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RAM

I'll explain you a DIMM, or dual in-line memory module, comprises a series of random access memory
integrated circuits. These modules are mounted on a printed circuit board and designed for use in
personal computers. DIMMs began to replace SIMMs (single in-line memory modules) as the
predominant type of memory module as Intel's Pentium processors began to control the market.
The main difference between SIMMs and DIMMs is that SIMMs have a 32-bit data path, while DIMMs
have a 64-bit data path. Since Intel's Pentium has (as do several other processors) a 64-bit bus width, it
required SIMMs installed in matched pairs in order to use them. The processor would then access the two
SIMMs simultaneously. DIMMs were introduced to eliminate this inefficiency. Another difference is that
DIMMs have separate electrical contacts on each side of the module, while the contacts on SIMMs on
both sides are redundant.
The most common types of DIMMs are:
72-pin SO-DIMM (not the same as a 72-pin SIMM), used for FPM DRAM and EDO DRAM
100-pin DIMM, used for printer SDRAM
144-pin SO-DIMM, used for SDR SDRAM
168-pin DIMM, used for SDR SDRAM (less frequently for FPM/EDO DRAM in workstations/servers)
172-pin MicroDIMM, used for DDR2 SDRAM
184-pin DIMM, used for DDR SDRAM
200-pin SO-DIMM, used for DDR SDRAM and DDR2 SDRAM
214-pin MicroDIMM, used for DDR2 SDRAM
240-pin DIMM, used for DDR2 SDRAM, DDR3 SDRAM and FB-DIMM DRAM
There are 2 notches on the bottom edge of 168-pin-DIMMs, and the location of each notch determines a
particular feature of the module. usually it is 13cm for desktop version and 15cm for server version.
The first notch is DRAM key position. It represents RFU (reserved future use), registered, and
unbuffered.
The second notch is voltage key position. It represents 5.0V, 3.3V, and Reserved.
The upper DIMM in the photo is an unbuffered 3.3V 168-pin DIMM.
A DIMM's capacity and timing parameters may be identified with SPD (Serial Presence Detect), an
additional chip which contains information about the module type.
ECC DIMMs are those that have extra data bits which can be used by the system memory controller to

detect and correct errors. There are numerous ECC schemes, but perhaps the most common is Single
Error Correct, Double Error Detect (SECDED) which uses a 9th extra bit per byte.

At its most basic, DDR3 is the current standard for system memory, aka
RAM or, to get more specific, SDRAM. It's the fastest consumer RAM
currently in widespread use, and the type you're most often going to want
to buy (today, at any rate) if you want to upgrade your computer or if
you're planning to buildone from scratch. DDR3 has all but replaced the
older DDR and DDR2 in the marketplace, which is why these days
DIMMs using those earlier technologies can be somewhat difficult to find
and expensive to purchase.
But what exactly does the term "DDR3" mean? To understand that, you
need to understand its history.
SDRAM, or synchronous dynamic random access memory, was
developed in the early 1990s to solve a problem that began cropping up
as computers became more powerful. Traditional DRAM used an
asynchronous interface, which means it operated independently of the
processorwhich was not ideal if the memory couldn't keep up with all of
the requests the processor made of it. SDRAM streamlined this process
by synchronizing the memory's responses to control inputs with the
system bus, allowing it to queue up one process while waiting for
another. This way, computers couldexecute tasks much more quickly than
had previously been possible, and was the memory standard in computer
systems by the end of the 1990s.
It didn't take long after the introduction of SDRAM for hardware
developers and regular users to determine that even this route had its
limitations. The original SDRAM operated via a single data rate (or SDR)

interface that, in spite of the type's overall advances compared with


DRAM, could still only accept one command per clock cycle. As
computers were becoming more popular and more complicated, and thus
issuing more complex requests to the memory more frequently, this was
slowing down performance.
Around 2000, a new interface method was developed. Called double data
rate (or DDR), it let the memory transfer data on both the rising and
falling edges of the clock signal, giving it the capability to move
information nearly twice as quickly as with regular SDR SDRAM. There
was another side benefit to this change as well: It meant memory could
run at a lower clock rate (100-200MHz), using less energy (2.5 volts),
and achieve faster speeds (transfer rates of up to 400 MTps).
As technology progressed and processors became still more powerful
and demanding, DDR alone became insufficient. It was followed, in 2003,
by DDR2, which refined the idea even further with an internal clock
running at half the speed of the data bus; this meant it was about twice
as fast as the original DDR (200-533MHz, with transfer rates up to
1,066MTps), but again used less power (1.8 volts). Naturally, DDR3 was
next out of the gate (it debuted around 2007), with its internal clock cut in
half again, its speed about twice that of DDR2 (400-1,066MHz, for a
maximum transfer rate of 2,133MTps), and power usage reduced even
more over its predecessor (to 1.5 volts).
(You may have already surmised the next logical step in memory
technology. Indeed, DDR4 is already in development, and will probably
begin appearing in consumer products around 2014, with wider adoption
to follow gradually.It's expected to offer transfer rates of up to
4,266MTps, with voltage ranging from 1.05 to 1.2 volts.)
What's the down side to this constant improvement of memory?
Unfortunately, you can't benefit from most of these advances without
significantly upgradingif not outright replacingyour current hardware:
A DIMM that uses one kind of DDR interface will not work in a

motherboard designed for another. Each type of memory is electrically


incompatible with the others, starting with the number of pins on a chip
(DDR desktop-style DIMMs have 184, and DDR2 and DDR3 each have
240), and DIMMs using each are keyed (or notched) differently so they
can't even fit in the wrong kind of socket. It's therefore crucial that your
existing hardware and the memory you want to add are of the same DDR
type.
The good news is that because DDR3 is so prevalent today, you probably
won't need to worry too much about this until DDR4 starts gaining ground
in a couple of years. If your computer uses the DDR2 standard, there are
definitely compatible chips out there, but expect to pay more and get
less: A quick search on Newegg revealed an 8GB kit of high-speed
G.SKILL DDR3 RAM available for $84.99; the same amount of slower
DDR2 cost $149.99. And if your computer is stuck on the original DDR,
you may want to consider a full-system upgrade. (A mere 2GB of that,
also from G.SKILL and also slower, is $59.99.)
When you're purchasing memory, it's also best to verify that its speed
matches that of your motherboard; otherwise, performance bottlenecks
may result. At least this information is easy to determine from the
memory's specs: If you have a motherboard that supports the DDR3 1333
standard (the "1333" references the memory's transfer rate, in MTps, not
the actual speed of the memory, as is commonly assumed), you'll be fine
as long as the memory uses that same designation. If the memory is
slower (meaning, it has a lower DDR3 number) you won't be accessing
your computer's full potential; if it's higher, you risk the processor not
being able to keep up with it.
Neither, of course, is ideal: You'll get the best results when all of your
computer's components are in harmony. Given the work and inspiration
that went into DDR3, built on the platform of the types of memory that
came before it, wouldn't it be a shame to not take advantage of the speed
increases it offers if they're available to you?

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