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Want 32GB of RAM in your laptop or NUC? You can finally do it

Gordon Mah Ung | March 13, 2015
If you're the kind of person that's been held back by the pathetic 16GB of RAM in your laptop, I'M Intelligent Memory says its new chips can take you to 32GB even if Intel doesn't approve of it

With the IM modules, it was dead boring. I had no issues installing drivers and not one single hiccup installing the dozens of updates, nor running Prime95 stress test in blend mode overnight.

One thing you should know: The modules we were loaned are at DDR3/1333 speeds. For most CPU-intensive tasks that won't matter. For graphics-related or gaming though, you'll take a small performance hit, as integrated graphics scale in performance better with higher RAM speeds. I'M Intelligent Memory said its first modules are DDR3/1333, and it's investigating whether it can get to the same high density and maintain higher speeds. If your computing application is starving for more RAM, it may be worth taking the bandwidth hit for the doubling of capacity.

Don't just rush out and buy
If you're a RAM hog don't just rush out and buy the modules, which retail at $325 apiece. You should know that while the modules work in Broadwell parts, they likely won't with any Haswell CPUs. I'M Intelligent Memory attributes the limitation to the memory controller implementation in Haswell CPUs.

And while some Haswell mobile parts list the maximum amount of RAM as 32GB, those may be used in larger notebooks that support four RAM slots using 8GB SO-DIMMs to get to 32GB. And yes, such a laptop built using a Broadwell U CPU would likely let you run four 16GB modules for 64GB of RAM in your laptop.

You also need to check whether your Broadwell U laptop will even support memory modules. In pursuit of thin, many laptop makers have resorted to soldering chips directly to the motherboard with no option to upgrade memory.

Interestingly, I'M Intelligent Memory has also produced 16GB modules for desktop use. Working with Asus last year, I'M said it was able to get X79 systems up to 128GB using the same technique on 16GB DDR3 DIMMs.

Perhaps more interesting will be the  move to DDR4. I'M Intelligent Memory says by stacking chips it will be able to make 32GB modules for laptops and NUCs as well. That means a laptop made later this year or early next year with two slots could be built with 64GB of RAM, with four slot laptops packing 128GB. Even crazier? Desktops with eight slots reaching capacities of 256GB. 


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