What is DDR5 RAM? Uses, Lifespan, Pros, Cons & Works

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What is DDR5 RAM?

DDR5 or Double Data Rate 5 RAM refers to a specific type of Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory. It is designed to be the better successor of DDR4 SDRAM as the next progression of computer main memory.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The DDR5 RAM offers double the bandwidth of DDR4 RAM and consumes less power but provides a much-improved performance.
  • Good to be used in the GPUs, the DDR5 RAM can last for several years if used properly and support graphics intensive tasks such as playing games, editing videos and more.
  • The memory interface chipsets in the DDR5 RAM offers significant benefits such as power efficiency and signal integrity.
  • With better design, more useful features, and improved channel architecture, the DDR5 RAM offers higher scalability.
  • There are some technical issues or requirements for the DDR5 RAM to offer the benefits as promised such as DQ bus and data channel, PDN, EMI, and EMC apart from motherboard and DIMM compatibility requirements.

What is DDR5 RAM?

What is DDR5 RAM

The DDR5 RAM is the most significant milestone in the fields of computer development of computers, especially in the computer memory segment.

Though the actual product is yet to hit the market, JEDEC Solid State Technology Association has released its final specifications.

JEDEC is the agency that looks after the development standards of the microelectronics industry all over the world.

This is supposed to be the latest in the DDR RAM category that will enhance the performance of the personal computers, servers and everything in between, taking it to the next higher level.

By extending the capacity as well as the size of the DDR memory, this latest version of memory is expected to be available in the market in late 2020 or early 2021.

The DDR5 RAM is expected to have an improved performance because it will come with a much higher power efficiency as compared to the DRAM technologies of the yesteryears.

Random Access Memory, or RAM is a volatile memory. This stores all loaded programs and data that the computers use. This is a storage unit that runs at an exceptionally high speed to help the computer function properly in quick time.

At present the computers use a DDR4 standard memory, also called Double Data Rate fourth generation Random Access Memory. It works perfectly well with the expensive Extreme Processors having a speed of 60 GB per second or higher to read and write.

  • The main disadvantage of the DDR4 RAM is that it cannot store data for a longer period of time. This means that, in case of a power loss, all data stored in it will be lost, permanently.
  • Another drawback of this RAM is that it cannot support those applications that have huge databases and runs on complex machine learning algorithms.

These drawbacks somewhat halted the progress of personal computing devices, which ideally should not be the case. To resolve this issue, the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council or JEDEC has developed this new standard for RAM.

With the launch of DDR5 SDRAM, users will be benefited in two specific ways, in comparison to the standard DDR4 RAM, namely:

  • They will get double bandwidth and
  • Their system will consume less power.

There are lots of speculations regarding the DDR5 RAM that is yet to hit the market. Few people think that DDR5 will replace the DDR4 standard as soon as it hits the market.

This is because it will have a more effective Optane memory, which is not used widely as of now, especially for the consumers in large scale. This memory has the ability to read and write at a great speed.

In fact, the experts believe that the DDR5 RAM will have twice the speed of DDR4 RAM. They also believe that, apart from the double data density, this specific RAM will also ensure an improvement in the channel frequency.

Combining all these enhanced and useful features along with its extremely user-friendly interface, this is the RAM that will improve the performance and power management of a wide range of applications.

However, you should not get confused with DDR5 RAM and the GDDR5 RAM in the graphics card. Ideally, a GDDR5 RAM is pretty much similar to any ordinary RAM used in a desktop computer.

This RAM, however, is embedded in the GPU or graphics chip directly so that it is more flexible. It is the design of the RAM and its implementation that helps the graphics card to scale the performance of it by running at a much faster rate.

There are also a few other facts that raise the expectation bar from this RAM. It is found that the standard speed of the DDR memory will be at least 4800 MHz in its next revision.

This will be the standard frequency of the DDR5 RAM as opposed to the average speed of 2400 MHz of the DDR4 RAM. Exactly half of the DDR5 RAM.

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The best part of this RAM is that it uses less power. At 1.1 volts, however, it is to be seen exactly how much capacity the manufacturers can squeeze into this chip.

This is in spite of the established fact that the DDR5 SDRAM comes with double the storage capacity of a DDR4 RAM per module.

This, by itself, is an impressive and remarkable achievement on the part of the manufacturers.

This is because, more than packing so much memory into such a small space, it is difficult to keep the performance and delivery of outputs stable along with it.

It is bound to cause some complex and unexpected interactions with the atoms. The manufacturers have found the way to eliminate these chances, effectively.

In spite of this, the DDR5 SDRAM will be most useful in this digital world of today simply due to the fact that it is capable of storing up to 32 gigabits of data.

However, this huge amount of data storage ability of the RAM raises one simple but natural question: since most of the desktop computers comes with more memory slots than it is actually needed and it is not very difficult to use a 16 GB RAM on any regular motherboard, is it really needed to use a DDR5 RAM?

Well, there are lots of potential benefits, in terms of performance, of using a DDR5 RAM. The high speed of this RAM will affect the performance of the CPU whether it is an Intel Core i7 7700K or an AMD 1700X CPU.

It is expected that the speed of the DDR5 RAM will max out up to 6400 MHz but there are a few specific companies such as SK Hynix that claims that this RAM can run at a speed as high as 8400 MHz as well.

This is much more than double the speed of a DDR4 RAM which runs at 3200 Mhz.

This means that the DDR5 SDRAM will boost the performance of the CPU much more than a DDR4 RAM will.

The high speed of the RAM will also enhance the gaming experience of the users. The games on the integrated graphics card will leverage the memory of the main system as VRAM, or Virtual Random-Access Memory.

This is good news for the budget laptop users because they can also enjoy the benefits of the improved bandwidth and performance of the system. It is also good news for the servers a lot just as it would help the several cloud-based applications.

However, there is yet some time to complete the transition from DDR4 to DDR5. This is because the RAM is expected to be released later in 2020 and the first ones launched will be typically aimed for the Enterprise applications and the servers.

It will take another year, possibly late in 2021, for the consumer grade of DDR5 to be released. This is due to the fact that the latest versions of AMD and Intel, the next generation chips based on DDR4 for the consumers, is slated for a release later this year.

Even after the release of the consumer grade DDR5 SDRAM, it will take at least a couple of years for it to be available widely and at an affordable rate.

Therefore, it will be unwise and meaningless to splurge on the DDR4 RAM right now because it will still give you a proper service for a year or two before the DDR5 RAM comes into the market.

In order to make the performance of the computers better, the JEDEC is also looking into the possibility of creating a hybrid memory storage named NVDIMM-P. They intend to combine RAM and flash storage in it and place it in the DIMM slot that you will find in almost every RAM.

Uses of DDR5 RAM

Primarily, the DDR5 RAM is meant to be used on the graphics card and certainly not for the CPUs. The conventional belief is that the GDDR5 is actually used in the graphics cards and for the newer cards, an updated version of GDDR6 is used, and not DDR5.

It is due to the use of different technologies that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to compare the generational numbers of a regular CPU RAM and a Virtual RAM, or VRAM.

However, the good thing about the GDDR5 RAM is that the technology used to build this component resembles the DDR3 technology more closely.

This is opposed to the common belief that it is based on the technology of DDR4 or any standard of DDR5 that may come up in the future.

Now, with that concept, you may tend to ask why GDDR5 or GDDR6 is not used in the CPUs. This is quite a natural question that may come to the mind of any tech savvy person as well.

This is due to the fact that the memory subsystem of the GPU after all, comes with a bandwidth often in hundreds of Gbps. This is much greater as compared to the bandwidth of the CPUs which is normally dozens of gigabytes per second.

Well, the most reasonable answer to this question is that all these technologies were designed to perform different tasks and using then in the CPUs may create significant problems.

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On the other hand, it is better to use them in the GPUs because these are profoundly limited in terms of bandwidth.

This means that the GPUs can actually withstand high levels of latency in memory. As for the CPUs, just as the bandwidth, low latency matters most.

However, due to the very high bandwidth of GDDR5, there will be more power consumption. This may even result in higher latency in accessing files and folders.

For example, the 80 GB RX580 GDDR5 will consume power of more than 20 watts. In comparison, the DDR4 RAM, on the other hand, used in any typical personal computing device, will use half of that amount of power.

This is even when it performs at a higher level and with higher capacities.

Lifespan of DDR5 RAM

As usual, a DDR5 RAM, being a component of a computer, will have no specific lifespan, just like the other components. It can work perfectly for years, but it will all depend on these three factors such as:

  • Your usage
  • The situations as well as
  • The performance of the other components in the CPU.

However, the part that can affect its functionality and may even need a replacement is the slot where this RAM is fixed. In some PCs, this can even be soldered to the CPU motherboard, which is even better, when it comes to performance and longevity.

Therefore, it can be concluded, that a RAM, even the DDR5, will not have a specific date of expiry, if you do not do these three things:

  • Abuse it or
  • Use it with unstable power supply or
  • Overheat your system.

In fact, dead drives are a greater possibility than a dead RAM.

However, you can and should make it function well and at a higher level, especially if you are into:

  • Gaming
  • Watching movies
  • Surfing the net
  • Streaming and listening to music
  • Editing pictures
  • Working on HD videos and even
  • Ripping the discs!

The best way to enhance the performance of the RAM and your computer is to replace it after every 3 or 4 years. This will make it run as long as you do not decide to replace your laptop, even if you are using 16 GB RAM!

The primary reason for this is that you, or your computer, will not use much of the RAM usually when you perform a task as you think you may be using. You can check the RAM usage for yourself with these steps:

  • Go to the Task Manager
  • Click on the performance tab and
  • Click on memory.

Wait for a while or continue with your task and go back to check the performance graph of the RAM. You will see for yourself that it is quite low.

Therefore, the memory of a computer is quite durable. This is the main reason that most of the manufacturing companies offer their products with a lifetime warranty.

How Does DDR5 RAM Work?

The DDR5 RAM comes with memory interface chipsets. This chipset helps in harnessing the power and provides the benefits of the RAM to the DIMMs.

The specialty of this DDR5 RAM is that the memory interface chip has a huge potential to enhance the signal integrity which provides the following benefits:

  • These improved signals help in reading and writing the commands or threads as and when received.
  • The signals also help in addressing those signals that are sent by the memory controller of the host computer to the DIMMs.

The bus in each of these two channels then comes into play. This goes to the RCD. Here the load of the CA or Command Access bus is reduced effectively and significantly.

This is the one that is sent to the memory controller of the host computer. It is from the RCD where the signals are fanned out to both the different halves of the DIMM for further processing.

Ideally, the loading of the data buses is effectively reduced by the data buffer chips of the DDR5 RAM. This will facilitate the working of the DRAMs that have a higher capacity to work on the DIMM. This also ensures that there is no degrading latency during the entire processing.

Therefore, the working process of the DDR5 RAM includes meeting the challenges while dealing with the signal integrity, controlling the CA clock speeds, and processing higher data.

In short, The DDR5 RAM will focus more on the SI or Signal Integrity and PI or the Power Integrity which will result in the highest performance of the systems.

The Pros

1. Better design

The DDR5 RAM comes with better design and architecture that will support almost all high-speed systems such as servers.

This is why there is a huge shift from DDR4 to DDR5 expected.

2. Features

The DDR5 RAM comes with better features as compared to the DDR4 RAM. The DDR4 RAM has a buffer chip of 3.2 GT per second and a clock rate of 1.6 GHz.

The DDR5 RAM, on the other hand, comes with a range of 3.2 GT per second to 6.4 GT per second. The clock rate is also highly enhanced at 3.2 GHz.

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3. Power usage

The DDR5 RAM will use a lot less power as compared to the DDR4 RAM because it is designed to use 1.1 volts as compared to 1.2 volts power management IC or PMIC used by the DDR4 RAM.

This will also enhance the noise immunity of the system.

4. Channel architecture

The buffer chip of DDR4 RAM comes with a channel architecture of 72 bits bus along with 8 ECC and 64 data bits.

On the other hand, the DDR5 RAM comes with two channels, each of which will have 32 bits and 8 ECC bits.

This means that it will result in two channels of 40 bits each as opposed to a single data channel of 72 bits.

5. Gain efficiency

The features and design of the DDR5 RAM will improve the gain efficacy of the system.

This is because the burst length of a DDR4 RAM is typically limited to 8 but the burst length of a DDR5 RAM will be extended beyond it along with the burst chop.

6. DRAM capacity

When you consider the single die package, the DRAM capacity of DDR5 RAM can be as high as 32 GB. On the other hand, the DRAM capacity of a DDR4 RAM is limited to 16 GB within the same package.

7. Support features

The DDR5 RAM comes with better and more useful support features in comparison to a DDR4 RAM.

It will support ETM or Error Transparency Mode, on-die Error Correction Codes, read and write CRC model and post package repairs.

All these support features will enhance the capacity of the DRAM.

8. Scalability

The architecture and design of the DDR5 RAM helps it to scale up to 6,400 MT per second.

This means that with the given memory bandwidth, the DDR5 RAM will help you to meet your need for speed, which is more often than not, insatiable.

If you use a DDR4 RAM, the speed of the DIMM will be restricted to 3,200 Mega Transfers per second, or MT/s, in short, and within a clock rate of 1.6 GHz.

The DDR5 RAM will actually start performing right from there and double the data transfer rate of a DDR4 RAM.

The Cons

9. Design challenges

Though it has nothing to do with the users, the designers of the DDR5 RAM faced significant challenges while developing it.

There are lots of considerations to be made regarding lower voltage and power usage, higher speed requirements, and enhancing the signal integrity.

10. Motherboards and DIMMs

For the DDR5 RAM to function as it should, it is needed to make sure that the DIMMs and the motherboard both have the capability to handle such high speed of data transfer and signal speed.

A proper check needs to be made on the signal integrity at different locations of the DRAM while performing specific tasks such as simulations at the system level.

11. The DQ bus

The designers also needed to focus on the lower speed CA or Command Address along with the signal integrity on the DQ rate that comes with a dual data rate.

This is opposed to the DDR4 RAM where the dual data rate DQ bus was the primary and only concern for the designers.

12. Signal reception

The quality of signal reception of the DDR5 RAM is much better but it depends both on the DQ data channel’s DFE or Differential Feedback Equalization as well as the ability of the Command Address bus receivers of the RCD.

Once again, in comparison, the DDR4 signal strength and integrity will majorly depend on the DFE only.

13. Power delivery network

PDN or the Power Delivery Network is an important part of the motherboard. It is as important as the PMIC in the DIMM.

It is needed to ensure that the PDN can successfully handle the higher clock speed, greater data transfer rates, and the load to ensure a better, higher and more consistent signal integrity.

This is possible when the DIMMs have a cleaner, more stable and better power supply.

14. EMI and EMC

Finally, the performance of the DDR5 RAM will depend on the performance of the DIMM connectors to the motherboard.

This must be able to handle the new data rates and clock rates effectively and efficiently.

Therefore, it is required to assure that the PCB or Printed Circuit Board is designed according to the desired EMI or Electromagnetic Interference and EMC or Electromagnetic Compatibility.

The Final Thought

In spite of the considerations needed to be made by the designers, there are no serious drawbacks of the DDR5 RAM.

Therefore, it can be concluded that it is worth using it in your rig for a better and faster clock speed and data rate.