iFixit hails replaceable LPCAMM2 laptop memory as a 'big deal'

So long SODIMM? Only in new Thinkpad so far, but memory format may well spread across market

LPCAMM2 memory is getting the thumbs up from the team at iFixit, which hailed it as a return to the upgradeable laptop and reckons the writing is on the wall for models with soldered-down, non-serviceable memory.

The LPCAMM2 form factor is getting its first outing in Lenovo’s ThinkPad P1 Gen 7 system, as reported by The Register last month. While users have grown used to buying laptops with a fixed amount of memory fitted at manufacture, the latest format is "modular, repairable, and upgradeable" and uses the most recent LPDDR chips so there is no need to compromise on performance.

According to repair biz iFixit, the issue with the power-frugal LPDDR memory chips is that the lower voltage they operate at calls for more attention to be paid to signal integrity between the CPU and memory. In practice, this has meant shorter track distances on the circuit board, leading to LPDDR being soldered down as close to the processor as possible.

LPCAMM2 is intended to address this by putting LPDDR onto a circuit board module that is "cleverly designed to mount right up next to the CPU," with "very short traces to help maximize signal integrity," the iFixit team explains in a blog and video detailing their hands-on with the ThinkPad P1 Gen 7.

Youtube Video

In the video, iFixit shows how the LPCAMM2 module in the Lenovo laptop can be revealed simply by removing the bottom cover of the system. The module itself is hidden underneath a cover that can be removed by undoing three screws, then simply lifting the cover and the module out. Below it is a removable compression connector – a sort of interposer – between the module and the motherboard connectors.

Replacing a memory module is simply a matter of dropping a new one in, replacing the cover and tightening the screws in the correct order, as the video shows.

The new memory format has its origins in work done by PC maker Dell, which implemented it as CAMM, or Compression Attached Memory Module, in some laptops in 2022. Last year, the JEDEC standards body said it would adapt the technology for a memory standard to replace the outdated small-outline DIMM (SODIMM) modules.

This became LPCAMM2 in September 2023, when JEDEC finally confirmed its specifications, and Micron introduced its modules based on the standard in January.

So far, Lenovo's ThinkPad P1 Gen 7 is the only system using the new memory format, and it remains unclear if it will be widely adopted. However, unless the connector adds significant cost to a laptop bill of materials, it is difficult to see why it would not appear in more models.

"It's more performant than the old SODIMM sticks, vastly more efficient, it saves space, and it should even help with thermals as well. All that, and it's still about as repairable as anything we've ever seen," iFixit concluded. ®

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