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RE: SimpleTech 128mb formatting

At 02:57 PM 8/30/2001, Damon Langlois (Electrix) wrote:
>SimpleTech are still our highest recommended card.
>It has become apparent that there are certain sets of cards currently in
>circulation that may not be compatible with Repeater. We are working with
>SimpleTech to isolate exactly which cards may have problems. We will have
>more information available in the next few days.

hmm...in my professional engineering life, I've dealt with a lot of these 
same companies. In my case it is usually with memory modules for dram, but 
the same companies make the flash cards, so I assume their operations are 
similar in all of their products.

In my last job, I designed next-gen chipsets and motherboards for PC's. It 
was a constant nightmare to get all dram memory modules out there working 
with our chips. Not only do they vary all over the map in performance 
against their own specs, they change regularly! At least with the dram 
modules, they all have a little non-volatile memory on them describing 
their configurations, drive strength requirements, etc. With enough trial 
and error we were able to mostly read the data and configure our memory 
controller appropriately. Still, there was always something that didn't 

In my current job, I design high-end networking equipment. I deal with the 
same companies for the memory modules we want to design in. Of course, 
application requires high performance parts with high reliability, and we 
can afford to pay for it. Now, all of a sudden these same companies let on 
that with their consumer grade parts they can't really guarantee the specs 
for a given part number! Only on the industrial grades can they do that. 
They strongly advise me not to use the consumer parts.

These module companies don't really have much to do with the performance 
really, they just make a little pcb and stick some IC's on it. There are a 
lot of companies that make the IC chips. (it's the same for flash cards or 
dram modules). The module makers try to squeeze some slim profits in the 
face of intense competition. Their products, as well as the IC's they use 
on them, are basically commodity items. They are sold in spot markets 
the prices fluctuate hourly. In order to make any money, they have to 
change their products all the time according to whichever chips they got 
cheapest that day. They don't change the part number, they just put 
different IC's on it and sell it as the same thing. If testing a 
lot of parts is going to cost too much, well they don't even bother to 
them. The result is, the consumer grade part number you buy today may not 
be anything at all like the same part last week, or the same part next 

What I've learned is, if you want consistent performance in memory 
you have to get the industrial grades of these parts. That's what we do 
for the things we design. Those parts are guaranteed to make the specs, 
they will always use the same IC's on them, and they are tested. They cost 
more, but avoiding the whole headache of the consumer parts is worth it. 
Again, my experience is with dram, but it's the same companies making the 
modules and the same companies making the chips as with flash cards. I 
imagine the story is the same.

So if Repeater can't work with the whole range of possible card specs out 
there, I would seriously advise Electrix to forget about these consumer 
grade parts. Either qualify industrial grade parts and have your dealers 
sell them to customers as approved memory, or test consumer parts yourself 
and sell them direct. You'll save yourselves and your customers a lot of 
trouble. Of course there will be some people who bitch about the extra 
cost. Let 'em go buy it at their computer superstore and take their 
chances. the people who are going to care about getting something they 
will work won't mind paying a bit more.


Kim Flint                     | Looper's Delight
kflint@loopers-delight.com    | http://www.loopers-delight.com