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I have seen multiple minipc systems online with the i7-8550U CPU, in which the system can be purchased with ram that goes up to 64 GB. On the intel-ark page and wikichip, the CPU is specified with a maximal ram of 32 GB.

https://www.amazon.de/dp/B08X2N5VN6

https://eu.protectli.com/product/fw6e/

https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/122589/intel-core-i78550u-processor-8m-cache-up-to-4-00-ghz.html

https://en.wikichip.org/wiki/intel/core_i7/i7-8550u

How is this possible? I would assume, that the CPU can not mange more RAM pages than the manufacturer specifies? I would expect, that maybe only 32 GB are being detected and the seller charge you extra for the additional ram?

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  • Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer.
    – Community Bot
    Dec 29, 2021 at 21:59
  • If you want to believe this discussion then the PC is being sold in an unsupported configuration. I am not sure I agree that the memory will be queued. Difficult to say one way or another with information on the motherboard itself
    – Ramhound
    Dec 29, 2021 at 22:24

2 Answers 2

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To answer the overarching question: "Intel Ark is usually right, but not always."

Some specifications from any product sheet can be considered to be "usual-case," whereas external factors can limit or increase performance. For example, the Intel i7-8550U lists its base clock speed as 1.80GHz. But, one can exceed this limit by overclocking with supporting hardware.

To answer the specific question about the Intel i7-8550U, some Intel 8th Generation U-series processors may support 64GB of memory natively.[1]

Quoted from [1], Section 2.1.1.1, Table 2-5:

Supported DDR4 Non-ECC SODIMM Module Configurations (H/U-Processor Lines)

Raw Card Version DIMM Capacity DRAM Device Technology DRAM Organization # of DRAM Devices # of Ranks # of Row/Col Address Bits # of Banks Inside DRAM Page Size
E 32 GB 16 Gb 2048M x 8 16 2 17/10 16 8K

By using two such 32GB DIMMs, 64GB system memory can be achieved.

Also, to see it in practice, here is the exact hardware configuration you are referring to detecting and utilizing 2x32GB system memory:

Environment is one of your aforementioned hardware devices running Debian Linux

root@debian:~# dmidecode -qs system-product-name
FW6E

root@debian:~# uname -a
Linux debian 5.10.0-0.bpo.3-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 5.10.13-1~bpo10+1 (2021-02-11) x86_64 GNU/Linux

CPU is i7-8550U

root@debian:~# dmidecode -qs processor-version
Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-8550U CPU @ 1.80GHz

Memory is 2x32GB DIMMs

root@debian:~# dmidecode
Handle 0x0035, DMI type 16, 23 bytes
Physical Memory Array
        Location: System Board Or Motherboard
        Use: System Memory
        Error Correction Type: None
        Maximum Capacity: 64 GB
        Error Information Handle: Not Provided
        Number Of Devices: 4

Handle 0x0036, DMI type 17, 40 bytes
Memory Device
        Array Handle: 0x0035
        Error Information Handle: Not Provided
        Total Width: 64 bits
        Data Width: 64 bits
        Size: 32 GB
        Form Factor: SODIMM
        Set: None
        Locator: ChannelA-DIMM0
        Bank Locator: BANK 0
        Type: DDR4
        Type Detail: Synchronous Unbuffered (Unregistered)
        Speed: 2667 MT/s
        Manufacturer: Kingston
        Serial Number: C792668A
        Asset Tag: 9876543210
        Part Number: 9905744-067.A00G    
        Rank: 2
        Configured Memory Speed: 2400 MT/s
        Minimum Voltage: 1.2 V
        Maximum Voltage: 1.2 V
        Configured Voltage: 1.2 V

Handle 0x0037, DMI type 17, 40 bytes
Memory Device
        Array Handle: 0x0035
        Error Information Handle: Not Provided
        Total Width: Unknown
        Data Width: Unknown
        Size: No Module Installed
        Form Factor: Unknown
        Set: None
        Locator: ChannelA-DIMM1
        Bank Locator: BANK 1
        Type: Unknown
        Type Detail: None

Handle 0x0038, DMI type 17, 40 bytes
Memory Device
        Array Handle: 0x0035
        Error Information Handle: Not Provided
        Total Width: 64 bits
        Data Width: 64 bits
        Size: 32 GB
        Form Factor: SODIMM
        Set: None
        Locator: ChannelB-DIMM0
        Bank Locator: BANK 2
        Type: DDR4
        Type Detail: Synchronous Unbuffered (Unregistered)
        Speed: 2667 MT/s
        Manufacturer: Kingston
        Serial Number: C2A27761
        Asset Tag: 9876543210
        Part Number: 9905744-031.A00G    
        Rank: 2
        Configured Memory Speed: 2400 MT/s
        Minimum Voltage: 1.2 V
        Maximum Voltage: 1.2 V
        Configured Voltage: 1.2 V

Handle 0x0039, DMI type 17, 40 bytes
Memory Device
        Array Handle: 0x0035
        Error Information Handle: Not Provided
        Total Width: Unknown
        Data Width: Unknown
        Size: No Module Installed
        Form Factor: Unknown
        Set: None
        Locator: ChannelB-DIMM1
        Bank Locator: BANK 3
        Type: Unknown
        Type Detail: None

Handle 0x003A, DMI type 19, 31 bytes
Memory Array Mapped Address
        Starting Address: 0x00000000000
        Ending Address: 0x00FFFFFFFFF
        Range Size: 64 GB
        Physical Array Handle: 0x0035
        Partition Width: 2
[...]
Handle 0x003F, DMI type 20, 35 bytes
Memory Device Mapped Address
        Starting Address: 0x00000000000
        Ending Address: 0x007FFFFFFFF
        Range Size: 32 GB
        Physical Device Handle: 0x0036
        Memory Array Mapped Address Handle: 0x003A
        Partition Row Position: Unknown
        Interleave Position: 1
        Interleaved Data Depth: 2

Handle 0x0040, DMI type 20, 35 bytes
Memory Device Mapped Address
        Starting Address: 0x00800000000
        Ending Address: 0x00FFFFFFFFF
        Range Size: 32 GB
        Physical Device Handle: 0x0038
        Memory Array Mapped Address Handle: 0x003A
        Partition Row Position: Unknown
        Interleave Position: 2
        Interleaved Data Depth: 2
[...]

Memory is allocated by the OS

root@debian:~# free -h
              total        used        free      shared  buff/cache   available
Mem:           62Gi       156Mi        62Gi        24Mi       486Mi        61Gi

memtester verifies this is not a mistake, securing 61Gi of memory

root@debian:~# memtester 61Gi
memtester version 4.3.0 (64-bit)
Copyright (C) 2001-2012 Charles Cazabon.
Licensed under the GNU General Public License version 2 (only).

pagesize is 4096
pagesizemask is 0xfffffffffffff000
want 62464MB (65498251264 bytes)
got  62464MB (65498251264 bytes), trying mlock ...locked.
Loop 1:
  Stuck Address       : ok         
  Random Value        : ok
  Compare XOR         : ok
  Compare SUB         : ok
  Compare MUL         : ok
  Compare DIV         : ok
  Compare OR          : ok
  Compare AND         : ok
  Sequential Increment: ok
  Solid Bits          : ok         
  Block Sequential    : ok         
  Checkerboard        : ok         
  Bit Spread          : setting 109^C
(Process killed because this would take many hours to fully complete)

[1]: https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/products/docs/processors/core/8th-gen-core-family-datasheet-vol-1.html 8th and 9th Generation Intel® Core™ Processor Families and Intel® Xeon® E Processor Families Datasheet, Volume 1 of 2; Revision 008

Disclaimer: I work for the company that produces one of the computers you have referenced in your question.

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  • Thanks for following up on this. So, you basically saying, that the max system ram that is specified by the intel data sheet does not apply here. In the reference you bring up, I did not find a passage that clearly indicates this (it only deals with the SODIMM capacity) Still, in table 2-7 of the same section I found a configuration with 64 GB max system capacity. I will test the system I have with following ram types: 2x16GB: Crucial Ballistix BL2K16G32C16S4B 3200 MHz, DDR4 2x36GB: Crucial Ballistix BL2K32G32C16S4B 3200 MHz, DDR4 As I get the results, I will share them here.
    – northcom
    Dec 31, 2021 at 0:01
  • In reference to table 2-7, this is for "memory down" configurations, which means that the modules are soldered down to the board, rather than being removable DIMMs. Memory down tends to have "better" specs because there is less risk of vibration and otherwise incorrectly-seated memory, leading to tighter tolerances that can be exploited. To reiterate, section 2.1 states you may have "Two channels of LPDDR3 and DDR4 memory with a maximum of two DIMMs per channel," and table Section 2.1.1.1, Table 2-5, final row, states you may have a DIMM capacity of 32GB in a dual-rank configuration. Jan 1, 2022 at 1:45
  • With regard to the DIMMs you wish to try, I cannot guarantee support, as even Crucial's site does not explain if they are single- or dual-rank DIMMS (and cannot be discerned visually as the DRAM chips are not visible). Additionally, the SKU BL2K32G32C16S4B seems to correlate to a "2 DIMM Bundle" and I cannot find specs for the single DIMM. I, too, am curious of the results you receive. Jan 1, 2022 at 1:55
  • Just wanted you let know, that the RAM modules arrived last week. I will probably find the time this week to test both settings.
    – northcom
    Jan 12, 2022 at 8:48
1

That CPU is indeed not able to address more than 32 GB RAM.
The extra RAM will not be usable.
It will simply not be visible/usable by any OS.

So buying it with the larger RAM option would be a waste of money.

Why is it being sold like that anyway?
Without asking the vendor this is only a guess, but...
Plenty of people are not technically savvy enough to notice that they are not using the whole RAM they paid for.
Even those that do realize what is going on may not take further action (it is too much effort to do or they are too embarrassed to admit they fell for this).
Only a small number will actually complain/request a refund.
The vendor probably makes enough of a margin on the >32GB version to offset any returns/complaints by unsatisfied customers.

And the vendor doesn't really do anything wrong.
All the information is in the specifications. The vendor doesn't claim the RAM >32GB is actually useful.
You are probably not even entitled to a refund because the product is not misrepresented at all.

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  • I agree with this answer, except for the last paragraph. Indeed many countries have laws against misleading advertising and that products will do what they are expected to. Certainly this is the case in New Zealand, Australia and Germany (the Amazon listing in in Germany)
    – davidgo
    Dec 30, 2021 at 0:49
  • What’s much more likely is that the Amazon listing is inaccurate, looking at the pictures, it’s clear it only has 2 DDR4 DIMMS and the architecture of that generation had zero support for 32 GB DDR4 modules.
    – Ramhound
    Dec 30, 2021 at 1:15
  • my guess is, that because that amazon page has like 10 different configurations you can select from, that they simply didn't list all the possible CPU models across all of them. just a guess... Dec 30, 2021 at 1:18
  • Looked at the actual vendor page, which also lists, the 64 GB DDR4 option. So I honestly can’t explain what’s going on. The amount of modules that can be installed in the box doesn’t add up (unless I glazing over a slot)
    – Ramhound
    Dec 30, 2021 at 1:53
  • @Ramhound I think you have a point there. The Northbridge in that chipset (if the Amazon specs are correct that is) doesn't really support 32 GB DDR4 So-DIMMs. Now I have seen some laptops (using same Northbridge and CPU) that actually worked with 32 GB DDR4 SO-DIMMs, but used them as 16 GB modules. A colleague at work tried to upgrade some 2x16 laptops to 2x32 and came to me when the extra RAM didn't show up in Windows. After some digging around we determined this could never work and that it was pure luck the laptops worked at all with the oversized RAM.
    – Tonny
    Dec 30, 2021 at 9:58

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