Ask Our Experts: Memory--Seeing DoubleDo two smaller memory modules offer better bandwidth than one large one?
Edited by Liane Cassavoy
I have a motherboard that supports PC2100 DDR RAM. Should I use two memory slots for optimum bandwidth instead of a single slot? Will two 256MB memory modules perform better than a single 512MB module?
Hong Ng, Singapore
Associate Editor Liane Cassavoy responds: In short, yes to both. If your motherboard supports dual-channel memory, installing two identical modules should improve computer performance by 10 to 15 percent, according to Mike Sanor, technical support manager at memory manufacturer Crucial Technology. While systems also work with a single memory module, installing modules in identical pairs boosts performance, because it gives each module its own pathway to the memory controller, doubling the peak data bandwidth. (Consult your computer's manual to determine which two sockets on your motherboard support dual-channel memory.) Sanor also says that manufacturers are phasing out PC2100 DDR, but the more widely available PC2700 DDR is backward-compatible.
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