We want to take a minute and highlight some of the main differences between DDR4 and DDR5. For generational memory changes, such as DDR3 to DDR4, the primary focus has been increasing the frequency. Making the generational leap also meant lower power usage, higher density, and increased latency. However, when it comes to DDR5, we don’t simply see an increase in frequency like previous generational leaps. The entire data bus, channel architecture, and power delivery systems have been redesigned this time around. As expected, the new memory also brings higher die density, lower power usage, and increased timings to the table.
The JEDEC rating for DDR4 ranged from 1600 MT/s up to 3200 MT/s at the end. The new DDR5 standard starts at a JEDEC rating of 4800 MT/s. We know that there will be higher JEDEC ratings to be released as DDR5 matures. As of right now, we have seen ratings up to 7000 MT/s marked for the future of DDR5.
The highest possible die density for DDR4 was 16 GB. In recent times, Samsung released 256 GB LRDIMM and RDIMM modules based on their 16 GB die. The new DDR5 standard doubles the die size to 32GB for UDIMM. Based on the 32 GB die size and using Samsung’s example of the 256 GB DDR4 module, it’s not a stretch to imagine that we will see 512GB of memory on a single module in the future.
The very best that DDR4 had to offer, in terms of JEDEC rating at least, was 3200 MT/s running at CL22-22-22. Although there are lower data rates in the JEDEC specification for DDR5, the primary rating for desktop users at launch will be 4800 MT/s running at CL40-40-40.
Another fundamental change with DDR5 is the way it gets its power. Until now, all previous generations of DDR memory received its voltage, pre-regulated, from the motherboard. The motherboard was responsible for taking the 12 V input and reducing that to a usable voltage for the memory controller, such as 1.35 v. Because of this, high-end motherboards generally provided better voltage control and thus resulted in better memory overclocking capabilities. The new DDR5 specification moves the voltage regulation from the motherboard to the individual memory stick. The motherboard provides 12 V host input to the individual memory modules, and the module takes care of the voltage control. Known as the PMIC, the new memory voltage controller is responsible for ‘bucking’ the voltage down to what’s required by the memory. We’ll get into this more later on.
The changes in the functional architecture are what make DDR5 unique from all other memory releases. Up until now, one stick of memory contained one internal memory channel. If you wanted to run dual-channel memory, for instance, you would need two memory modules. Mainstream motherboards, such as Intel’s Z590, had a maximum of 2 DIMMs per channel (2 DPC). Therefore, if you outfitted the board with 2 or 4 modules, you would be running dual-channel at maximum. The significant new change is that DDR5 contains two memory channels within one module. Therefore, with two sticks running in a Z690 motherboard, you get quad-channel memory. More memory channels dramatically increase performance for memory-intensive workloads. Mainstream motherboards still support only 2 DPC, but now that means you will be running quad-channel with 2 or 4 memory sticks.
Error Correction Code (ECC) is something we typically only see implemented in the server and workstation world. Traditional performance DDR4 UDIMM does not come with ECC capabilities. The CPU is responsible for handling the error correction. Due to the frequency limitations, we’ve only seen ECC on lower-spec kits. DDR5 changes everything in this regard because ECC comes standard on every DDR5 module produced. Therefore, the system is then unburdened as it no longer needs to do the error correction.
Source credit: adata.com
XPG LANCER Specifications
We know that DDR5 modules manage their voltage regulation directly on the DIMM now. We also understand that the PMIC (Power Management IC) is a MOSFET, driver, and PWM controller wrapped into one package. Therefore, we can conclude that it will produce heat and add to the overall DIMM temperature. In the past, we’ve seen extravagant heat sinks for memory that effectively make no heat. Have we reached the point where heat sinks are actually needed? Not to worry, ADATA has outfitted the XPG LANCER module with thick aluminum heat sinks.
The non-RGB Lancer product line consists of just one offering at launch. It comes with an XMP 3.0 rating of 5200 MHz, timings of 38-38-38, and offers the product in two different SKU options. You can choose from a single-color box or a dual-color box. Due to the limited nature of DDR5 at launch time, we are not surprised to see only one offering. For those looking to add an element of RGB, XPG also offers the Lancer in an RGB verity. We’ve spotted the Lancer available for pre-order on B&H Photo for $299.99.
In the table below are specific details of our test kit:
|Capacity||32 GB (2 x 16 GB)|
|Rated Frequency||DDR5 5200 MHz (PC5-41600)|
|Chipset||Intel XMP 3.0|
|Multi-channel Kit||Quad Channel Kit|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||133.35 x 40 x 8 mm|
|MSRP Pricing||B&H Photo $299.99|
|Registered / Error Checking||Unbuffered / Non-ECC|
Right about now, we usually like to show you the Thaiphoon Burner SPD output. We use that piece of software to get a preliminary identification of the ICs under the hood. Unfortunately, the software is not ready for DDR5 at this time. However, don’t despair; CPU-Z now accurately reads the IC branding. Although it doesn’t display nearly as much information as Thaiphoon Burner, it gives us a good indicator of the IC.
As you can see, the Lancer appears to be running Micron ICs. Speculating on the overclock-ability at this point would be purely conjecture. We’ll put them to the test later on and show you what they can do.
Our test sample did not come with any retail packaging. Because this is an early test sample, It’s not surprising that the retail packaging is not ready for mass media consumption.
Meet the XPG Lancer
They may look very familiar to you. If you’ve seen the ADATA’s D50 series of DDR4, they share many similarities. The deep grooves cut into the heat sink, combined with an angular shiny black insert, give it a geometric look. For RGB DIMMS, XPG replaced the shiny black plastic piece at the top of the DIMM with an opaque plastic light diffuser.
The stick has been silk screen printed with a parallel line design on about 1/3 of the heat sink surface. There is an information sticker on the backside. There’s also an XPG logo in three different places on each DIMM.
Please refer to the pictures below for a closer look.
We had a pretty good idea that it’s Micron-based memory from the CPU-Z screenshot, but a visual inspection confirms it. The second picture below is the PMIC. This voltage regulation circuit takes the 5 V host voltage and steps it down 1.20 V, or whatever you select in the BIOS. This device is often referred to as a VRM. However, it gets the elevated name of Power Management Integrated Circuit (PMIC) because of the power state shifting capabilities, among other reasons. It’s a much more advanced circuit than the traditional switching regulator.
Testing and Overclocking
Intel’s new Z690 motherboard implements a new socket, the LGA 1700 (Socket V). As such, the mounting holes may not be compatible with older generation coolers. ADATA was kind enough to send us their flagship AIO to use for this memory review. We will put it to good use in future memory reviews.
Asetek’s PATENTED COOLING
EFFICIENT COOLING SOLUTION
XPG LEVANTE 360’s three Vibrant Dual Ring
EXTERNAL ARGB CONTROLLER
XPG LEVANTE 360 AIO CPU LIQUID Cooler’s
Below is the test system and resulting memory speeds used to evaluate the memory and run the various benchmarks.
|CPU||Intel Core i9-12900KF – Core i9 12th Gen Alder Lake 16-Core|
|Cooler||XPG EPS Levante 360 Addressable RGB CPU Liquid Cooler|
|Motherboard||MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI DDR5 LGA 1700|
|Graphics Card||EVGA GeForce RTX 3090 K|NGP|N Gaming Graphics Card|
|Solid State Drive||T-Force CARDEA ZERO Z330 1 TB|
|Power Supply||be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 1500 W PSU|
|Operating System||Windows 11 x64|
|Memory Speeds Compared|
|JEDEC Profile ~ 4800 MHz CL40-40-40 + JEDEC Sub Timings @ 1.1 V|
|XMP Profile ~5200 MHz CL38-38-38 + XMP Sub Timings @ 1.25 V|
|Overclock ~ 5600 MHz CL38-40-40 + Auto Sub Timings @ 1.30 V|
The XPG Lancer memory turned out to be a match with our test system. The flat black matched our motherboard perfectly.
JEDEC Profile ~ 4800 MHz CL40-40-40 + JEDEC Sub Timings @ 1.1 V
Because this is the first time we’ve had a chance to test DDR5, we’re going to change things up and explore what this memory has to offer with less of an emphasis on overclocking. When you install memory in your motherboard and don’t go into the BIOS to change the settings, you will be running JEDEC memory speeds. Most computers out there in the real world are running JEDEC memory speeds, and indeed, many enthusiast computers are running JEDEC as well. Therefore, we’re going to test the memory at the JEDEC rating of 4800 CL40-40-40.
XMP Profile ~5200 MHz CL38-38-38 + XMP Sub Timings @ 1.25 V
Does the XMP profile even work? That’s the first question we intend to answer and get a baseline performance to compare against an overclocked result. We are happy to report that the XMP profile worked perfectly right out of the box with no settings or adjustments in the BIOS.
Overclock ~ 5600 MHz CL38-40-40 + Auto Sub Timings @ 1.30 V
This is our first look at DDR5. As such, we’re going to take it easy with the overclocking and not dive too deep into the secondary and tertiary timings just yet. The goal is to first get the highest stable frequency set and then optimize the primary timings as much as possible.
The result is an overclock of 400 MHz for the frequency and marginally better primary timings.
The big takeaway here is the big read performance scores. The JEDEC read score is about on par with the fastest DDR4 available on the market. This makes sense because we know that DDR5 picks up where DDR4 ended, but it’s reassuring that this notion holds up visually. Our mildly overclocked read score beats anything that can be done with even the very best DDR4, excluding extreme overclocking.
Geekbench 4 Multi-Core
Looking at the total score, our overclocking efforts only gained us a scant 0.5% increase over the XMP profile. Even comparing the JEDEC profile to our overclocked one, the performance gain is only 3.5%. Geekbench is perhaps the best real-world simulator for memory usage. It implements many different types of tests and averages them together to give you an overall picture of the performance.
Lastly, we’d like to examine the performance effects of our memory profiles using game benchmarks. For consistency sake, we used the same settings found in the GPU Testing Procedure article.
It doesn’t look like much at face value, but the game testing results are better than expected. In Far Cry 6, we saw a performance increase of 4.25% between XMP and overclocked. The same comparison yielded very little increase for the F1 2021 game benchmark. However, looking at the JEDEC numbers, we did notice a nice FPS jump going from JEDEC to overclock.
There’s been a lot of misinformation in the media about DDR5 and its thermal performance. It does have the memory VRM controller on each DIMM now, so there’s certainly a possibility for higher temperatures. Therefore, we conducted some basic thermal experiments to give you a general understanding of the heat output. We will use a K-Type thermal probe and a Fluke F51-II digital thermometer for temperature readings to be as thorough as possible.
To keep our data consistent and conduct testing in all seasons, we will use the ambient-adjusted method for reporting temperatures. The temperature recordings were done in an open-air environment with no active airflow on the DIMMs. We use two approaches to generate heat and allow the DIMMs to return to a steady-state with a 20-minute cooldown.
Do enthusiast DDR5 memory modules require active heat sinks, as some tantalizing media headlines have suggested? At this point, we feel the Micron-based DDR5 modules don’t need much cooling if any. Based on the disassembled pictures above, we know that the PMIC heat output was not included in the thermal plan for this module. Realistically, we feel the majority of the heat increase we observed here is a result of the overall thermal growth of the motherboard and not necessarily the DIMM alone.
The XPG Lancer DDR5 modules were a blast to test. They’re built with high-quality materials, and the overall fit and finish were excellent. We expected great things from ADATA, and they delivered. The heat sink design is clean-looking and very straightforward. The styling is perhaps a bit on the ‘safe’ side, but it’s also timeless in that regard. With a total height of 40 mm, there shouldn’t be any clearance issues with most coolers.
As for the overclocking, we felt the Micron ICs fell a bit short of the expectation. We know that XMP ratings of 6400 MHz and much higher are on the horizon for DDR5, so we expected a bit more overclocking headroom from the IC. We managed a stable 400 MHz overclock with just a five mV increase in voltage. This produced favorable performance results across the board, ranging from a 2-4% increase. Aside from DDR5 being fundamentally different from DDR4, in terms of overclocking, they are surprisingly similar.
We found the XPG Lancer at B&H Photo for $299.99. As expected in the current chip-shortage climate, the retail market for the DDR5 launch is relatively small. Looking at XMP ratings of 5200 MHz, we’ve seen the price vary from 289.99 up to 369.99. Considering that the Lancer doesn’t come with RGB lighting, the price point is slightly above where we’d expect it. To ADATA’s credit, they built the Lancer with premium products and it’s got the style to back up the price tag. If you’re looking to make the jump to DDR5, and you definitely should, then we’d recommend putting the XPG Lancer at the top of your list for RGB-less memory.
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David Miller – mllrkllr88