The next generation of laptop RAM is approaching final validation. Known as CAMM, this new system memory form factor will replace SO-DIMMs in laptops as early as next year and promises to both improve performance and enable slimmer form factors.
Strictly speaking, laptops with CAMM memory modules are already available. Dell has completed initial work on the new memory form factor and is already selling select Precision workstation laptops with CAMM modules.
However, these modules are built to Dell’s proprietary specifications for CAMM or Compression Attached Memory Module. Dell recently told computer world (opens in new tab) that the specification for CAMM is currently being ratified for use across the industry by the memory standards body JEDEC, with the final specification later this year and retail laptops based on CAMM’s final homologation arriving in 2024.
For the record, the terminology “Compression Attached” refers to the way the modules are screwed on, as opposed to the way the modules are screwed on like SO-DIMMs. Here you can see exactly how the CAMM mechanics work PC World video (opens in new tab).
SO-DIMMS has been around for 25 years and while they are very successful, their multi-module semi-stacked approach takes up quite a bit of space in terms of thickness, otherwise known as Z-height. CAMM modules replace those multi-layered SO-DIMMS with a single, flat PCB that is much thinner than two or four SO-DIMMS and the sockets required for them.
It’s also worth noting that the adoption of CAMM memory will prevent laptop makers from economizing on a single SO-DIMM, resulting in sub-optimal single-channel memory – not ideal for gaming. CAMM memory allows you to have multi-channel memory from a single module.
The other major benefit of CAMM memory is performance. The specification for SO-DIMMS is DDR5-6400. And that’s exactly where CAMM modules are expected to take off, with speeds scaling from there.
Another critical question is whether CAMM modules will encourage laptop manufacturers to avoid soldering memory directly to the motherboard, thus preventing upgrades. Where system thickness drives system makers to design in soldered memory, CAMM can make a difference.
However, soldered memory will always be cheaper than a bolt-on module. Where cost is the most important factor when choosing soldered memory solutions, we doubt that CAMM technology will help much.