Sony rejects Turbo Memory over Vista concerns

Notebook vendor claims the current release of Windows Vista does not support Intel's performance-boosting Turbo Memory module
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Sony will not include Intel's Turbo Memory in its upcoming Vaio notebooks, claiming a lack of Vista support.

Sony's revelation follows the news on Monday that HP would not include Turbo Memory — known also by its code name "Robson" — in its notebook computers.

HP claims Turbo Memory is not cost-effective and that it limits users' flexibility.

Turbo Memory is an Intel-designed embedded flash module designed to utilise features of Windows Vista, such as ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive, to improve notebooks' start-up time and performance. Launched as an optional part of Intel's Centrino Pro/Centrino Duo platform, most notebook manufacturers have said they will include it as part of their product lineup.

On Tuesday, Sony told ZDNet.co.uk that it would not release notebooks with integrated Turbo Memory — at least for now. The manufacturer said its decision to omit the technology stems from the fact that the current release of Vista does not support it. Sony also claimed that hybrid hard disk drives (H-DDs) — hard drives that are partly traditional hard disk and partly solid-state — are also not currently supported by Vista.

"Robson memory and [H-DDs] both require the assistance of the operating system," Sony said in a statement released exclusively to ZDNet.co.uk. "Only Vista is capable, and the first release does not have the support integrated. The issue is that the OS needs to learn what to load into the Robson memory in order to increase performance."

"There is no customer benefit right now [so] we decided not to integrate Robson and H-DD in the summer lineup [of new notebooks]."

Service Pack 1 of Vista — which has not been announced by Microsoft, but which is widely expected to be released later this year — would add that support.

Sony admitted that Turbo Memory's need for an additional Mini PCI slot posed a challenge to its engineers because they would have to redesign the main board layout, work which may take place once Vista becomes capable of supporting Turbo Memory. Similarly, the company said, decisions about hybrid disk drives were also being deferred. "H-DDs are only available with 256MB integrated memory — too little to make a real difference. Once 512MB or, better, 1GB becomes available, we will consider the integration."

Intel swiftly denied Sony's concerns. "Turbo Memory works on the current release of Vista," said Intel's European mobility product manager, Kris Rodolf, on Tuesday. "[Sony's] statement is not correct. We have established the benefits and our customers are seeing those on the current Vista release."

Microsoft responded to Sony's claims by saying Vista supported ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive, but stopped short of explicitly claiming it supported Turbo Memory.

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