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Choosing server memory? The questions you need to be asking

Servers are the foundation for most businesses, handling the bulk of IT workload driven by active data. With memory housing most of the active data, upgrading a server’s installed memory capacity is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to improve workload performance.

The tricky bit comes in when comparing different types of memory. Server memory might look similar when comparing across spec charts, but there are vast differences in quality, compatibility and configuration. Asking the right questions here is critical in choosing the right fit for your business and to ensure that you invest in lasting server memory.

How has the memory been manufactured?

When determining the quality of server memory you’re about to invest in, it is crucial to understand if the server memory has been manufactured start to finish by component manufacturers, or just end assembled by third party brands.

When server modules aren’t manufactured start to finish, quality and reliability isn’t as high, and your module will be more vulnerable to failure and downtime. Optimal quality and reliability is achieved when everything from select silicon to the finished module is tested, monitored throughout production, and tested again before it leaves the lab’s doors.

Be wary of third party brands who often claim to be component manufacturers, when they’re essentially assemblers who piece together server modules using components from different suppliers. Memory obtained this way won’t have gone through the stringent testing process that quality memory would have gone through.

Is it compatible and affordable?

Compatibility is often the first (and most important) question when it comes to server memory. Once this question is out of the way, keep in mind two equally important follow up questions:

  • Which ones are the most affordable?
  • How are they manufactured?

Every brand should have a compatible offering for your servers. What you’re looking for is the best blend of compatibility, price, and reliability in order to stretch your budget as far as it will go.

Technical competency of the brand?

How the server memory is developed, and with what level of expertise is the final question that will need to be asked. Server memory that’s built to last is built on lasting industry relationships and collaboration over multiple product cycles and levels of memory technology.

You want server memory that’s developed in consultation with leading CPU, platform, and motherboard manufacturers, which ensures the highest possible level of performance and compatibility. In short, you want to know if the brand producing your memory has access to the highest level of expertise.

The bottom line

When comparing server memory, a module’s price and specs are easily accessible, yet the attributes that really matter – quality and reliability – are often buried beneath the surface. A good way to quickly access if the server memory you’re considering investing in is worthwhile and you are able to maximise its efficiency is to run down this quick checklist of the three Cs:

  • Compatibility: Ensure that the memory is compatible with your servers and warranties
  • Confidence: Know the source of the components, the level of reliability testing, and how the memory was manufactured
  • Configuration: Install the memory correctly so you get upmost performance

When making an enterprise-level investment, dig deeper and ask crucial questions. Don’t end up paying more for a lower level of quality and reliability. Your memory should be built for the rigors of modern business – make sure it’s up to the task.

Michael Moreland, DRAM Product Marketing Manager at Crucial