Dell offers additional insights into its new CAMM memory modules

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We’ve been scattering some digital ink lately about Dell’s new CAMM memory solution, and questions remain. Initially we reported on a leaked photo of the module. Next Dale has officially announced this and provided a lot of information. Yet, despite the official wording from Dell, we were still vague on a few important points. For example, is the CAMM upgrade available only from Dell? How difficult or easy is it to upgrade? We have sent our long standing questions to Dell and the company has answered with some new details.

As a short refresher, CAMM stands for Compression Attached Memory Module. This is Dell’s visionary replacement for the 25-year-old SO-DIMM design. Dell claims that its new design has three main advantages: easy repair, it allows for faster memory speeds and it is much thinner.

How do you upgrade a CAMM module?

Our first question was simple: How do you upgrade modules? With SO-DIMM you can simply remove a latch and replace the RAM stick. According to Dell, the process is similar to CAMM but you need to use a screwdriver. The memory dies in a PCB called a CAMM module and is attached to a container. Once you release it you will screw it back into the module and bracket. Since Dell is making the CAMM module accessible through a door at the bottom of the laptop, this should be a trivial exercise.

Does the SO-DIMM adapter deny the benefits of CAMM?

Although the CAMM replaces the SO-DIMM, Dell offers an SO-DIMM interpozor. This allows for a wide range of rear adjustment and memory upgrade options. However, CAMM seems to be an improvement over SO-DIMM. As one would expect, SO-DIMM + stopped using CAMM using the Interposer solution.

SO-DIMM attachment for CAMM. (Image: Dell)

If CAMM is not owned, can other companies make modules?

Although we first reported that Dell’s design seems proprietary, the company says that is not the case. It envisions CAMM as an “industry standard” that other companies will adopt. The Dell representative said it would soon present its design to JEDEC in the hope of making it “standard for wider use”. The representative said it was working with memory providers, OEMs and others to expedite the process. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

This rendering shows the size difference between CAMM and SO-DIMM. (Image: Dell)

Do customers need to purchase a CAMM upgrade from Dell?

Yes. Since Dell is the only manufacturer of this technology, the only replacement / upgrade is the Dell product. The representative said, “Dell advises customers to use only the memory purchased through Dell. This ensures that all memory has been properly tested and is fit for use with our systems. ” With the upgrade options should be developed.

CAMM module access hatch. (Image: Dell)

For now, Dell’s efforts to redesign the mobile memory interface are interesting. It remains to be seen, however, how much Dell will charge for the upgrade. It also seems to be something that we will see filters on its consumer laptops at some point. Given its supposed advantages over SO-DIMM, it seems to be a no-brainer. The really interesting question is whether its competitors will adopt the form factor, or come up with their own version.

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