Ultimate Memory Guide. 6.2. HOW TO READ A BANK SCHEMA

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A bank schema is a diagram of rows and columns that shows the number of memory sockets in your system. This diagram is a theoretical bank layout and not an actual system board layout; it is designed to help you quickly determine configuration requirements when adding memory modules.

In a bank schema, each represents a memory socket:

Example: = 4 memory sockets

Each column in the diagram represents a memory bank. The number of “ “ symbols in a column represents the number of memory sockets in a bank. Upgrading is performed one bank at a time. For example, if there are four columns with two in each column, upgrading is done two modules at a time. However, if there is just a single row of , upgrading may be performed one module at a time.


8 sockets =
(Modules may be installed one at a time in any combination)

8 sockets (4 banks of 2) =
(Modules must be installed two at a time)

4 sockets (1 bank of 4) =

(Modules must be installed four
at a time)

The standard memory (base amount that the system was shipped with) appears in the diagram as either removable or non-removable.

Removable memory comes in the form of modules that fit into memory sockets, and, if desired, can be removed and replaced with modules of higher capacity. Removable memory is represented by a “” symbol with a number next to it: 4 that a 4MB module is in the first socket and that the second socket is empty.

Non-removable memory usually comes in the form of memory chips soldered directly onto the system board. It is represented in the bank schema in brackets: [4MB] indicates 4MB of non-removable memory soldered onto the board and two available memory sockets.

If your system is not included in the configurator, you may be able to find out how many sockets are in the system and how many are filled by pressing the F1 key during system startup. If your system supports this, a screen will appear that indicates how many memory sockets are in the system, which ones are filled and which are open, and what capacity modules are in each socket. If pressing the F1 key during startup doesn’t produce this result, check your computer’s system manual for more information.

As a last resort, you can open your computer and take a look at the sockets. (Important Note: Before removing the cover of your computer, refer to the computer’s system manual and warranty information for instructions and other relevant information.) If you do open the computer, you may be able to identify “bank labels” that indicate whether memory are installed in pairs. Bank numbering typically begins with 0 instead of 1. So, if you have two banks, the first bank will be labeled “bank 0”, and the second bank will be labeled “bank 1.”


In most cases, it’s best to plan your memory upgrade so you won’t have to remove and discard the memory that came with the computer. The best way to manage this is to consider the memory configuration when you first buy the computer. Because lower-capacity modules are less expensive and more readily available, system manufacturers may achieve a base configuration by filling more sockets with lower-capacity modules. By way of illustration, consider this scenario: a computer system with 64MB standard memory comes with either two (2) 32MB modules or one (1) 64MB module. In this case, the second configuration is the better choice because it leaves more room for growth and reduces the chance that you’ll have to remove and discard lower-capacity modules later. Unless you insist on the (1) 64MB module configuration, you may find yourself with only one socket left open for upgrading later.

Once you have purchased a computer and are planning your first upgrade, plan to buy the highest-capacity module you think you may need, especially if you only have one or two sockets available for upgrading. Keep in mind that, in general, minimum memory requirements for software applications double every 12 to 18 months, so a memory configuration that’s considered large today will seem much less so a year from now.

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