Monday, April 18th 2022

Dell Will Have Custom DDR5 Memory Module for its Upcoming Laptops

A leak with details about upcoming Dell notebooks has revealed that Dell's upcoming notebooks with DDR5 memory will feature a custom memory module that Dell calls CAMM, or Compression Attached Memory Module. The CAMM can support up to 128 GB RAM according to the leak and initial modules will support memory speeds of 4800 MHz. It's unclear if notebooks with CAMM support will have soldered down memory as well, but what is clear is that Dell is not looking at using traditional SO-DIMM type modules.

The first notebooks from Dell to feature the new module appears to be the Precision 7-series, which will also feature an Intel 55 W Alder Lake-HX series CPU, a choice of an NVIDIA RTX A5000 GPU or Intel Arc DG2 based graphics with a 90 W TDP, as well as up to 12 TB of NVMe storage over PCIe 4.0. Apparently Dell has developed what it calls DGFF or Dell Graphics Form Factor for these laptops, which suggests that they'll feature some kind of modular graphics solution. Considering that at least some models in Precision 7-series will sport 16-inch displays, there should be plenty of space for a GPU module, although it'll be interesting to see exactly what Dell is bringing to the table that's new here.
Sources: @Emerald_x86, via Videocardz
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76 Comments on Dell Will Have Custom DDR5 Memory Module for its Upcoming Laptops

#26
Valantar
Selayai meant like, reinventing the connector w/o changing/abandoning the so-dimm formfactor, if that indeed is possible (like, make it plug instead of spring or something, idk man xd)
I mean, if you're changing the connector you are abandoning the form factor by definition - it's a central part of the spec. Still, if you just want a similar size, I doubt that's feasible (or a good idea) because of the pin density. A single-sided connector with the same amount of pins = twice as many pins on one side. And PCB edge connectors only really work well with two-sided connectors (see: PCIe, m.2, DIMMs, etc.), as the opposing springs of the contact pins ensure even contact. So, either you make a single-sided PCB edge contact with 2x pin density (more difficult to produce, more fragile), or you spread the pins out like these mezzanine connectors. But spreading them out essentially makes it into a PGA, and those require mounting pressure for consistent contact - so you need screws or some sort of tension arm. So: you're left with a bigger but thinner RAM conncetor/socket, and one that requires holes in the PCB for mounting pressure. At that point you're looking at a pretty significant amount of PCB area for this, which begs the question: why not just double the pins in the connector for a dual-channel module? That'll save quite a bit of board space over two sets of connectors+screw holes, while keeping the performance benefits of dual channel From the render here, they could obviously also make lower capacity modules that are physically smaller - the you don't need 16 memory packages (32 if it's double sided) for this to work. Shortening the PCB should be perfectly doable, which would bring this closer to SODIMM dimensions. Of course you're still abandoning the form factor.
Posted on Reply
#27
AsRock
TPU addict
So you can only use dell memory ?, Dell been getting really shady over the last few years.
Posted on Reply
#28
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
Pulling an apple will put them out of business
AsRockSo you can only use dell memory ?, Dell been getting really shady over the last few years.
They have been since the 90s.
Posted on Reply
#29
noel_fs
oh no no

cant wait for 600$ 8gb laptop and 800$ for the same laptop with 16gb
Posted on Reply
#30
ymbaja
MrDweezilDell seems to spend a bunch of money engineering custom form factors for parts, but they end up in products that aren't any better than competitors that use standard stuff. Why bother?
Because there’s reality and then there’s the slide deck that got shown to the CEO…
Posted on Reply
#31
MentalAcetylide
Chrispy_It's more common than you think, because manufacturers do stupid shit like only offering an i3 with 4GB RAM.
Want 8GB RAM? Sure, but you also have to spend up for the i5 model.
16GB RAM? That's only available on the i7 models.

So we're forced to buy an i7 at twice the price of an i3 just to get more RAM, even if all the laptop is ever going to do is run 800 chrome tabs and a frickin' Celeron would be just fine...
People buy cheap laptops with insufficient RAM in it and add it themselves all the time. They wouldn't, if they didn't have to, but the reason there are so many guides for all the bajillions of laptops on the market is because people do watch those videos enough for the vloggers to keep making them.
heh, even the big auto manufacturers are doing this. About a year ago I was checking out Ford Broncos and the various options they have, and after spending some time going through the options on their website, I felt like I was shopping for a freakin Dell computer.

It all comes down to these giant corporations wanting their large cut of the purchases to fill their deep pockets & profits for shareholders while paying the individuals that do the actual physical work peanuts. Peanuts, with the shells still on them, so they have to do more work to get the mediocre prize. Most of the cost to these companies goes towards manufacturing equipment/tech and CEO salaries. :shadedshu:
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#32
Mussels
Freshwater Moderator
E-waste complaints, here we come!
goodeedididWho really does that anymore? The people who really would buy aftermarket RAM-modules to upgrade their laptop are probably less than 1% of users. It makes absolutely no sense to keep up with old tech such as upgradable RAM-modules and because of that to design big fat laptops. There is so much space to be saved with soldered RAM and even soldered SSDs. Maybe there's a better case to be made with SSDs but definitely not with RAM.

Even gaming laptops don't need more than 16-GB of RAM, 32-GB in rare cases.

IMO upgradability will become a thing of the past.
Uhh... me?
My friends group?

We literally buy/collect older laptops thrown out by users and businesses, add SSD's and upgrade the CPU's and RAM, and can re-sell them.
(E-waste recycyling center, sadly closed down due to covid)

I've got an 'antique' 1155 SFF PC that came with a pentium and 4GB of RAM, and now has a 3570K, 16GB 1600MHz ram and an SSD and is a game server/steam link box.
My last laptop was the same, went from a dual core i3 to a quad core i7

Anything with soldered parts just gets scrapped, literally. SSD's come out, the rest gets melted down.


The only use-case for soldered parts is true ultra portable designs like ipads, tablets and phones.
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#33
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
MentalAcetylideheh, even the big auto manufacturers are doing this. About a year ago I was checking out Ford Broncos and the various options they have, and after spending some time going through the options on their website, I felt like I was shopping for a freakin Dell computer.

It all comes down to these giant corporations wanting their large cut of the purchases to fill their deep pockets & profits for shareholders while paying the individuals that do the actual physical work peanuts. Peanuts, with the shells still on them, so they have to do more work to get the mediocre prize. Most of the cost to these companies goes towards manufacturing equipment/tech and CEO salaries. :shadedshu:
That bronco is just a landrover
Posted on Reply
#34
Jism
iieeThat means users can't freely source for after market RAM anymore.
Ive bought a Compaq 2000 euro laptop one day. Had brilliant specs. Only downside was the relatively small HDD.

So with my dumb head i just replaced the HDD, with a larger, 500GB one myself. Half year later, laptop stops functioning completely. I warrant it back, and be told, sorry sir, youve replaced the HDD on your own behalf thus losing your warranty with that. I was pissed. Never bought a "commercial" laptop from such brands ever again.

The target audience for such laptops is not for people who upgrade their parts without the use of dell.
Posted on Reply
#35
Ferrum Master
I am amused by the comments about who upgrades their laptops etc....

Actually there are dealers, that buy stock Dell laptops and tailor them to the company order. Basically they take the basic configuration and boost SSD, RAM and display panel to customer needs and it always ends up cheaper than the original offering, the margin appears for profit. If done so for some business ventures needing multiple same machines it means money and a good ones. There are no warranty issues also with that as it is done usually by official warranty service partners who are warranty givers themselves.

Cutting it down, would mean some changes...
Posted on Reply
#36
NC37
TheinsanegamerNAnyone who keeps their laptops more then a few years. It's become a daily occurance lately with people bringing me 5 year old laptops that have 8GB of soldreed RAM who are finding that now, with newer versions of windows and chrome, that 8Gb just doesnt cut it,a nd I have to tell them they are SOL.

Throwaway culture is a cancer upon both our society and our enviroment. My current laptop, for instance, in .7 inches thick and it supports SODIMMS. you dont need to make things "fat" (and seriously, if a laptops being 5 pounds instead of 4 is a major issue then muild some arm muscle FFS) you just have to have an intelligent design from the get go.
Ultra lights are popular for traveling. You will notice a bit difference between 3lb and 5lb if you have to lug it around. Especially in some countries where the local airlines are anal about charging for every little thing that weighs any amount (Asia). I had to get a Zenbook for that purpose. Hated that it was all soldered but, it served it's purpose for travel. Worst thing about it was the TDP regulation was absolutely crippling. Especially if you switched on the MX150. Either the CPU or the GPU would be slowed down drastically for the other to the point there wasn't much reason for them to have put the MX150 in it.
Posted on Reply
#37
Valantar
MusselsE-waste complaints, here we come!


Uhh... me?
My friends group?

We literally buy/collect older laptops thrown out by users and businesses, add SSD's and upgrade the CPU's and RAM, and can re-sell them.
(E-waste recycyling center, sadly closed down due to covid)

I've got an 'antique' 1155 SFF PC that came with a pentium and 4GB of RAM, and now has a 3570K, 16GB 1600MHz ram and an SSD and is a game server/steam link box.
My last laptop was the same, went from a dual core i3 to a quad core i7

Anything with soldered parts just gets scrapped, literally. SSD's come out, the rest gets melted down.


The only use-case for soldered parts is true ultra portable designs like ipads, tablets and phones.
While I mostly agree with you that upgradeability and repairability are crucial, and have done my share of rescuing dumpster-dived laptops and refitting them for use, IMO this approach we're seeing here is a sign of what needs to happen. For the types of laptop designs that are popular - thin-and-lights in the 12-14" class - dual SO-DIMM slots is ... well, questionably feasible at best. CPUs have AFAIK been soldered since Ivy Bridge (or was it Haswell?), which is a shame, but given the reduction in Z-height for LGA vs the previous PGA sockets, that's never being reversed. That's just a fact of life, there just isn't room in a modern ~15mm thick laptop. There's no excuse for soldered storage though - any device can fit an m.2 2240 SSD (though there's definitely an argument for making a lower profile connector for this as well).

The Framework laptop manages impressive modularity for its size and featureset, but also has a relatively small battery and thus mediocre battery life due to this. Of course other laptops have the same bettery size and life due to just being stupidly thin, which is another problem entirely. But looking inside the Framework, the area taken up by the dual SO-DIMMs is huge. If that could be reduced by even 1/4, that would be very welcome, especially if this also comes with a lower z-height for the memory module and connector. If gains like this can be had by moving to a module that integrates dual channel RAM into a single module, I'd say that's a decent tradeoff overall, even if it rules out the "buy xGB, single-DIMM laptop, add same capacity DIMM for 2xGB laptop on the cheap" approach to upgrading. And, of course, it would rule out the bane of budget laptops: the single SO-DIMM, single-channel design. That alone would be worth the move to a new standard to me.

IMO, to safeguard upgradeability and repairability for laptops we need new, future-oriented connector standards that are suited to the products people actually want (as well as manufacturers willing to sell motherboards for CPU/platform upgrades, though IMO that's rather unlikely outside of niche outfits like Framework). We need to maintain the importance of repairability and upgradeability, but we cant tie those demands to a demand for unsuitable, old connectors. The sockets we have now work well for what they do, but none of them are designed for the density required in contemporary designs. Some quick googling tells me that a standard DDR3 SO-DIMM socket is 5.2mm tall (tall versions are 9.2mm), and DDR4 sockets are quite similar. If that could be cut to just the thickness of the PCB+memory chips (and VRMs for DDR5) - I would guess < 3mm), that would make adding upgradeable memory a lot easier on thin-and-light designs, especially if the socket/connector could be mounted to a PCB edge with the memory module overhanging its edge. In a 15mm-ish laptop, another 2-ish mm from lower profile RAM connectors could be the difference between a great keyboard and an unusable one, or a mediocre battery and a great one. DIMMs and SO-DIMMs are great for their toolless installation and ease of use, but if they're too large to fit a design, those advantages are meaningless. And IMO a RAM upgrade is a sufficiently advanced and infrequent thing that requiring a screwdriver is ... well, not an issue. Thus I think this is a good initiative from Dell even if it is likely largely motivated by profits - if nothing else, it can serve as a showcase of how a more up-to-date memory connector might look.
Posted on Reply
#38
MentalAcetylide
eidairaman1That bronco is just a landrover
Yeah, but they are very reliable when it gets nasty in the winter; especially when you consider nowadays that employers don't consider it a legitimate excuse for tardiness, missing a day of work, or leaving work early ahead of a bad snow storm. The thing I hate about them is they just consume way too much fuel. Years ago driving a car in a snow storm wasn't much of a problem for me. If the precipitation wasn't too deep, I could drive through it up & down hills, sharp turns, etc. Unfortunately, between the state & local governments cheaping out on the stuff they use to treat the roads & auto manufacturers making vehicles lighter & lighter, its a lot more dicey trying to drive through bad weather in the winter.
Posted on Reply
#39
Mussels
Freshwater Moderator
ValantarWhile I mostly agree with you that upgradeability and repairability are crucial, and have done my share of rescuing dumpster-dived laptops and refitting them for use, IMO this approach we're seeing here is a sign of what needs to happen. For the types of laptop designs that are popular - thin-and-lights in the 12-14" class - dual SO-DIMM slots is ... well, questionably feasible at best. CPUs have AFAIK been soldered since Ivy Bridge (or was it Haswell?), which is a shame, but given the reduction in Z-height for LGA vs the previous PGA sockets, that's never being reversed. That's just a fact of life, there just isn't room in a modern ~15mm thick laptop. There's no excuse for soldered storage though - any device can fit an m.2 2240 SSD (though there's definitely an argument for making a lower profile connector for this as well).

The Framework laptop manages impressive modularity for its size and featureset, but also has a relatively small battery and thus mediocre battery life due to this. Of course other laptops have the same bettery size and life due to just being stupidly thin, which is another problem entirely. But looking inside the Framework, the area taken up by the dual SO-DIMMs is huge. If that could be reduced by even 1/4, that would be very welcome, especially if this also comes with a lower z-height for the memory module and connector. If gains like this can be had by moving to a module that integrates dual channel RAM into a single module, I'd say that's a decent tradeoff overall, even if it rules out the "buy xGB, single-DIMM laptop, add same capacity DIMM for 2xGB laptop on the cheap" approach to upgrading. And, of course, it would rule out the bane of budget laptops: the single SO-DIMM, single-channel design. That alone would be worth the move to a new standard to me.

IMO, to safeguard upgradeability and repairability for laptops we need new, future-oriented connector standards that are suited to the products people actually want (as well as manufacturers willing to sell motherboards for CPU/platform upgrades, though IMO that's rather unlikely outside of niche outfits like Framework). We need to maintain the importance of repairability and upgradeability, but we cant tie those demands to a demand for unsuitable, old connectors. The sockets we have now work well for what they do, but none of them are designed for the density required in contemporary designs. Some quick googling tells me that a standard DDR3 SO-DIMM socket is 5.2mm tall (tall versions are 9.2mm), and DDR4 sockets are quite similar. If that could be cut to just the thickness of the PCB+memory chips (and VRMs for DDR5) - I would guess < 3mm), that would make adding upgradeable memory a lot easier on thin-and-light designs, especially if the socket/connector could be mounted to a PCB edge with the memory module overhanging its edge. In a 15mm-ish laptop, another 2-ish mm from lower profile RAM connectors could be the difference between a great keyboard and an unusable one, or a mediocre battery and a great one. DIMMs and SO-DIMMs are great for their toolless installation and ease of use, but if they're too large to fit a design, those advantages are meaningless. And IMO a RAM upgrade is a sufficiently advanced and infrequent thing that requiring a screwdriver is ... well, not an issue. Thus I think this is a good initiative from Dell even if it is likely largely motivated by profits - if nothing else, it can serve as a showcase of how a more up-to-date memory connector might look.
You can still get some laptops with sockets, but yes intel moved over to as many soldered as possible, to sell more hardware


Intel dont want to sell you a CPU, they want to sell you *everything* - CPU, motherboard (chipset), network card, wifi card...
Posted on Reply
#40
Valantar
MusselsYou can still get some laptops with sockets, but yes intel moved over to as many soldered as possible, to sell more hardware


Intel dont want to sell you a CPU, they want to sell you *everything* - CPU, motherboard (chipset), network card, wifi card...
I know, but those use desktop CPUs as there are no socketed mobile CPUs, and thus fall into an class of "laptop" that is barely worthy of the name. Hardly a common thing. I don't quite follow your reasoning though - mobile CPUs never sold directly at retail anyhow but needed to be sourced from grey market sources, and Intel had similar "buy it all from us" programmes for laptop vendors back then. They absolutely do follow the logic you outline, and there is more integration now than earlier, but I don't see the removal of socketed mobile CPUs as a direct consequence of that, but rather as a cost savings measure as well as a desired feature for OEMs wanting thinner designs.
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#41
goodeedidid
MusselsYou can still get some laptops with sockets, but yes intel moved over to as many soldered as possible, to sell more hardware


Intel dont want to sell you a CPU, they want to sell you *everything* - CPU, motherboard (chipset), network card, wifi card...
Welcome to the future. Soon probably even desktop motherboards are going to come with soldered memory, or either the CPU will have unified memory as a complete package. I don't get why people get stuck in the past and don't want to move forward..
Posted on Reply
#42
chrcoluk
ValantarHonestly, I would welcome the development of a denser, smaller connector/more compact standard for memory. The SODIMM form factor is great in its simplicity, but it's unsuitable for a lot of laptop designs simply due to the thickness of the connector. An integrated dual channel (or more precisely 2*2*32-bit for DDR5) module like this would probably be smart, and larger systems could likely go 2DPC with two modules for higher capacity. Still, it would obviously need to be an open standard. All this will achieve for now is in-house, first party upgrades at likely exorbitant prices.
Is there a reason they cant just make laptops thicker? SODIMM slots work fine in my laptop.
DeathtoGnomesI agree. The Throwaway culture was cultivated by manufacturers as a way to capitalize on peoples wallets. Proprietary anything in laptops means it will be outdated and basically useless(well, almost) in a shorter period of time. Yeah upgrades will mean you will be forced into buying new.

Another way to seeing this is another way to avoid the Right to Repair, Warranties, and RMA costs by encouraging the throwaway culture. Dell/HP/Lenovo have been doing this to home PCs as well, allowing very limited upgrades. Its just a matter of time before those home PCs will also have these custom sized modules.
My Lenova has locked the wifi card in bios, so I cannot get one with more bandwidth or WPA3 support, did buy a USB3 wifi stick, but I expect it wont be much better as WIFI sticks seem to under perform. All laptops I have owned I have upgraded RAM as they come with quite low amounts, so to me this is a **** move, to get people who do RAM upgrades to buy a higher model.
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#43
Valantar
chrcolukIs there a reason they cant just make laptops thicker? SODIMM slots work fine in my laptop.
Yes: size constraints, design goals and customer wants. If not for that, every laptop could be 10cm thick, use only desktop parts, and have 10m battery life, but... well, that's not what people want. And there are plenty of popular product categories now where two SO-DIMMs just isn't a sensible use of space, impinging on battery, keyboard, cooling, etc.
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#44
kapone32
That is because only Companies will be able to afford DDR5. It is actually eye watering how expensive DDR5 is.
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#45
Valantar
kapone32That is because only Companies will be able to afford DDR5. It is actually eye watering how expensive DDR5 is.
Like... have people forgotten what DDR4 prices were like just a couple of years back? I definitely couldn't get 2X16GB of name-brand DDR4 for 2500SEK back then, and that's where DDR5 roughly starts today. It rally isn't that bad.
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#46
Logoffon
ValantarCPUs have AFAIK been soldered since Ivy Bridge (or was it Haswell?)
Broadwell, actually. Both Ivy Brodge and Haswell still have a plenty of socketed SKUs but BDW got rid of them entirely.
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#47
Valantar
LogoffonBroadwell, actually. Both Ivy Brodge and Haswell still have a plenty of socketed SKUs but BDW got rid of them entirely.
Hm, that's interesting. Guess it was more of a gradual change than a hard cut-off then, as I don't recall seeing any socketed Ivy Bridge or Haswell laptops. Thanks for clearing that up :)
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#48
MentalAcetylide
goodeedididWelcome to the future. Soon probably even desktop motherboards are going to come with soldered memory, or either the CPU will have unified memory as a complete package. I don't get why people get stuck in the past and don't want to move forward..
Yeah, so this way instead of changing just a bad motherboard, CPU, or RAM sticks, we get to throw out the whole system and buy a new one. Like getting a flat tire and scrapping the entire vehicle, then buying a new one. Good business, but only in a fantasy world where resources are infinite and shortages don't exist.
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#49
kapone32
ValantarLike... have people forgotten what DDR4 prices were like just a couple of years back? I definitely couldn't get 2X16GB of name-brand DDR4 for 2500SEK back then, and that's where DDR5 roughly starts today. It rally isn't that bad.
I never saw a set of DDR4 for $600. The price of 32GB of DDR4 today would be the same as 16GB of DDR4 in 2017
Posted on Reply
#50
Valantar
kapone32I never saw a set of DDR4 for $600. The price of 32GB of DDR4 today would be the same as 16GB of DDR4 in 2017
Then you haven't looked very hard - Newegg has tons of kits above $1000 right now (those are 8-DIMM kits for HEDT, mostly). Your DDR4 pricing is also way off - you can get 32GB of DDR4 for about $100 now, which is significantly less than what 16GB cost at the peak a couple of years ago. Btw, what capacity is that $600 DDR5 kit? Also, using the top range of prices as a point of comparison is a very dubious approach, as there is essentially no price ceiling for premium high end products, so where the most expensive ones land is effectively random. You need to look at either entry prices or prices for a representative selection of products.
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