Is This the End of SODIMM? Micron Unveils Game-Changing Laptop RAM
Laptop RAM is facing a tricky situation. The SODIMM standard – basically just smaller versions of desktop RAM sticks – has been around for almost 25 years now. It’s starting to hit a wall in terms of speed capabilities. And with the push for thinner laptops, manufacturers have started just soldering RAM right onto the motherboard, or integrating it into mobile processors like Apple’s M-series chips. Both of those options make RAM upgrades impossible.
So at CES 2024 this week in Las Vegas, Micron announced something that could be a real game-changer – LPCAMM2 RAM modules using the latest LPDDR5X memory.
I know, it sounds like a bunch of acronyms. But this new technology from Micron, and other companies making CAMM2 modules, has the potential to be a huge memory upgrade for laptops. This news comes after the JEDEC industry group officially published the CAMM2 standard last month. And Samsung claimed it was first with an LPCAMM module announcement back in September.
But Micron and Samsung didn’t come up with CAMM2 on their own. Dell has been developing an alternative to SODIMMs, called CAMM (Compression Attached Memory Module), for the last few years. Instead of sticking large memory sticks into slots, CAMM attaches memory chips right to the motherboard. This takes up way less space, and could make memory faster and way more efficient since it’s closer to the processor. Dell tested out custom CAMM modules in the Precision 7670 in 2022, which caused quite the stir online.
Micron says its new modules with LPDDR5X memory (from 16GB to 64GB) take up 64% less space than SODIMMs, use 61% less power, and are 71% faster in essential work tests. The CAMM2 standard supports both DDR5 for mainstream laptops, as well as LPDDR5 and 5X for a wider range of notebooks and servers, according to JEDEC. LPDDR has been popular in laptops because it can run efficiently at low power levels while still having fast data transfers.
Along with the speed and efficiency benefits, CAMM2 modules make RAM upgrades and repairability possible again for consumers and IT folks. That’s something that’s been disappearing as soldered RAM becomes standard. As much as I love the latest MacBooks, not being able to add more RAM will always be a limitation.
The only real downside to CAMM2 is you have to deal with some screws to swap the modules. But that’s a small price to pay for upgradability, if you ask me. And the screws make the RAM way more secure than SODIMMs.