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I recently purchased a Dell N5110. It's described as having a maximum memory of 2x4Gb. What is the reason for the maximum module size of 4Gb?

Is it impossible to manufacture DDR PC3-10600 with more than 4Gb addressable (i.e. the standard limits it)? Is it that they just haven't started making them, yet, so manufacturers only offer what's available? Is it limited by its addressing lines to only 32bit. Something else?

It would be nice to think there's a way to increase memory beyond 8Gb in the future, and I can't see why this wouldn't be possible from a hardware point of view.

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closed as off topic by EEAA, Sven, Steven Monday, mdpc, Scott Pack Dec 9 '12 at 22:09

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Is it perhaps because this form of memory is fundamentally 32bit, despite my running a 64bit operating system on it... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/32-bit –  Cefn Jan 20 '12 at 16:59
    
Nope. DDR3 is 64bit. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDR3_SDRAM –  osij2is Jan 23 '12 at 15:43

2 Answers 2

Market segmentation. There might be technical reasons, but the existence of these technical reasons is again a consequence of this segmentation.

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Still curious what the reasons are. Market segmentation would certainly explain why hardware manufacturers aren't making great efforts to eliminate those obstacles. –  Cefn Jan 20 '12 at 16:58

It's a function of the chipset. The chipset will dictate the max RAM. From desktops, servers to laptops, it's all about the chipset.

Most newer laptops max out around 8GB. I imagine only a handful of top laptops can support 16GB.

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You could be right that the technical limitation is somehow in the chipset. I'm still puzzled what the limitation is. Why would the chipset limit the size of ram to only double what it came with, whilst it doesn't limit the size of my hard drive similarly. On the one hand exactly the same hardware framework (basically wires attached to my hard drive) can be used to attach a 100Gb or a 1Tb or a 2Tb drive, whilst on the other hand something in the hardware framework (the wires attached to memory) seems to put an upper limit of 4Gb. I'm still curious what that limitation actually is. –  Cefn Jan 20 '12 at 16:57
    
@Cefn - to SvenW's point, market segmentation is a factor as well. You have to keep in mind manufacturers of chipsets (Intel, AMD, etc.) are making chipsets for specific roles. So a chipset for a laptop would heavily favor power, size and heat. Where as a server chipset favors stability, upgrades and management features. Comparing a hard drive to a chipset is an apples to oranges comparison. People forget that the heart of the computer is in fact the chipset it runs. Chipsets determine the #of expansion slots, memory speed + qty, power, etc. –  osij2is Jan 20 '12 at 17:59

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