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My IT provider is convincing me there is no difference between a 2Rx4 and a 2Rx8 RAM. A little digging around informed me that x4 means 4 bits on a chip vs x8 means 8 bits. Which is good, but what difference does that make?

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3 Answers 3

2R == 2 RANKS, this is the number of chip selects each DIMM module has.

x4 == data-bus width of each DRAM (chip)

DDR* memory bus width is 64-bits wide.

So a single 1Rx8 (non-ecc, unbuffered) DIMM will have 8 DRAMS (chips) ... 1Rx4 will have 16 1Rx16 will have 4

Ranks, on the other hand, are 64-bit arrays that share the bus. Only one rank can have the bus at a time, the chip select line is the ranks way of knowing that it is that ranks turn to have the bus.

So a 2Rx8 will have 16 chips.

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There's not enough information to say which is better. When looking at RAM you probably care about a number of things:

  • Cost
  • Density (bytes per slot)
  • Performance (RAM timings)
  • Reliability (quality, ECC vs non-ECC)
  • Compatibility (will it work?)
  • Supportability (vendor requirements)
  • Power usage (heat dissipation)

The 2Rx4 and 2Rx8 DIMMs may well give you different characteristics for many reasons, but you'd need to ask your vendor about those characteristics directly.

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My vendor is even more clueless than I am –  Shivku May 28 '11 at 5:27
Time to find a vendor who doesn't suck balls then. –  Tom O'Connor Nov 29 '12 at 19:52

First and foremost, the difference is that they are completely incompatible with each other for use in most server boards. If you're replacing an existing memory module you must either match the given designation perfectly or replace the whole bank with the new type. If you're evaluating a completely new configuration, then see Tom Shaw's answer, and when checking compatibility, the "1x" means "Single Rank" and "2x" means "Double Rank" if the system specifications call for one or the other specifically.

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