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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  • Jedibeeftrix - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    i'm speaking from the point of view of AMD's bandwidth requirements.

    i have no doubt ddr4 will get faster, but quickly enough...?
  • StevoLincolnite - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - link

    Quickly enough? Probably not.
    However AMD could re-introduce Sideport memory, but instead of using DDR3 memory on the motherboard they could throw GDDR5 memory at the problem.
  • Babar Javied - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    But even if you compare low end DDR3 to high end DDR3, there is little difference is real world performance. And seeing how low end DDR3 is similar to DDR2, the upgrade was made simply to milk money. There wasn't a big enough difference in speed/performance to justify the upgrade back then and they are doing it again.

    Thank god this is the last time we will see DDR, after this iteration (DDR4) it will be replaced with something else.
  • R3MF - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    Re: my question above -

    does the one dimm per channel of DDR4 make this possibility more likely in your opinion?
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    I'm pretty sure AMD will stick with DDR3 for at least another year -- they've traditionally let Intel lead the charge on memory transitions. Short-term, DDR4 isn't a huge bump in performance, but eventually it will scale far beyond where the best DDR3 modules are running. Adding more RAM channels also requires more pins on the socket and traces on the motherboard, so going triple-channel or quad-channel boosts memory bandwidth but also increases overall platform cost. This is why Intel continues to stick with dual-channel for their mainstream platforms and only the high-end platforms (LGA1366, LGA2011) have gone tri/quad-channel. Since AMD has more or less abandoned the race for the fastest CPUs these days, it seems even less likely that they'll be pushing tri-channel RAM any time soon. But...they might prove my guesses wrong.
  • Jedibeeftrix - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    cheers Jarred.
  • fokka - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    that's what i think was wrong with some reporting in regards to ddr4: some writers make it seem as if ddr4 would just double the speeds of ddr3, when in reality they are much more likely to just take up where ddr3-specs stop.
  • Tristimulus - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    DDR4 has one major disadvantage compare to DDR3. It can be only one module per channel.
    It means dual channel CPU will have only two stick of RAM.
    So upgrades of memory will be difficult. Need to buy all new RAM sticks.
  • lmcd - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    And that is probably why we don't have DDR4 on Kaveri.
  • silverblue - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    Well, nothing has stopped manufacturers from only offering two slots on a motherboard before, and DIMMs can be rather large in capacity, but that does take away from being able to put lesser capacities in more slots to make up for it.

    DDR4's main immediate benefit is a reduction in power usage; I doubt we'll see faster memory for a while and it certainly won't be cheap when it comes. An HTPC with two equal sticks of DDR4 could cut down on power nicely, but if you wanted more capacity, you'd need to replace the pair...

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