Action Vault interviews Crucial Technology's Technical Support Analyst Jim Brumbaugh to find out what answers the experts would give to questions such as, How much RAM is enough? What's PC3200 DDR, and what do these letters and number actually mean?:

    Action Vault: The current standard seems to be DDR PC3200. For our readers who are not very technically oriented, what do DDR and PC3200 stand for? And in plain language, what do these terms mean?

    Jim Brumbaugh: There can be a lot of confusion when people hear industry buzz words bouncing around. So to clear the air, DDR stands for Double Data Rate. DDR is the current evolution of memory used in computers today. Its primary advantage over older memory technologies such as PC100 and PC133 SDRAM is its ability to transfer data twice a cycle compared to once a cycle like the older products.

    PC3200 is the nomenclature that differentiates the various speed grades of DDR memory. In this example, the 3200 refers to the bandwidth of the module. Bandwidth is the measure of a product's output. With memory, it is typically in the unit of MB/sec. So, PC3200 has a maximum bandwidth of 3200MB/s or 3.2GB/s. To convert this to a frequency in MHz, take the 3200 and divide it by 8 (3200 / 8 = 400MHz). So, one could say PC3200 is 400MHz DDR, or DDR400.