Advancements in computing power develop at breakneck speed. What’s cutting edge today can often be banished as yesterday’s news in a matter of months. One of the latest areas to see a significant move forward is computer memory. Consumer release of DDR4, the successor to DDR3 memory, is finding its way into ever more CPUs and GPUs.
What is DDR4?
DDR4 is an abbreviated term for double data rate fourth generation, the latest variation of dynamic random access memory (DRAM).
DDR4 has been slowly making its way into the consumer market over the past 12 months, with a number of desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones now pondering the inclusion of DDR4, the best category of RAM currently available on the market.
In short, RAM is the component in a computer used for short-term data access, quickly storing and accessing data for active programmes.
Essentially, DDR4 brings two major upgrades over previous variants of RAM. Firstly, power. DDR4 generates around 2133 MT/s (million transfers per second), doubling its output over DDR3 (1066 MT/s) and multiplying its power more than five times over that of DDR2 (400 MT/s). What does this mean to us and our power-reliant programmes? Well, any device kitted out with DDR4 memory will be more capable of handling data-intensive tasks, a problem of increased pertinence as software development progresses. Similarly, application loading times will be greatly reduced and the system housing DDR4 memory will be more responsive.
Significant improvement number two is efficiency. Whilst DDR3 operated on 1.5 volts, a 20% reduction in the power usage leaves DDR4 free to run on just 1.2 volts. Applying these numbers to real world effects, reduced power outage equals a number of things. A longer battery life is the most obvious advantage, particularly in mobile devices such as smartphones and laptops. On a larger scale, savings can be made by data centres and businesses who’s PCs and servers require less power to operate. Reduced power outage also equates to less heat generated by internal components. With less cooling required, the reliability of your laptop or mobile device will increase.
One final advancement of note in DDR4 is capacity. DDR4 squeezes considerably more performance out of each individual component, with no increase in actual size. Smaller dies on the circuitry allow more gigabits to be crammed onto each component. A higher density circuit in turn allows for increased amount of RAM capacity in PCs, further aiding performance.
Where will I find DDR4?
DDR4 is approaching its 1 year anniversary as a consumer product. As can be expected from an emerging technological breakthrough, it remains a costly investment. Broadly speaking, DDR4 is yet to make it into pre-built desktop PCs, laptops and mobile devices, largely consigning itself for purchase by bespoke PC builders. As the need for greater levels of computing performance increase however, we can expect DDR4 to fill the void and find itself in PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets throughout 2015 and beyond. That is, until DDR5 comes along.
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