Progress in the personal computing (PC) space can never be halted. The latest developments in the world of the PC indicate the arrival of DDR5 RAM, which will offer twice the bandwidth and consume less power than the DDR4 RAM it replaces.
RAM or Random Access Memory is an ultra-high speed storage unit on your PC. RAM is used to store frequently accessed data and to provide it to any process that needs it. The same data can be accessed from your hard drive, but RAM is orders of magnitude faster.
The current RAM standard is DDR4, which is already extremely fast. Data read and write speeds are in the range of 60 GB/s or higher. A regular hard disk might manage 120 MB/s and a really good SSD might pull of speeds in excess of 500 MB/s.
The downside to RAM is that is that it can’t be used to store data for extended periods. RAM is volatile memory, which means that unlike a hard disk, data stored in RAM is completely erased in the event of a power failure.
It might seem silly to say this, but even this much bandwidth is not enough for certain applications. Massive databases and machine learning algorithms require massive amounts of bandwidth and, as PC World points out, some programmers have started harnessing the power of RAM for in-memory processing of databases.
New forms of RAM were expected to replace DDR4, the primary challenger being Intel and its Optane memory. Optane memory is still not ready for large-scale consumer use, but it promises read and write speeds rivalling that of RAM. The full details of Optane still aren’t readily available, but if true, you may not need RAM again, if you’re not a demanding user that is.
AMD’s upcoming graphics architecture is also being designed to take advantage of high-speed databases.
DDR5 will be very welcome in some circles, but it will not matter to the average consumer. Jedec (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) is a standards organisation that’s working on finalising the standards for DDR5.
The initial parameters describe a standard that’s twice as fast as DDR4, offers double the data density (How much RAM is enough?) and consumes less power while doing so.
This process of defining the standard itself might take a year or more, and even after that, server-makers are likely to be the first ones to benefit from it.
PC World reports that Jedec is also working on a new standard of hybrid memory storage called NVDIMM-P. This will combine flash storage and RAM and reside in a DIMM slot traditionally used by RAM.