What Is DDR5 Memory? You Should Know About The Newest PC Memory Specification

Bethany Walsh

Apr 15, 2022

Alder Lake, the codename for Intel's new 12th generation Core CPUs, has been released to the public, ushering in the DDR5 era. Memory and the PCI Express (PCI-E) 5.0 bus, two new features that come with the new CPUs, will be a must for those in the know when it comes to their PCs.


However, PCIe's backward compatibility with prior versions provides the unprepared months or even years to prepare for the eventual changeover. DDR5 may be a full-on transition to DDR5 if you buy a PC or Alder Lake motherboard that doesn't support DDR4: DDR5 boards won't work with DDR4 boards.



Why Do We Need DDR5?


With Intel's new 12th generation Core CPUs and Z690-chipset motherboards, DDR5 is the next standard for memory modules for consumer PCs, released in tandem. Consumer motherboards with the Z690 chipset (and consequently "Z690" in their name) enable DDR5 memory modules and Alder Lake CPUs.


DDR5's higher capacity of 64Gb (gigabits) per integrated circuit is a major driving force behind its development and introduction (or IC, aka the chips on the memory modules themselves). Compared to DDR4, this implies a fourfold increase. The capacity of DDR memory has regularly doubled in the past several generations.


What Is The Difference Between DDR5 and GDDR5?


Graphics DDR5 (GDDR5) is an older DDR3-based graphics card memory technology, despite identical names. GDDR5 is attached directly to graphics cards, whereas DDR5 is soldered to detachable memory modules or DIMMs. Because CPUs and discrete graphic cards utilize different RAM to accomplish their respective duties, the system treats these memory pools separately.


What Can We Expect from DDR5 per Module?



Consumer DIMMs with up to 128GB of DDR5 memory per module will be available with the quadrupling of maximum IC capacity. Four 32GB consumer DIMMs, or "UDIMMs," on a common four-slot DDR4 desktop motherboard can accommodate up to 128GB of memory in total, but DDR5 boosts it to an amazing 512GB on four-slot boards that support that peak amount of memory capacity. This is solely for mainstream, consumer-oriented forums.


What Devices Does DDR5 Support?


To begin with, Intel's new LGA 1700 socket ("Alder Lake") platform was the only place where DDR5 was available for consumer usage. Meanwhile, data centers and servers continued to utilize registered DIMMs. There will be more advancements in next-generation platforms from Intel and AMD.


For the time being, the vast majority (but not all) of the first motherboards for the 12th Generation Core, based on the Z690 chipset, will support DDR5 memory. DDR4 will still be supported on some Z690 boards, though. There's more to this story, but suffice it to say that.


Do I Need DDR5 for an Intel LGA 1700 PC?


Because it supports two distinct types of memory, Intel's LGA 1700 CPU socket has more pins than its predecessor (Intel's LGA 1200). Dual-channel DDR5 and DDR4 LGA 1700 motherboards are available, even though they are not designed to work with more than one kind of memory at a time.


However, let's get this straight first. DDR5 and DDR4 are supported by a specific motherboard, not a choice between the two or the ability to utilize them both simultaneously. When purchasing a Z690 motherboard, you need to know if it supports DDR5 or DDR4. Modules for DDR4 and DDR5 are keyed differently. Therefore they cannot be inserted into the same slots.


How About DDR5 for Laptops? Will DDR5 SO-DIMMs Be Available?


Several months ago, DDR5 SO-DIMMs were announced that operate at DDR5 voltage levels (1.1 volts) specified for desktop computers. Shortly, Alder Lake mobile and low-power systems will be available, although none have been released at the time of this writing.


The 0.9 volt LPDDR5 memory has also been created, but speculations as to which CPU models may require it are just that—guesses!—for the time being.


In What Ways Are the Two Types of DDR Memory Different?


DDR5 has two 32-bit channels in each 64-bit rank, the most significant change from prior generations. The 64-bit channel is divided into two.


Additionally, on-die ECC for single-bit internal faults, data speeds nearly double DDR4, and latencies roughly twice as many cycles as DDR4 are also significant increases. DDR4's internal voltage drops from 1.2 volts to 1.1 volts.


The "advancement" looks to signal slower reaction times when it comes to latencies, but since doubling clock cycles lowers latency time by half, the "longer" timings should have no performance impact. DDR5 and DDR4 each have their advantages and disadvantages.


What Benefits Can DDR5 Bring?


DDR5's bandwidth will be about two times more than DDR4's and the previously mentioned capacity boost. Because most consumer apps don't require a lot of bandwidth, and those that do tend to favor low latency, integrated graphics are likely to have the largest impact on gaming performance.


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