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DDR5 – The Definitive Guide!

Updated: 14/01/2021

DDR5

The next-generation of high-performance memory isn’t here just yet. However, we certainly hoped it would be. The jump from DDR3 to DDR4 brought higher speeds, improved efficiency, and helped keep the pace with modern PC gaming and workflow demands. Of course, we expect DDR5 to do the same, but it won’t happen overnight.

It now seems that DDR5 will actually be launching in 2021, with brands like ADATA, TeamGroup and SK Hynix now validating their kits since December 2020.

What Speed Will DDR5 Be?

Unfortunately, memory clock speeds are unknown at this time. However, we do know that there will be some pretty significant changes to DDR5 memory design and performance. However, this is still all based on information from RAMBUS from 2017 and subject to change. Their early test kits were reported to run around 4600 MHz, but I would expect that to increase as they develop the hardware further.

6.4 Gbits/second data rates, with a 51.2 GBytes/s max transfer speed. That’s a big difference to the 3.2 Gbits and 25.6 GBytes/s we currently get from DDR4. The burst length will also double to 16 bit vs the current 8 bits.

Early samples from TeamGroup were running at 4800MHz, but we expect that’ll go much higher as we see more enthusiast-focused kits and overclocking kits throughout 2021.

What Voltages Will DRR5 Use?

The new DDR5 standard will push voltages down to just 1.1V. Furthermore, the voltage regulators will be on the DIMMs themselves, rather than the motherboard.

This has now been confirmed, as we see the first kits from ADATA clocking in at just 1.1v, making them much more efficient overall.

Can DDR5 Fit In DDR4 Slots?

It’s unlikely this will be the case, especially with the difference in required voltages, voltage regulation, speeds and other aspects. There’s not even any guarantee they’ll use the same length PCB to current DDR4 modules. It’s very much likely you’ll need an entirely new motherboard for the hardware.

What Motherboards & CPUs Support DDR5?

It’ll be a new generation of motherboards, along with new CPUs that will usher in DDR5 support. ADATA (and other brands) are already working with Intel board makers MSI and Gigabyte. We expect the memory will launch alongside these boards.

So far, it seems like it’ll be Intel’s next-gen Alder Lake CPUs that will bring support for DDR5. However, we’re still waiting for Rocket Lake first. A safe bet would be the Q3/Q4 and some motherboard likely named Z6xx.

What About AMD?

No doubt the memory will be tested on AMD platforms too, but we’ll need to await news of AMDs upcoming chipsets, boards, and CPUs to confirm when they will have supporting hardware.

Where Can I Buy DDR5?

Unfortunately, it’s currently not on the consumer market yet. It’s remained an enterprise solution just now, but expect consumer hardware news in early 2021.

Will DDR5 Be Cheaper?

It’s likely to have a premium right out of the gate. However, as with the DDR4 launch, prices will no doubt be targeted to similar price ranges when we get down to the consumer models.

When Will DDR5 Be Available?

RAMBUS was aiming for a 2019 production run based on information from 2017. Given the lack of further information, late 2020 was looking like a safe bet, but with all the things that have happened in the world, the second half of 2021 now seems like a sure thing for DDR5.

Who Makes DDR5?

Technically everyone and no one right now. The standard is still being finalised by JEDEC, so until we have the fixed rules of what really defines DDR5, everything developed so far isn’t officially DDR5. Expect all the big players to be working on it, such as RAMBUS, SK Hynix, etc.

Should I Wait For DDR5 Or Upgrade Now?

Upgrade now, that’s my motto. When it comes to PC hardware, there’s always going to be something better on the horizon. If you play the waiting game for each bit of hardware you want, you’ll never buy anything. Plus, it’s often best to let a market and technology develop unless you’re very eager to be an early adopter and pay big money to do so.

Tell Me More!

Want to find out what else we know so far? Check out our other features like this here!

Peter Donnell

As a child still in my 30's, I spend my day combining my love of music and movies with a life-long passion for gaming, from arcade classics and retro consoles to the latest high-end PC and console games. So it's no wonder I write about tech and test the latest hardware while I enjoy my hobbies!

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