A revolution in laptop RAM is upon us

Dell's CAMM laptop RAM module.

It’s time to bid a slow farewell to the SO-DIMM memory standard we’ve grown used to seeing in some of the best laptops. A new standard just got approved by JEDEC, the organization that defines specifications for various types of memory — and it’s going to be faster, offer higher capacity, and take up far less space. What’s the catch? Unsurprisingly, it’s likely going to cost a pretty penny.

According to JEDEC’s official announcement, the new memory module is called CAMM2, and it’s not exactly as new as it might seem. It was first introduced by Dell in the Precision 7670 laptop, and it was initially simply referred to as “CAMM.” It brought a bunch of improvements over SO-DIMM, but being a proprietary memory module, it locked users out of RAM upgrades and replacements — after all, Dell was the only company to produce this type of memory. With CAMM2 now standardized, we’re going to see this RAM become more widespread over time.

CAMM2 will come in two flavors: DDR5 and LPDDR5(X), meaning low-power memory. This will include non-soldered LPDDR5 memory, allowing for upgradeability due to the fact that it can be easily removed and replaced.

What are the benefits of CAMM2 versus SO-DIMM? For starters, it’s a lot thinner, meaning it’ll allow ultralight laptops to stack up more memory. As per a report from Tom’s Hardware, CAMM is up to 57% thinner than SO-DIMM, and will allow laptops to sport up to 128GB of RAM.

This is more than anyone will ever need in a gaming laptop, but for workstations, it could be a great improvement. Not to mention that this standard, if all works out as intended, will stick around for a while. And who knows how much memory will be the go-to in four or five years?

Dell Precision 7670 laptop over a white background.

Greater capacity and the small form factor aren’t the only upsides, though. We might see DDR5 laptop RAM that breaks past 6,400MHz with the new CAMM2 standard. This is great future-proofing as desktop RAM speeds continue scaling up, and laptops need to be able to follow that trend.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this new memory standard is the fact that CAMM2 can activate dual-channel memory with just a single RAM module. This can improve performance without requiring more than one RAM stick.

Although we now have a new RAM standard, it’ll take a long time before it’s fully phased into the laptop market. We know that laptop memory has a bright future, but the first devices to sport the new standard will probably be outrageously expensive. Over time, we’ll see greater adoption of CAMM2 as SO-DIMM fades into the background. This is similar to what we’re seeing with DDR4 and DDR5 RAM right now, where both coexist and are still viable, and DDR5 prices are beginning to normalize.

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