Memory Vendor Hints at DDR5-10000 DIMMs
Netac, a Chinese memory manufacturer, is teasing the idea of DDR5-10000 DIMMs. That’d be a substantial step upwards from what we’ve seen to date from DDR5. Right now, the standard is expected to debut at DDR5-4800, with plans to scale to DDR5-6400. Some companies have even talked about DDR5-8400. DDR5-10000? That’s pretty nuts.
Netac only entered the memory industry in 2018 and it’s just received its first shipment of Micron DDR5 modules (engineering sample Z9ZSB, manufactured on Micron’s 1z process node, at 40-40-40). The company mentions working on DDR5-10000, but doesn’t give any details on when it might ship units. Netac doesn’t build its own DDR memory; it buys chips from other vendors, Micron in this case.
Could a manufacturer hit these clocks any time soon? It’s unclear. DDR4 has proven to be fairly adept at hitting higher clocks, but Netac is talking about tripling the bandwidth of widely available DDR4-3200, and that’s a hell of a jump. According to Micron, DDR5 should deliver a 1.36x improvement in bandwidth at the same clock as DDR4. Throw on the speed increase to DDR5-4800, and the company claims a 1.87x increase in effective memory bandwidth.
As for whether or not manufacturers can find a use for it, I’d wager that they could. While RAM latencies tend to decrease very slowly, memory bandwidth has proven historically easier to improve. A dual-channel DDR5-10K system would provide 160GB/s of memory bandwidth, easily outstripping a quad-channel Threadripper running at DDR4-3600. A single-channel DDR5 interface would also provide more bandwidth than any of the desktop dual-channel interfaces available today.
Whether the company can actually ship the hardware, of course, is the relevant question. It’s not impossible. I once picked up some specialty SDRAM, built with BGA technology, that was capable of hitting 195MHz at a time when standard SDRAM was selling at 133MHz. That’s a 1.46x gap, compared with just 1.19x between the DDR5-8400 we’ve already heard manufacturers claim they’ll be able to build (DDR4-8400) and the idea of DDR5-10000.
195MHz, incidentally, was fast enough to beat first-generation DDR motherboards using DDR266 memory. Later motherboard chipsets improved DDR performance enough that DDR266 pulled ahead of my own system, but that Tonicom-powered KT133A remains one of my favorite custom builds I’ve ever done.
It looks as though DDR5 is being positioned to provide a genuine performance uplift to PCs at launch. In the past, RAM transitions haven’t typically boosted performance much. JEDEC historically introduced new RAM speeds at the top clock of their predecessors or just one notch above it. The gap between DDR3-2133 and DDR4-2400 wasn’t large enough to show performance differences in most applications. This time around, even customers with DDR4-3600 will see a 1.33x improvement in memory bandwidth from DDR4-4800. AMD and Intel design their chips to put as little pressure on the memory bus as possible, but expanding core counts make the need for higher memory bandwidth inevitable. Thanks to PC Gamer for noticing the note.