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DDR5: Performance through bandwidth

DDR5 memory, the successor to DDR4 desktop and laptop memory, is the fifth-generation double data rate (DDR) SDRAM, and the performance improvements from DDR4 to DDR5 are the greatest yet. While previous memory technologies focused on reducing power consumption (driven by mobile and data center applications), DDR5's primary driver for performance improvement was more memory bandwidth. This article will explain everything there is to know about DDR5, so we can bring awareness to our users, address frequently asked questions, and distinguish perception from reality. That way, you can make the right choice when searching for memory solutions for your latest computing needs. Let's dive in.

Why is DDR5 memory needed?

Short answer: Next-gen applications and workflows are becoming more complex to improve customer experiences. To tackle skyrocketing computing needs, CPU manufacturers have added more cores. But as core count has increased, DDR4 memory bandwidth per CPU core has declined, reaching its limit for next-gen CPUs. Under those constraints, users will notice significant lag, disrupting performance and productivity. DDR5 breaks through those limitations and empowers users with the massive bandwidth per CPU core that was once achievable only with extreme performance (overclocked) memory. To fully realize their potential, next-gen CPUs need next-gen memory.

Effective memory bandwidth graphic

Long answer: The problem with DDR4 and how DDR5 solves it can be explained with the help of these two tables. With a DDR4-3200 memory product, users can get up to 4.2 GB/s per core on an 8-core CPU. If they simply switched to a 16-core CPU while keeping the memory constant, their bandwidth per CPU core drops to 2.1 GB/s per core. This is a huge problem for data-heavy users and a wasted opportunity because they cannot realize the full potential of their new 16-core CPU.

To solve this problem, memory bandwidth must scale with the increase in CPU core count. Some users have addressed this issue by overclocking their DDR4 memory beyond its JEDEC specifications. However, this option is limited to only those who can afford to spend significant time, energy, knowledge and money on overclocking. Most users are still left yearning for a better memory solution for next-gen CPUs. This is where DDR5 comes in.

Going back to the example, if a user adopts a DDR5-5600 memory product for their new 16-core CPU, the declining bandwidth per CPU core trend is now reversed! By maintaining the bandwidth per CPU core, users are empowered to extract more computing power from their new CPU and realize its full potential. This is why we need DDR5 memory technology for next-gen CPUs.

With 2x the burst length, 2x the banks, 2x the bank groups, two independent 32-bit channels for non-ECC modules and the same bank refreshes, DDR5 greatly improves channel efficiency over DDR4. Moreover, DDR5’s launch speeds of 4800MT/s is 50% faster than the maximum DDR4 speeds of 3200MT/s. Both the improved channel efficiency and fasterspeeds of DDR5 helps break through DDR4’s bandwidth limitations for data-heavy applications and workflows — not just during testing, but in real-world conditions.

Crucial DDR5 memory is available at 4800, 5200, and 5600MT/s speeds and at 8, 16, 24, 32, and 48GB densities per module (24 and 48GB modules may not be available at all resellers). As the technology matures, future DDR5 products will deliver speeds up to 8800MT/s and densities up to 128GB per module.

Is DDR5 worth buying?

Yes, if you own or want to invest in a high-performance platform. Intel’s 12th/13th Gen Core (code named Alder Lake/Raptor Lake) and AMD’s Ryzen 6000/7000 Series (code named Rembrandt/Raphael) are high-performance platforms bringing users more CPU cores than ever before. Here are two reasons why DDR5 is a better choice for these platforms:

First, DDR5 ensures you are not missing out on any CPU performance. Crucial DDR5-4800 CL40 memory doesn’t just deliver 1.5x faster speeds but can deliver 1.87x more system bandwidth than DDR4-3200 CL22. Crucial’s latest DDR5-5600 CL46 delivers 1.75x faster speeds and 2x more system bandwidth than DDR4. Even at DDR4 speeds, DDR5-3200 would theoretically deliver 1.36x more system bandwidth; instead DDR5 starts at 4800MT/s. That’s how efficient DDR5 is in delivering memory bandwidth for the next-gen CPUs and why we say – DDR5: Not just faster, better.

Second, DDR5 may be a better financial choice if adopted from the start. Intel’s 12th Gen Core CPUs support either DDR4 or DDR5 memory technology. You can adopt only one memory technology or other for the new Intel CPU and each requires its own motherboard design, which means DDR4 memory cannot be installed in a DDR5 motherboard and DDR5 memory cannot be installed in a DDR4 motherboard. So, if you adopt DDR4 memory technology for the new Intel CPU and later decide to transition to DDR5 memory technology, you must replace the motherboard or laptop anyway. It may be a better option to consider adopting DDR5 memory technology from the start, so you don’t have to spend extra money on a new DDR5 motherboard or laptop later.

In conclusion, if you own or want to invest in a high-performance platform, DDR5 is the better choice. Especially now that Crucial DDR5 is more affordable than at launch.

Fun fact on memory backwards compatibility
Did you know that within the same memory technology (DDR4/DDR5), higher speed memory can downclock when system specifications only support lower speed grades? For example: DDR5 5200MT/s memory can downclock if system specification only supports DDR5 4800MT/s. Similarly, DDR5 5600MT/s memory can downclock if system specification only supports DDR5 5200 or 4800MT/s.

Is DDR5's latency worse than DDR4?

Short answer: DDR5’s latency is virtually the same as DDR4. The key takeaway is that users can adopt DDR5 memory technology without worrying about latency performance.

Long answer: Here is how users can interpret specifications like RAM speed and CAS latency into meaningful insights to make informed buying decisions and tackle their needs. As we explain in The Difference Between RAM Speed and CAS Latency, CAS latency is often misunderstood because of its naming convention, but in reality, it’s only half of the true memory latency equation. True memory latency is measured in nanoseconds and is a combination of RAM speed and CAS latency.

Let’s calculate the true memory latencies of DDR4-3200 CL22 and DDR5-4800 CL40 as an exercise. Extended memory timings are usually ignored when calculating true memory latencies and system latencies. Here is the formula we’ll use for true memory latency:

True memory latency (ns) = (2000/RAM Speed) (ns) x CAS latency

Therefore,
true memory latency of DDR4-3200 CL22 = 13.75 ns and
true memory latency of DDR5-4800 CL40 = 16.67 ns

However, it doesn’t stop here!

Memory experts and system architects know that the latency matters only at the system level since that is what users typically experience. That said, system latency is also measured in nanoseconds and is a combination of host memory controller features and behavior, number of module ranks, memory speed, and true memory latency.

Here is what DDR5 and DDR4 memory contribute to the system-level latencies that users would actually experience:

Memory Specification
System Latency1

DDR5-4800 CL40

92.8 ns

DDR4-3200 CL22

90.0 ns

DDR5-4800 CL40 memory adds only ~3% more to the system latency than DDR4-3200 CL22, which is apparent in synthetic benchmarking but virtually unnoticeable in a majority of real-world use cases and games. This provides measurable evidence that users can adopt DDR5 memory technology without worrying about its latency performance.

Fun facts on latency:
From the introduction of DDR memory all the way to the launch of DDR5, standard JEDEC memory’s true memory latency has stayed consistent in the range of 13 to 16 ns. Standard JEDEC memory’s system latency has stayed consistent in the range of 90 to 100 ns.

Are you now wondering what would be the system latency of overclocked memory or memory with tighter timings? The theory is straight forward. At the same RAM speed, the memory with the lower CAS latency is faster. At the same CAS latency, the memory with the higher RAM speed is faster.

Real-world testing shows that overclocked memory with tighter timings are 10 to 20 ns faster than standard JEDEC memory at the system level2. Keep in mind that despite no guarantees, some users love spending significant time, energy, knowledge, and money to achieve bleeding edge latency performance. They love overclocking RAM speeds beyond specifications or optimizing memory timings out of a deep passion or heavy usage of latency-sensitive workloads. That’s why they are typically willing to endure the high costs of overclocked memory, CPU, motherboard, power supply and other cooling solutions that are typically required for overclocking.

The bottom line is that latency is tricky to design and difficult to screen, so costs go up dramatically the lower those numbers go. In other words, you have to ask yourself whether (A) your workloads require the best latency performance (as with first-person shooter games) and (B) whether you are willing to pay the high costs that comes with it. If not, standard Crucial DDR5 is a great choice for majority of our users that delivers the best performance for its price!

Does DDR5 truly provide any benefits?

Yes, it does! Users with memory-intensive workloads like PC gamers, professional content creators, designers, engineers, programmers, business, or workstation users can get up to 2x the system bandwidth compared to DDR4 for the next-gen, multi-core CPUs.

Memory Specification
System Bandwidth3

DDR5-5600 CL46

69.2 GB/s

DDR4-3200 CL22

33.6 GB/s

When you think about DDR5, think massive bandwidth. It means that users can get more work done in less time. The benefits only get bigger for data-heavy users due to their memory intensive workloads. In addition, the end user experience will also depend on software optimization to take full advantage of DDR5’s memory architecture. Here is what one of the top tech influencers, Linus Sebastian from Linus Tech Tips, said about DDR55:

"DDR5 is the absolute king for performance in new games like Wonderlands. I’m excited to see what advantages DDR5 offers other new games.”

Even in its early days before independent software vendors or developers began optimizing for DDR5, we saw impressive results from DDR5 as reported by other publications too like Eurogamer, Tech Notice and Gamers Nexus4:

Games:

  • 10% higher FPS for games like F1 20216, Forza Horizon 46, Hitman 38 at 1080p
  • 20% higher FPS for Tiny Tina’s Wonderland at 1080p5
  • 23% higher FPS for Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation at 1080p2

Content Creation:

  • Nearly 11% faster performance of DaVinci Resolve Extended7
  • 12-17% faster performance of Adobe Photoshop & After Effects6

Engineering & Programming:

  • 12% faster Firefox code processing6
  • 24-33% faster processing of CAD modeling, medical imaging, and geographical surveys6

This measurable evidence confirms that JEDEC DDR5 does provide tangible performance benefits over JEDEC DDR4 for memory-intensive workloads.

What is the difference between Crucial DDR5 and DDR4?

Specification
Crucial DDR4 Memory
Crucial DDR5 Memory
Benefits

PCB Color

Green

Black

Sleek design

Standard Speed

3200MT/s

5600MT/s

1.5x faster

Support for Intel XMP 3.0 and AMD EXPO9

-

Yes, supports both on the same module

Easily recover suppressed memory speed

System Bandwidth3

33.6 GB/s

69.2 GB/s

2x more system bandwidth

System Latency1

90.0 ns

92.8 ns

Virtually no latency increase in real-world use

Module Density

8GB-16GB-32GB

8GB-16GB-32GB

-

Component Density10

8Gb/16Gb-8Gb/16Gb-16Gb

8Gb/16Gb

-

Module Rank and Configuration

1Rx8/1Rx16-2Rx8/1Rx8-2Rx8

1Rx8/1Rx16-2Rx8/1Rx8-2Rx8

-

Operative Voltage11

1.2V

1.1V

Power efficient

Power Management

On-motherboard

On-module

Improved signaling

Pin Count & Notch Position

UDIMM: 288-pins SODIMM: 260-pins

UDIMM: 288-pins SODIMM: 262-pins

Pin assignments and notch positions are different!

Compatibility

For DDR4 systems only

For DDR5 systems only

Not backwards compatible!

Channel Architecture

One 64-bit channel

Two independent 32-bit channels

2x burst length, 2x banks, 2x bank groups enable improved memory channel efficiency

Burst Length

8

16

Banks Groups

4

8

Banks

32

64

Refresh Schemes

None are available during refresh

75% of the banks are accessible during refresh

On-die ECC (ODECC)12

-

Yes

Provides long term stability

Crucial DDR5 awards and testimonials

We truly believe that Crucial’s standard JEDEC DDR5 memory delivers the performance that every data-heavy users and gamers need. We are not the only ones saying so. As you can see here, leading tech reviewers agree! Out-of-the box, Crucial’s DDR5 4800MT/s CL40 is delivering virtually the same performance as an overclocked 5200MT/s memory module or 4800MT/s memory with tighter timings.

With Crucial’s second-gen DDR5 available i.e., with DDR5 5600MT/s CL46, the performance improvements over its previous gen product is expected to be higher. We believe that Crucial DDR5 memory provides the best value product for our customers, and you can buy it today in multiple density configurations for your DDR5-enabled processors and motherboards for both desktops and laptops.

Eliminate overclocking graphic

Crucial DDR5 continues to receive awards and high accolades for the massive value it brings to users. It is among the best DDR5 RAM listed from leading publications like Tom’s Hardware, PC Gamer, andTech4Gamers — and we’re still counting.

TweakTown award graphic
Hardware Asylum award graphic
WhatIf Gaming testimonial graphic

Why consider Micron’s Crucial DDR5 over other brands?

Micron expertise and quality

  • Crucial, the vertically integrated and the only consumer brand of Micron, develops consumer products for 26+ years
  • Micron, one of three major DRAM manufacturers in the world, has 44+ years of memory expertise
  • Micron is the leader in memory technology (1β/1-beta process node13)
  • Micron announced over $150+ billion in global investments14, 15, 16 over 10 years to dramatically increase bleeding-edge memory manufacturing in the USA and show its commitment to be the technology leader in the future too
  • Crucial memory is backed by our limited life warranty
  • When it comes to memory, don't settle for less
DDR5 Crucial unique relationships graphic

Unique industry relationships

  • Strategic partnerships with CPU and motherboard vendors
  • Stringent pre-market testing & validation to ensure unmatchedcompatibility

Legendary compatibility and support

  • Compatibility tools that have been decades in the making: Crucial System Scanner, Crucial Advisor Tool and Memory Selector
  • 24-hour customer service and technical support

Sleek design

  • Not all JEDEC memory vendors have adopted a clean, black design toalign with the broad PC industry
  • Manufacturers of NVMe SSDs, motherboards and graphics cards haveall-black products now

Best performance for the price in the market

With support for both Intel® XMP 3.0 and AMD EXPO™ on the same module9:

  • Get full value of your investment and eliminate the need to buy expensive, overclocking DRAM
  • Enjoy the flexibility of taking your memory to an Intel or AMD build and avoid buying platform specific memory

Fun facts on Intel® XMP and AMD EXPO:
XMP is a feature of select Intel CPUs and it stands for Extreme Memory Profile. It allows users to overclock DDR4/DDR5 memory modules to enhance gaming performance specific to Intel systems. EXPO™ is a feature of select AMD CPUs and it stands for Extended Profiles for Overclocking. It allows users to overclock DDR5 memory modules to enhance gaming performance specific to AMD systems.

Crucial is the only memory brand that supports both Intel® XMP 3.0 and AMD EXPO™ on the same module, so users don't have to buy different memory for their builds. So, users can buy our DDR5 memory without having to worry about being locked into an Intel-exclusive or AMD-exclusive system for the future9.

Despite claiming to be JEDEC-standard memory are you wondering why does Crucial DDR5 memory support Intel® XMP 3.0 and AMD EXPO™? Short answer: To enable users to easily recover suppressed memory speeds. Long answer: Memory speed is not controlled exclusively by the module itself but also by the internal memory controller (IMC) in the CPU and BIOS/firmware in the motherboard. That said, in certain memory configurations, users may notice their system downclocking to lower memory speeds. Downclocking of memory speeds leads to lower bandwidth and in turn a substantial hit to your system performance. This could be a huge dissatisfaction for users when they find out after setting up or assembling the entire system together or when their memory needs changes and going through a memory upgrade. If and when that happens, users can easily recover memory performance9, 17 back to its rated speeds by turning on the pre-defined memory profile (either XMP 3.0 or AMD EXPO™) that ships with every Crucial DDR5 desktop memory and voila! Below tables show how performance recovery works using Crucial DDR5 desktop memory works for the latest Intel and AMD based platforms compared to the competition without the feature.

For 12th Gen Intel Core based system and DDR5-4800 memory (max. CPU supported memory speed):

Memory Slots Available
Memory Slots Populated
Module Rank
Crucial DDR5-4800
with Intel® XMP 3.0 turned on
Competition
with no Intel® XMP 3.0 support

Two

One / Two

Single / Dual ranked

4800MT/s

4800MT/s

Four

Two

Single ranked

4800MT/s

4400MT/s

Four

Two

Dual ranked

4800MT/s

4400MT/s

Four

Four

Single ranked

4800MT/s

4000MT/s

Four

Four

Dual ranked

4800MT/s

3600MT/s

For AMD Ryzen™ 7000 Series based system and DDR5-5200 memory (max. CPU supported memory speed):

Memory Slots Available
Memory Slots Populated
Module Rank
Crucial DDR5-5200
with AMD EXPO™ turned on
Competition
with no AMD EXPO™ support

Two

One / Two

Single / Dual ranked

5200MT/s

5200MT/s

Four

Two

Single ranked

5200MT/s

5200MT/s

Four

Two

Dual ranked

5200MT/s

5200MT/s

Four

Four

Single ranked

5200MT/s

3600MT/s

Four

Four

Dual ranked

5200MT/s

3600MT/s

For 13th Gen Intel Core based system and DDR5-5600 memory (max. CPU supported memory speed):

Memory Slots Available
Memory Slots Populated
Module Rank
Crucial DDR5-5200 / 5600
with Intel® XMP 3.0 turned on
Competition
with no Intel® XMP 3.0 support

Two

One / Two

Single / Dual ranked

5200 / 5600MT/s

5200 / 5600MT/s

Four

Two

Single ranked

5200 / 5600MT/s

4400MT/s

Four

Two

Dual ranked

5200 / 5600MT/s

4400MT/s

Four

Four

Single ranked

5200 / 5600MT/s

4000MT/s

Four

Four

Dual ranked

5200 / 5600MT/s

3600MT/s

Key takeaways and call to action

  1. Enabled by new CPU and platform launches, DDR5 adoption will ramp throughout CY2023 due to increasing needs for content creation, content distribution and content consumption.
  2. All Crucial DDR5 memory (4800, 5200, 5600MT/s) are compatible with 12th/13th Gen Intel® Core™ or AMD Ryzen™ 6000/7000 Series processors.
  3. Higher speed DDR5 memory can downclock when system specifications only support lower speed grades.
  4. DDR5 delivers up to 2x system bandwidth than DDR4 but has virtually the same system latency as DDR4.
  5. DDR5 is more affordable now. A new era of computing innovation has begun. Are you in?

We hope you thoroughly enjoyed learning about DDR5 technology and memory. If you found this information useful or would like to learn more from us, leave us a comment on our social channels - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! If you’re looking for high-quality content like this, discounts for Crucial products, etc. sign up today for our no-spam, Crucial Insider newsletter.

Footnotes

1AnandTech: “The Intel 12th Gen Core i9-12900K Review: Hybrid Performance Brings Hybrid Complexity”, November 4, 2021.
2Eurogamer: “DDR5 vs DDR4: Which RAM is best for gaming and content creation?” May 17, 2022.
3Micron’s estimates of 1DPC and dual-channel load of x8 modules.
4All comparisons between DDR4 & DDR5 modules are similar or as close as possible to JEDEC specifications. Performance measured in average frames per second (FPS). All actual speeds will vary depending on system specifications.
5Linus Tech Tips: “Is buying more RAM a waste for gamers?” June 16, 2022. Wonderland test based on average frame rates comparing single 8GB DDR4 and DDR5 modules.
6Pudget Bench, Firefox & Workstation Benchmarks tested by Linus Tech Tips: “DDR5 Scalping is solved” Dec 29, 2021.
7Tech Notice: “DDR5 vs DDR4 for Creators” Jan 18, 2022.
8Gamers Nexus: “DDR5 vs DDR4 Benchmarks” Nov 11, 2021.
9Crucial DDR5 desktop memory modules (UDIMM) can reach rated speeds with Intel® XMP 3.0 or AMD EXPO™ turned on in the UEFI/BIOS settings. Applicable for all Crucial DDR5 desktop memory (UDIMM) modules except Crucial DDR5-4800 desktop memory, which supports only Intel® XMP 3.0. Based on published competitor specs for DDR5 memory as of October 2022. Altering clock frequency or voltage may result in damage to computer components. Micron disclaims any and all liability for such damage. Warranty voided if Crucial DRAM modules are set to overclock beyond JEDEC specifications, rated speeds, and timings.
10Component densities available for production as of late CY2022.
11Die level.
12Not to be confused with module ECC.
13Micron.com: “Micron Ships World’s Most Advanced DRAM Technology With 1-Beta Node”, November 1, 2022.
14Micron.com: “Micron Announces Historic Investment of up to $100 Billion to Build Megafab in Central New York”, October 4, 2022.
15Micron.com: “Micron to Invest $15 Billion in New Idaho Fab, Bringing Leading-Edge Memory Manufacturing to the US”, September 1, 2022.
16Micron.com: “Micron Announces $40 Billion Investment in Leading-Edge Memory Manufacturing in the US”, August 9, 2022.
17Crucial DDR5 Memory is standard JEDEC memory. Memory speed is not controlled exclusively by the module itself but also by the memory controller in the CPU and the BIOS/firmware on the motherboard. XMP or EXPO support is provided on desktop memory (UDIMM) modules so customers can easily recover memory performance up to JEDEC speeds if experiencing a system-level downclocking of their memory. Performance recovery is not guaranteed on all DDR5 systems and is highly dependent on the CPU tier, motherboard tier, and BIOS stability.

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