I’m nearly finished with my CES coverage (thanks to a relapse as well as a household of sick family members), with just a few final visits to discuss. My meeting with Crucial/Micron/Lexar had a couple interesting tidbits, perhaps the most noteworthy being their apparently production ready DDR4 modules for both desktops and laptops. It’s pretty clear now that the transition to DDR4 is going to happen with one of Intel’s upcoming CPU/platform launches, though the exact details of the rollout of DDR4 RAM are still a bit hazy – will we see it first on servers, then desktops, then laptops, or maybe desktops first, or given the potential for power savings, why not laptops first? You can also see the slightly curved insertion edge of the DDR4 desktop DIMMs that’s designed to aid in installation.

The other cool thing Crucial had to show is their half-height Ballistix Sport VLP DIMM. These have been available for a little while, but they have several features that make them attractive. For one, instead of the usual gigantic heat spreaders – which can sometimes interfere with the installation of CPU coolers or other items – the Sport VLP has a very low profile (that’s the VLP part of the name) and ends up being about half the height of a standard DIMM. They’re also 1.35V DDR3-1600 modules, so they use less power and generate less heat – never a bad thing in my book. These are literally the polar opposite of some of Crucial’s other Ballistix products, with capacities up to 8GB per DIMM and pricing that’s somewhat higher than standard DDR3 DIMMs. Note that you may need to spend some time in the motherboard BIOS in order to get these DIMMs to work, and raw performance isn’t likely to be as high as some other DDR3 DIMMs, but for mini-ITX builds I could see these being very handy alternatives to regular size DIMMs.

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  • Kougar - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    I bought a 32GB kit of the Ballistix Sport VLP RAM when Haswell launched, hence those have been on the market for some time. They were also the second cheapest DDR3-1600 kit on Newegg at that time.

    Not sure why they would need more tweaking, could you elaborate on why? Mine worked out of the box, and after that I left them on the XMP setting. The GB Z87 board even set the right 1.35 voltage to my surprise.
  • YazX_ - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    seems not all mainboards include XMP profile for them, Z67 and Z77, not sure though.
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    The memory provides the XMP profile so the mainboard uses it, not the other way around.
  • cgalyon - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    I picked these up for my ITX build using an AsRock Z87E. Ran into lots of problems with the system until I used the second XMP profile (1.5V instead of 1.35V). Others have reported similar problems with this board though, so I'm guessing it's something in the UEFI
  • jhoff80 - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    I had that problem for a long while, until eventually they released a stable UEFI version for it. You should have no problem at 1.35V if you upgrade to the most recent one.
  • Krysto - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    How much faster are they? I know the initial hype made it sound like they're 4x faster than DDR3 or something, but that was really compared to the *initial* batch of DDR, at much lower frequencies than it is today.

    I think we're probably going to see the equivalent of DDR3 at 3200 Mhz at best when they first come out, if not lower than that. And it will probably cost at least twice as much as DDR3 at 2400 Mhz, while consuming roughly about the same power (at the higher speed).
  • hechacker1 - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    According to wikipedia the first DDR4 modules will start at 2133 at 1.2V. So not as fast as current high end DDR3, but potentially cheaper (or price parity) and with lower power requirements.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    Correct -- the modules on display at Crucial were DDR4-2133 1.2V, with the potential to go as high as DDR4-3200 for JEDEC spec, and probably quite a bit beyond that for unofficial speeds. We could also see lower voltage DDR4 modules, so maybe 1.1V or even 1.05V.
  • R3MF - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    Re: DDR4-2133

    Would this lack of ambition, speed wise, suggest that future AMD APU's on a future plaftrom (FM3?), will require a wider memory bus (3x 64bit channels)?

    Given that FM3 APU's are going to arrive with 6-8 cores, and 640-768 shaders, will a simple speed boost (i.e. slightly faster DDR4 modules), provide enough bandwidth to feed it properly?

  • extide - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    Lack of ambition? This is how it's always been. When DDR2 came out, it was the same speed as top end DDR1 -- 333/400Mhz, when DDR3 came out it was the same speed as top end DDR2 -- 800/1066.

    Just be patient, DDR4 will at first be more expensive and have little benefit besides the lower voltage/lower power. Over time it will be cheaper and faster, as the main production capacities are moved over to DDR4 from DDR3.

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