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.