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Memory Manufacturers Could be Cheating 223

Mark Brown writes "Tom's Hardware is live-testing DDR2 memory products in order to determine whether memory manufacturers submit cherry-picked products for reviews. 'GeIL DDR2-667 that was claimed to be purchased performed worse than the review samples they got: 471 MHz for the review samples vs. 421 MHz for the retail memory.'"
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Memory Manufacturers Could be Cheating

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  • by dickko ( 610386 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @05:58PM (#15117004)
    this memory could be aimed toward gamers who want what they paid for

    Well, the article says the RAM is DDR2-667 which (I'm pretty sure) implies a clock rate of 333MHz (somebody correct me if I wrong). So gamers are still getting more than they paid for...

    What I want to know is where do Tom's Hardware get off thinking this is statiscally significant? Basically their saying "We took one part from the suppliers, and one part from retail sources. The retail parts performed worse. OH MY GOD, that must mean they're cheating!!!" Compare numerous examples from each source and then I'll be more easily swayed to their argument...

    To me, the increased voltage on Gigabyte's motherboard is far more interesting...
  • by ThE_DoOmSmItH ( 202602 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @06:16PM (#15117125) Homepage
    how is this different than the automotive market, where manufacturers routinely send wringer cars to magizenes to test. I think Car & Driver actually did a teardown on one, that had a Formula 1 quality engine :) I guess computer manufacturers are tryin the same thin
  • by general_re ( 8883 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @06:27PM (#15117200) Homepage
    Most things seem crazy when analyzed as a percentage...must be a learned behavior....

    Actually, it's innate human nature to think of things that way. Put a one pound weight in one hand, and a two pound weight in the other - virtually everybody will be able to tell the difference between the two. Now put a forty pound weight in one hand, and a forty-one pound weight in the other - very few people will be able to tell the difference, despite the fact that it's a difference of one pound in both cases.

    The reason we perceive the two cases differently is that, in the first case, "B" is twice as heavy as "A", whereas in the second case, "B" is only 2.5% heavier than "A". Or if you don't have heavy objects handy, get a three-way lightbulb and a lamp to match. Notice how the jump from 50 to 100 watts seems like a bigger jump in brightness than the jump from 100 watts to 150 watts. That's because, in percentage terms, it is a bigger jump. It's how we're wired to see the world, in terms of percentage differences.

  • Re:Well, duh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Baricom ( 763970 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @06:49PM (#15117349)
    Actually, that's a great idea. You could have a rolling sweepstakes where every $CURRENCY you donate gets you one entry automatically. (Of course, you also take 3x5" index card entries through snail mail for those who choose not to donate.) At the end of each review period, ship the review hardware out.
  • by pxuongl ( 758399 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @06:57PM (#15117388)
    i work at hp, and i'm sure this is standard practice across every industry... all review units go through a series of stringent screening process to determine the absolutely best units.

    seriously think about it.... if you had a hot date, would you show up in a yellow wife-beater, messy hair and bad breathe, and ask her to pay the cab that's been waiting for them for the last 30 minutes?
  • Hardware Swap Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jfuredy ( 967953 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @07:16PM (#15117480)
    Tom's Hardware and other reviewers may not be able to buy their tested items from retailers, but I can think of a great way to get retail items without any cost to them. When they receive a "cherry picked" piece of hardware they can post it on their website and ask for users to register to purchase a matching retail item to trade. The "winning" user can then get a retail part, ship it to the reviewer, and receive the primo hardware in return. This way the reviewer gets to test both parts, and the user has a good chance of getting a hand-picked piece of hardware. Win-win. Just an idea.
  • Re:Not Surprising (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @07:47PM (#15117623) Homepage Journal
    There's another possibility that you aren't considering. Manufacturers bin their parts based on two things: actual performance and demand for parts at a given performance level. This may result in higher quality parts getting marked down; it happens more often than you would expect.

    Let me explain. If a major computer manufacturer, major RAM stick manufacturer, etc. needs parts, they get a contract---usually months or years in advance---with one or more of the vendors that provide that part. In that contract, the chip manufacturer (in this case) agrees to provide a quantity of parts at a particular speed, with guarantees that the RAM stick manufacturer (in this case) will be able to get that many at the speed in question, and at the price specified.

    What usually happens in these cases is that the manufacturer of the part can't call it a faster part because that could be in violation of the contract terms for other manufacturers which may specify that they can't sell the faster parts to their competitors at a lower price. Thus, they are required to remark the chips at a lower speed than they were actually built to support in order to comply with their contractual obligations. This sort of thing can happen regularly, particularly if the manufacturer operates fairly close to their maximum yield; it doesn't take much to botch a batch of chips.

    Thus, it would not be at all surprising if the DRAM stick vendor ended up making some runs with higher quality parts than they originally specified. There's no reason to assume that the DRAM stick vendor knew that the parts were above-spec parts at the time because they would not have been marked as such.

    To assume that the DRAM stick vendor did this on purpose from a single sample is a pretty big stretch. Now if you see a pattern of this, it might be worth looking into. As it is, it just sounds like FUD to me.

  • by ion_ ( 176174 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:27PM (#15117843) Homepage

    Humans also perceive sound in a similar manner.

    When the frequency of a sound is doubled, it's perceived one octave higher. (The frequency of a note f(n) = F 2^(n/12) where n is the note, 0 signifying the A above middle C, 1 signifying A#, 2 signifying B etc. and typically F = 440 Hz, i.e. the "concert pitch", or the frequency of the A above middle C.)

    The loudness of a sound is also perceived in a logarithmic manner. The level of a sound must increase with an accelerating rate in order for us to perceive a linear change in loudness. (The difference in sound pressure level is often measured in decibels. The function is 10 log (p_2^2/p_1^2) dB = 20 log (p_2/p_1) dB where p_1 is the reference sound pressure and p_2 is the measured sound pressure.)

    Please excuse any mistakes. It's late, i'm very tired and i don't seem to be able to concentrate at all. :-)

  • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) * <sjc@carpanet.PERIODnet minus punct> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @12:32AM (#15118898) Homepage
    I do, its not about that, your missing the point.

    The point is, it doesn't matter what the review was about, or what the user was doing. The reviewer of a product is taking the product, using it, or performing tests on it, and then using the information to inform the public, the consumers.

    To really do that, they have to have sample of the product that is representative of what you can buy in the store. Its not like you could go out and buy a new memory stick from a retail store that was tested out and deemed to be the best of the best. You buy one that tested out to be "within spec".

    The fact is, if... IF they are right, and the RAM manafacturer is testing the ram to a higher standard, and then sending them to reviewers, then they are essentially asking a reviewer to review a product thats not actually available to consumers, and passing it off as one that is (that is ram, tested to a lower standard)

    That means they are not only being dishonest, but tricking an independant third party into shilling for them.


"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva