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DRAM Usage In Computers Slows

El Segundo, Calif. — The time when more computer memory was considered a necessity for improved PC performance may be coming to an end.

A recent study by IHS iSuppli indicated that design changes — including the adoption of ultra-slim laptops and the fact that Windows 8 did not require additional DRAM to function properly — has OEMs scaling back how much memory is now being placed in devices.

While the amount of DRAM being added will still increase, the uptick will be the lowest amount ever. The increase in DRAM for 2013 will be 17 percent higher than last year, but down dramatically from the 56 percent and 50 percent increases that took place in 2007 and 2008.

The amount of DRAM included in new units will increase slightly in the next few years, but it will remain at less than half of what took place during the peak years.

IHS pointed to several factors to account for this shift. The design of ultra-thin and Ultrabook laptops leaves only a limited amount of space on the device’s motherboard for DRAM.

For desktops, large amounts of DRAM are just not as essential to create a fast device, said Clifford Leimbach, memory analyst at IHS.

“All told, PCs no longer need to add DRAM content as much as they did in the previous times, when failure to increase memory content in either desktops or laptops could have resulted in a direct impediment to performance,” Leimbach said. “The new normal now calls for a different state of affairs, in which DRAM PC loading won’t be growing at the same rates seen in past years.”

For the first time, starting in the second quarter of 2012, PCs did not consume 50 percent or more of the DRAM available. This is due to lower PC shipments and the fact that less DRAM is being added.