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T60/T61/p memory limitations -- the definitive answer [pics]

T60/T61 Series
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T60/T61/p memory limitations -- the definitive answer [pics]

#1 Post by erik » Mon Sep 17, 2007 11:30 pm

update 10/25/2007:   now includes T60/p information.

T60 and T60p:
the T60 and T60p are based off of the intel socket M processors.   no matter how much memory you install in these thinkpads, only 3GB will be addressable regardless of operating system used.   this is a physical limitation and there is absolutely no workaround.   if you have a T60/p then installing 4GB total system memory is a waste.   save your money, stop at 3GB, and put the savings either in the bank or toward a T61/p if you want 4GB. :)

quoted from official lenovo documentation:
Maximum memory capacity may require the replacement of standard component with largest supported component available. On ThinkPad systems with an Intel 945GM, 945PM, GM965, or PM965 chipset, even though it is possible to physically install 4GB of memory, the actual amount of memory addressable by an operating system will be limited to 3GB. This limitation does not exist with the Intel GM965 and PM965 with the 64-bit operating systems Windows XP Professional 64-bit and Windows Vista 64-bit Editions.
the key point to take away from this quote:   the T60 and T60p are based off of the 945GM and 945PM chipsets and therefore fall under the 3GB physical limitation as stated above.   even with 4GB total system memory and a capable OS, you still can't see or use more 3GB no matter what you do.

T61 and T61p:
the T61 and T61p are based off of the intel socket P processors.   these systems are capable of using up to 4GB total system memory as long as you use the proper OS.   below are the results from the four most popular microsoft OSes tested on my T61p.

operating systems tested:
- XP professional 32-bit SP2
- vista ultimate 32-bit
- server 2003 standard 32-bit SP2
- vista ultimate 64-bit

system used:
- thinkpad T61p (6459-CTO)
- BIOS 1.21 / 1.06 (7LET51WW)
- intel core 2 duo T7700 @ 2.4GHz
- nvidea quadro FX 570M @ 256MB
- crucial 2GB DDR2-667 SODIMMs (2 total; matched pair)

note: all pics below are under 50k per forum guidelines.

XP professional 32-bit SP2

result:   3.0 GB (3072 MB)

comments:   XP pro SP2 now has PAE enabled by default.   on my T61p it could only see 3 GB total.   supposedly it can see as much as 3.5 GB using PAE so please keep in mind that my particular thinkpad has a lot of extras which could be eating up memory, ie; 256 MB GPU (512 MB total), WUSB card, atheros a/b/g/n card, bluetooth 2.0 EDR card, fingerprint reader, etc. -- all of which require addressable space.   if my thinkpad had less VRAM then it might have another .25 GB free.

vista ultimate 32-bit

result:   3070 MB (3.0 GB)

comments:   see XPP comments above.   i tried running bcdedit /set pae ForceEnable to no avail.   vista 32 is stuck with the 3.0~3.25 GB limitation just like XP.

server 2003 standard 32-bit SP2

result:   3.93 GB (4030 MB)

comments:   this one surprised me.   my initial thoughts were that 32-bit 2003 was going to act like any other 32-bit flavor of windows and limit everything to 3GB.   instead, it was the first one which actually supported 36-bit addressing with memory hoisting to fully utilize all 4 GB of physical memory.   thankfully lenovo engineered the T61/p to handle the magic 36-bit support combination necessary for this to happen (motherboard + BIOS + 36-bit capable operating system).

with that said, if you hate vista and are looking for a rock-solid 32-bit OS with 4 GB support then 2003 is your answer.   install (most) of the lenovo drivers for XP/2000, then simply follow this handy guide to turn it into a workstation.   the only thing i still can't get to work properly is the on-screen display for the volume keys.   otherwise most everything else is (unofficially) supported.

vista ultimate 64-bit

result:   4030 MB (3.93 GB)

comments:   no surprise here... 64-bit OSes are supposed to work as advertised with 4+ GB of physical memory.   i would have been more surprised if vista x64 didn't work.

final comments:
PAE is an interesting topic that pops up quite often when talking about memory limitations.   while PAE might be a hack for 32-bit systems like XP pro and vista 32, it's not a hack for 36-bit capable systems like server 2003.   also, we're now seeing "Physical Address Extension" enabled by default in XP/2003 service pack 2.   obviously it's a viable enough "hack" that microsoft decided to save everyone the headache of adding PAE switches to their bootloaders.

my biggest surprise, again, was server 2003 standard 32-bit simply because most research and comments here on the thinkpads.com forum said that the most i'd see is 3.25~3.5 GB and not the 3.93 GB that i actually got.   i guess that's why it's always best to ask for first-hand experience with pictures. ;)

the results above should apply to all C2D socket P mobile processors in the T61/p and X61/s/tablet thinkpads.   again, systems with integrated GPUs or less VRAM should see more than 3.0 GB total addressable memory.   if i buy an X61 then i'll probably do this all over again just to see what happens with the 32-bit systems.

i hope my research is of help to others here.   thanks and enjoy! :)
Last edited by erik on Thu Oct 25, 2007 12:14 am, edited 7 times in total.
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#2 Post by cs120ban » Mon Sep 17, 2007 11:45 pm

:D Well this applies to desktop too. Unless you are running a windows 2003 32 bit, all current consumer grade 32 bit windows will see only 3GB max.

Good info :!:
T61p SXGA+ T9500 FX570m 3GB 160gb Seagate DVDRW Vista Ultimate 32 SP1
T61p WUXGA T7500 FX570m 4GB OCZ 200gb Hitachi DVDRW Vista Business x64
T61 WXGA+ /w cam T7300 NVS140 2GB 160GB DVDRW Vista Home Basic x32

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#3 Post by erik » Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:02 am

this topic comes at least once per week in various posts so i'm hoping that a visual presentation helps those who keep trying to cram 4 GB into thinkpads using 32-bit "consumer-grade" windows. ;)

the ultimate solution will be for 64-bit OS support to strengthen.   i'd love to have an 8~16 GB capable thinkpad but that won't happen until vista 64 gains driver support, loses the bloat, sees better stability (SP1?), and applications are finally written for 64-bit.   in the meantime we're stuck with a compromise; use XP/vista 32 with 3 GB, use server 2003 (which isn't cheap) with 4 GB, or use vista 64 (with limited driver/app support) with 4 GB.   all of them have their positives and negatives.   it's a time of growing pains, that's for sure. :)
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#4 Post by gator » Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:06 am

Excellent work. I am going to see if I can get this stickied.
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#5 Post by NaT » Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:22 pm

Thank you and nicely test Erik!! This thread helps clear the doubt about memory limitation on T61p / Santa Rosa on Thiinkpads.

This, however, missed another famous and officially supported OS, Linux (32-bit and 64-bit). But I think most of us who're Linux-crave have tried or can modify the kernel for themselves. 8)
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#6 Post by erik » Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:52 pm

NaT - thankfully most linux users know what they're up against before getting into it. ;)   microsoft, however, has published vague and contradictory information on PAE, memory hoisting, 32- vs. 36- vs. 64-bit OSes, and hardware support, leaving most windows users confused -- myself included (and i'm no spring chicken when it comes to computers). :)

there are countless articles published on the 4 GB limitation but every one i've read has left me thinking i could somehow beat the system using PAE.   clearly that's not the case.   neither XP nor vista x86 are 36-bit capable, and that capability is what ultimately determines whether or not the formula will work.   imo, microsoft should advertise XP and vista x86 as 32-bit, server 2003 as 36-bit, and XP x64, vista x64, and server x64 as 64-bit OSes.   that, along with a clear explanation of these limitations at an OS-level, would help users tremendously.
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#7 Post by furrycute » Sun Sep 23, 2007 5:03 pm

Thank you! Very helpful info!

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#8 Post by erik » Wed Oct 24, 2007 11:46 pm

i've updated this to include information for the T60/p as it's physically limited to 3GB total system memory.   if this information needs to be expanded upon then i will update the post accordingly.
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#9 Post by RonS » Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:55 pm

As this thread shows, the T60/p is physically limited to 3GB of memory regardless of the operating system. However, installing 4GB does provide one benefit: Symmetric dual-channel memory mode is enabled because both memory modules are exactly alike. I benchmarked a memory performance increase of about 8% when in this mode. The real-world performance boost will be *very* slight, however. See this thread for more information: http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?t=47347
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