Thursday, August 2, 2007

ComScore: PCs Getting Faster--and Faster

The amount of system memory and disk drive space in PCs is growing, making them suitable for more memory-intensive, multimedia uses.

Patrick Thibodeau, Computerworld

The amount of system memory and disk drive space in PCs are growing, putting the average system on a trajectory for more memory-intensive, multimedia uses, according to ComScore Inc.

It may seem almost duh-like to point out that systems are getting more RAM, bigger hard drives and other hardware enhancements. Of course they are. But ComScore, a market research firm in Reston, Va., is now using its large customer panel of some 2 million users to track hardware changes month to month. Instead of the typical quarter-to-quarter or year-to-year hardware metrics, you can see the system configuration changing in slow-motion video-like.

For instance, the percentage of systems with hard drives between 70GB and 99GB stood at 22 percent in January. For the next three months, the percentage of computers with hard drives in that range grew to 23.5 percent, 24.7 percent and 25.9 percent, respectively. During the same period, the number of systems with hard drives in the 30GB to 49GB range dropped from 36.3 percent to 34.8 percent.

In total, ComScore said its numbers show that the percentage of computers with at least 70GB of hard drive space has increased from 33 percent to 39 percent in a four-month period.

System RAM tells a similar story, with the percentage of systems with 1GB or more of RAM increasing from 7.2 percent in January to 11.2 percent by the end of April. "That's actually quite a bit of change in a matter of a few months," said Andrew Lipsman, an analyst at ComScore.

Nearly half of the systems measured by ComScore had between 256MB and 512MB of memory. The percentage of computers falling into that category increased between January and April from 43.6 percent to 45.1 percent.

ComScore's findings seem to reinforce other industry reports that lower memory prices and Microsoft's new operating system Vista have boosted RAM use overall. The Semiconductor Industry Association reported last month that semiconductor revenues have been rising despite falling prices.

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