Navigating the DDR4 adoption road map

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 26th, 2015.

The projected adoption rate of DDR4 as the dominant industry memory standard was a major topic of discussion at Intel’s Developer Forum earlier this month, with the company confirming DDR4-2400 support for its upcoming Xeon E5-2600 V4 CPUs.

“The current mainstream platform Skylake also provides DDR4 support of up to 2133 MHz,” Dennis Bode of HardwareLuxx reported.

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Image Credit: Hardware Luxx (via Intel)

“As Intel designed its Skylake architecture highly variably between 4,5 watts and 91 watts TDP, DDR4 can also be used in tablets and 2-in-1 notebooks. Only the entry-level Pentium CPUs and the Core-M-6000Y series will rely solely on DDR3L or LPDDR3.”

As Bode notes, it is therefore obvious that the market will move swiftly from DDR3 to DDR4.

“Prices are nearly on par, quickening the shift up. DDR4 currently costs just a small premium more than DDR3,” he explained. “Already in 2016 DDR4 will probably become cheaper, thanks to advantages in the manufacturing process.”

According to Intel, DDR4-based systems will capture nearly 20 percent market share by the end of 2015.

“The desktop market alone, sans the mobile market, will be shipping more DDR4 than DDR3 systems by the second quarter of 2016,” Bode continued.

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“Another feature will also be increasing chip density. The new 8 GB chips will be used where high storage capacities are required, i.e. in the high-end and server area.”

Indeed, as we’ve previously discussed on Rambus Press, the server DIMM market continues to grow at a steady cadence.

“A couple of years ago, it was maybe $100 million to $150 million a year, in about two to three years we see it growing over $400 million a year,” Ely Tsern, VP and chief technologist for the Rambus Memory and Interfaces division, told The Platform. “It’s because DDR4 is running faster and Intel wants the server modules to use these chipsets, so there’s growth there as well as the fact that the higher capacity modules are increasing as well due to the data demands for a lot of emerging applications.”

In addition, Tsern confirmed that Rambus is collaborating with Intel to validate its recently announced R+ DDR4 server memory chipset, the RB26 for RDIMMs and LRDIMMs.

“We are [also] working closely with other memory manufacturers like Micron and SK Hynix to branch out. We’re sampling today with this, it’s moving forward,” he added. “The general goal from a performance standpoint is allowing systems to have lots of modules and capacity and run fast, no matter what memory is on the other side.”