DDR5 is on the way! We shouldn’t have to wait too long to see next-generation DDR5 system memory land in systems, according to Samsung. Whether those will be gaming systems we’ll have to wait and see what Intel and AMD have in store. But there’s still plenty to be excited about right now as the memory manufacturing giant sets up its fabs for volume production of DDR5 in 2021.
The news comes straight from Samsung, who’s just announced its first EUV-based DRAM, D1x. These new DDR4 chips will act as precursor to further EUV-based DDR5 products next year, including those intended for use within mobiles, servers, datacentres, and, you guessed it, PCs.
DDR5 will double the available data rates of DDR4, which is currently in service across most gaming PCs built in the latter half of the 2010s. The standard set out by its governing body, JEDEC, also outlines a rather spectacular density increase per chip, meaning chipmakers will be able to squeeze a lot more memory into a much smaller footprint when DDR5 arrives.
As for EUV, or Extreme Ultraviolet lithography, this is a lithographic technology that allows for a reduction in silicon manufacturing complexity. In theory, it allows chip manufacturers of all shapes and sizes—including those that produce CPUs and GPUs—to simplify the entire lithographic process by using shorter wavelengths of light. Sounds great, but it also costs a heap and no one has quite managed to figure out that whole ‘profitability’ thing.
But it’s starting to look like some major silicon players are getting to grips with the new technology. TSMC, who produce Nvidia’s Turing GPUs and AMD’s entire 7nm lineup, already make some chips on the EUV-based 7nm+ node—but none that matter to us PC gamers. AMD appears to be looking towards the enhanced 7nm node for Zen 3 and RDNA 2.0, which relies on the traditional DUV, or deep ultraviolet, method instead.
The latest leaks regarding Intel’s plans for 2021 currently show it committing to the DDR4 status quo with its next-(next-)gen Intel Rocket Lake CPUs. However, AMD’s future Zen processors could pick up the next-gen memory standard first. Either way, we don’t expect gaming PCs to be at the forefront of DDR5 adoption. Boo.
Micron, a US-based memory manufacturer, is already sampling its next-gen DDR5 registered DIMMs (RDIMMs). These are not for the likes of you and me either—rather these are intended for whopping server racks—but it’s touting a 1.85x performance increase with DDR5 over DDR4, and that’s a convincing glimpse of what’s to come in PC gaming’s future.
Samsung’s “4th-gen 10nm-class (1a) EUV-based 16Gb DDR5/LPDDR5” (phew) memory will hit mass production sometime in 2021. If Samsung expects growing demand for DDR5, we’re sure to see the entire computing industry shifting in line with its expectations. Hopefully PC gaming won’t trail too far behind, either.