If there’s one thing PC power users dislike, it’s not being able to upgrade their systems. The recent trend towards soldered RAM and storage has been annoying and now Dell has a new (old) twist on the scenario: Proprietary RAM modules. We haven’t seen this kind of product in market before, but it’s something Dell is reportedly cooking up.
The news broke when iGPU Extremist posted a photo of it on Twitter. Dell calls it CAMM, which stands for Compression Attached Memory Module. The company describes the new module as being designed with modularity and flexibility in mind. It goes on to say it’s thinner, lighter, and smaller than its predecessor while providing more power. That part we won’t dispute, because SO-DIMMs do take up a lot of space. But, the old SO-DIMM system lets you swap RAM modules as you please. You can buy those memory sticks from a wide variety of manufacturers too. It seems like Dell designed this system so that if you want to upgrade, you’d need to buy the sticks from Dell. That is, unless other memory vendors introduce their own CAMM modules.
As Tom’s Hardware notes, it appears Dell’s solution will replace the traditional two-slot design with a single module. That’s where the “thinner and lighter” part comes in, as it does appear to achieve a reduction in space for system memory. So far this novel system is only coming to the upcoming Precision 7670 workstation. A leaked photo notes this laptop will support up to 128GB of DDR5-4800 memory. The photo of it (top) shows a wide PCB with two separate areas on it, with each area sporting eight memory chips.
In addition to CAMM, Dell is also introducing another proprietary design: The Dell Graphics Form Factor (DGFF). If the mere mention of a proprietary Dell GPU socket gives you PTSD, you’re not alone. Dell and Alienware famously introduced an “upgradeable” GPU socket previously, but it was so limited in its upgrade options as to be worthless. There is no indication this is a similar situation, however. It’s likely just the company’s next iteration on mobile PCI Express. The leaked specs indicate the GPU will be an Nvidia RTX A5000 or a 90W Intel card. We assume that means it’s an Arc GPU, as nothing else from Intel has that power rating.
For the record, we’re all in favor of new designs that make things smaller yet theoretically more powerful. But we like having options, so it’s doubtful anyone will welcome this news from Dell. It’s also possible that Dell did its research and found that workstation customers don’t upgrade RAM very often. Still, it’s one of those situations where you can’t help but think the company might expand CAMM’s presence to other laptop lines. We certainly prefer a swappable module over it being soldered, but these situations usually lead to pricey upgrades.