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DDR6 RAM: The next-gen memory standard, explained

RAMImage: G.Skill

The DDR5 memory standard, which was officially finalized in July 2020 with AMD Ryzen 7000 (“Raphael”) and Intel Core 13000 (“Alder Lake”), only really started to slowly replace its DDR4 predecessor in the desktop over the past two years, but the upcoming DDR6 memory is already knocking on the door.

What can we expect from the new DDR6 memory standard — and what reliable information do we already have? We’ll tell you and provide you with sound background knowledge on the next generation of RAM in PCs, servers, and notebooks.

Further reading: Should you upgrade your RAM? 5 things to consider

DDR6 should achieve up to 12,800 MT/s+

Samsung spoke about DDR6 and its evolutionary stage DDR6+ at the Tech Day 2021 and revealed many interesting details about the upcoming memory standard.

If we take the speeds officially approved by JEDEC as a benchmark, the maximum data rate was doubled from 3,400 MT/s to up to 6,400 MT/s with the introduction of DDR5 compared to DDR4. Samsung is forecasting a similar increase for DDR6, which will operate at up to 12,800 MT/s as DDR6-12800.

It should be noted that these are only the official standard speeds specified by JEDEC, which could be far exceeded by overclocked (OC) modules.

Memory sticks with strictly selected memory modules (“ICs”) should therefore be able to achieve DDR6-16800 with up to 16,800 MT/s as OC modules.

The development of the DDR memory standards would then be as follows in terms of pure memory speed:

JEDEC standard OC modules

DDRup to 400 MT/sup to 533 MT/sDDR2up to 1,066 MT/sup to 1,333 MT/sDDR3up to 2,133 MT/sup to 2,666 MT/sDDR4up to 3,200 MT/sup to 5,333 MT/sDDR5up to 6,400 MT/sup to 8,4000 MT/sDDR6*up to 12,800 MT/sup to 16,800 MT/s

*) not officially confirmed.

Due to the significantly higher memory speed associated with the change from DDR5 to DDR6, the memory bandwidth also increases noticeably.

DDR6 has four memory channels

The number of memory channels per module is set to increase to four with DDR6, doubling again compared to DDR5. The number of memory banks also increases by a factor of two to 64, which in turn means a fourfold increase compared to DDR4.

In a cross-generational comparison of memory bandwidth, DDR6 would once again increase significantly:

DDR up to 3.2 GB/sDDR2 up to 8.5 GB/sDDR3 up to 17.0 GB/sDDR4 up to 28.8 GB/sDDR5 up to 67.2 GB/sDDR6 up to 134.4 GB/s+

As things stand, it can therefore be assumed that the fastest DDR6 memory modules will be able to provide at least 134.4GB/s of memory bandwidth, with OC modules delivering significantly more memory throughput per second.

More functions, less voltage

As with the switch from DDR4 to DDR5, the feature set of the new memory generation will once again be significantly expanded. All relevant DRAM chip manufacturers, such as Samsung, Micron, Nanya, and SK Hynix, have already revealed this.

Further reading: How to tell what kind of RAM you have

In addition to a further improved PMIC (Power Management IC), which monitors the energy management of the memory modules, and a further lowered supply voltage (VDIMM), the ECC features for parity checking and error correction are also to be further expanded.

DDR6 to be launched in 2024/25

Samsung has already announced that it is currently working on finalizing the DDR6 memory standard together with the other JEDEC members from the circle of DRAM and SoC manufacturers. According to the manufacturer, this is expected in the course of 2024, but no later than 2025.

The new DDR6 memory will celebrate its debut in the professional enterprise segment and is expected to be used for the first time with the server CPUs of the 2025 vintage.

The chief engineer of the South Korean semiconductor manufacturer SK Hynix, on the other hand, expects a somewhat longer development phase and does not anticipate a broad market launch before the end of 2025.

This article was translated from German to English and originally appeared on pcwelt.de.

Sven Bauduin konzipiert und realisiert bereits seit rund 20 Jahren Computersysteme und berichtet über fast alle relevanten IT-Themen. Aktuelle Hardware wie Prozessoren, Mainboards, Arbeitsspeicher und Grafikkarten aber auch Betriebssysteme und Anwendungssoftware sowie Linux und Open Source sind seine Themenschwerpunkte.

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