DDR5 is the latest memory standard to add luster to our gaming PCs. Intel’s 12th generation Alder Lake is the first consumer-grade desktop processor to support this standard. AMD is expected to emulate its Zen 4 architecture sometime in 2022, and in the new year, we should see low-power LPDDR5 also land on laptops.
Our first interview with Iwona Zalewska of Kingston Technology was about DDR5 at the end of October, just as the new memory standard is about to be released. Since then, the new memory standard has shown some strong performance on Intel’s Alder Lake, the first platform to support it. Although it has also become almost impossible to find in the wild.
But we still want to know whether it will bring benefits to PC gamers, why it costs so much, and when we can expect DDR5 to become the main memory technology in our devices.
PC Gamer: Is DDR5 good for gamers?
Ivona Zalevska: Compared with DDR4, DDR5 has made many improvements in performance and data integrity. The increase in memory speed (bandwidth) can help improve the user experience by increasing the number of FPS when playing certain games. The performance improvement will of course vary depending on the game you play. Some games rely more on CPU performance than GPU. In this case, faster memory is conducive to a better user experience.
Iwona Zalewska is the DRAM business manager of Kingston Technology and has been with Kingston for more than ten years.
Will the delay be improved?
DDR5 will start at the JEDEC standard speed, timing and voltage of 4800MT/s CL40 (CAS delay) 1.1v. If multiple DIMMs are installed in each channel, some system population rules may force memory frequency reduction. Please consult the motherboard or system manufacturer to confirm the supported memory speed. The next standard speed grade of DDR5 will be launched at a speed of 5200MT/s CL42 sometime in late 2022. Kingston’s FURY memory overclocking product line introduced two speed grades and lower latency to further improve performance. Additional speeds and lower latency will be announced in the coming months.
KF548C38BB-16-DDR5-4800-CL 38-38-38 @1.1V
KF552C40BB-16-DDR5-5200-CL 40-40-40 @1.25V
DDR5 is said to have lower power out of the box, but will we see it?
Although at JEDEC standard speeds, DDR5 memory uses less power than DDR4 (1.1V vs. 1.2V), XMP profiles (overclocking) still require additional power to run memory modules at higher speeds. The energy-saving effect of DDR5 is most obviously reflected in notebook computers and data centers.
Will we see higher capacity?
For PCs, there will be 8GB, 16GB and 32GB DIMMs using 16Gbit density DRAM. When the SODIMM platform is launched in 2022, their capacities will be the same at 8GB, 16GB and 32GB.
Is it good to be single-sided or double-sided?
Dual-rank (2R) memory modules have traditionally been better than single-rank (1R) modules because they can be interleaved. In other words, motherboards that switch the memory performance of 2R modules and/or modules installed in two DIMMs per channel may have performance limitations.
Will DDR5 have a premium over DDR4? When might there be a turning point?
As with the introduction of every memory technology, we can expect a premium for new memory. When DDR4 was introduced, it was about 30-40% more expensive than DDR3. When DDR5 was launched, the global chip shortage had affected all aspects of the semiconductor industry. The technology also requires more components per module, which increases the cost. Therefore, unfortunately, the market price difference between DDR5 modules and DDR4 will be higher than the market prices of previous generations of memory.
When do you expect DDR5 to become the main memory technology in gaming PCs?
Memory technology conversion is affected by a series of factors. The first is that the chipset architects promised to adopt new memory technologies that require them to be used when paired with processors.
The second is the relationship between supply and demand, or how fast DRAM and related DDR5 semiconductor suppliers can support market demand at a reasonable price. Historically, the transition occurred between 2-3 years after the introduction of the new memory technology, or when 30% of the market adopted the new technology.
Price parity and traditional memory availability will also be major factors. With the reduction of DRAM suppliers in the market today, the ability to support traditional memory technologies has diminished compared to a decade ago. When traditional memory is no longer available, consumers may be forced to use the new memory technology regardless of its higher price.
JEDEC is again cautious about the specifications, which means that gamers must use XMP profiles to get the most benefit from the latest memory sticks. Is there a better solution?
JEDEC, which is composed of all memory and memory-related suppliers, can be said to provide DDR5 that exceeds expectations. The bandwidth has jumped sharply from where DDR4 stopped at 3,200 MT/s, plus twice the memory bank (16 to 32) and burst length (8 to 16), the addressable bits are divided into two 32-bit sub-channels, plus With power management (PMIC), DDR5 will fundamentally improve the performance of multi-core computing in the next 5 to 10 years.
Overclocking is still Intel’s top priority. They revised the XMP specification to 3.0, which includes more configuration files and new features. Without an ecosystem of regulations and checks and balances, overclocking is like the Wild West, and no laws apply. For safe, reliable, and proven overclocking capabilities, configuration files are still the best solution for most gamers. For those who like wild life, XMP 3.0 now includes two programmable configuration files for users to customize settings and save them in the memory module.
We have already seen a kit rated at 6,400 MT/s. Is overclocking a big selling point of DDR5?
Improved performance is often the main reason why enthusiast PC users and gamers are willing to adopt the latest available technology. The launch of DDR5 and desktop motherboards and processor series is definitely Intel’s statement that for enthusiasts/gamers, overclocking is a natural assumption. The focus of Kingston’s launch of DDR5 is our FURY Beast memory product line. Since DDR5 components are new, it will take time for silicon to mature to see how far it can be pushed.
What is the difference with having on-chip ECC support?
The modules supported by on-chip ECC and conventional ECC are different. Although DDR5 DRAM components will use on-chip ECC to correct bit errors within the chip, this technology cannot correct errors that occur outside the chip or on the bus between the module in the CPU and the memory controller. Processors that support ECC (such as Intel Xeon) use the ECC algorithm, which can instantly correct single or multi-bit errors. However, additional DRAM bits must be available to perform this correction.
For DDR4, the memory module transfers 64 bits of data at a time. DDR4 modules supported by ECC have an additional 8 bits per 64 bits, also known as 72 bits or x72. DDR5 divides the memory module into two 32-bit addressable sub-channel areas to improve efficiency. To enable ECC, an additional 8-bit DRAM component is added to each 32-bit sub-channel to become 40 bits, and each column has a total of 80 bits instead of 72 bits.
Consumers with PCs and laptops will eventually get better data integrity through on-chip ECC, because as lithography shrinks and capacity and speed increase, the possibility of damage increases. For workstation and server users, ECC type modules are always necessary (ECC registration, ECC unbuffered, ECC load reduction). Compared with DDR4, the increase in the number of DRAMs required to enable DDR5 ECC-type modules will also increase costs.
What is the biggest obstacle to memory now?
The data doubles every two years, and the processor cores of each CPU also increase. However, the effective memory bandwidth of each core has not increased. DDR5 opens the gate to increase the bandwidth of each core by increasing the data rate, adding groups to allow access to more data, and dividing the module into two independent sub-channels. These provide higher efficiency in terms of data on the management module, so as to provide performance for the processor core anytime, anywhere.
If readers are to buy a new PC today, how much memory should they have in their system?
The benchmark for computer RAM is 4GB; just don’t expect to open multiple applications at the same time without affecting performance. The minimum installed capacity for most new PCs is 8GB. Mid-range configurations may require twice as much, while high-end gaming systems and workstations require up to 32GB or more. When evaluating memory requirements, please consider three things: the optimal memory configuration of the operating system, usage patterns, and hardware. You should also check the requirements of each program to ensure that you can run the required software.