Does DDR2 have to be installed in pairs?

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If you have a dual-channel platform and want to take advantage of the performance gain it offers, our advice is purchase your DDR or DDR2 memory in kits. However, be very careful that you order two modules with the exact same specifications; the modules must be identical to each other to perform correctly.

However, just because you have a dual-channel platform, it is not necessary to buy DDR or DDR2 memory in pairs. You can install a single memory module; it just won't be utilizing dual-channel mode.

About Dual-Channel Systems
DDR or DDR2 chipsets on certain motherboards are designed with two memory channels instead of one are considered "dual-channel systems." The two channels handle memory-processing more efficiently by utilizing the theoretical bandwidth of the two modules, thus reducing system latencies, the timing delays that inherently occur with one memory module. For example, one controller reads and writes data while the second controller prepares for the next access, hence eliminating the reset and setup delays that occur before one memory module can begin the read/write process all over again. Think of it like two relay runners-the first runner runs one leg while the second runner prepares to receive the baton smoothly and carry on the task at hand without delay. While performance gains from dual-channel chipsets aren't huge, they can increase performance by as much as 10 percent. To those seeking to push the performance envelope, this can be very important.