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It's no secret that using two physical drives gives better performance than two partitions on the same physical drive; because there are two devices, they each have their own platters, head, caches, controllers, etc. (eventual system bottlenecks and such aside).

I'm wondering if the same thing is true of RAM. That is, for example (other factors such as speeds, timings, etc. being equal), would installing two 1GB sticks of RAM give better performance than one 2GB stick?

I can't find any useful information on any tests, analyses, or comparisons on this subject. There's plenty of people asking it, but no definitive answers, just speculation.

For the record, I'm not concerned about "one stick allows for future upgrades" or single vs. dual channel (this can be dealt away with by for example doubling everything—in my particular case, I'm trying to determine whether two 1GB sticks is better than four 512MB sticks or vice-versa).

Thanks a lot.

share|improve this question has an answer that supports your question. Sure there are two questions in the SU question, but half the of question answers your question. – David Jan 18 '11 at 16:20
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Even if you're not concerned about future upgrades, get the 2 x 1GB sticks. If nothing else, it's fewer points of failure. The speed difference between 4 x 512 and 2 x 1024 is negligible if they're running at the same clock speed and voltage.

It's an academic question anyway, since you won't notice the difference as an end-user. The bottleneck on your system is still the hard drive, whether mechanical or SSD.


I've been told that fewer sticks will be quicker, because of the density of the chips on each stick means less travel on the bus than with more sticks. Apparently the timings on 512s are slower than 1GBs too.

share|improve this answer
Hmmm, that's interesting because using two physical drives as opposed to two logical drives is definitely not academic, the performance advantage is quite distinct. I suppose the difference could be due to the latencies involved (refresh and access times of RAM are so much less than seek and access times of drives). – Synetech Jan 19 '11 at 19:37
I'm sure that there should be an advantage for memory-intensive applications that would transfer data between the RAM and CPU (ie, the drive is not involved). Look at the difference in speed between the CPU cache(s) and the RAM speed; the RAM can pull data faster than a single stick can provide, two sticks should be able to push data faster than one stick. – Synetech Jan 19 '11 at 19:39
Only on dual-channel, maybe. – user3463 Jan 19 '11 at 20:14
> If nothing else, it's fewer points of failure. By that token, you could also say that if there is a failure, with a one-stick configuration, you lose twice as much as you do with a two-stick configuration. > Only on dual-channel, maybe. Hard-drives aren't dual-channel yet exhibit this behavior. The point is that separate physical devices can ready themselves internally to provide a ready stream of data to the bottleneck (eg bus) whereas a single device could get maxed out. – Synetech Jan 21 '11 at 18:03
I found this link. I'm not sure if it helps: – user3463 Jan 27 '11 at 2:27

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