What We Know About DDR5 So Far

Double Data Rate 5 (DDR5) is the next-generation standard for random-access memory (RAM). The new specification promises to bring chips that have much higher performance than the existing DDR4 modules, as well as lower power consumption. But what does that mean for desktop PCs? Let's take a look at what we know so far.

DDR5 Performance

DDR5 designs promise to arrive on the market with double the density as well as double the performance of the first-generation DDR4 modules. 

Image Credits: David Schor / WikiChip

DDR5-3200 RAM will see an increase of 1.36x in bandwidth compared to DDR4-3200. However, DRAM chips are expected to ship with a bandwidth of 4800MT/s, or 1.87x that of DDR4-3200 RAM. The official upper limit for the DDR5 RAM standard is 6400MT/s, but some designs may be able to push that further through overclocking.

Memory TypeRelease YearBandwidthPins per ChVoltage (V)Prefetch
SDR19931.6 GB/s1683.31n
DDR20003.2 GB/s1842.5/2.62n
DDR220038.5 GB/s2401.84n
DDR3200717 GB/s2401.35/1.58n
DDR4201425.6 GB/s3801.28n
DDR5201932GB/s3801.18/16n
HBM22016307 GB/s28601.25/1.3516n
GDDR62016
72 GB/s1801.3516n

SK Hynix has been working on DDR5 modules that can deliver 16Gb (2GB) capacity per chip. The company lowered voltage from 1.2V to 1.1V, which combined with the usage of its 1Ynm process, reduced power consumption compared to the company’s DDR4 modules. The module offers up to 6.4Gb/s of throughput for each pin.

Other benefits of DDR5 RAM include two independent 40-bit channels per module, improved command bus efficiency, improved refresh schemes and an increased bank group for additional performance.

First DDR5 Products to Ship In 2019

In March 2017, JEDEC, the group developing the DDR standard as well as other memory and storage standards, announced that it would release the DDR5 specification in 2018. In November 2018, SK Hynix announced the world’s first DDR5-compliant RAM module, which the company initially said would arrive in 2020. Credit: TechInsightsCredit: TechInsights

However, since then SK Hynix has said that it will release a DDR5 module by the end of 2019. Samsung and Micron have also previously said they would release DDR5 memory modules, but those may not be fully standard-compliant. Credit: MicronCredit: Micron

SK Hynix predicted that DDR5 module sales would represent 25% of the RAM market in 2020 and 44% in 2021. The adoption of DDR5 RAM may be even faster in the mobile and data center markets. Smartphone makers (including Samsung) will want to outclass the competition with faster DDR5 LPDRAM, while data center customers will be seeking to satisfy their ever-increasing bandwidth needs. Meanwhile, we're still waiting for word on a firm arrival date for DDR5 for desktop PC, but this will likely hinge on AMD and Intel offering support on mainstream motherboards. Unfortunately, there have been no signs of DDR5 enablement from either company yet. 

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7 comments
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  • TJ Hooker
    Quote:
    DDR5-3200 RAM will see an increase of 1.36x in bandwidth compared to DDR4-3200. However, DRAM chips are expected to ship with a bandwidth of 4800MT/s, or 1.87x that of DDR4-3200 RAM. [...] The DDR5 RAM chips are expected to start at 4800MT/s, which would be a 1.87x increase in bandwidth compared to DDR4-3200 RAM. The DDR5 standard has an official limit of 6400MT/s, but we may see some memory companies push that further.

    All other information I've seen indicates that the only source of increased bandwidth for DDR5 is from increased transfer rate, such that if DDR5 and DDR4 were running at same speed they'd have the same bandwidth. As has been the case going back all the way to the original DDR SDRAM. Is there just lots of typos/bad math in this article, or is there some other factor increasing the bandwidth of DDR5 compared to DDR4 other than transfer rate?
  • XaveT
    <nit-picky>
    The article has some repeated text, can we get a bit of a clean-up? I only mention it because it was distracting trying to read through it.
    </nit-picky>
  • Xajel
    Quote:
    All other information I've seen indicates that the only source of increased bandwidth for DDR5 is from increased transfer rate, such that if DDR5 and DDR4 were running at same speed they'd have the same bandwidth. As has been the case going back all the way to the original DDR SDRAM. Is there just lots of typos/bad math in this article, or is there some other factor increasing the bandwidth of DDR5 compared to DDR4 other than transfer rate?


    DDR5 is rumoured to have 16n prefetch mode, which if it happens means at the same clock DDR5 should be twice as fast as DDR4.

    It's the same as what DDR3 brought compared to DDR2 which also doubled it compared to DDR.

    DDR3 and DDR4 both had 8n prefetch, DDR5 is still unconfirmed, some says it has 8n like DDR3 & 4. While some says it has 16n, like GDDR5 & HBM2.