SAN FRANCISCO—Unlike previous Windows operating systems launches, Microsoft's rollout of Windows 8 is not expected to generate a significant increase in DRAM shipments, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli.
Global DRAM bit shipments are expected to increase by 8 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter, according to IHS. Previous Windows rollouts have always generated double-digit increases in quarterly DRAM shipments, according to the firm.
[Get a 10% discount on ARM TechCon 2012 conference passes by using promo code EDIT. Click here to learn about the show and register.]
According to IHS, the lower than normal expected DRAM boost is partly due to the operating system's lean hardware requirement. More importantly, the arrival of Windows 8 is not likely to deliver a significant increase in PC shipments in the fourth quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, IHS said.
"The release of a new Microsoft OS traditionally has been accompanied by more advanced system requirements, which then fuels growth in the DRAM market as more bits are shipped," said Clifford Leimbach, analyst for memory demand forecasting at IHS. "However, starting with Windows 7 and continuing with Windows 8, Microsoft has taken a leaner approach with its operating systems, maintaining the same DRAM requirements as before."
Meanwhile, Leimbach said, customers are continuing to shun new PC purchases, and Windows 8 is not expected to change the equation. IHS recently forecast that overall PC shipments would contract in 2012 for the first time in 11 years.
I suppose that having skipped over Vista, my recollection is that every new Windows required more processor power and more memory than what came before. So to me, this is a welcome change.
Matter of fact, WinXP became porogressivley worse over time, but perhaps that was caused in part by McAfee. As fast as it was when new, XP on the two machines I had it on became a real dog. And this is in spite of keeping the registry cleaned and the hard drive cleaned and defragged. Bootup became painful, even disk cleanup, which used to be a snap at first, became ridiculous.
To the point that I am convinced that Microsoft does this deliberately, to force people to upgrade. Hopefully they're too busy trying to get their tablets working well that they won't have time to screw around, this time around.
No big shock here... the "heavy lifting" part of Windows we've known for years, the desktop Win32/64 OS, is tweaked a little, but otherwise untouched. The future Microsoft seems to see is the new tablet OS, WinRT. That's 32-bit, on systems with 2GB RAM (in fact, a decrease from the typical Win7 PC), on processors that are more or less Atom class (the ARM Cortex 9 and Intel Atom cores are rougly comparable, cycle for cycle performance-wise, though typically Intel's clocked a bit higher).
It's also a bit of a tech regression. Most of the tablets are using DDR2 memory, rather than the DDR3 that's been a PC standard for a couple of years. A few systems use DDR3, but they're more at the higher end.
This amounts to a large scale dumbing down of the Windows experience, and the hardware follows that. Sure, desktops and laptops are the same, but that's just it -- no one's pushing them. Plus, mass market Windows machines, whether tablets, laptops, or desktops for most consumer and business use, are all running integrated graphics. So that's another traditional place for DRAM, and it's increasingly being pushed to the fringe.