It’s been around 4 years since the first signs of DDR5 RAM started to emerge, and since then, not that much has actually happened.
DDR5 RAM is set to supersede DDR4 in almost every area – faster speeds, greater bandwidth, better power efficiency – you name it, DDR5 does it better. However, despite DDR5 sparking plenty of buzz around the tech community, actually being able to purchase a DDR5 RAM kit for our PC builds still seems like a lifetime away.
That being said, over the last 6 months or so, some breakthrough moments in the DDR5 launch have occurred – including the arrival of the first usable DDR5 memory kit.
In the following article, we answer some of the major questions that currently surround the latest memory arrival: when will DDR5 be released? Is it worth purchasing DDR5 RAM? How will DDR5 compare with DDR4 RAM? These are just some of the topics we’ll be covering below. So, let’s not waste any more time and jump right into what we should expect from DDR5.
We’ve been hearing whispers of DDR5 that stretch back to early 2018, however, not much has been announced regarding performance until earlier this year.
DDR4 Vs DDR5
Developers are promising some impressive figures for DDR5 and have been quoted saying the latest RAM modules will have twice the performance of today’s DDR4-3200 RAM. All sounds mighty impressive, but what exactly does twice the performance mean?
Well, in a nutshell, the DDR5 design promises to hit shelves with double the density and double the speed of 1st gen DDR4-3200 modules. In addition to this, where DDR4 maxes out at 32GB per stick, DDR5 will be able to accommodate a much greater volume – with 128GB not being out of the question.
Furthermore, we believe that DDR5 will be able to reach at least 6400Mhz in consumer options. However, if DDR4 is anything to go off, we will likely see much higher speeds thanks to aftermarket overclocking. This will naturally be a perfect fit for AMD APUs & CPUs as they tend to thrive on higher speed memory.
The table below outlines some of the finer details that we can expect from the latest module.
|Data rates||3200Mhz||4800-6400mhz||Increased performance and bandwidth|
|Device densities||16GB Max||64GB||Larger monolithic devices|
|Prefetch||8n||16n||Keeps the internal core clock low|
|CRC||Write||Read/Write||Strengthens system RAS by protecting read data|
|Burst length||BL8||BL16, BL32||Allows 64B cache line fetch w/only 1 DIMM subchannel.|
As you can clearly see, DDR5 offers much higher data rates, lower overall power consumption, much higher density per stick, and a BL16 burst length which, when all paired together, shows the true potential this hardware brings to the table.
The data rate, which for us is one of the better improvements we’ve seen over DDR4, actually allows for an increase of 1.36X effective bandwidth when comparing DDR4 vs DDR5 at 3200Mhz. If you do the same math against a higher speed DDR5 (4800Mhz) then the results produce almost double what DDR4 has to offer. See the chart below:
There are other benefits to DDR5 which include two independent 40-bit channels per mode, an improved command bus efficiency, increase bank group, and refresh schemes as well.
Back in March of 2017, JEDEC announced that DDR5 was being worked on and should be released in 2018. Jumping forward to November 2018, SK Hynix finally announced the first-ever DDR5 compliant RAM module, stating that the kits would be available for consumer purchase by end of 2020.
In a strange turn of events, SK Hynix actually slashed the release date to 2019, sparking even more buzz around the new DDR5 RAM modules. Ultimately, however, that wasn’t to be.
Fast forward to the present day and DDR5 is still as elusive as it ever was. Well, not as elusive, there have been some major movements in the launch of DDR5 that came to fruition at the end of 2020.
SK Hynix finally revealed the world’s first DDR5 memory modules – coming to theoretical shelves with 5,6000Mbps of raw bandwidth and operating at a lower voltage of 1.1V. The new kits are set to hit shelves by Q3 of 2021 – however, with very few signs of supportive motherboards and CPUs, it’ll be interesting to see how that actually goes.
Because new CPUs now have more cores than ever, improvements in the RAM industry have had to be made to keep up with the GB/s per core bandwidth demands. Thanks to the increased data rates, DDR5 clearly takes a huge step forward in the right direction, seen in the chart below.
There is always speculation surrounding new hardware prices and DDR5 is no different. We currently don’t have a price for how much the superfast memory will cost but what we do know, based on historical evidence, is it’s going to be more than DDR4. Who Knew?!
Whilst this is no real surprise, it’s definitely still worth mentioning – especially when you consider how much some of the higher-end DDR4 RAM kits currently retail for. Premium DDR4 RAM can go for upwards of $200 and DDR5 promises to be TWICE as good. How that computes into a monetary value has yet to be announced.
Availability is a similar story, unfortunately. We will likely see the arrival of DDR5 in the mobile community first via Samsung and Micron in the LPDDR5 variety. It’ll be a good benchmark for what we can expect for desktop PC variations though.
A solid indicator of when DDR5 is going to become fully mainstream has been displayed in a chart designed by SK Hynix. They’ve tried to estimate how the sales market will be split in the coming years. Below is the chart.
SK Hynix initially estimated that 25% of all memory market sales will be represented by DDR5 in 2020 – with over 40% expected by 2021. Despite this not being the case, it still gives us a good indication of how much the RAM is going to cost as they believe DDR4 is still going to have a major part to play in the memory game.
Well, that’s the big question. It all comes down to how much these modules are going to cost once they’re released.
As most will already know, for years, upgrading your RAM was probably the least effective way of achieving performance gains in your system. However, since the release of AMD’s new CPU & APU hierarchy, that’s no longer the case.
AMD CPUs literally thrive when paired with speedier RAM which means the arrival of DDR5 6400Mhz will be a welcome one, especially now Ryzen’s 5000-series CPU lineup starts to become more readily available. This being said, we aren’t fully aware of what hardware is going to be compatible with the new modules either, so we’ll have to play the waiting game for now.
There you have it, everything we currently know about DDR5 memory. It’s going to be fascinating to see what sort of real-world improvements actually come from implementing this new rapid memory into your rig. Is it going to make a huge difference or not much at all?
Well, rest assured, as soon as desktop PC DDR5 hits the shelves we at WEPC will be doing a full breakdown of how effective this new hardware really is. We will be updating this page on a regular basis so that you guys are right up-to-date with the latest news and announcement.
Any questions regarding DDR5, feel free to leave us a message below and we’ll answer it the best we can!