DDR4 has been around for more than 5 years now. When it first came out in 2014, it was considered a huge improvement over DDR3, which had come out almost 7 years before it. And since 2018, we’ve been hearing rumors about the next generation DDR5. We’re nearing the end of 2019, and we now know a lot more about this fabled technology that is currently under development in JEDEC’s JC-42 Committee for Solid State Memories.
In this article, we will dive deep into what DDR5 will be offering and when we can expect to get our hands on it.
Let’s get started.
What is DDR5?
Let’s start with the basics. DDR5 SDRAM, stands for Double Data Rate 5 Synchronous Dynamic Random-Access Memory. The DDR5 standards are developed by the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association. JEDEC has promised to deliver an improvement in performance with its latest DRAM technology. It will be offering twice the bandwidth and density compared to the last generation of DDR tech, DDR4. In addition to these, JEDEC has also promised improvements in power efficiency and channel efficiency, as well as a more user-friendly interface for both client and server based platforms.
We will now dive deeper. We will start by talking a little about the most important factor. How big of a performance boost will DDR5 be offering?
DDR5: Performance improvements over DDR4
JEDEC has promised that DDR5 will be offering double the bandwidth and density of DDR4. But what exactly does this mean.
To cut to the chase, with DDR5 you will get double the amount of memory in the space as you would with the first generation DDR4-3200 module RAMs. So, while the first generation of DDR4 was limited to 16GB of RAM per stick, DDR5 will have that limit extended to 32GB. Impressive right?
Another important factor in a RAM is its bandwidth, or the speed at which you can transfer data in and out of it. The first generation DDR4-3200 offered a bandwidth of 3200MHz, as suggested by the name. Of course, aftermarket overclocking helped DDR4 achieve a much higher bandwidth than this. But the impressive thing about DDR5 is that its data rates will be starting at 4800MHz and will go all the way up till 6400MHz. Once again, aftermarket overclocking could extend this rate further. This is a good fit particularly for AMD’s CPUs and APUs, that perform better coupled with a high-speed memory.
But the performance boost isn’t just limited to bandwidth and density. Here’s a comprehensive list of all the improvements that DDR5 promises to deliver:
DDR5 vs DDR4
- Density: As we discussed above, the first generation of DDR4 offered a max of 16GB of memory per stick. DDR5 will doubling this number, taking its density up to at least 32GB per stick. And at the peak, this could go all the way up to 64GB.
- Bandwidth: DDR5 will significantly improve the data rates too. DDR4 offered a rate of 3200MHz. The DDR5 will increase this number to at least 4800MHz, going all the way up to 6400MHz.
- Power: A RAM doesn’t particularly use a lot of power. But DDR5 still finds a way to reduce the power consumption over DDR4. The VDD/VDDQ/VPP requirements will go down from 1.2 to 1.1.
- Cyclical Redundancy Check: DDR4 was the first DDR technology to introduce Write CRC. DDR5 will be introducing an additional Read CRC. This will insure that the Reliability, availability and serviceability (RAS) of the system will be strengthened and will help protect the read data.
- Prefetch: The prefetch architecture of the DDR5 will also be seeing a significant improvement over DDR4. While the DDR4 offered a 8n prefetch architecture, DDR5 will be offering 16n. This will in turn help keep the internal core clock rate low.
- Burst length:
These were just the basic improvements. DDR5 will also be offering an improvement in Bus efficiency, thanks to two separate 40-bit channels per mode.
All of these are probably enough to entice an enthusiast. But we can’t help but bring up one important question at this point. Is the DDR5 actually worth buying?
Will the DDR5 be worth buying?
As we mentioned before, DDR5 will undoubtedly thrive with the latest AMD CPUs and APUs. These devices have been designed to make the most of a faster RAM. Of course this wasn’t always the case, and historically speaking, an upgraded RAM has always been considered one of the least efficient ways to improve the performance of your computer.
Of course, we can’t just make facts. We will have to see how DDR5 will couple with the latest Ryzen chips. But based on the architecture, these chips will welcome the 6400MHz promised by DDR5.
Other than this, there is also a question of price. We don’t know exactly how much this new generation of SDRAM is going to cost when it hits the market. But that could be a huge factor in determining whether or not it is wise to invest in an upgrade of your RAM over other hardware.
This brings us to our next topic:
We don’t have an exact estimate of how much DDR5 RAMs will cost when they come out. But we can speculate. For instance, JEDEC’s claim is that DDR5 will perform twice as good as DDR4. So we can definitely expect them to be more expensive. Currently, high end DDR4 RAMs can cost more than $200. Now you can pretty much do the guessing game on your own.
South Korean company SK Hynix is one of the chief suppliers of memory semiconductors for DRAMs. They estimate that by the end of 2020, DDR5 will occupy almost 25% of all DRAM sales in the market. By 2021, they estimate this number to go up to 40%. SK Hynix is the 3rd-largest semiconductor company, and the 2nd-largest memory chipmaker in the world. So we can assume they know what they’re talking about. And this also gives us some insights on how much more DDR5s could cost compared to DDR4s, as they are expected not to be at the top of the memory market for almost two years.
When they do come out though, the first ones to get their hands on DDR5s will most likely be the Smartphone Industry. Samsung and Micron are expected to first launch them in the LPDDR5 form.
DDR5 Release Date: When is DDR5 coming out?
We’ve been hearing rumors about the release of DDR5 since 2017. JEDEC first announced back in 2017 that DDR5 should be rolling out by 2018. We’re nearing the end of 2019 and it clearly hasn’t. But once again, it’s SK Hynix to the rescue. They had first announced a successful DDR5 compliant RAM module a year ago in November 2018, and had announced that DDR5s would be available to consumers in 2020.
But in an interesting turn, SK Hynix and Samsung have both announced plans to release DDR5 by the end of 2019.
This is a great time for DDR5 to pop into the computing scene. We now have CPUs with more cores than ever. This means RAMs have had to keep up with the high GBps per core requirements. DDR5 with its higher density and bandwidth among other factors would definitely be a welcome addition to the scene.
This concludes our article on the promises and availability of DDR5 RAMs. For those who are interested, we have included an additional section below explaining the basics of RAM and what it does.
We hope you found the article useful. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.
RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It is the short term memory of the computer where it keeps all the numbers and information while you are working on them. In contrast we have hard drives and solid state drives, where you store information that don’t need to be accessed right away. All the programs you are running in your computer are loaded in the RAM since they are much faster than hard drives or SSDs. This explains why low RAM can sometime cause a lag if you’re running multiple programs simultaneously.
RAMs are usually of two kinds: DRAMs and SDRAMs. DRAM stand for Dynamic Random Access Memory and SDRAM stands for Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory. VRAMs are RAMs that are unique to graphics cards. Technically, these are called Graphics DDR SDRAM.
This brings us to the term DDR. DDR stands for Double Data Rate and based on the generation of DDR, we have DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4 RAMs. DDR5s talked about in this article is the next generation of DDR.
Importance of RAM
Of course RAMs are important. They’re a fundamental part of the modern computer architecture. Often time when you run multiple programs at the same time, the lag caused is because you are running low on RAM. But if you’re planning to upgrade your system and you’re hoping an addition in RAM is going to do it for you, you might be mistaken.
Often times the more efficient way of improving your computer’s performance is to upgrade your graphics card or CPU. Also, replacing your old hard drive with an SSD would significantly boost the fluidity of your computer. While a minimum of 8 or even 16 GB of RAM is recommended for a modern computer, just having more RAM will not insure a faster computer.
But as we discussed earlier in the article, the latest AMD APUs/CPUs could definitely benefit from the faster data rates of the DDR5.