to drive New York/Los Angeles *FAST*.
      slashdot crowd: Have you considered taking the plane?
      you: Stop suggesting alternate forms of transportation, some of us are afraid to fly.
    • On the desktop I'm using now (Win2003)
      I think its pretty safe to assume that given the initial info the user is probably doing Windows development.
      Thank you for that insight, Admiral Obvious, Sir!
      /me salutes
      • 'Using Windows machine for development' and 'Windows development' are two different things, my dear friend ! For example, he might be using a platform independent language IDE (Bloated with plugins / tools for his specific development requirements) on Windows, which doesn't necessarily mean 'Windows development'. So, I would say that the parent's comment about 'safely assuming Windows development' was more sensible than your high-schoolish 'Uhhh .. Obviouslyyyyy' comment.
  • Some of the dev-tools I want to run are just obscene RAM-pigs. On the desktop I'm using now (Win2003), it sucks up 1.6gb just to boot.

    Based on that alone, the best fix is to find out what occupies that 1.6GB, as that amount of memory would pin similar desktops that use three times the "recommended" memory amount. Otherwise, I might as well use an "Overkill" tag.

    Move that to Vista, add a VM-Ware session or two, and I'm worried I'll be pushing 4Gb.

    Okay... If necessary, you could use virtual memory for your

    • by Svartalf (2997)

      Okay... If necessary, you could use virtual memory for your two VM-Ware sessions.


      Today's advice is brought to you by the words "swap" and "thrash"...
  • VNC? Remote Desktop? (Score:2, Informative)

    by amuro98 (461673)
    Instead of creating a portable development environment/lab on your laptop, why not setup a secure network, and use something like Remote Desktop or VNC to access your big-beefy-box (BBB) at the office?

    Use the laptop for light file editting and whatnot, then upload the files to your remote BBB for compilation and testing.

    I used to do this at a former job when telecommuting. It was a lot easier when I could simply access "my desktop" exactly as it was as if I were sitting in the office. Well, OK, I only had
  • A laptop with 4Gb of RAM may actually work better than you expect. Lots of memory is used for caching. Once there is little free physical memory left, the disk cache start shrinking, but it doesn't affect the performance very much until the cache is reduced to less than 10Mb. At this point, the OS may start swapping some rarely used memory to the hard drive. Given 4Gb, I don't think you'll see swap used very often if at all. And the way to compensate would be to get a faster hard drive. Hybrid flash-m
  • I recently purchased a Toshiba Satellite XP Tablet PC. It came with 2 512MB modules and it is expandable to 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) modules. However in my case, here in Van, BC, Canada, a 2GB($500-600+CDN) RAM module costs more than 2 1GB RAM ($187-200CDN) modules. Anyone know why?
    My laptop is mainly for surfing the internet, using regular MS Office apps and programming in .NET and Java.
    • by Pope (17780)
      Higher density RAM has always cost more than lower density RAM, no surprise there.
      • by Rac3r5 (804639)
        Quote: "Higher density RAM has always cost more than lower density RAM, no surprise there."

        I know that.. its just a bit surprising that it costs more than 5x more....
  • by zippthorne (748122) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @04:43PM (#18171794) Journal
    You could wait, spend a fortune, lug a desktop, or even buy a mac as everyone here has suggested, perhaps.

    But the real question is, What is it that you need a +4GB laptop for? Sometimes, (many times perhaps) we have a problem that we get an idea how to solve that may or may not be the most effective way to do it. We then go and as questions about how to accomplish individual steps in our not particularly effective method.

    But depending on the problem, it is sometimes better to ask about the actual problem. Someone is bound to have solved it or something similar or have an insight that would make many of our steps (hopefully the hardest ones) unnecessary.
  • Just install Ssh on the notebook and then install ssh on a superfast desktop like the quad core macs that can have more than 4 gigs of ram and run Windows. Of course if you want any gui's you will need X and I do not know if your development tools are win32 only or not? Then if you can use nmake you wont need the ram to begin with.

    Terminals began when early microcomputers sucked and were just mere toys. They are used for situations like what you described. Maybe you can also install vnc on the other compute
    • by Glonoinha (587375)
      Hmmm.

      If only Windows 2003 Server came with some sort of terminal server software, like a VNC for Windows or something. Then he could run a termserver client on his laptop and connect to a monster desktop / server tower in the same room via wireless, and remote control the big beefy box over his wifi network.

      They should invent something like that.
      • by Jesterboy (106813)
        Terminal services? [wikipedia.org] Remote Desktop? [wikipedia.org] On Windows?

        Surely you jest, good sir!
        • by Glonoinha (587375)
          Yea, something exactly like the fictional technologies described on those wiki pages.

          Someone should invent something like that. A way that the OP could use his laptop to remotely control the desktop of a really powerful (ie, SMP box with more than 4G of memory) Windows machine over the network, perhaps over the airwaves using an as of yet uninvented 'magic' signal propagation in perhaps the 2.4GHz range of the electromagnetic light waves spectrum.

          That would be an excellent solution, if only it was real, av
    • by dave420 (699308)
      Or save your money and buy an even faster generic PC. Why do people think Macs are fast? Their hardware is always behind the rest of the field - it's even more noticeable now they're running Intel processors. If you want a fast computer, and it's been more than a month since the latest Mac line was released, don't get a mac.
  • by Assmasher (456699) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @04:55PM (#18172006) Journal
    ...I'm running 2003 Server with SQL Server 2005, a bunch of our services, and IIS 6.0 all running and I'm using less than 600 MB.

    Maybe you should figure out what's wrong with your machine that requires 1.6 GB of RAM just to idle.
    • by Maxwell (13985)
      Uh huh, because that's what the nice task manager told you?

      Try removing all the RAM in your server until you only have, say 576 (512+64) left. If you are really only using 600M, then it should run just great...right? You users won't even notice. You may even get promoted for saving money on RAM!

      SQL server alone defaults to 'use all available ram' so it will eat up whatever you have as soon as anyone starts using the datbase(s)....

      JON

      on 2nd thought, maybe that is the guys problem, to OP: if you have SQL ser
    • by Kjella (173770)
      Well, I don't know about his system but I'm working on a system where I got first a ~1-10GB database in SQL server/Oracle (but not at same time) + two heavy java servers (application and background service) + reporting tools + development tools inside VMs and they eat memory like crazy, all of them. I asked for 4GB, got 2GB and it shows... When you're trying to pack what's normally a multi-server configuration designed for large volumes of users, they don't care about the base usage for a single developer.
  • Well.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fitten (521191)

    On the desktop I'm using now (Win2003), it sucks up 1.6gb just to boot. By the time I log in and start doing work, it is stretching 2Gb

    You don't mention what tools you are using but:
    - There's probably a lot of file caching going on so that doesn't matter as it will discard unused cache to fulfill your memory allocation requests as you run (low overhead).
    - If you're running SQLServer, for example, by default it grabs a huge chunk of memory for caching. You can control how much it uses for this (set the max

  • if all that you want is Big RAM.
  • 2 Gig running Win 2k3 Server and a developement enviroment? No ease of use is an excuse for that.
    Whatever.
    I'd suggest you take a Laptop, put 2 gig in it, install one of those new nifty 2.5" Samsung SSDs and crank up virtual memory. Being the performance hog it is allready and considering that these SSDs have an access time of 60ns you'll hardly notice any difference to RAM I presume. And you'll have a bizarely fast boot-up. Allthough Windows will eat most of that away.

    That specific problem aside ... It's be
  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@@@comcast...net> on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @06:22PM (#18173624)
    I'd love to be able to get something like this. I'm a technical consultant who travels and I have to remote into a lab server anytime I need to test / demonstrate something or the like.

    I could easily run W2K3 server, SQL 2005 and host at least two VM sessions. One of these VM sessions would be a W2K3 server, with the other an XP client.

    Since many of my clients tend to be places that are fairly paranoid I cant always access my lab remotely or hook up to their network. In essence I need a "lab in a box".

    • by Knara (9377)
      Well, the real solution is that if you're doing work and they're paranoid about letting your machine on their network (which is reasonable), you have them put you on a VLAN that's external enough for their comfort level and allows you to get back to your dev environment. Requires planning and competency on their part, tho.
  • Laptop Idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jwilhelm (238084) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @06:37PM (#18173838) Homepage Journal
    How about a small, light laptop that you are comfortable using, paired with a powerful server back in the office. Pair the laptop with either an internal or external EVDO card (we use the Sprint Novatel EVDO cards), IPSec VPN back to the company, and then RDP into the server. Of course you could still run some applications (email, web, etc...) locally, but the really beefy stuff should run on the server. This has many performance advantages, but also reliability advantages in that your works can be on a server that is RAIDed and backed up. Additionally you can compile code and run tests on the server when you have to turn your laptop off.
  • You could try putting a flash drive in your laptop and using it as swap space.
  • You should really be looking at lunchbox machines [portablesys.com]. It's a portable form factor that puts a more-or-less-standard motherboard behind an LCD panel, with a bunch of slots and usually a few drive bays. Next Computing [nextcomputing.com]'s offerings seem to top out at 16GB, but that's at least a little headroom.

    If you're stuck on the traditional battery-powered laptop form factor, Dell [dell.com] even offers a 4GB-capable machine, though like all 32-bit machines, it sets aside some of that for device address space [interact-sw.co.uk], leaving you with about 3GB [markharrison.co.uk]
  • What on earth are you running?!

    I've got Opera (with about 30 windows open), Xfire, Gaim, and several Poker clients all loaded right now, on a 1GB system, and I've got 600MB free out of 1024MB.

    I can also load 3ds and photoshop, and still not be significantly over a gig unless i load some huge projects in them.
  • The other suggestions are quite apt. Even with a dial-up or wireless connection, remotely accessing a server should be just fine, as long as your apps aren't games, high resolution videos, or something else EXTREMELY graphically intensive.

    You should see if there's any other way to get your job done with better tools, that aren't such RAM hogs. The fact that notebooks with 4GBs is hard to find is a good indication that nobody else has such a problem, and there's probably a better alternative.

    But, if those
  • I'm typing this post on a Dell D820 with SuSE 10.2 and 4GB of RAM [roboguys.com].

    As for more than 4GB, I'd just build a portable desktop. Even with this laptops 4GB of RAM, it can only release just over 3GB due to PCI needs, etc. You might just be better off running a persistent desktop [redhat.com] on a server and VNCing/RDPing to it.

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