SK Hynix slips past rivals Samsung and Micron to launch world's first DDR5 DRAM sticks

Up to 5,600 megatransfers per second at just 1.1V, company claims

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South Korean memory giant SK Hynix has released the world's first commercially available DDR5 DRAM sticks, pipping rivals Samsung and Micron.

First developed in 2018 before shipping off to partners for compatibility and functionality tests, these 16GB sticks promise faster transfer rates as well as lower power consumption. The operating voltage is 1.1V, down from DDR4's 1.2V.

While memory isn't the most energy-hungry component in a server or personal computer (compared to a CPU, GPU, or mechanical hard drive), RAM is often deployed at scale.

Put simply: You'll notice lower power consumption if you're running a data centre with thousands, if not tens of thousands, of DIMMs.

Throughput also sees a bump compared to DDR4. SK Hynix claims its DIMMs support between 4,800 and 5,600 megatransfers per second (MT/s). That's almost double what you'd expect from a current-generation DDR4 stick – although there are niche (and expensive) DDR4 products that come close, such as Crucial's Ballistix Max 5100, which can hit 5,100 MT/s.

The performance mirrors that gained from early DDR5 demonstrations, as well as the formalised spec from industry body JEDEC.

SK Hynix uses a 1Ynm manufacturing process for its first-generation DDR5 products — which is defined as anything between 14nm and 16nm. It also comes with a chip-level error correcting code, which the firm says can resolve 1-bit-level errors, resulting in a potential 20-fold increase in reliability.

In a statement, Jong-Hoon Oh, Sk Hynix executive veep and CMO, expressed the usual vague marketing waffle about wanting to lead market trends, before adding that the firm "will focus on the fast-growing premium server market, solidifying its position as a leading company in server DRAM".

The first DDR5 customers will be deep-pocketed and performance-sensitive corporate clients, working in the trenches of big data and AI, where the throughput and power consumption gains offered are most keenly noticeable. Affirming that are early-generation DDR5 products, like Renesas' newest data buffer.

Support for DDR5 on workstations and laptops will likely follow next year, starting with the release of Intel's 12th-generation Alder Lake processor line. AMD is expected to follow with the 2022 introduction of its DDR5-compatible Zen4 architecture. Separately, Samsung is expected to release its first commercially available DDR5 DIMMs next year. ®

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