DDR4 Makes Headway Even with DDR5 Modules on Its Heels

September 18, 2020 by Antonio Anzaldua Jr.

With no definitive release date for DDR5, DDR4 is making significant strides.

With many Americans now working, schooling, and relaxing from home, the average PC is taking a beating in data transfer, memory, and power consumption.

Early this summer, companies such as Micron and Samsung announced a huge leap in memory with DDR5 in the works. Even though the new edition seems within our grasps, there is still some time until current PCs and servers are designed for DDR5 compatibility.

In the meantime, to help slow the demand curve for faster data rates, DDR4 has been upgraded with higher density, faster speed, and quicker responsiveness. Here are a few recent strides in DDR4 to keep memory on its A-game. 


Micron Gears Up for Gaming

Micron’s global consumer brand of computer memory and storage, Micron Crucial, has recently announced a limited edition Crucial Ballistix MAX 5100 gaming DRAM. This memory device is a part of the Crucial Ballistix product portfolio purpose-built for gamers. 


Crucial provides customizable DRAM modules along with an aluminum heat spreader that provides maximum heat dissipation

Crucial provides customizable DRAM modules along with an aluminum heat spreader that provides maximum heat dissipation. Image used courtesy of Crucial by Micron


This DRAM module can transfer data at 5,100 MT/s (megatransfers per second), which far exceeds the industry-standard speed of 3,200 MT/s.

Teresa Kelley, Micron's VP and general manager of consumer products, described how far Micron has come in regards to DDR4: “We were the first to launch DDR4, the first to put LEDs on gaming DRAM, and now our latest Crucial Ballistix memory is giving gamers a sharper edge by enabling higher frame rates and better system performance.” 


SMART Modular Technologies Unveils NVDIMMs

Another player in DDR4 advancements is SMART Modular Technologies. The developer in memory modules, solid-state storage products, and hybrid solutions recently shared news of high-density, non-volatile dual in-line memory modules (NVDIMMs). The modules are available in 16 GB and 32 GB editions. These modules will run at DDR4 3,200 speeds. 

The NVDIMMs are crucial for high volumes of sensitive data transfer because in the case of a power outage or a removed electrical input, it will hold all data until power is restored. Micron's VP of marketing for the company's compute and networking business, Malcolm Humphrey, explains that the memory module was designed for dynamic environments. 


SMART’s memory module

SMART’s memory module will have a high-density of 32 GB, allowing more chips to be incorporated as well as more signals to transfer. Image used courtesy of SMART Modular Technologies


"Enterprises that need resilient memory and storage to ensure constant availability of mission-critical information will benefit from SMART's NVDIMMs," he explains.

SMART’s device will be incorporating Micron’s DDR4 DRAM technology along with in-house manufactured high-speed PCB designs that can operate with unlimited write endurance.


A New Player, Lexar, Speeds Data Rates

Lexar is a company known for its SSD cards, flash drives, memory cards, and card readers. Each technology has its own dedicated quality assurance lab, allowing extensive testing prior to launching a new device. Lexar has joined the initiative to meet the demand curve for faster data rates, larger bandwidth, and lower power consumption.

The company's two new DRAM memory modules provide high-level performance that will boost the speed of home PCs. The Lexar DDR4-2666 SODIMM Laptop Memory and Lexar DDR4-2666 UDIMM Desktop Memory is said to operate at 1.2 V and offer speeds of 2,666 MT/s.

Even with other manufacturers, like Micron, creating the ultimate gaming experience with speeds of 5,100 MT/s, Lexar is targeting the current work-from-homers, students, and teachers.


The new Lexar desktop and laptop memories

The new Lexar desktop and laptop memories will operate at faster speeds than average home PCs, making it a useful option for working from home. Image used courtesy of Lexar


“While remote office and anywhere learning are on the rise, our goal is to continue offering products that deliver superior quality and performance so that you can build a Smart Workroom or a Smart Classroom for the best user experience,” stated Mick Chen, general manager of Lexar.

While Lexar is fairly new to the memory game, the company is establishing its presence in the race for faster data rates.


DDR4 Surges While DDR5 is Delayed

While the design specifications for DDR4 was originally 2 GB of memory and 1,600 MT/s memory speed, this peak has evolved to a 64 GB memory option with data speeds reaching 3,200 MT/s. Even though DDR5 will feature double the access memory and lower power consumption, the main attraction is the speed at which data will transfer.

By the looks of it, Micron is still improving its DDR4 with the Critical Ballistix at 6,666 MT/s. Still, when DDR5 is fully realized, predictions set it at speeds over 8,400 MT/s.


DDR5 is expected to be a huge leap ahead of DDR4

DDR5 is expected to be a huge leap ahead of DDR4 with lower power consumption, faster data transfer, and higher density for stronger signal processing. Image used courtesy of Micron Technology 


It may be some time before DDR5 rolls out—what with the launch date being delayed due to the current pandemic. But as companies like Micron, Lexar, and SMART Modular Technologies have shown, that's no reason to hold back advances in new DDR4 modules.