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For us, to ‘remember’ something is to ‘store’ it in our brains. For a computer, the memory has less to do with remembering where your files are stored on your computer much more to do with accessing large amounts of data so the computer can process all the tasks it needs to do without the user having to wait too long. In that way, you can think of it much more like short-term memory. As soon as the task is done, it moves onto the next task, often simultaneously. The more memory you have, the more tasks can be processed. The shorthand for computer memory is RAM, which stands for Random Access Memory.
Memory usually comes in kits, or sets, that are made up of 2 sticks of equal Gigabyte size and transfer speed. The reason why there are two is because most motherboards these days have dual-channel memory capabilities, which means that instead of accessing the memory slots one at a time, the computer can do that simultaneously so as to process tasks faster. The memory sticks are officially called DIMMs, which stands for Dual In-line Memory Module. The modules are the little black rectangles on the larger rectangular circuit board that links them all together so it can talk to the motherboard via the connector at the bottom. The main memory manufacturers -- Corsair, Crucial, Kingston and Gskill -- will also put their own aftermarket shrouds on the DIMMs in order to enhance the performance. Since the module requires power and are processing a high number of tasks, they can heat up when pushed to higher loads.
Desktop memory has a much different form factor than laptop memory. Because a laptop needs to be portable, every inch matters. Because of this, a computer laptop uses a custom type DIMM called an SO-DIMM, which stand for Small Outline Dual In-line Memory Module. They are built using integrated circuits, which is how they are able to be much smaller than traditional desktop memory. Because of this, SO-DIMMs are not just used for laptops. They can also be purchased separately from manufacturers like Mushkin, GeiL, Crucial, Kingston, GSkill, and Corsair to be used in NAS server builds and even high-end upgradeable office printers.
Even though they’re smaller, they can still pack a punch. Crucial offers a laptop memory upgrade kit that features a total of 16 Gigabytes with a clock speed of 1600 Megahertz. This speed refers to how many megabytes of data the RAM can transfer in a second. Typically, desktop-sized DIMMs can go much faster, but this is because they have custom heat spreaders (making them bigger) in order to keep things running cool at the faster speeds. However, 1600 Megahertz is still plenty fast, and a laptop memory upgrade kit like this is one of the easiest and most cost-efficient ways to improve the performance of a laptop.
This arrangement of letters and numbers is a shorthand to refer to the type of synchronous dynamic random-access memory it is. DDR3 has been used as the standard since 2007, and DDR4 is a recently introduced type with a different signaling voltage and timing than DDR3. As such, they are not compatible. They both feature high bandwidth speeds in order to transfer lots of data back and forth quickly. To deal with the incompatibility issue, Intel has developed the Skylake architecture that features a SO-DIMM package called UniDIMM that is able to take advantage of either DDR3 or DDR4 memory module chips. The CPU controller can then work with either memory type.
Where DDR4 becomes an advantage is with tasks that require high amounts of rendering, such as video editing and 3D content generation. DDR4 can transfer huge amounts of data at a faster rate while consuming less power. So after editing that cinematic masterpiece, there’s less time to wait while Adobe Premier renders it into your preferred media file type. This faster speed is due to DDR4’s new bus type, which is the architecture on the PCB used to talk with the motherboard. Also, because DDR4 uses less power and generates less heat, laptops greatly benefit from using it. GSkill offers a DDR4 SO-DIMM kit that features a staggering total of 32 Gigabytes of RAM running at a clock speed of 2133 Megahertz with timings of 15-15-15-36.
The timing rate numbers are a measure of DRAM performance based around refresh cycles. Basically, it measures how many cycles can be completed in a nano-second. Each set of numbers refers to a different task type. Since there is rarely any major difference between the timings, you don’t need to be concerned with this as much as the clock speed.