Believe it or not, some users don't try and force as much voltage through their components as possible in pursuit of ever-higher clocks. In the age of green computing, power-saving is becoming increasingly important, especially in the enterprise sector.
While memory may not be the most obvious place to try and lower your power bill, every little can help. DDR3 used significantly less power than DDR2 and now JEDEC - who publishes the DDR standard, among other things - has amended the specification to allow for even lower voltages.
The new DDR3L spec requires only 1.35V, compared to 1.5V for standard DDR3. The agency reckons that this translates to a 15 per cent reduction in power usage compared to the original specification and a 40 per cent reduction when compared to DDR2. As well as actually using less power, DDR3L memory should also generate less heat, which will be especially important in servers and data-centres.
In theory, this new standard should allow for memory of the same capacity that runs at the same speeds as regular DDR3, all while consuming less power. RAM based upon DDR3L should also be compatible with hardware using the older specification, but apparently "not all devices will be interoperable at both voltage ranges".
We tested a set of low-voltage DDR3 back in April, and found that the actual power savings, even over 1.65V kits, were minimal in a normal computer with a reasonable amount of RAM. However, a few watts in a desktop can translate to hundreds in an office or server-farm, so this will clearly be appreciated by businesses.
JEDEC anticipates wide availability of DDR3L memory kits and they should already be available on a limited basis from some manufacturers. We expect to see quite a few of these popping up in the coming months, and will update you as they start hitting the market.