AMD is expected to launch DDR5 memory support with the release of Ryzen 7000-series processors, but new rumors suggest that this upgrade will come at a price.
According to various sources, AMD may release the next generation of its processors with support for only DDR5 memory, thus leaving DDR4 behind. If proven true, this would be a controversial move, given the steep pricing of DDR5 RAM.
AMD itself has confirmed that its upcoming Zen 4 CPUs, also referred to as Ryzen 7000 and Raphael, will support two new technologies: DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0. This is a much-needed update for AMD, seeing as Intel has supported both of these things since the launch of Alder Lake processors in late 2021. New Intel CPUs also continue to offer support for DDR4 memory — it’s all a matter of choosing the right motherboard. Perhaps more importantly, Intel will continue to support DDR4 with the release of next-gen Raptor Lake processors in late 2022.
In AMD’s case, the company is yet to make an official statement on this, but Tom’s Hardware cites multiple anonymous sources connected to the AMD supply chain when it says that several platforms will not support DDR4 — and it’s not looking good for the rest of them either. The publication was able to confirm that the X670 and B650 AM5 platforms will be DDR5-exclusive. However, until AMD speaks on the matter, take these rumors with skepticism.
This wouldn’t be all that bad if not for the implication that the chip’s memory controllers may not support DDR4 RAM at all. If AMD does include DDR4 support on the chip, it’s possible that cheaper, lower-tier motherboards will be launched alongside the chip to let users choose between DDR5 and DDR4. However, if the chip itself doesn’t offer access to DDR4, then the entire AM5 platform will rely only on DDR5.
Choosing to focus on DDR5 RAM would be a brave move for AMD. Although the technology provides performance upgrades, it’s also much more expensive than DDR4 kits. A quick glance at our list of the best RAM kits for 2022 tells us that the pricing varies wildly: As an example, you can get thefor just $83, but the costs upwards of $330. The prices aren’t always so polarizing, and there are more expensive DDR4 kits on our list, but the difference is definitely evident — and it’s huge, especially for budget-conscious customers.
DDR5 RAM is so expensive right now largely due to supply shortages, and this is a problem that stretches toward many other markets. The prices for DDR5 will likely continue dropping, but will it be affordable by the time Zen 4 processors are released in just a few months? That seems unlikely.
On the other hand, focusing on DDR5 ensures future-proofing. Right now, a DDR5 versus DDR4 matchup may not seem worth it when you factor in the pricing, but the technology will keep developing, and will one day be the new standard. As AMD’s previous AM4 platform lasted from 2017 until now, it’s possible that the company is gearing up for another five years, in which case it would make little sense to focus on DDR4.
It’s hard to tell whether AMD will really completely forgo including DDR4 RAM in Ryzen 7000 processors. A couple of years from now, this would be an acceptable choice, but with the pricing of DDR5 as high as it is still right now, AMD would be excluding a whole lot of potential customers by focusing on DDR5 memory in its upcoming AM5 platform.