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What is DDR4 RAM?
DDR4 or Double Data Rate Four refers to a type of SDRAM belonging to the 4th generation of DDR RAM. This memory is the successor of DDR3 memory.
By its technical design DDR4 memory is that which has a higher clock speeds range and storing capacity per DIMM than DDR3.
- A DDR4 RAM offers higher transfer rates and overall speed and consumes less power cutting down voltage by 40% and boosting bandwidth and performance by 50% in comparison to its predecessor.
- A DDR4 RAM allows doing all sorts of computing tasks including and not limited to gaming, editing, and data storage in servers, workstations, and others.
- If not threatened by external factors such as heat, issues with connectors, mishandling or manufacturing defects, a DDR4 RAM will last for the entire lifetime of your computer.
- The DDR4 RAM offers higher bandwidth and speed, is thicker to store more signal layers, and can work with powerful processors offering greater capacity and expandability though lack of backward compatibility, capacitor charging requirement and latency are some drawbacks in it.
Understanding DDR4 RAM
The term DDR means Double Data rate RAM, and number 4 refers to the generation of said type of RAM. This is a form of SDRAM or Synchronous DRAM.
It was released back in 2014, and is a much better option over the DDR3, in terms of speed, bandwidth, and other features.
Since the time of its release, there are 6 different standards of DDR4 RAM available, with different data rates and speed.
But now, of course, various companies like GSkill, Corsair, etc have created faster versions of the RAM that can reach speeds above 6,000 MHz with overclocking.
A typical DDR4 RAM module has 288 pins, while a SO-DIMM DDR4 module has 260 pins.
The two form factors allow one to use them in usual ATX, mini or micro ATX systems, while also in smaller motherboards like those of a compact laptop or tablet.
There is not a noticeable difference in performance and thus, they are much conventional. Check out Differences Between DDR3 and DDR4 RAM.
DDR4 RAM comes with several useful features that offer a 50% boost in performance and 40% more power savings compared to the earlier memory technologies. In short, it facilitates low-cost computing.
Since DDR4 is a form of SDRAM, its operation is synchronized with that of the clock speed which enhances its performance.
The power efficient DDR4 RAM offers a larger memory density due to its design along with 16 instead of 8 memory banks. These particular memory modules come in two main form factors such as:
- DIMM or Dual In-line Memory Module used mainly in the desktop towers and
- SODIMM or Small Outline DIMM usually used in the laptop and All In One computers.
In addition to all that, DDR4 also offers more data reliability due to the Cyclic Redundancy Checks or CRC, much improved signal integrity, on-chip integrity verification and parity detection during address and command transfers across a link, and other strong RAS features.
Uses of DDR4 RAM
The DDR4 RAM has a good speed in general, along with lower power consumption.
This means that it is used for all sorts of modern tasks like editing, gaming, data storage in servers, workstations, and likewise.
The RDIMM and LRDIMM modules are also supported, and this is a huge advantage for high-capacity work on servers.
This is the only type of RAM that has so many utilities and will be so until the successor DDR5 type hits the market.
The Lifespan of DDR4 RAM
A DDR4 memory stick should last for a long time (throughout the lifetime of your PC) as it won’t degrade on its own.
However, it is threatened by other factors like excess heat, mishandling, manufacturing defects, problems in the connector, and such others.
How Does It Work?
In DDR4 RAM, the data being pre-fetched is the same as the older generations that is 8 bits per cycle.
But the internal clock frequency is multiplied 4 times, thus you get a maximum of 1600 MHz, and the transfer rate is 3200 MT/s. In terms of real time speeds, that is equivalent to 25600 MB/s.
DDR4 is a type of SDRAM and thus works in sync with the CPU to give a better speed. To know how it works, take a look at our dedicated SDRAM article, where we have elaborately explained how an SDRAM works.
Now in a typical DDR RAM, there are different parts present known as Rows, Columns, Banks, etc but we won’t be complicating things.
The process of memory transfer works in bursts, in 2 steps. It can be 8 bit, or shorter 4 bit each. The first step while reading involves the ACT command which indicates the row address in the RAM.
Then, the column address is indicated. While writing on the RAM, at first a row is activated, and then the column(s) is addressed. After writing, the row is then deactivated.
On a deeper level, each DDR cell has a storage capacitor and an access transistor. There are two lines for charge movement, the Row and Column lines.
When writing data, charge as a 0 or 1 is inserted into the column line and it moves through the access transistor to be stored in the storage capacitor.
The memory modules of the DDR4 can hold more data and have a lower voltage along with other advantages that give you better performance over the previous generations.
Benefits of Using DDR4 RAM
It has several advantages over the other types. We have mentioned them below:
1. Better speed and bandwidth
DDR4 RAM has inherently better bandwidth, and its data rate starts at 1600 MHz, going all the way up to 3200 MHz stock.
While in DDR3, the max clock rate was about 2100 MHz.
There is also the option of overclocking, through which one can further boost the RAM speed.
A DDR4 memory module is thicker, which means it can store more signal layers.
3. Lower Power
DDR4 RAM consumes 40% less power than the older DDR3, thus even longer sessions of usage would cost you significantly less.
Also, they can conserve battery as well. It consumes 1.2 V of power.
4. Designed for powerful processors
DDR4 RAM is designed to provide better performance to the multi-core processors.
Thus, no matter what you choose be it Intel or AMD, you can utilize all that the high-end processors have to offer.
5. Better capacity
DDR4 RAMs have a higher chip density than DDR3 modules. This is why they are available from 4 to 16 GB variants.
You can expand both the memory and addition of other hardware like more processors is also allowed. This feature was not available before.
There aren’t any major problems with having DDR4 RAM in your computer. But the few we found are noted below:
7. Presence of Capacitors
The fundamental problem with the DDR4 chips is that the capacitors need to be recharged now and then or else they lose data. Such is also the case in DDR4 memory.
8. Higher Latency
The CAS latency of DDR4 RAM is yet higher than that of DDR3 (DDR3 has 9 or 10, but DDR4 has 15 CAS latency).
If the term is new to you, CAS latency refers to the time elapsed between the READ command issued, and the moment you get the data.
But the higher speed and performance make up for it.
Another problem that is exclusive to the DDR RAM family is the absence of backward compatibility.
Thus, you cannot use a DDR4 RAM in a DDR3 slot, and vice-versa.
Though affordable, the DDR4 standard is priced higher than the DDR3.
However, this is somewhat justified since you are getting much better features.
The invention of DDR4 technology would be a milestone in the history of computer memory. The affordable price, overall reliability, and other features make it one of the best kinds of RAM ever made, and is a worthy predecessor to the next-gen of RAMs.