Single Channel vs. Dual Channel RAM

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Pamela, Mar 22, 2005.

  1. Pamela

    Pamela Supporting Actor

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    This past weekend I put two sticks of 1GB RAM in my computer. This RAM (Geil) was packaged as dual channel. The packaging said it was optimized for dual channel machines, which mine is. I notice they sell single channel sticks, which are cheaper, but seem to have the same specs. 2GBs dual channel-$299. 2GBs single channel sticks-$240.

    Is there really any difference between the two, or is it just a marketing (and money) ploy?
     
  2. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    My understanding has always been that dual-channel involves the way the motherboard handles the memory, not the memory itself. Now, for dual channel to work, you must have identical sticks of RAM, but I see no reason it wouldn't work buying the 2 single channel sticks as long as their the same brand, size, speed, etc.
     
  3. Mike_J_Potter

    Mike_J_Potter Second Unit

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    I am suprised that they charge more two matching sticks. When I looked at ram two matching sticks of ram cost about the same or a little less as buy two seperate sticks. For example my Cosair value ram pc3200 (2x512meg) was 57.00 each or a pair for 110. I bought the pair since it was cheaper. It happily runs in dual channel mode even overclocked.
     
  4. Pamela

    Pamela Supporting Actor

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    Hmmmm . . . maybe it was just Fry's. And of course, when I looked at the RAM that was specifically manufactured for Apple, it was even more. But the plain old Geil worked just fine.
     
  5. jeff.m

    jeff.m Agent

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    yes, dual channel is VERY worth paying the extra money for if your computer can make use of it. basically you can think of ram as any electrical switch. it cycles on and off. when it's off no information gets transported. basically what dual channel does is makes sure that the light switch is always on for one of the sticks. when one turns off the other turns on.

    another simple way of thinking about it is like guns. it's the difference between an automatic weapon and an old school revolver.

    you can have the fastest processor in the world, but if you don't have memory that can keep up with it then the processor is useless.

    dual channel ram should be more than single channel ram b/c it's a newer technology. but, since so many people are buying dual channel they can cut the price more and bring it closer to single channel prices. then as the technology gets older the prices go back up b/c not as many people are buying it. so if you go try to find some memory for an old 486 it's going to cost you a hell of a lot more per MB than something for a more modern computer.
     
  6. John Chow

    John Chow Second Unit

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    Not really sure what jeff.m means. SethH pretty much has the proper description of what dual channel is. Think of dual channel as adding a second lane to a single lane highway. If your single lane highway was extremely busy/congested, then adding a second lane would definitely speed things up.

    As far as performance goes, the answer is it depends on the application. If your system is UMA architecture where the video controller shares the system memory, then dual channel will make much more of a difference for graphics related benchmarks and testing. For AMD desktop systems, I've seen numbers showing about a 1-3% improvement for normal applications, but on a UMA system, some graphics/games will show as much as 20% difference.
     
  7. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    I'm thinking somebody is confusing dual channel (two sticks of RAM in separate slots on the keyboard used in a dual channel configuration through the built-in routines in the motherboard) and DDRAM, "double data rate", which is another thing entirely, a type of RAM memory used in the newer generation of home computers.

    To further confuse (or not) the issue, DDRAM is often run in a dual channel configuration... as it is on my own personal computer, in fact. [​IMG]

    But to answer the original question: there is no such thing as specific dual channel RAM, it's all DDR memory of the same type. The only thing that might make it dual channel is that is is probably a good idea to use identical sticks of memory for dual channel (as people have already pointed out above.)
     
  8. Pamela

    Pamela Supporting Actor

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    Now I'm confused. [​IMG]

    I wanted to buy two 1GB sticks of memory for my dual channel computer. I settled on Geil. This is what I bought. The two modules are packaged together and sold as dual channel memory. The copy on the package says it is optimized for dual channel machines.

    However, they also sell this memory as a single module. Same specs.

    Trying to understand the difference. But I think I got my answer from y'all. There is no difference between buying it packaged in pairs or buying two single modules. Whew!
     
  9. Diallo B

    Diallo B Screenwriter

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    exactly. there is no difference. it is just marketing.

    kind of like usb cables. a usb cable is a usb cable. there are no 1.0 usb vs. 1.1 usb vs. 2.0 cables. they all transfer the same rate. companies label their cable as 2.0 to mark up the price, but any 6.00 usb cable will do the same job.
     
  10. WayneO

    WayneO Supporting Actor

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    The memory stick is the same if you buy single or dual packaged modules. Now I don't know if Giel does this, but Corsair's TwinX series(dual packaged) memory is tested to perform at their specified speeds together and you pay a premium for this. The first motherboards out using dual-channel chipsets could be real flaky sometimes, especially when using two different brands memory. Since any one stick of memory of even the same brand may perform better or worse than another, this garauntee became a selling point that would help avoid that.
     

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