What is CAMM2? Meet the faster, smaller, upgradeable new memory standard

CAMM2
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The days of sticks of RAM may be coming to an end. A new standard, CAMM2 (Compression Attached Memory Module) is starting to take off. It allows for faster speeds and for smaller modules to fit in tighter spaces, allowing thin laptops to be more repairable or upgradable. Recently, many of the biggest PC vendors have soldered RAM to the motherboard to save space in laptops rather than using SO-DIMMs, so CAMM2 can help there.

But this new memory is popping up in desktops, too, with its own  unique benefits. Here's what you need to know about CAMM2 and LP CAMM 2:

Where did CAMM2 come from?

CAMM originated with Dell as a project to replace bulkier SO-DIMM memory slots. But the company worked with JEDEC, a semiconductor standards body, which tweaked it and made CAMM2 available to a number of different PC companies.

What are CAMM2 and LPCAMM2? What are their benefits?

There are two major types of CAMM2 memory. DDR5 CAMM2 is the full power version, and the one you're most likely to see in desktop PCs. There's also the low-power LPDDR5 CAMM2, designed for  thin laptops. Some vendors are shortening this to LPCAMM2, which is slightly less of a mouthful.

Some of the most obvious benefits of this new memory standard come from LPDDR5 CAMM2. For starters, because the module is so much smaller, it allows for upgradeable RAM in thin laptops. Many laptop companies have soldered LPDDR5 RAM, but since LPCAMM2 is on a small board that is mounted to the motherboard with a screw near the CPU, it can be replaced and upgraded later. (Dell says CAMM2 is 57% thinner than SO-DIMM).  LPCAMM2 first showed up in the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 7), using memory modules from Micron. 

Micron-owned Crucial has begun selling LPCAMM2 modules. At Computex 2024, TeamGroup introduced its first LPCAMM2 products, while MSI worked with Kingston to build an Intel Z790 motherboard using the latter company's Fury DDR5 CAMM2 memory. AsRock showed off a board to support Intel's upcoming Arrow Lake chips, also using Fury DDR5 CAMM2.

On the desktop, the benefits are less about upgradeability, as no one has been soldering RAM to enthusiast PC motherboards. On the one hand, the lack of bulky DIMMs is an aesthetic improvement. It also means that you don't have to worry about the height of your RAM when you install one of the best CPU coolers. That said, the boards we saw at Computex only had a single CAMM2 memory slot, so an upgrade would require replacing all of your RAM when swapping your CAMM2 RAM.

While JEDEC states that CAMM2 supports single-channel and dual-channel RAM, there are no single-channel products on the market as of this writing, which is a benefit of its own; single-channel RAM generally results in worse performance, though how much depends on the workload.

While CAMM2 and LPCAMM2 share the same module shape and size, they have different pinouts. This means that you can't replace one with the other, and that motherboards are compatible with either one or the other.

The modules might help enable new form factors, too. At Computex, Adata showed off its Nia handheld, which uses LPCAMM2 using LPDDR5X.

How much memory fits on a CAMM2 module?

Between 8GB and 128GB of memory fits on a single module.

Is LPCAMM2 faster than existing SO-DIMMs and DIMMs?

Yes. As of this writing, Crucial is listing 32GB and 64GB LPDDR5X-7200 LPCAMM2 modules. At Computex, TeamGroup said its 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB memory will go up to 9600 MT/s. Samsung's page on LPCAMM2 lists an "extraordinary data transfer rate of 8,533Mbps," the same number memory company Geil showed at Computex.

While we've seen soldered laptop memory go as high as 7467 MT/s, it's cool to see replaceable memory going even faster.

We haven't seen any DDR5 CAMM2 products on the market just yet, so we don't know if those speeds will go even higher.

What are alternatives to CAMM2?

In theory, there's nothing stopping vendors from using standard DIMMs or SO-DIMMs, or continuing to solder memory to the motherboard. Staying with the status quo is an alternative, at least for now.

Most of the alternative routes we're seeing are on laptops. On Intel's upcoming Lunar Lake mobile processors, the memory will be attached directly to the CPU package, similar to Apple, which has included the memory on the SoC since the debut of the M1. These allow for strong performance (and are physically as close as you can get to the CPU), but obviously aren't great for repairs or upgrades.

There is a world for both, where some devices are repairable and upgradeable and some aren't, depending on size and use case.

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon @FreedmanAE.mastodon.social.

  • kyzarvs
    "Recently, many of the biggest PC vendors have soldered RAM to the motherboard to save space in laptops rather than using SO-DIMMs"
    That's generous - I'm sticking to the cynical view that it's a blatant way to charge more and won't change no matter what interface is available!
    Reply
  • 35below0
    What is the spec for the CAMM2 "socket" on a motherboard? For example, is a motherboard limited to say 7200 MT/s? Or limited to 32 Gb modules?
    Or can a module be swapped out for a faster one, or for higher capacity?

    It's a serious drawback if memory is not upgradeable. On the other hand, if it's just a matter of swapping one module for another, then it's a great convenience.
    Also, if future BIOS updates unlock greater capacity or performance, that's a plus.

    64Gb of DDR5 RAM at 9600 MT/s is hot stuff in 2024. more than neccessary for sure. But as some have pointed out, being limited to 64Gb is a problem for users who need 128 Gb or more.
    I'm sure pricy motherboards could be offered to accomodate their needs though.
    Reply
  • DiegoSynth
    I think we can already drop the "advantage" of being "easier to repair" that I've seen in many articles, like a copy paste. None of these things are "easy to repair", and I don't think they are normally repaired.

    I think they can be useful for laptops to certain extent (as laptop RAMs are also laying almost flat). But I don't see any benefit for desktop. And the fact that they lay flat reduces the possibilities of having multiple modules as we have now, meaning less chances to add, but more to replace.

    I don't know; time will say, but for now, it just looks like a great excuse to make us buy new motherboards and RAM.
    Reply
  • Eximo
    Yeah, shame they keep coming out with new products for sale. Darn those manufacturers forcing me to buy things they sell.
    Reply
  • 35below0
    DiegoSynth said:
    But I don't see any benefit for desktop. And the fact that they lay flat reduces the possibilities of having multiple modules as we have now
    That is a benefit right there. Instead of having to fiddle with multiple sticks, you have same performance/spec on one piece.

    DiegoSynth said:
    meaning less chances to add, but more to replace.

    You're ignoring how extremly finnicky the upgrade process is. You're far better off selling your RAM and buying a new kit, than risking adding more sticks. Mixed kits are nothing but trouble

    That's the key (supposed) benefit struck down. So it comes down to installing a 2 piece or 4 piece kit into a 4 slot "socket" for lack of a better word, versus installing a 1 piece kit into an area roughly the same size.
    In addition, a 2 piece kit is prefered in almost all cases except for some AMD CPUs. Most of the time installing 4 sticks will require a more expensive motherboard or will be limited, speed-wise.


    Further benefit of CAMM2 is air cooler compatibility.
    There are many benefits for desktops if you think about it. And so far, no penalty aside possibly the area taken up by the RAM, and possible difficulty swapping kits.
    Reply
  • Eximo
    Personally, I haven't added memory to a system in the last 20ish years? A few replacements here and there.

    I want to say the last time was in DDR2 days. Went from 2GB to 6GB when I installed Windows 7 64 bit. Every system after that the memory was purchased with the board and stayed in until replacement, never additional.

    After that I had 3x4GB DDR3, and then DDR3/DDR4 2x8GB kits until recently when 2x16GB kits made more sense to purchase.

    If I can get a 64GB CAMM module, I would stick with that until the next standard. Or when CPUs and memory stop being socketed altogether, or when modular memory becomes a secondary memory expansion system rather than primary system memory.
    Reply
  • Rouxenator
    One step closer to killing dGPU and ending the graphics card cartel
    Reply
  • DiegoSynth
    Eximo said:
    Personally, I haven't added memory to a system in the last 20ish years? A few replacements here and there.

    I want to say the last time was in DDR2 days. Went from 2GB to 6GB when I installed Windows 7 64 bit. Every system after that the memory was purchased with the board and stayed in until replacement, never additional.

    After that I had 3x4GB DDR3, and then DDR3/DDR4 2x8GB kits until recently when 2x16GB kits made more sense to purchase.

    If I can get a 64GB CAMM module, I would stick with that until the next standard. Or when CPUs and memory stop being socketed altogether, or when modular memory becomes a secondary memory expansion system rather than primary system memory.
    Well I understand there will always be different cases. For me it's normal to add things as years go by. I actually choose the components with that in mind.
    About large amounts (>=64) I agree that it is probably a pain. But in DIMM world, 1 stick is much more expensive than 2. So I'm curious about 1 64GB CAMM price.
    Reply
  • DiegoSynth
    35below0 said:
    That is a benefit right there. Instead of having to fiddle with multiple sticks, you have same performance/spec on one piece.



    You're ignoring how extremly finnicky the upgrade process is. You're far better off selling your RAM and buying a new kit, than risking adding more sticks. Mixed kits are nothing but trouble

    That's the key (supposed) benefit struck down. So it comes down to installing a 2 piece or 4 piece kit into a 4 slot "socket" for lack of a better word, versus installing a 1 piece kit into an area roughly the same size.
    In addition, a 2 piece kit is prefered in almost all cases except for some AMD CPUs. Most of the time installing 4 sticks will require a more expensive motherboard or will be limited, speed-wise.


    Further benefit of CAMM2 is air cooler compatibility.
    There are many benefits for desktops if you think about it. And so far, no penalty aside possibly the area taken up by the RAM, and possible difficulty swapping kits.
    I've had a different experience. I've added modules many times, and if you are careful, there shouldn't be any trouble. That plus an extra drive has actually extended the life of my computers. Later ona GPU, and so on.

    You are right: it may not be for the average user which doesn't really want to deal with specs and stuff. But simplicity comes with a cost which tends to be limitation.

    I totally get that from an appearance point of view it may look better.
    I'm not gonna resent it, but if there's nothing wrong with DIMMs, then why not to focus on fixing what's actually not right in track? (GPUs *cough*, *cough*).
    Reply