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Dual-channel architecture requires a dual-channel-capable motherboard and two or more DDR, DDR2 SDRAM, or DDR3 SDRAM memory modules. The memory modules are installed into matching banks, which are usually color coded on the motherboard. These separate channels allow each memory module access to the memory controller, increasing throughput bandwidth. It is not required that identical modules be used, but this is often recommended for best dual-channel operation. It is possible to use a single-sided module of 512 MB and a double-sided module of 512 MB in dual-channel configuration, but how fast and stable it is depends on the memory controller.
If the motherboard has two pairs of differently colored DIMM sockets (the colors indicate which bank they belong to, bank 0 or bank 1), then one can place a matched pair of memory modules in bank 0, but a different-capacity pair of modules in bank 1, as long as they are of the same speed. Using this scheme, a pair of 1 GB memory modules in bank 0 and a pair of matched 512 MB modules in bank 1 would be acceptable for dual-channel operation.
Modules rated at different speeds can be run in dual-channel mode, although the motherboard will then run all memory modules at the speed of the slowest module. Some motherboards, however, have compatibility issues with certain brands or models of memory when attempting to use them in dual-channel mode. For this reason, it is generally advised to use identical pairs of memory modules, which is why most memory manufacturers now sell "kits" of matched-pair DIMMs. Several motherboard manufacturers only support configurations where a "matched pair" of modules are used. A matching pair needs to match in.
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