If you were triggered over word that Dell is pushing a proprietary memory standard, take a arctic pill. Dell’s new retentiveness design isn’t really proprietary and may actually lead to benefits for operation laptops.
The controversy kicked up last week when images of Dell’due south new CAMM, or Compression Fastened Memory Module, leaked out. This immediately atomic number 82 tech sites to declare that Dell was taking a path to “lock out user upgrades” and warning laptop users who like to upgrade their memory that they were “out of luck.”
In an interview with PCWorld, yet, both the person who designed and patented the CAMM standard, every bit well equally the production manager of the first Dell Precision laptop to feature it, bodacious u.s.a. the intent of the new memory module standard is to head-off looming bandwidth ceilings in the current And so-DIMM designs. Dell’s CAMM, in fact, could increase functioning, improve reliability, aid user upgrades, and eventually lower costs too, they said.
Virtually of the internet hot takes terminal week, even so, reacted to CAMM being proprietary, which is typically viewed as a method to lock people into ownership upgrades only from i company. Dell officials, however, insist that’due south not the instance at all.
“Ane of the tenets of the PC industry is standards,” said Dell’south Tom Schnell, the Senior Distinguished Engineer who designed much of it. “Nosotros believe in that; we put standards into our products. We’re non keeping it to ourselves, we hope it becomes the next industry standard.”
Schnell said that Dell isn’t making the modules and has worked with retention companies also as Intel on this. In the future, a person with a CAMM-equipped laptop will exist able to buy RAM from any third party and install it in the laptop. Aye, initially, Dell will likely be the just identify to get CAMM upgrades, but that should change as the standard scales up and is adopted by other PC makers. The new memory modules are besides built using commodity DRAMs only like conventional SO-DIMMs.
In fact, Dell points out, information technology’south not even “proprietary” on its own laptops. The kickoff Precision workstations that come with CAMM volition also eventually be offered with conventional Then-DIMMs using an interposer. Mano Gialusis, product manager for Precision workstations, said the interposer pick goes into the same CAMM mountain, too.
With CAMM now a reality, Dell’s next stride is to get information technology in forepart of JEDEC, the memory standards organization, to arrive bachelor to others, he said.
Why not create a standard from scratch? Schnell said its far easier to get a standard minted once it’s proven to work rather than trying to simply create something anew every time.
But what about Dell’s patents?
Dell does indeed concord patents on the CAMM design and there volition be royalties, merely the company says it’s likewise early to hash out royalties. It also points out that when edifice a typical laptop, so many unlike PC companies have patents that most of it is merely cross-licensed in the finish. One final point Dell makes that should soothe any concerns: JEDEC itself requires whatsoever standards it blesses to follow Reasonable and Non-Discretionary, or RAND, terms. That basically means no standard can go forward through JEDEC unless the licensing is non anti-competitive, is reasonably priced, and cannot discriminate against a visitor.
Here’south why CAMM is needed
And so why do we need CAMM anyway? Dell’southward Schnell said that SO-DIMM, or Small-scale Outline Dual Inline Memory Module, is headed for a glass ceiling within a generation of pattern. And then-DIMMs, which were outset introduced almost 25 years ago, haven’t changed much in all that time besides moving to newer and faster DRAM methods.
Much of So-DIMM’s problems come from its relatively convoluted blueprint, which elongates the wires or “traces” that accept to connect the CPU with the RAM module. You can meet that illustrated below in the route that wires accept to get from the CPU to a four-Then-DIMM pattern, in the upper left. That distance is significantly shortened with Dell’s CAMM design, which yous can see on the lower right. As we know, a shorter altitude a wire has to run means less power needed too as higher potential speeds. With CAMM, the distance to the CPU can be 1.v inches, versus 3 inches on a SO-DIMM design.
RAM is built using parallel interfaces, which means multiple wires leaving the CPU going to the retentivity. Because of the intense signal timing and integrity requirements, that also means every wire must be exactly the same length and also take enough spacing to reduce interference. Schnell said that for most applications, Then-DIMM hasn’t hit its limit nevertheless, but by the time DDR6 arrives, the design of SO-DIMM will be well past its prime.
In fact, nosotros’re already seeing a practical apply for CAMM today. In a 12th-gen Intel laptop using two And so-DIMMs, for example, you tin reach DDR5/4800 transfer speeds. But push it to a four-DIMM design, such as in a laptop with 128GB of RAM, and you have to ratchet it back to DDR5/4000 transfer speeds.
With CAMM, however, you can reach 128GB of density and reach DDR5/4800 transfers speeds. Schnell doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty performance details of how much meliorate CAMM is over And so-DIMM just he did say that, in general, a compression connector such as the 1 Dell uses in its graphics card, called DGFF, can hit 20GHz, which is more four times that of the rough clocks of a DDR5/4800 module’s megatransfer speeds.
CAMM will be more than reliable, smaller, and even libation
Beyond the performance advantage, Schnell said CAMM will improve reliability, better thermals, and relieve space, which can make it possible to make a thinner laptop.
If you lot look back at the image higher up, it’s obvious how thick a SO-DIMM blueprint can be, especially when four modules are used. Since four modules require four sets of traces that must all exist the same length, many laptop makers mount them on both sides of a motherboard. That’s all good until you desire to access the RAM on the other side of the motherboard. For the average person, that doesn’t mean just pulling off the bottom of the laptop, but also removing the motherboard from the laptop. That’due south certainly non incommunicable, but removing the motherboard from a laptop means removing fiddly and delicate ribbon cables for the rails pad, keyboard, display, and other components. And the more things you mess with, the greater the odds of breaking something.
When y’all have four physical DIMMs, you also exponentially increase the odds of a module being jostled loose. With CAMM, the pinch design sandwiches in the connector, giving information technology more protection than a SO-DIMM’s contacts, which are more than exposed to air. This improves reliability, said Schnell.
Finally, the CAMM pattern can actually help dissipate more heat since the connector tin can act as a heatsink. With a And then-DIMM, the heat tin be trapped within the convoluted layers.
Dell said it simply believes information technology’s a better blueprint and to show that, it’s putting it into its new Precision 7770 mobile workstation. Dell’s Gialusis said industrial customers of the Precision 7770 demand performance and reliability, and then putting CAMM into the lineup tells y’all the organized religion Dell has in the standard.
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