Most low-cost tablets and TV boxes that feature Intel’s Atom x5-Z8300 processor have just 2GB of RAM. That makes sense since this is the cheapest, least powerful member of Intel’s Cherry Trail line of chips, so you’d expect it to show up in budget devices. It also makes sense because Intel’s spec sheet for the processor says it can’t handle any more than 2GB of RAM.

But over the past few months a number of Chinese device makers have introduced products with Atom x5-Z8300 chips and 4GB of RAM. I’ve been a bit confused… were they including more RAM than you could actually use? Was there a typo?

It turns out the truth is a bit weirder: despite what Intel’s website says, it looks like the Atom x5-Z8300 can work with 4GB of RAM.

onda v919 air 4gb

TechTablets spotted evidence of this last month: the Onda V919 Air tablet is said to feature Windows 10 software, the entry-level Atom x5 chip, and 4GB of RAM. Sure enough, users posted pictures and screenshots in the Onda forums showing that the tablet does have 4GB of usable memory.

There is a catch though: that tablet has a 64-bit version of Windows. Tablets running Windows 10 32-bit software will only recognize 2.9GB of usable memory.

Intel’s higher-performance (and higher-priced) Atom x5-Z8500 and x7-Z8700 chips can both support up to 8GB of RAM.

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17 replies on “Intel’s cheapest Atom x5 chip supports 4GB of RAM after all”

  1. The Chinese manufacturer Voyo has built a Surface Go-like 10″ tablet called vbook i3 with Z8350 and single-channel (I assume, because Intel says that X5s are single-single channel, X7s dual-channel) 8Gb RAM, and it also builds a device under another brand called One Mix, its initial product (One Mix One netbook, they called it) was a 7″ 360 degree screen flip uMPC with the same hardware configuration, it had passive cooling like many tablets. Perhaps Intel underpromises on RAM access based on what RAM configuration is available at the time the CPU is released? This isn’t new Intel practice, I had a Gigabyte laptop dating back to 2009-2010 with SU7300 ultra-low-power CPU that was specced to max at 4Gb RAM, but it took and recognised 8Gb in its slots. I currently have a Voyo vbook i7 plus, a Surface Pro-like tablet with i7 7500U, which I bought because it has two RAM slots, RAM and SSD are user-upgradable, I’ve ordered a 1x32Gb stick of DDR4 SODIMM to find out whether Intel has low-balled this one, too. If they have, I’m going to strut about with a 64Gb RAM tablet, and I dropped onto this page because I’m wondering whether the CPU’s 34 GS/s memory bandwidth is more or less than dual-channel 64Gb DDR4 2133 can pass, or whether single-channel or dual-channel 32 Gb with slower clocks could handle that? Anyone know how to work that out theoretically?

  2. im actually running a micro pc that has this cpu, windows 10 pro x64 and 4 gig ram…..

  3. Win10 on these low-end macines will recognize 4GB SDRAM less any shared video ram usage, which can vary. Even with shared SDRAM, 4GB should be OK to run 64-bit Win10 on an IAx86 platform, 2GB will run, but not well without installing 32-bit windows instead. The problem it seems is many manufacturers (e.g., Lenove, ASUS) often don’t supply 32-bit drivers, plus they make it impossible for you upgrade your SDRAM. So if you aren’t careful you can find yourself stuck on a machine with a measly 2GB shared SDRAM and no option but to run 64-bit Win10. Bad 🙁

  4. This happens sometimes. I built a silent daily driver on a J1900 Asrock board. Intel says 8 Gigs for that chip but Asrock says 16GB for this board, which had the chip soldered on.
    Indeed I’m running 16GB without issue on Xubuntu 14.04. Built similar for somebody else and Win10 also runs without issue.

  5. I think there’s DLC available that can be unlock an extra 2GB on the x5-Z8300. Careful, this may not be properly licensed though.

  6. “There is a catch though: that tablet has a 64-bit version of Windows” – I’m pretty sure you meant to write “32-bit version” otherwise there would be no catch… 🙂

    1. Nope. The catch is that this works *because* it has 64-bit Windows. Tablets that have 32-bit Windows won’t be able to make full use of the RAM, and as mentioned in the next paragraph, some tablets with this chip *do* ship with 32-bit Windows.

      1. so no “catch” really which I guess I’d see as problematic whereas here the 64bit WIn is a nice surprise and not problem at all?

        1. Yeah, the catch isn’t about this tablet at all. The point of the post is that the Atom x5-Z8300 can support 4GB of RAM… but the catch is that *some* tablets are shipping with the Z8300 and 4GB of RAM, but 32-bit Windows, which means you don’t actually get the full benefit of the extra memory.

  7. Isn’t that 2.9GB limitation (or some number very close) true of all CPUs running a 32 bit OS?

    Also, your link on that topic is apparently broken.

    1. Pretty much, but it’s much more likely that you’ll find a device with the Z8300 chip and 32-bit Windows than a Core i5 chip and 32-bit Windows.

    2. I haven’t used Win 10 32-bit but the 32-bit version of Ubuntu (using a 32-bit P4 3.0GHz CPU) will recognize 3.2GB of RAM. I would think Windows would be close to that number considering the limitation is in place so a 32-bit CPU will work.

      1. 3.2 was my recollection too, which is why I had the “some number very close” language. I think it’s a matter of mathematic calculation on the amount of memory that can be accessed by 32 bit systems, so it would be odd if this CPU were somehow a different number.

        1. 32bit actually can address up to 4GB, the actual limit, but the way it handles the memory, think compartmentalizing, with things like reserved memory, etc. is why you end up with anywhere from 2.5GB to a max of 3.6GB free… Examples of reserved memory is memory set aside for the iGPU, and other system devices that require memory to run but has to share system RAM and thus those amounts are set aside for those devices and reduces the free RAM available to the system…

          Even with the free RAM the OS compartmentalizes… meaning you get about half for the Kernel and half for the apps/programs you’re running… up to 2GB each under a 32bit OS…

          While PAE, Paging Files, Virtual Memory, etc allow 32bit to work past the 4GB limit, but 64bit is more dynamic/flexible and thus effectively lets you use the full capacity instead of locking away parts of it for reserve memory only… and thus can let you make more use out of 4GB as well as work with even higher capacities up to 2TB, depending on the OS and hardware…

          That said, being able to install a 64bit OS and both recognize and use 4GB of RAM doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the same performance as a system officially spec’ed for 4GB support or that it will be all that stable all the time…

          Some limitations are artificial, but others are just playing it safe… like clock speeds and whether or not you can over clock safely or not… but I doubt, in this case, that it matters and the 4GB will probably be fully beneficial as far as the end user is concerned… even if you stick to 32bit OS…

      1. I think most everyone knew what Intel said, the news is that this CPU supports more than what they said. But my point was more narrow–it doesn’t matter what CPU you’re dealing with–a 32 bit OS limits the amount of memory that can be accessed. You could have a CPU that can handle 16GB of memory, but with a 32 bit OS it will only access about 3.2 GB of memory.

    3. Like most of the WinTel world it is complicated. Windows 32bit Desktops see a 4GB address space with I/O carving out a large chunk, end of story. Windows 32bit server OSes (i.e. old stuff at this point) running on processors supporting the PAE extension could throw back to the segment registers of the DOS era and see 64GB. Most 32bit Linux distros could likewise make use of PAE, although it sometimes required a special kernel because dealing with segment registers did impose a performance hit. But it wasn’t a real 64bit solution on either one, lots of 2/4GB limits would rear their head, for example a single process was still limited unless it too was aware of the PAE stuff and made special calls to access the larger memory space.

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