JEDEC Plans To Ditch SO-DIMM & Embrace CAMM As The Next Memory Standard For Laptops

Hassan Mujtaba

JEDEC has started working on a proper replacement for the SO-DIMM memory standard in the form of CAMM for laptops which was introduced by Dell.

Goodbye SO-DIMM, Hello CAMM: New Memory Standard To Make Laptops Slimmer & Efficient

Last year during CES (2022), Dell unveiled a brand new memory technology known as CAMM. The new standard, otherwise known as Compression Attached Memory Module, was designed by the engineers at Dell to make laptops thinner without sacrificing performance. Another aspect of the CAMM memory modules will be that they help make it more accessible for the memory to be field-repaired.

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Now a year later, it seems like JEDEC is planning to adopt the CAMM standard as the next memory spec, replacing the current SO-DIMM standard that has been around for decades. The new CAMM standard has been widely adopted yet but according to Tom Schnell (JEDEC committee member & Senior Engineer at Dell), the acceptance rate of CAMM as the next standard for laptop memory has been very positive with 20 companies rooting for it in the initial vote.

“We have unanimous approval of the 0.5 spec,” Schnell told PCWorld. Schnell said JEDEC is targeting the second half of the 2023 to finalize the 1.0 spec, with CAMM-based systems out by next year.

“Dell is a huge company, we don’t keep the lights on because we get royalties for a patent,” he said. “We basically want to recover the cost of inventing it, and implementing it.”

“We’re part of the PC industry and the PC industry is built out of an ecosystem of partners, suppliers all feeding in,” Schnell said. “Yes, Dell does great innovation of our own in our systems, but we also integrate a lot of innovations from a lot of people.”

via PCWorld

Besides just making laptops slimmer, CAMM will allow for faster speeds too and that will come in very handy as SO-DIMM hit their DDR5-6400 wall soon. However, we can't say how many laptops will be out within a year's time that supports the new standard. Even if CAMM isn't adopted fully within DDR5's lifecycle, DDR6 and LPDDR6 are the definitive future for the new standard but once again, it will be some time before we get to see those in action. To incorporate CAMM, vendors will have to redesign motherboards, secure the necessary parts and ask factories who assemble these parts to start from scratch and it ain't a process that will happen overnight.

The whole CAMM unit is a separate module that features several memory dies on its PCB. This PCB is attached to the mainboard using the CAMM Compression connector which is held together with top and bottom bolster plates. The same CAMM board can be used to house SODIMM connectors for more standard memory approaches. These PCB modules will come in various sizes, starting at just 16 GB DDR5 and going all the way up to 128 GB DDR5 capacities. Each CAMM module will also house its own PMIC (Programmable Memory IC) onboard the PCB.

Dell CAMM Memory Solution PCB Shots:

camm-16gb_b
camm-16gb_f
camm-32gb_b
camm-32gb_f
camm-64gb_b
camm-64gb_f
camm-128gb_b
camm-128gb_f
sodimm-interposer
sodimm-interposer_2

According to Dell, the CAMM module is 57% thinner compared to a traditional SODIMM memory and carries up to 128 GB of memory on a single side (once higher densities become available. As for adoption, Dell has clearly stated that this isn't a proprietary standard and they want CAMM to be adopted by other PC makers in the future too.

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