MORE and FASTER Memory Is Coming... DDR5

Alex Alex 05 May 2020
MORE and FASTER Memory Is Coming... DDR5

Faster is better with many things in life, including today's topic, DDR5 memory. DDR5 is expected to be twice as fast as DDR4, which mainstream PCs have been using for years now. Initially, the manufacturing goal for DDR5 was to run kits at 4800MHz, which is double DDR4 standard speed of 2400MHz.

But of course, many of us are running our DDR4 kits at 3000MHz and beyond today, meaning the stock improvements don't seem to be that impressive at face value. That's why the powers that be decided toe kick it up a notch, and SK Hynix, a major manufacture of DRAM, has come out in state of it wants to roll a kits that could get up to 8400MHz. But realistically, consumers looking to snag some memory for their home systems should get used to seeing kits somewhere in the 4800 to 6400 MHz range, with DDR5 8400 mostly being targeted at the server market and regardless of what speed you get, DDR5 can be accessed while some of its memory banks are being refreshed, which should cut down on latency and further improve performance.

But, as is tradition, higher speeds will counter intuitively come with lower power consumption, thanks to shrinking transistor in size. The standard voltage for DDR5 is going to be just 1.1 volts down from the reference of 1.2 volts in DDR4. And although this isn't going to meet a ton for desktop computing, lower power consumption overall should help extend the battery life of mobile devices at least a little bit.

Another result of smaller transistors is greater density, and I don't mean at your memory modules will sink faster and a cup of water. I'm talking about storage density. How many gigabytes each module can hold. This is expected to roughly double, so you might see 16 GB sticks become a lot more common than they are right now. But hold on a minute there, you're talking about DDR5 like it's something coming out in the future, even though you've seen that, you can get your hands on it right now. What's up with that?

Well, here's the thing. Just like many other kinds of bleeding edge tech, availability for  consumer will effectively be non-existent for some time. Although we have seen variants of DDR5 incorporated into high-end smartphones, you can't yet get your hands on a couple of sticks for your desktop PC. There isn't a current consumer platform that supports it, and next generations of both Intel and AMD CPUs due out later this year is still going to be based around DDR4.

Aside from the after mention, smartphones that will benefit from DDR5 lower power consumption were more likely to see DDR5 show up in servers first as DDR5 has more robust error checking capabilities than older generations of RAM, which will be useful for data operations that need to be up and running, basically, all the time.

Current market estimates don't expect DDR5 to really start becoming a widespread in consumer PC's or servers until late 2021 and it will likely represent less than half of the DRAM market until at least mid 2022.

So don't wait around for DDR5 platform to come out if you're thinking about upgrading your rig or you're building a new one this year. But that isn't to say that it won't be a cool piece of tech when it does come out, especially as AMD's new CPU architectures have made RAM performance a lot more important than it was just a few years ago.

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