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Data Storage Hardware Technology

Where are the Large RAM Systems? 185

CaptCanuk asks: "I've been charged with finding a system with 16 GB of memory and have had a really hard time in acquiring one (especially with a PCIE 16x slot). Linux is at the forefront of these 'large system memory' systems and beyond beta versions of Windows XP, is the only OS that supports the 64 bit memory addressing required to use this much RAM. When I asked large beige box wholesalers, I'd get comments from 'Why do you want a 16GB want MEMORY? are you sure?' to 'No motherboard supports more than 4GB of memory; everyone knows that'. Where are these mythical large memory systems? Do you think such workstation configurations will become pervasive in the future? Will it take Microsoft's Windows XP 64 bit to legitimize their existence in larger quantities?"
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Where are the Large RAM Systems?

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  • I gotta ask (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bilzmoude ( 811717 )
    Yeah, I know... it is not an answer... and it doesnt really matter... but out of raw curiosity... what are you doing that you need that much memory? Bilz
    • If you ever need to render a movie like finding nemo, you would appreciate a system with that much ram - or rather, a thousand networked systems with that much ram. (Render Farm)

      I guess that is the most well known use for so much RAM, probably also high end databases.
      • Re:I gotta ask (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Atrax ( 249401 )
        High-end databases would have been the first thing I'd have thought of actually. I was under the impression that render farms, as they don't have to run 24x7 for years on end, tend to be more in the vein of mahoosive clusters of cheaper boxes than a concentrated small cluster as you'd use for big databases (Oracle, DB2, SQL Server)
        • I think you are spot on with the render farm comment! This appears to be the way of the future. String a thousand low end systems together for very little cost, achieve massive performance gains.

          3D. The problem shifts toward the modelling application itself, I haven't found any that scale across multiple platforms - multiple processors yes, but not machines. Maya 6 doesn't do that, so I guess neither does anything else currently available. (I may be mistaken though, I kind of hope I am too)
          • Agreed; farms/clusters seem to be the thing - I mean, look at what Google are doing [] - If I was looking at a big installation tomorrow I'd be inclined to take a set of blades or a bunch of generic-internal 1RU units from Dell or someone stacked together on a hefty gigabit network, though I suppose it really depends on what you want from the server at the end of the day.

            I haven't kept up with software on render farms since I left my last design agency (now at a large software company which often contains $ i
            • If you were going to run Linux 2.4 kernel on the cluster, what are your thoughts to the Mac Mini with Yellow Dog (or whatever distro you can get to work on it)?

              Granted by itself it isn't the most powerful box on the hill, but since you can stack like 12 of them in the same space as a regular sized PC tower you could make up for it in massive quantities.
              • Minis would be great, although I'm not sure how you'd rack 'em up, and I'm not aware of how their cooling will work in a situation like this.

                My industry segment means I'd probably be more likely to be working with Windows though
            • We [] are working on that problem, in our own little way.
    • Re:I gotta ask (Score:2, Informative)

      by jonadab ( 583620 )
      I can think of a couple of things...

      How about working on enormous multilayer images in Gimp that are ultimately
      destined to be printed as large, high-gloss posters? That'll eat some RAM.
      The piddly little images I have worked with (you know, 600dpi for 8.5x11
      letter-size, tiny little things) can use up more than a gigabyte each, with
      only four layers; a complex image can easily have over fifty layers...

      Video editing springs to mind.

      Databases perform better if they can fit all the data in RAM, especially if
    • One use (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mycroft_514 ( 701676 )
      I can see is in CASE tools. I already was forced up to 2GB of RAM and that won't be enough for very much longer.

      If I had to model the Peoplesoft tools, well 4GB won't do that either.

  • Try this link (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Here is an idea, why dont you just fucking google it [].
    • It's amazing how a little google, goes a long ways . . . :)

      Having fun here [], I can come up with the following pretty quickly.

      Total with Additional Items: $64,923.00

      No problem, easily within my budget. ;)

    • Funny you mention them. Don't they store *all* of their database in RAM? That'd probably be a good company to ask.
    • Re:Try this link (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dubl-u ( 51156 ) * <> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @01:15PM (#11745804)
      Here is an idea, why dont you just fucking google it.

      Here's a question I didn't find such a good answer to in Google: Was it really necessary to be such a prick?

      If you would have read past the first question mark in the guy's post, he isn't just asking for the name of one place that's selling them. He's also asking when or even whether these systems will become common. For somebody who's about to drop tens of thousands of dollars, those seem like pretty good questions.

      Funny, Google isn't coming up with such good answers on that. Boy, if only he could find a community of people who make their living on the cutting edge of technology. Maybe some of them would know! Perhaps you can share the Google query that will help him find somewhere like that?
  • Open your eyes... (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrPepper ( 23664 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @08:20AM (#11743281)
    ...there all over the place:

    Dell Itanium []
    HP Itanium []
    IBM Itanium []
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @08:20AM (#11743282) Homepage Journal
    IBM eserver xSeries 445 8870 (88701RX) [] can take 64 GB of ram, that enough for ya? I got a wild idea, why don't the "editors" of Slashdot do a 5 second google search before posting pointless Ask Slashdot questions like this and save us all a lot of time. Hell, it might even improve the quality of the site!
    • by miu ( 626917 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @08:31AM (#11743340) Homepage Journal
      I don't think that most of the questions are selected to answer the question. As you correctly point out, the question can be solved with a search engine within minutes. Rather the question is supposed to encourage discussion - why does he need 16 G RAM, what are other people using such systems for, maybe someone has lab tested systems from several vendors and wants to share their results, how does the support offered by various OSs actually work. etc.

      • Well they certainly do encourage discussion. I think you could post a question about rubarb pie to Ask Slashdot at start a spirited discussion about Google and how to use it. What I wonder is, is there and question that you could "Ask Slashdot" that would encourage a discussion about something other than Google?

        Hey, maybe I should Ask Slashdot that!


    • I got a wild idea, why don't the "editors" of Slashdot do a 5 second google search before posting pointless Ask Slashdot questions like this and save us all a lot of time.

      I never get comments like this.

      First of all, and most important, if you think that Slashdot is a "waste of time" why do you bother with it? It's pretty lame to come in here commenting and then complain that you're wasting your time. "This sucks, now I have to do this guy's research for him." Uhhh.. No, you don't have to do anything. Y

      • Gee I don't know, because maybe if they didn't post this Ask Slashdot they could have posted another Ask Slashdot that actually required people who were knowledgable to reply? Then we could have had a discussion with these knowledgable people about their expert opinion and the conversation would actually be interesting.
        • I didn't realize that Slashdot exists to interest you, personally. I think the discussion on this article is pretty much par for Slashdot. If you don't like it, read on to the next thing.
  • That's funny (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hulver ( 5850 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @08:21AM (#11743286) Homepage
    I went to HP and was able to find one after about 5 clicks.

    Or, I went to AMD's page here [] and clicked on one of the manufacturers listed. Where I found this [] dual opteron supporting 16GB ram. Took me all of 2 minutes.

  • Appro (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gaima ( 174551 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @08:23AM (#11743293) [] do same damn fine boxes, including 1U (yes, 1U) quad (yes, yes, quad) operton boxes that take 32GB of RAM.

    I only wish the company I work for could afford boxes like that :(
    Oh, and there's that "need" thing I keep hearing about.
  • Wow. (Score:3, Informative)

    by afay ( 301708 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @08:28AM (#11743328)
    I just found a number of boards within about 30 seconds. That's a new low for an ask slashdot.

    Here's a few []

    Every board there except for the single processor ones supports at least 16 GBs of memory. Many have 16x pcie slots and at least one has 2.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You need a PCIe slot? ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY SURE ABOUT THAT? If you are doing high-end visualisation, why not get a dedicated graphics workstation that supports massive amounts of RAM and hefty graphics cards?

    Gobs of memory & Linux []

    Gobs of memory & HP-UX []

    Gobs of memory & Solaris []

    Thousands of phamaceutical, oil and research companies around the world use this kit to get results, so why can't you?

  • by Scarblac ( 122480 ) <> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @08:33AM (#11743348) Homepage

    There are quite a few motherboards that can handle 16G (or 32G) memory, they're mostly dual/quad Opteron boards. Tyan has a line.

    If you also want PCIe x16, it's harder - Tyan lists this baby (Thunder K8WE) [], but I don't know if that one is actually available already.

  • You seems to know you need 16GB - but you don't explain why or how you came to that figure. I guess it's to run an app or some DBs - do you have currently a box with 4G or 8G that's being RAM starved for doing the same task? 16GB + boxes are fairly commonplace as many have already pointed out - sells lots of them and the OS (Solaris) support is just fine for capacity well in excess of 16G, but as is HP-UX, AIX, OS/400, etc.... I do wonder if whoever asked you to source this box did the right
  • by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @08:47AM (#11743396) Homepage Journal
    CaptCanuk's Boss asks: I've been charged with finding a qualified employee to handle big computer purchases. Now that most tech jobs are shipped to India, qualified personell in USA and Canada should be easy to find, but my employees aren't even capable of browsing Dell's web pages. I've tried everyone at my company, but they just scratch themselves and make loud screeching noises, then get back to reading Slashdot. So I ask: Where are those mythical competent workers? On the moon? Because they sure as hell aren't posting to "Ask Slashdot".
    • There have always been incompetant bozos who ask "stupid" questions. It's a fact of life, and you can even argue that there are no "stupid" questions. It's just that these don't belong on Slashdot, and I can't understand why the editors don't see that.
  • by wchin ( 6284 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @09:00AM (#11743464)
    The Opteron systems I've seen that support > 8GB of RAM do so with registered ECC 2GB DIMMs. Until recently, it wasn't easy to find 2GB DIMMs. The cost is somewhere between $450 to $1200 per DIMM (for DDR333), and you'll need 8 of them. You can find some by Transcend on NewEgg. Crucial carries them at > $800/DIMM.

    So even though there have been quite a few Opteron motherboards that have 16GB support on the datasheet, vendors haven't had 2GB DIMMs to fill them out readily.

    Has anyone tried a 2GB DIMM in an Apple G5 system?
    • I just bought a few 16GB Opterons a few months ago (and ordered more last week).

      The 2GB DIMMs ran us around $880 each (registered ECC).

      You can also get 4GB DIMMs now, but they'll run you about $2500 a pop. (yow!)

      The company I'm dealing with ( also offers a quad opteron system that has 16 slots, so you can get 16GB with 1GB DIMMs or 64GB with 4GB DIMMs (and 40 grand).

      These systems are replacing a Sun V880 that previously provided our large memory support, and run the tools we have much faste
  • Apple XServe (Score:5, Informative)

    by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @09:01AM (#11743468) Journal
    The Apple XServe [] supports 16Gb of RAM, the just don't like to admit it. I found this image [] on their site while looking for stuff last year.
  • Buy a Sun, or an SGI.
  • Don't only look at amount of RAM look at access speed from the CPU and CPU contention. AMD HyperTransport addresses this somewhat.

    HP DL585 supports model 852 processors, running at 2.6GHz, 1GHz HyperTransport and PC3200, running at 400MHz. 64-32GB of RAM depending on speed.

    HP []

    For a white box check out iWill (or Tyan motherboards)

    iWill 8 Way Opteron supports 64 GB RAM []
  • Opteron (Score:5, Informative)

    by photon317 ( 208409 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @09:51AM (#11743774)

    Buy an SMP opteron box, they'll support all the memory you want and then some. Most of the Opteron motherboards I've seen in use have 4 memory slots per cpu socket. So for instance with a quad opteron boards you could stick 16x 4G sticks in it for 64G of ram. Incidentally, it's not that only linux supports "64-bit addressing". The memory addressability is a function of the processor and/or memory controller (which is integrated in the processor in the case of the Opteron). There is no processor I know that can actually physically address 64 bits of memory (which would require something on the order of 65,536x 256Terabyte sticks to fill). IIRC correctly, the Opteron memory controller can physically address 40 bits of physical memory, which puts the theoretical limit for it at 1TB of RAM.
    • IIRC correctly, the Opteron memory controller can physically address 40 bits of physical memory...

      The Department of Redundancy Department is looking for a new Director, and would like to offer you the job. Just reply with the PIN number for your primary bank card.
  • That you haven't heard of Opterons? There are quite a few Opteron servers that support 64GB of RAM.

    It's kinda scary that you're "in the business"
  • by wimbor ( 302967 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:04AM (#11743880)
    One additional thing to consider if you are planning to use Windows is the 4GB process limit (which is NOT the same as a total memory limit) in a 'normal' Windows server.

    The operating system (Windows Server Enterprise Edition) will work with more than 4GB memory, but a process running on that server can only address 4GB of memory, of which 2GB is reserved kernel space (in normal circumstances, not including the /3GB switch, bla bla bla, ....).

    Check out: d= 69

    Of course there are some tricks and things you can do, but still... keep this in mind.

    This is due to the fact that you are working on 32-bit hardware that can only address 4GB directly, as far as I understand. Does Linux have this limit too? Or are there other 'tricks' that the Linux kernel applies to go above 4gb? Maybe other Slashdotters can elaborate on this.
    • This is due to the fact that you are working on 32-bit hardware that can only address 4GB directly, as far as I understand. Does Linux have this limit too? Or are there other 'tricks' that the Linux kernel applies to go above 4gb? Maybe other Slashdotters can elaborate on this.

      On IA32, the limit exists on Linux as well as Windows. This is a hardware limitation of 32-bit addresses, as you pointed out. However, it's possible to "window" the higher memory into a fixed area under the 4 GB limit, similar to h

    • While true today, it won't be for much longer Windows Server 2003 x64 [] is scheduled for a first half 2005 delivery (next couple months) and the big apps (Exchange and SQL) each have an update coming to support it (2003 SP2 for Exchange and SQL2005 for SQL Server). Linux gets around it by allowing 64bit equipment with 40bit physical addressing to act like what it actually is, 64bit. The kernal and libraries have been updated for a long time and some major apps have been 64bit clean for a long time due to runn
  • Answers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:11AM (#11743928) Homepage Journal

    Q: Where are these mythical large memory systems?
    A: They've existed for years in mainframe and scientific computing circles, just as 64 bit hardware has existed (Alpha chip, SPARCv9, MIPS) for years and OS's capable of dealing with 64 bits have existed for years.

    Q: Do you think such workstation configurations will become pervasive in the future?
    A: Yes.

    Q: Will it take Microsoft's Windows XP 64 bit to legitimize their existence in larger quantities?
    A: "Legitimize" is a word I don't like to use in the same sentence as Microsoft. But your intuition is correct. Once Microsoft brings out a reliable 64 bit OS that is backward compatible with its 32 bit offerings, you'll see more popularity and lower prices for systems with more than 4 GB of memory. Let's hope everyone's learned the Bad Way of Doing Things from the 16->32 bit Windows transition a dozen years ago. OTOH, I suspect glitches in the transition will be leveraged to encourage upgrading...
    • Re:Answers (Score:3, Informative)

      by ADRA ( 37398 )
      "A: "Legitimize" is a word I don't"...

      XEON based Intel solutions have had extended RAM support for years. There's nothing new with Intel based systems having more than 4GB or ram. You just need an OS that supports the PAE extension. This boosts the memory capacity of the OS from 4GB (32bit) to 64GB (36bit). Linux and Windows have supported PAE for quite a while. (Microsoft artificially disables the ram based on the version of windows you're using)

      The difference between 32bit w/PAE and 64bit is that a pro
  • All over the place (Score:3, Informative)

    by Überhund ( 27591 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:12AM (#11743935)
    Dell PowerEdge 6600, 6650, 7250...
    IBM xSeries 336, 346... oard/Xeo n800/ html

    In short, every place I've checked so far.
  • Dude (Score:3, Funny)

    by dtfinch ( 661405 ) * on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:22AM (#11744027) Journal
    Dell will sell you one at only a 500% markup over cost. ?c=us&cs=555&l=en&oc=PE7250PAD&s=biz []
  • ...Sun [] sells this [] for relatively cheap (although those 4GB sticks are ~$2200 a piece).

    I'm a bit confused -- did you only mean whitebox systems, or were you just too lazy to actually look at any of the big manufacturers?

  • hp xw9300 (Score:3, Informative)

    by RzUpAnmsCwrds ( 262647 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @11:04AM (#11744418)
    The recently released hp xw9300 is exactly what you want. It has room for 2 Opteron processors, up to 16gb of ram, and dual PCIe x16 graphics cards.

    It starts at around $1900, a decent price for a dual-proc workstation. It has SATA II 300, an NVIDIA chipset (NForce Professional 2200; based on NForce4) and 8 dimm slots for registered DDR.
  • That bad boy has two PCI-Express slots to boot. Son, you just have to look for them...
  • by MerlynEmrys67 ( 583469 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @11:29AM (#11744669)
    Go look at a Sun 20z []

    The large system there has 4 GB RAM (4 1Gig memory sticks - substitute 8 2 GB RAM sicks gets you 16 GB memory). True, these don't have PCIe - Sun won't be getting PCIe until later this year, but the IO on this system isn't to be beatten.

    If you want even more memory, try the 40z and 16 2GB RAM sticks for even more memory.

    Don't expect Intel systems with Dual memory controllers to get you there - you need real systems.

  • According to the docs at e7520bd2/sb/CS-013543.htm [], this board supports up to 24GB with the right kind of RAM, assuming you can find 4GB RAM. With 2GB sticks, you could get 12GB.
  • Workstations don't come with that much memory because a machine with 16GB of RAM cannot be classified as a workstation.

    Go look at server motherboards:
    http ://

    There are TONS of 16GB and 32GB motherboards on that page.
  • ... getting ready to run longhorn?
  • ons/niveus800.php

    Full-Tower Workstation Chassis
    Dual Intel® Xeon® Processors w/ EM64T
    800MHz Front Side Bus
    Up to 16GB of PC2700 DDR RAM
    Two External 5.25" Optical Drive Bays
    Four Internal or Hot-swappable 3.5" SATA Hard Drive Bays
    One PCI-Express x16 Slot
    One Gigabit LAN port on Motherboard
  • by NRP128 ( 710672 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @02:55PM (#11747041) Homepage Journal
    I saw maybe 5 or so positive, actually on topic responses, 100 or so saying "Google it you idiot" and another 20ish stating something along the lines of "you #@*#$ Stop wasting my time!".

    If you feel this is waste of time/space etc, don't waste everybody else's time and space by posting a reply. Just STFU and STFO. The man asked a question. If you're not going to answer him, keep your shit to yourself. He's not just looking for hardware from the sound of it. He wants something specific from a vendor. Googling, or searching Newegg and Dell aren't viable options. sucks, IMHO, even the business side, because there's too much that i know they can do that they don't list. And calling them without knowing somebody there to talk to who knows his shit will only elicit the comments like the poster said "Why would you need 16GB of RAM?!"

    I will grant that more information needed to be provided, such as intended use, why it has to have a 16x PCIe slot, etc. But with the abbreviated space slashdot gives each post i can see the reason for being brief.

    A wisecrack is one thing, but a) most of you got modded up for things that should have been modded down as redundant. b) most of you got modded up for saying nothing prevailent or helpful concerning the original question. c) most of you just need to quit trolling posts and go do some real work.
  • Look at the Sun Java Workstations [] for a decently=priced, Tier-1 Opteron system.
    No, they don't have to have anything whatsoever to do with Java if you don't want them to.
    They are certified to run three families of Operating System - Linux, Solaris or Windows.
    They're fast, built well and, most importantly, they have backup support that's second to none.
  • Do you want a workstation or a server.
    For a workstation system you may want to look at he Silicon Graphics Prism. For servers you can get systems from IBM, Sun, or HP.
  • You're not going to find this stuff at Fry's, Circuit City or CompUSA. Here comes a big cluestick. It's going to hit you upside the head. Watch for it. Here it comes. Wait. Wait. Whack! Mass market consumer systems do not run 64-bit operating systems or have 16Gb RAM, so stop shopping at mass market consumer outlets staffed by kindergarten dropouts.
  • Post Mortem

    Having read nearly all the responses to my original "Ask Slashdot", I've come to a couple of conclusions.

    Slashdot Community:
    1. Most slashdot comments are written by people who read the first line of something and jump the gun. They pull out a canned response and fire it off before reading the rest of the comment/article (RTFA is getting very common).
    2. Some users just don't comprehend what they read. They are fast to point out that google has tonnes of links to major retailers and selective

We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids? -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission