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Dell improves its memory

The PC vendor is evaluating new memory technology that would greatly increase the amount of RAM in the average PC.

Dell's (DELL) memory is improving.

The company says it will be one of the first PC vendors to use next-generation memory from Micron Technology (MU) that is promised to both boost capacity and improve performance and reliability.

Micron has shipped the first samples of its 256-megabit (Mb) DRAM chips to Dell. Dell is evaluating the chips for use in upcoming server and notebook designs.

DRAM, or Dynamic Random Access Memory, is the most commonly used type of memory for personal computers. DRAM chips usually come on small circuit boards, called memory modules, and each PC is built with several memory modules.

Today, most PCs use 16Mb DRAM or 64Mb DRAM. Upcoming memory modules that use the 256Mb DRAMs will offer four times as much memory per module compared to current 64Mb technology.

The memory chips themselves come in megabits; because each PC uses multiple memory modules, the memory capacity of a PC is measured in a bigger denomination: megabytes (MB). Today's PC with 32MB of RAM uses a total 16 of the 16Mb DRAMs.

That same number of 256Mb DRAMs would offer a whopping 512MB of RAM. PC vendors, however, are likely to offer configurations with 64MB or 128MB of RAM using the new, more expensive memory chips.

Greater memory capacity improves the overall performance of a computer because data can reside in memory instead of on a hard disk and memory is much faster to access.

DRAM technology is key to improving overall system performance, said David Lunsford, director of Dell's Advanced Technology Group, in a statement. The new DRAMs will allow Dell to design servers and workstations with higher memory capacity, while notebooks will be able to cram more memory in a smaller space, Lunsford said. Dell says that the new DRAMs will also improve system reliability because computers won't need as many components.

Most manufacturers of DRAMs such as LG Semicon and Samsung, both major South Korean chipmakers, are still trying to move from production of 16Mb DRAMs to the higher-density 64Mb chips.