Dreaming of a PC with 192GB of RAM? Dell makes it reality

Most new desktop PCs have two to four RAM slots that can take up to 4GB modules of DDR2 memory

Nam Hyung Kim, an analyst with iSuppli, said PC makers were also taking advantage of the depressed memory market.

"It's a very good opportunity to move to higher-speed RAM," Kim said. "The market is oversupplied with memory right now. You'll pay very little premium if you pick DDR3 RAM instead of DDR2 RAM."

For instance, the price charged by manufacturers to resellers for a 4GB module of 1066 MHz DDR3 server-class memory is about $120, said Kim. An 8 GB DDR3 memory module of the same speed costs between about $250 and $300 today.

The price of 16GB DDR3 modules remains far loftier, however. They were first announced this month by vendors such as Samsung Electronics and SMART Modular Technologies.

Samsung won't say how much it plans to charge, but SMART is charging PC makers $3,400 today for 16GB 1333 MHz RAM modules, a SMART spokeswoman said.

What if you should need to upgrade?

A single 16GB RAM stick would cost more than double the rest of the Dell Precision T7500 hardware (assuming Dell charges a normal retail markup).

And how about a T7500 with maxed-out memory? That might cost more than $50,000 ($1,800 base price plus $40,800 for 12 sticks of SMART RAM, plus $8,160 given 20% retail markup on RAM by Dell equals $50,760).

A Dell spokesman declined to confirm any prices beyond the base model.

In-Stat's McGregor said that while such maxed-out configurations "may look crazy," for the massive number-crunching needed by engineering and graphics-rendering apps the demand is there.

And while larger sticks of DDR3 RAM are pricey today, that is likely to come down fast.

"It's a chicken and egg thing. You need to get the processors and boards out there before people start to move and so volume can ramp up," McGregor said. "I expect DDR3 prices to fall by half by next year."

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