JEDEC Releases DDR5 Standards—And the Push for Widespread DDR5 Adoption is On
The new DDR5 standards may revolutionize the modern data center.
With the demand for more cloud computing and data center processing comes the demand for hardware with faster performance and lower power consumption. In response, JEDEC has been improving DDR4 for years with the hopes that DDR5 would cater to these requirements.
DIMM DDR4 RAM cards. Image used courtesy Sierra Circuits
This work finally came to fruition last week, when JEDEC finally released the DDR5 standard.
DDR5 vs. DDR4
DDR5 offers significant improvements over DDR4, namely with respect to power consumption and speed.
In AAC contributor Antonio Anzaldua Jr.'s article on the DDR5 revolution, he explains that DDR5 offers more than double the frequency of DDR4 with a max frequency of 8400 Mbps compared to 3200 Mbps.
On top of this, the technology is implemented using a 1.1 V VDD, as opposed to 1.2 V for DDR4. Reliably scaling the supply voltage allows for lower dynamic power consumption, making DDR5 more power-efficient than DDR4.
DDR generation comparisons. Image used courtesy of Ryan Smith
Furthermore, DDR5 offers a significantly higher density than DDR4. The new standard has a maximum die density of 64 Gbits compared to DDR4’s 16 Gbits. Rishi Chugh, Cadence's VP of product marketing for the company's IP group, is quoted saying, “DDR5 is primarily about density, making it particularly well-suited for enterprise, cloud and big data applications.”
What Do the New JEDEC Standards Say About DDR5?
Along with boasting these impressive specs, DDR5 also offers a variety of new features.
One of the most notable new features for DDR5 is Decision Feedback Equalization (DFE), which serves to enable IO speed scalability for higher bandwidth and improved performance. DFE is a method to compensate for noise in a high-speed signal by feeding back the detected signal (1 or 0) after weighting it. In this way, DDR5 offers higher reliability, allowing it to scale more easily.
Example DFE block diagram. Image from Teledyne Lecroy
DDR5 also offers a fine-grain refresh feature dubbed “same bank refresh.” This feature contrasts with all bank refresh, which temporarily incapacitates all banks and degrades performance. Same bank refresh, on the other hand, offers the ability to refresh in one part of the die while other parts are in use.
Companies Push for Widespread DDR5 Adoption
In response to the news of JEDEC's DDR5 standards, Micron announced its Technology Enable Program to help drive DDR5 adoption. With assistance from companies like Cadence, Montage, Rambus, Renesas, and Synopsys, Micron hopes to bring DDR5 to the mainstream as fast as possible.
Enrolling in the program provides members with DDR5 components and modules, new DDR5 products, technical documents (such as datasheets), and access to other ecosystem partners who can aid in chip- and system-level design.
Comparison of Micron's DDR4 to DDR5. Screenshot used courtesy of Micron
According to Micron, “The Technology Enablement Program will aid in the design, development, and qualification of next-generation computing platforms that use DDR5, the most technologically advanced DRAM available.”
The Future of Memory
The release of the DDR5 standard represents a significant accomplishment. Offering higher speeds, greater density, and lower power consumption, DDR5 looks like a promising technology to meet growing data center and cloud-based demands.
While you’re likely to first see DDR5 memory employed in data centers and high-end gaming PCs, it shouldn’t be long before it finds its way into everyday devices.