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DDR5 Memory Shortage Intensifies, Power Management Chips to Blame

G.Skill
(Image credit: G.Skill)

The arrival of DDR5 memory came with the Alder Lake chips that lead our Best CPU for gaming list, but while the new memory has been on the market for about a month and has sold at premium prices, it is increasingly hard to come by thanks to the same problem plaguing the PC market for over a year now: short supply of key componentry.  

The main reason DDR5 memory sticks aren't available boils down to an insufficient supply of power management ICs (PMICs) that are now installed on memory modules, according to 12chip.com. Notably, DDR5 modules are the first generation of DDR memory that brings the PMICs on-module.

We've followed up with our own industry contacts, who have verified that PMICs are currently at the heart of the issue. That means that DDR5 memory dies aren't the primary bottleneck.

Virtually all of the major memory brands have introduced their DDR5 memory modules and many even began to sell them at retailers like Amazon and Newegg. However, it is close to impossible to find DDR5 DIMMs that are readily available — most are out of stock. Even Corsair, which has its own store that sells modules directly to end-users, does not have DDR5 modules in stock in either the U.S. or in Europe.

There aren't a lot of PMIC suppliers. The only PMICs validated by Intel are those from Renesas. In addition, Samsung has PMICs for its own modules. Other vendors that offer DDR5 PMICs include IDT, Montage Technologies, and Texas Instruments. Meanwhile, all of these companies (except, perhaps, Samsung and Renesas) have yet to ramp up the mass production of DDR5 PMICs, so lead times have extended, culminating in a shortage. 

Because of the short supply, these PMICs are expensive. 12chip.com claims that they can be as much as 10 times more expensive than PMICs used for DDR4 memory subsystems. Furthermore, the procurement cycle is over 35 weeks long, suggesting we won't see a quick resolution to the issue.  

  • kerberos_20
    is there even demand for DDR5?
    Reply
  • ikjadoon
    kerberos_20 said:
    is there even demand for DDR5?

    Today, the same consumers buying obscene $500+ motherboards. Is there even demand for those? Somehow, large enough quantities to justify a dedicated SKU. It's like the first Blu-ray players that cost $1000: the bleeding edge is always ready to cut wallets.

    In the enterprise / datacenter: yes and likely the dominant market per bits in 2021. Intel's newest Xeons, Sapphire Rapids (Golden Cove cores / Alder Lake P-cores), use DDR5 exclusively . The first "customer-ready" shipments are this month and next. Sapphire Rapids is incompatible with DDR4, so sustained demand for DDR5 is already here.



    Everyone is moving to DDR5: AMD, Apple, Ampere, IBM Power10 mainframes, etc. It's the next DDR revision: any supply chain & inventory investment now is welcome. It's not like DDR4 will become more popular after 2021.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    kerberos_20 said:
    is there even demand for DDR5?

    The "Enthusiast" segment who have to have everything that's brand new, but I imagine a good number of the people buying it are simply people looking to scalp. If you want a laugh look at all the "Sold" listings for DDR5 on eBay.
    Reply
  • kerberos_20
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    The "Enthusiast" segment who have to have everything that's brand new, but I imagine a good number of the people buying it are simply people looking to scalp. If you want a laugh look at all the "Sold" listings for DDR5 on eBay.
    ill just patiently wait :)
    as for me with DDR version transitions, when i was on DDR1, it used to run overclocked at 750MHz CL3, which was way faster than any DDR2 (bandwith x latency)..and it was even catching DDR3 in sisoft sandra back then, so i essentialy skipped DDR2, then i moved to DDR3 once it got some reasonable performance (2000MHz CL9)
    looking at DDR4 vs DDR5 performance diff...no big diff atm so no rush :)
    but that swap will be..maby 1-2 years from now when memory controllers would be tunned better, ram is the only thing which i buy only one time, while rest of computer keeps changing
    Reply
  • hannibal
    Yeah... No hurry to move to ddr5. It will get cheaper and faster in two three years. In the meantime... quite meh, unless you use very specific applications and you use those at work!
    Reply
  • Astralv
    Can DDR4 be used with 12th generation CPUs?
    Reply
  • Phaaze88
    Astralv said:
    Can DDR4 be used with 12th generation CPUs?
    Yes, but you need to purchase a DDR4-specific 600 series mobo, like these: https://pcpartpicker.com/products/motherboard/#L=4DDR4 and R5 are physically different, so aren't interchangeable on the same board.
    Reply
  • Astralv
    Phaaze88 said:
    Yes, but you need to purchase a DDR4-specific 600 series mobo, like these: https://pcpartpicker.com/products/motherboard/#L=4DDR4 and R5 are physically different, so aren't interchangeable on the same board.
    I am planning to use it with Asus Proart because I need Thunderbolt, both actually not available. I have all my other parts sitting here, even mounting kit for CPU cooler came. I have I9 Intel CPU, so obviously I wanted DDR 5, but if it not going to become available any time soon... Thank you.
    Reply