Quite simply, I need to know what kind of RAM they can have, exactly. Down to the last detail, if possible.
Websites like crucial.com inform me the simple things, as in:
1) RAM capacity, total and per slot.
2) Basic kind of RAM supported and its speed. As in SDRAM, DDR, and so.
So, that is covered. I know how much memory they can take, and what basic kind of module they can use.
To clarify, I'm talking 256/512MBs. All SDRAM, DIMMs. 128 modules and lower are easier to come by, yes, but pointless. These motherboards all have 128MBs modules in them already.
Resuming...Nearly no place lets me know about further details. In some cases, the official manufacturers' sites provide some more (maybe vague) insight, but I've run into yet other sites that contradict those bits of info.
Another important bit of info: I'm in South America. We don't manufacture any of this here. We import it all, and importers only bother with a very few brands of RAM. Thus, my local options are truly limited. And buying int'l is prohibitively expensive, between shipping costs and currency exchange (typical salaries here don't even make it to the U$S400 monthly). Besides, I wouldn't have a chance to get a refund if it doesn't work out. Not without a lot of hassle. Last but not least, int'l shipping has a habit of taking months instead of days-weeks.
So...AFAIK, the big issue is a mixture of brand, and amount of chips on the module.
Brand: Old models of brand computers are far more restrictive in this. IBM, HP Compaq...you have to mind the brand of the RAM itself, and getting the same brand as the computer itself is not only a miracle, but a very expensive proposition, as well (read above about my location for further detail on this).
Apparently, other brands that are reliable, besides those matching the motherboard/chipset/computer, are Spectek (found on some of the motherboards already, on the smaller DIMMS), and Kingston (all-around reliable brand, supposedly).
Chips: 16-chips RAM modules are the common thing, while 8-chips and 18-chips are a rarity. And all of these old motherboards seem to need 8-chips RAM.
That's what I can gather so far, from talking with people in the know, and seeing most of the motherboards showing only part of the total module memory (half, or less).
By now, I got tired of buying something that was "surely compatible" at some local shop or even specialty dealer, and bouncing right back for a refund that hasn't always been provided
So, before I keep trying, I really should get to know the full RAM needs of these motherboards. In a truly reliable way. Or more reliable than what I got so far, at least...
Question(s), then: Is there any website that will inform me of this properly? Software maybe? I don't need to have it tested. Just to know what the mother demands in the RAM dept., down to details such as brands and chips and so, as mentioned above.
One separate question: PC-133 speed DIMMs should work just fine on motherboards that can only handle up to PC-100 speeds, right? They would work at PC-100 speed, but they would still provide all the RAM they should, no?
I think that, if there's a positive answer to my question site/software doing this task, that should be the tool to fix this all, universally.
For those of you wanting to look into separate details, I'll list the motherboards involved, and an explanation of the individual case:
AKA (apparently, not 100% sure!): PcPartner AMD750ASLA-976, Aristo AM-976
Chipset: AMD-750 apparently. North Bridge AMD-751, South Bridge AMD-756.
Bus: DEC Alpha EV6 (64bits)
This one, I don't know much about, really. I don't know if I can trust the info I just provided about it. I got everything but the AKA from Everest. But if I don't use the AKA, it doesn't show up...the thing doesn't register anywhere as a Sapphire brand motherboard.
Looking at the motherboard itself doesn't throw anything useful. It seems (seems) to validate the info I present above, but that's all. And online, I don't find any reliable sources on this thing. No website provides anything solid, and its presence online is pretty rough and vague already.
A couple sites offer me a list RAM-buying options, Aristo brand, but never clarify chips and so. Apparently it can take 256MBs per slot, up to 768MBs (3 slots), but that's all I know.
So, this one's the least successful by now.
Chipset: VIA Apollo PRO133 Two-Chip AGPset.
Chipset Type: VIA 693.
RAM info: 4x168-pin SDRAM DIMM support up to 1.25GB (512MB modules with 32Mx8 chips only and 256MB modules with 16Mx8 chips only)
Supports PC133/PC100 ECC SDRAM
If I'm getting it right, this one should work with both 512 and 256 DIMMs, as long as they're 8-chips, right? Regardless of brand? Even then, I'm putting my bets on Spectek and Kingston, as mentioned above.
Crucial.com says this motherboard only goes up to 256MBs, so I'm a bit suspicious ( http://www.crucial.c.....l=SY-6VBA 133 ).
Chipset: VIA 693A + 686A. Supports 66/100/133 MHz FSB.
Chipset Type: VIA 693A.
RAM info: Three SDRAM DIMM sockets support up to 1.5GB. 168-pin PC133/PC100 ECC (Error Checking Correction), unbuffered SDRAM memory.
This mean 3 slots, 512MBs each (crucial.com confirms it). I'm pretty sure it would need 8 chips DIMMs, 'cos 16-chips and 18-chips have failed to register.
Looking forward to your insights. Thanks for all your help and time.