When Intel’s X99 enthusiast platform hits the market next month, it’s not only going to bring with it the company’s first 8-core desktop processor; it’s also going to kick-off the DDR4 generation for us non-enterprise folk. DDR4’s most-touted feature is that it can match and exceed DDR3 frequencies while drawing less power – expect 1.2V for most launch modules. Other benefits include increased bandwidth, and of course, a higher digit.
As the title of this post suggests, there’s a downside, too: Early adopters are going to find their financial futures looking a little DIMM. Sure – that’s a poor joke, but it’s not like I tried to RAM it down your throat.
With the launch of DDR4 so close, we knew it’d be just a matter of time before some etailer on these shores began listing it. Well, as I explored Newegg’s memory section this past weekend for unrelated reasons, I spotted a new DDR4 option in the filter box. At the moment, the absolutely only brand to have its DDR4 listed is Crucial, and all of it is for pre-order, with shipments queued for the 29th of this month.
To see what kind of premium DDR4 modules will demand, I plucked four high-density kits from the list. I likewise looked for DDR3 kits that shared both the same frequencies and densities, and grabbed the lowest-priced one for comparison’s sake (other kits at the bottom of this price run cost about $5~$10 more).
|2133MHz 2x8GB||$155 (Mushkin, 1.58V, CL 10)||$260 (Crucial, 1.2V, CL 16)||+68%|
|2133MHz 4x8GB||$315 (G.SKILL, 1.65V, CL 10)||$520 (Crucial, 1.2V, CL 16)||+65%|
|2400MHz 2x8GB||$155 (Team Xtreme, 1.65V, CL 10)||$260 (Crucial, 1.2V, CL 16)||+67%|
|2400MHz 4x8GB||$325 (G.SKILL, 1.65V, CL 11)||$520 (Crucial, 1.2V, CL 16)||+60%|
Being a dominant leader in the DRAM market, Crucial’s prices tend to be some of the most attractive out there, so I think it’s safe to assume that most DDR4 we see hit the market over the next month will be a bit more expensive than this. Using Crucial as a baseline, expect a premium of at least 60% over DDR3.
Let’s also not gloss over the fact that for some reason, the DDR4-2133 and DDR4-2400 Crucial kits cost the exact same. Even the kits that forgo a heatspreader have the exact same cost as those that do! Weird.
Based on frequency alone, it looks like consumers will have to shell out at least 60% more for a kit that just happens to have a different pin layout. That’s a bit harsh, so I’m hoping that the architectural improvements results in higher bandwidth from equal-spec’d parts.
What stands out even more than that is the fact that these DDR4 modules sport a CAS latency of 16. When DDR3 came out, there wasn’t a huge timing hit compared to DDR2. As we moved to higher frequencies, our memory’s timings likewise increased, but that’s to be expected. For comparison’s sake, a G.SKILL kit of 4x8GB spec’d at DDR3-2800 has a CAS latency of 12. All I can assume at this point is that for DDR4, these higher timings won’t mean too much in the end. On paper though, the increase looks horrible.
Our first DDR4 kit is en route, and should land in our lab this week. However, I don’t think we’ll be able to share information on performance until Intel officially pulls the veil off of its X99 platform because DDR4 will be running through Haswell-E’s on-chip controller. If there’s one thing Intel doesn’t like to see before a launch, it’s performance results from the press. If there’s one thing I don’t like seeing before a launch, it’s an epic meal with no leftovers. Gut-wrenching.