RAM is one of the most essential parts of modern-day devices like PCs, laptops and mobiles that contributes to the speed of the device. DDR4 memory has been the standard for the past seven years now DDR5 is here. CES 2022 is currently being hosted in Las Vegas, and most new laptops being showcased at the tech convention make use of the latest standard RAM modules. Also Read - Your next gaming laptop, PC will be more expensive to buy: Here's why
Considering that DDR5 is the new standard, it is a major jump over DDR4 memory, bringing in multiple improvements in terms of speeds and more. Here we will be detailing everything you need to know about the new DDR5 standard and how it differs from the previous generation. Also Read - Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review: A flagship that was worth buying in 2021
What is DDR5?
Before we start off with explaining the benefits of DDR5 and how it differs from DDR4, let’s take a look at what is DDR5. DDR5 SDRAM is also known as Double Data Rate 5 Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory. It is a synchronous dynamic RAM, which was released back in 2020 with the motive of reducing power consumption and doubling the bandwidth. Also Read - Apple regains top spot in global smartphone shipments as Samsung slips
With DDR5 we get to see the introduction of the new Decision Feedback Equalization (DFE) feature. DFE enables I/O speed scalability for higher bandwidth and performance improvement, thus helping get more bandwidth compared to its predecessor, while getting almost the same latency.
DDR5 also increases the dual in-line memory module (DIMM) capacity from 64GB of DDR4 to 256GB. It also offers higher frequencies compared to DDR4.
How is DDR5 better compared to DDR4?
DDR5 is the latest standard in RAM technology and brings in a number of improvements over the previous generation. Key areas of difference between DDR4 and DDR5 include performance, capacity and cost.
The major difference that people note between DDR5 and DDR4 standards is the highly improved performance capabilities. The base DDR5 bandwidth (4,800 MT/s) performs over 50 percent better compared to DDR4 (3,200 MT/s). While the base kit beats DDR4 by a margin, it will be good to see the long term potential, when manufacturers release DDR5 DIMM’s at its peak performance of 8,400 MT/s. These increased speeds will help the devices support much higher clock speeds.
With DDR4 being much higher in its life cycle, you will be able to find DIMM’s with a peak speed of 5,333 MT/s. However, take note, those DIMM’s are usually overclocked beyond the typical limits.
Coming to latency, it is being said that the DDR5 modules have marginally higher latency rates while compared to DDR4. This means that the RAM DIMM’s will on paper be a bit slower. However, the high clock speeds will cover for that and the difference in latency will not be evident to normal users.
As of now, with overclocked DDR4 DIMM’s you will not find a major performance boost. However, as the DDR5 technology improves and matures, the performance gap would continue to widen.
Capacity is another area where we get to see major improvement, with the max capacity of one DDR4 DIMM being of 64GB, and the DDR5 DIMM’s being 128GB. While manufacturers will continue making low capacity variants, the base DIMM would definitely get to see a capacity bump.
While everything about DDR5 might make you want to upgrade, one major factor that will stand in the way is price. With DDR5 being in its infancy right now, the prices are currently much higher as of now. Once the tech has had some time to grow, it will definitely come down in prices.
Any other features that make DDR5 better?
The DDR5 standard includes a new power architecture, which now handles voltage regulation on the stick itself. Earlier, voltage regulation was handled by the motherboard. While this new power architecture will improve the system power distribution, it is also being said to increase heat generation on the DIMM. This will most probably be taken care of with the help of cooling solutions. Also, DDR5 is rated for 1.1V, which is 0.1V lower compared to DDR4, making it more power-efficient.
DDR5 also comes with an on-die Error Correction Control (ECC) feature, which covers data on the module itself. The standard has also been upgraded to feature serial presence detect (SPD), this means more RGB!
Memory module companies have been hard on work developing the DDR5 standard for a long time, with Rambus starting work on the DDR5 DIMM back in 2017. After a year, SK Hynix announced the completion of its first DDR5 chip, then the next year it announced an improved version, which it was wanting to launch by the end of the year. However, the launch got pushed to late 2020.
Interestingly the JEDEC standard LPDDR5 RAM, made for laptops and smartphones was released in early 2019, giving mobiles a head start.
In 2021, Samsung had revealed a 512GB 7200MHz RAM DIMM, which broke the 256GB cap. However, the RAM module is yet to launch.
Should you upgrade?
As mentioned above DDR5 is currently in its infancy and will be maturing over the next few years in its lifecycle, with improved performance and lower costs. Also upgrading to DDR5 will not only mean changing the RAM sticks, instead, you will have to also get a new CPU and a new motherboard.
Currently, only Intel 12th gen chips and the Z690 motherboard supports the new technology. AMD is expected to release support in 2022 with the next-gen Zen 4 Ryzen CPUs.
Also, you might need to change up your power supply and the UPS considering the higher voltage the new CPU and the motherboard will take up. Currently, only select manufacturers are selling DDR5 sticks, that too in limited quantities, due to which the prices are on the higher end.
If you still want to upgrade, we recommend that you wait a bit till around 2024 to 2025 to get the best DDR5 performance sticks at a much affordable price. Also waiting will provide you with the option of getting better RGB lighting implementations, overclocked modules and more.