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Some Considerations on using DRAM for System Main Memory

The focus of this article is to aid in the decision making process about choosing DRAM as the main memory for the processors in a computer system. For design engineers developing the next generation motherboards, DRAM memory is becoming a main concern as end-users demand more memory. Software operating systems are getting larger and the applications are demanding more RAM than ever before. New technologies, such as server virtualization, multicore processor chips and dense blade servers have all increased the demand for memory. The more processing power you put on a CPU chip, the more you need to support it with memory. System designers are struggling to fit more and more memory onto smaller motherboards.  

Listed below, are some of the basic considerations about DRAM memory (with links to additional information):

1)   System Memory Sizing Considerations: What is the quantity of memory required for all the software applications or data manipulation required from the computer system? 
2)   Memory Space and Memory Form-Factor Considerations: How much physical space in the computer (SOC, mainboard etc..) will be allocated for the memory?

3)   System Memory Bandwidth Considerations: How fast are the processor instructions and data being executed or processed to support the intensity of the computing task?

4)      Latency in Accessing Data: How much data must be accessed without incurring the data access latencies when using non-volatile storage (SSD, HDD etc..)?

5)      Memory Costs: How much of the system cost will budgeted for the memory subsystem?

In summary, most computer systems today, use DRAM memory modules in various DIMM form-factors to achieve high density (ie: Gbyte range), but when the system memory requirements are low (ie: MByte range), COB or embedded memory may be the memory form-factor of choice.

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