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Motherboard Memory limits Desktop and Laptop

Last response: in Motherboards
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March 12, 2011 9:54:10 PM

I am looking to build a new system and possibly pick up a laptop and I am trying to figure out why there are certain limits on the amount of memory a motherboard can take, especially if they are using the same chipset's etc.

For instance... Windows 7 64bit has a pretty high limit on the amount of memory it can support, in to the terabytes.

So then I start looking at modern motherboards and most have 4 or 6 memory sockets. In theory, each one of these sockets could take up to 8gb dimms in each one making for a max 32gb of memory that the system can physically handle on a 4 socket board and 48gb on a 6 socket board.

Why and what are some manufacturers doing to limit systems to 24gb of memory, it doesn't add up.

This is particularly irritating with laptops as only a few things can physically be upgraded before a laptop just flat out needs to be replaced.

For instance, the XPS series of laptops from Dell are their "High End" prosumer laptops... I am not worried about Alien Ware hardware at the moment.

I would expect that a fully configured XPS latop should at least support 32gb of ram like their business line of laptops do already. Not that it would be purchased from Dell with 32gb of ram in it on order.

Just to explain why I am looking at the hardware configurations, I edit 1080p 24,30, and 60FPS video and edit photo's on the low end 12mp up to 80mp from medium format cameras.

It is nice to dump the processing into ram instead of paging it on fast hard drives or SSD's.

and to that, why can't AUSS, Gigabyte, MSI, etc create modern motherboards with 8 or 12 ram sockets @ 8gb each? Our operating systems support it, is is that a miss leading figure by Microsoft?
a b V Motherboard
a b } Memory
March 13, 2011 12:16:29 AM

The 24GB limit probably is due to CPU/Chipset limitations. In order for systems to use more than a certain amount of RAM you have to use registered RAM modules, rather than standard modules. Registered RAM modules have a set of register chips that allow for greater RAM capacities, but they reduce performance slightly. However, only CPUs/chipsets with support for registered RAM can use such modules. Usually only server CPUs/Chipsets have such support.
a b V Motherboard
a b } Memory
March 13, 2011 12:19:47 AM

So if you want a system with RAM capacities exceeding 24GB or so, you'll have to get an Opteron or Xeon based workstation system, which will include support for registered RAM, plus multiple CPU sockets which could be nice for such workloads.
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