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DDR4 vs DDR5 RAM: Should You Consider the Upgrade?

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ddr4 vs ddr5

Ever since the start of the internet revolution, RAM has been an important topic of discussion. Since RAM is essential for the overall server performance, server administrators pay special attention to technology and the amount of RAM available to the system.

The most recent topic in this discussion is DDR4 vs DDR5.

Everyone wants to know which model is the best and where they should put their money now that the most recent version is available.

In this article, we’ll go into the details of the two models. The idea is to assist you in determining which RAM is the best fit for your system.

Let’s start with the definitions.

  1. What is DDR5 RAM?
  2. DDR5 RAM Features
      1. Greater Speed & Performance
      2. Lower Power Consumption
      3. PMIC Improves DDR5 Power Consumption Profile
      4. SPD Hub
  3. What is DDR4 RAM?
  4. Features of DDR4 RAM
    1. Increased Bandwidth
    2. Lower Power Consumption
    3. Increased Capacity
    4. Error-Correcting Code (ECC)
  5. Why DDR5 RAM?
  6. Why DDR5 is a Good Fit For Emerging Technologies
    1. Enhanced Memory Capacity
    2. Increased Bandwidth
    3. Low Voltage Requirements
    4. New Power Architecture
    5. Updated Channel Architecture
    6. Longer Burst Length
  7. Major Differences Between DDR5 and DDR4
  8. DDR4 vs DDR5: Should you upgrade?
  9. Conclusion

What is DDR5 RAM?

DDR5 memory chips were designed to improve signal integrity for the command and address signals transferred from the host memory controller to the DIMMs, especially after the advent of Intel’s 12th Generation Core CPUs (lead by the Core i9-12900K) and related Z690-chipset motherboards.

The major goal for DDR5 is to increase RAM’s capacity and performance while lowering power consumption.

The DDR5’s performance gain is mostly driven by greater memory bandwidth, as opposed to prior memory technologies, which were primarily driven by applications for mobile devices and data centers.

As such, DDR5 provides more features for faster performance, less power usage, and better data integrity.

DDR5 RAM Features

In a nutshell, DDR5 is better than DDR4 RAM in terms of performance and capacity. However, the following are some characteristics that set DDR5 RAM apart:

Greater Speed & Performance

The maximum speed of DDR4 is 3200 MT/s, while the initial speed of DDR5 is 4800 MT/s. Because of this, DDR5 offers 50% more bandwidth than DDR4. As the technology matures, this performance is expected to rise to 6400MT/s.

Lower Power Consumption

When equivalent DDR4 and DDR5 components were compared at a standard 1V and 2V, DDR5 consumed about 20% less power. While it might not look much, it’s important for the operating costs of enterprise servers that operate around the clock. For these servers, 20% less power consumption is a significant saving.

PMIC Improves DDR5 Power Consumption Profile

PMICs are integrated circuits for power management found in DDR5 modules. They are important for regulating the power consumption of the memory module’s numerous components (DRAM, register, SPD hub, etc.).

For server-class modules, the PMIC uses a voltage of 12V, while PC-class modules use a voltage of 5V.

As a result, there is better power distribution, improved signal integrity, and less noise than previous generations.

SPD Hub

DDR5 divides the 64-bit data bandwidth of the memory module into two distinct 32-bit addressable subchannels. This increases performance and lower data access latencies for the memory controller.

Server-class memory (RDIMMs) adds an extra 8 bits to support ECC for each subchannel for dual-rank modules with 40 bits per subchannel or 80 bits per rank with 32-bit subchannels.

The external controller access control, decoupling memory load from the external environment, and Serial Presence Detect (SPD) EEPROM management are all handled by a new device in DDR5.

What is DDR4 RAM?

DDR SDRAM 4 was introduced after DDR3 was deemed to hit the performance and bandwidth limits.
DDR4 RAM outperforms DDR3 RAM in terms of performance, power efficiency, higher DIMM capacities, and data integrity.

Compared to DDR3L (DDR3 Low Voltage), DDR4L (DDR4 Low Voltage) delivers up to 50% more performance and bandwidth while consuming less power.

In terms of speed per pin, DDR4 can exceed 2Gbps, a significant advancement over earlier memory technologies, with potential power savings of up to 40%.

  • Additional benefits include
  • Better affordability 
  • More environmentally friendly computing 
  • Better signal integrity 
  • Cyclic redundancy checks (CRC) for increased data dependability 
  • On-chip parity detection for integrity verification of “command and address” transfers over a link

Features of DDR4 RAM

DDR4 offers a host of benefits, including:

Increased Bandwidth

DDR4 has a faster speed and starts at 2133MHz, a higher frequency than DDR3. It might go well beyond 3200MHz with planned speed increases. As a result, users can work more quickly and efficiently.

Lower Power Consumption

By using up to 40% less energy than DDR3, DDR4 is more energy-efficient. DDR4 RAM operates at 1.2V instead of DDR3 RAM, which needs 1.5V to function. As a result, overall, the system uses less power, resulting in more efficient and cost-effective operations.

Increased Capacity

Users can fit more data on fewer chips, thanks to DDR4 RAM’s capacity, which is up to four times more than that of DDR3 RAM.

Single memory modules with capacities as great as 512GB might be practical because of the DDR4’s support for higher-density chips and stacking technologies.

Error-Correcting Code (ECC)

The built-in error-correcting code of DDR4 RAM detects and corrects data errors prior to being written to or read from the memory module. This lessens data loss caused by mistakes in data.

Why DDR5 RAM?

Here’s why this is an important question in the DDR4 vs DDR5 debate.

Before the release of DDR5 in November 2021, DDR4 RAM was the fastest RAM technology, with a maximum memory capacity of 16 GB per RAM chip, data transfer rates of about 3 Gb/s, and power consumption of 1.2V.

However, DDR4 seemed to be struggling with the latest developments in video streaming and conferencing, online gaming, data analytics, and AI/ML apps.

Due to the transition of workloads from on-site servers to the cloud, hyperscale data centers are now where data is processed and stored.

DDR5 RAM offers noticeable server performance gains in response to these exciting challenges.

Why DDR5 is a Good Fit For Emerging Technologies

DDR5 RAM offers a host of features that makes it great for hardware platforms for emerging technologies. In particular

Enhanced Memory Capacity

DDR4 RAM chips have a memory capacity range of 2 to 16 GB. In contrast, DDR5 RAM chips have a memory capacity range of 8 to 64 GB.

Increased Bandwidth

DDR5 offers at least a 50% increase in bandwidth over DDR4, which has a minimum data transfer speed of 4.8 Gb/s.

Low Voltage Requirements

DDR5 needs much less power than DDR4. This also means DDR5 produces less heat, with a predictable impact on server performance.

New Power Architecture

With DDR5, power management is moved from the motherboard to the DIMM. These new DIMMs contain a 12V power management integrated circuit (PMIC), which reduces signal integrity and noise problems and the margin of loss caused by a lower operating voltage.

Updated Channel Architecture

DDR5 DIMMs have two channels, each of which is 40 bits wide and made up of 32 data bits and 8 ECC bits. This results in improved memory efficiency.

Longer Burst Length

DDR4 has an 8-bit burst length and a 4-bit burst chop, whereas DDR5 has an 8-bit burst length and a 16-bit burst chop.

Burst chop refers to the amount of data that is only partially transferred; burst length is the total volume of data transferred in a cycle. Increased concurrency and memory efficiency are benefits of both burst length and burst chop.

Major Differences Between DDR5 and DDR4

The following table summarizes the differences between DDR5 and DDR4. Note that this table presents the most important points in the DDR4 vs DDR5 discussion.

specification DDR5 DDR4
Color of PCB Black Green
Density of Components 8GB/16GB 8GB/16GB-8GB/16GB-16GB
System Bandwidth 69.2 GB/s 33.6 GB/s
Voltage 1.1V 1.2V
Latency 92.8 ns 90.0 ns
Speed 5600MT/s 3200 MT/s
Power Management On-module On-motherboard
Refresh Rate 75% of the banks are accessible during the refresh Nothing is available during the refresh

DDR4-vs-DDR5-Should-you-upgrade

Depending on your needs and your computer type, you can upgrade from DDR4 RAM to DDR5 RAM.

Here’s our take on the topic.

DDR5 RAM is the most recent RAM technology and has many advantages over DDR4 RAM. Upgrading to DDR5 RAM may be advantageous if you are an avid gamer or a professional who requires additional data storage options for work.

DDR5 RAM has more capacity, lower latency, and faster data transfer rates than DDR4 RAM. In addition, it uses less energy and generates less heat.

However, the high cost of DDR5 RAM may make the switch costly, especially when the benefits aren’t worth the expenses.

Examining your system’s performance (best for AMD processors) and determining whether you need the additional performance that DDR5 RAM may provide are the best questions that help you decide whether to upgrade.

Conclusion

Anyone looking for their PC to run at its best should carefully weigh the distinctions mentioned in the DDR4 vs DDR5 debates.

Although DDR4 RAM has excellent performance and stability, DDR5 RAM is the obvious choice for those seeking the best experience because it has the potential to deliver even more performance. Ultimately, the choice between DDR4 and DDR5 RAM depends on the user’s requirements, financial constraints, and available hardware.

FAQ’s

Q. Does DDR5 RAM improve performance?

DDR5 offers significant performance advantages over DDR4 and related technologies. These benefits include better performance during continuous operations, higher bandwidth for data transfers, and better power management.

Q. What is the advantage of DDR5?

DDR5 comes with higher memory bandwidth, higher densities, and improved power management that provides better power efficiency. All these benefits, plus more, position DDR5 as the next-gen RAM technology for servers and other computing devices.

Q. What happens if you put DDR4 in a DDR5 socket?

To be clear, DDR5 is not backward compatible with DDR4 because it uses a different DIMM slot. DDR4 and DDR5 Alder Lake motherboards will be available, but you must decide which memory type you want to use.

Q. Can DDR4 and DDR5 work together?

Since motherboards can only support one type of memory, you cannot mix and match SDRAM, DDR, DDR2, DDR3, DDR4, or DDR5 memory on the same motherboard.

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