Three years after the computer industry promised to double the speed of the world’s computer memory with the DDR5 spec, it’s finally nearly almost here. SK Hynix has officially announced the world’s first DDR5 memory modules. The company tells The Verge it expected to start selling them in Q3 2021, but they’re ready whenever systems can support them.
Here they are:
Currently, we’re looking at 32 or 64GB to a stick. Image: SK Hynix
SK Hynix claims this DRAM offers up to 5,600Mbps of raw bandwidth — not quite the maximum 6,400Mbps the DDR5 spec allows, but a full 1.8 times faster than standard DDR4, and all at a lower voltage of 1.1V instead of 1.2V, for what SK Hynix claims will be a 20 percent power savings. (Power consumption is measured in watts, not just volts, in case you’re wondering about that math.)
In practical terms, today’s announcement won’t mean much to your average computer builder or buyer, partially because RAM speed increases haven’t provided a big boost for normal apps and games in a while, and partially because it could be many months before you’ll be able to buy them, much less slot them into a system. Intel has announced it’ll be supporting DDR5 with future processors, but AMD hasn’t officially embraced DDR5 and may not until 2022.
But eventually, the capacity of DDR5 might catch your eye. As AnandTech points out, 128GB modules are likely, and 2TB server-grade modules aren’t out of the question.
Today’s announcement is more about proving that a company can actually build such a module and get other manufacturers involved in building an ecosystem around the tech. In this case, SK Hynix says companies like Synopsis, Renesys, Montage and Rambus are all signed on — not exactly the kinds of companies that bring RAM to us gadget lovers.
Which is basically also how DDR4 first rolled out. It took a while after the spec was first announced. Plus, JEDEC only managed to finalize the spec this July, a couple years behind schedule.
If you have the need for speed sooner, there’s always ridiculously expensive off-spec DDR4; you can already buy a pair of 5,100MHz sticks for ~$900, and try to overclock them to 5,600MHz.
Update 7:53PM ET: Added SK Hynix’s comment that it expects to commercialize the DDR5 modules in Q3 2021.