CAMM, or Compression Attached Memory Module, is a standard developed by Dell. It’s currently slated to be the successor to SO-DIMM, which is actually a 25-year-old standard by now. With DDR5 memory, the SO-DIMM standard is reportedly showing its age. DDR5 SO-DIMM is slated to not scale past DDR5-6400, and we are also starting to be limited in terms of capacity. CAMM is expected to start from DDR5-6400 and capacities can easily range up to 128GB or greater, which are clear benefits over SO-DIMM sticks.

CAMM to replace SO-DIMM soon

But wait, since Dell made it, will it be exclusive to their laptops? Apparently not. JEDEC is working with their members to come up with a CAMM standard. The design should be quite heavily based on Dell’s, as seen in the pictures in this article, but it might end up slightly different once the spec is finalized. Speaking of which, all 20 companies in the task group voting for it were in favor of the new CAMM Common Spec, so adoption could be quite rapid indeed.

SO-DIMM’s traces (upper left) vs CAMM’s traces (lower right)

Currently, JEDEC is targeting to have a finalized 1.0 spec by the second half of the year, with CAMM-based systems appearing by 2024. CAMM’s advantages over SO-DIMM includes shorter traces that allow for lower latencies and higher efficiency. Long and complex traces are part of the reason why SO-DIMM can’t scale beyond DDR5-6400, and why CAMM’s shorter traces is expected to take over. The shorter traces might also translate to simpler motherboard designs, leaving more space for beefier cooling, or perhaps storage expansion slots.

CAMM is the future

Dell expects that CAMM will be used for DDR6, and might even herald the age of LPDDR modules, something which is not viable since the advent of LPDDR4. One concern that I have I am not sure how will RAM manufacturers package CAMMs. Will they all be quad-channel modules (128-bit), or will dual-channel ones (64-bit) co-exist in the market? And more importantly, will they be clearly indicated to help consumers choose their next CAMM upgrade?

Dell CAMM module

In any case, when JEDEC’s CAMMs arrive, expect to see them featured in only the flagship gaming or creator machines. So most likely we won’t see value-oriented CAMMs in the market at launch, thus keeping the confusion at bay, at least until the CAMM standard becomes more mainstream.

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