How to Read Sticks of RAM Memory

By Alan Bradford

Picking up a memory stick and trying to discern its specifications by looking at it can be daunting, especially if it's a non-branded, generic stick of RAM. If you can find the manufacturer name and a serial number, you can usually track down the specifications. However, if there is no manufacturer information, you may have to rely on any codes printed on the board or on the memory chips themselves. An example of such a code is “K 4 B 2G 08 3 Q H M C H9.” Nevertheless, a few guidelines will help you discern the codes and discover some of the specifications.

Step 1

Look for a manufacturer name and serial number. If you see a name such as Kingston, Samsung or Corsair, it’s very likely that there is also a part number or serial number. Investigate a part number or serial number at the manufacturer website or by calling the manufacturer for support. Doing so will provide the most accurate specification data.

Step 2

Look for a 14- to 20-character code, either on the board or on the individual memory chips. One example is “K 4 B 2G 08 3 Q H M C H9.” The memory chips are the black squares on the board. If you find this code, proceed with the next steps. If you can’t locate this code, identifying the memory will be very difficult. Any other numbers or codes that appear on the memory stick can be searched on the Internet to help identify the specifications.

Step 3

Locate the first one or two characters in the 14- to 20-character code. These are usually letters that signify the manufacturer of the memory modules. For example, "K" signifies Samsung, a manufacturer of a large variety of memory modules.

Step 4

Locate the next character, typically the number 4 or 5. This signifies that it is DRAM. In the example, the number is "4."

Step 5

Locate the third segment, which is the product code, or the technology that the RAM stick is using. Some examples are: S=SDRAM; H=DDR SDRAM; T=DDR2 SDRAM; and B=DDR3 SDRAM. In the example, it is "B" for DDR3 SDRAM.

Step 6

Locate the fourth segment in the string, which is the density of the memory, such as 512 megabytes or 2 gigabytes. In the example, "2G" indicates 2 gigabytes.

Step 7

Locate the fifth segment, which is the bit organization. In the example, "08" indicates x8 bit organization.

Step 8

Locate the sixth segment, identifying the number of banks in the memory module. In the example, "3" indicates 4 banks. Other examples include "2" for two banks or "4" for 8 banks.

Step 9

Locate the seventh segment, signifying the power supply or voltage to the input and output buffers. In the example, "Q" indicates 1.5 volts to the buffers. Another example is "C" indicating 1.35 volts.

Step 10

Locate the eighth segment, which indicates the die revision or die generation of the memory stick. In the example, "H" indicates the 9th generation. Typically "M" indicates the 1st generation and the rest of the alphabet, in alphabetical order, show the next generations, such as A=2nd gen, B=3rd gen, C=4th gen and so on.

Step 11

Locate the ninth segment, indicating the package type, or the method of packaging the integrated circuit. In the example, "M" signifies FBGA DDP (Lead-free and halogen-free) packaging.

Step 12

Locate the tenth segment, which indicates the temperature and power of the memory stick. In the example, "C" represents commercial temperature and normal power. Another example is "L" for commercial temperature and low power.

Step 13

Locate the eleventh and final segment, which indicates the speed of the memory. In the example, "H9" represents DDR3-1600 (800Mhz). This final code element can be difficult to decipher and may vary slightly based on the manufacturer.