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Learning Guide: Memory basics

What's the difference between DIMM and SIMM? Do you know how to make the best memory choice for a server versus a workstation? You will after reading our memory guide.

For network administrators, memory is the performance lifeblood of our components -- especially in a Windows environment. Providing workstations and servers with adequate memory delivers more performance gains than similar investments in processor speed, upgrades in disk subsystems or other software-based performance tweaks.

While you may know about that, you may not be familiar with the basic differences among memory types or what the advantage or disadvantage may be when choosing one memory type over another for a server or workstation.

Typically, the systems manufacturer and/or the type of motherboard limits the choice of memory that's available. To start, memory chips are classified by several different criteria, including:

  • Form factor: the type and size of the memory module on which the chips are mounted.

  • Chip type: the method used to store memory (static or dynamic) as well as the specific technology used on the memory chip (EDO, SDRAM, DDR).

In this guide I will explain the various form factors and chip types. In short, after you read this guide, you will know the basic difference between SO DIMM and MicroDIMM and be an expert on how to choose memory for your server or workstation.

I've broken the guide into four sections: Form factors, Memory types, Types of DRAM, and Error-Correcting Code (ECC) memory and parity.


 Home: Introduction
  Form Factors
  Memory Types
  Types of DRAM
  Error Correcting Code and Parity

Learn how to spot potential memory problems before they happen and troubleshoot them when they do occur. Check out Bernie Klinder's "Troubleshooting Computer Memory" Learning Guide!

Bernie Klinder, MVP, consultant
Bernie Klinder is a technology consultant for a number of Fortune 500 companies. He is also the founder and former editor of, a comprehensive resource index for IT professionals who support Microsoft Windows NT/2000/XP/2003 and BackOffice products. For his contributions to the information technology community, Bernie was selected as an MVP (Most Valuable Professional) by Microsoft. Copyright 2005 TechTarget

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