DDR3 vs DDR4 RAM: Is It Worth The Upgrade?

If you’ve been there hunting for a new system to buy or build by yourself, you must have come across the term DDR4 RAM. As far as the market is concerned, the DDR3 is still, by far, the go-to RAM. We’ve all been using the DDR3 RAM for almost a decade now, but the market has started witnessing the introduction of DDR4 modules. With new devices coming out each day, is DDR4 really worth the upgrade, or is it just an expensive newer technology at comparable performance? How different is the DDR4 from its predecessor exactly? If you’ve been wondering about the same questions. So here is the DDR3 vs DDR4 RAM: Is It Worth The Upgrade?

DDR3 vs DDR4 RAM: Is It Worth The Upgrade?

DDR3 vs DDR4: What Has Changed?

To make the jump to newer technologies, the design is probably the first thing that has changed. The DDR3 RAM used a 240-pin package, that has been changed in the DDR4 RAM. DDR4 has switched to a 288-pin package, which directly goes on to say that there will be an obvious boost in the bandwidth capacity, which we will discuss further in the article. Furthermore, since the modules are of the same length, the pin-to-pin distance in the DDR4 RAM has been brought down to 0.85mm, as compared to DDR3’s 1.00mm. This further decreases the overall per-pin contact as well.

Operating Voltage

Power consumption is another aspect which manufacturers like to minimize, and thanks to the new DDR4 RAM, it works out quite well for them. The DDR4 RAM operates at a lower voltage of 1.2 volts as compared to DDR3’s 1.5 volts. While it doesn’t sound like a lot, the quoted numbers end up saving 1-2W per module per system, which for a fully laden home-user desktop might approach 15W at the high end of savings over DDR3, but for a server farm with 1000 CPUs, this means a 15kW saving.

Stability

In DDR3 RAMs, a single voltage source is applied across the whole module. This, in turn, can cause a significant voltage drop, affecting stability. With DDR4 though, things have changed. The new design that has been implemented in the DDR4 RAMs works by enhancing the lower voltage with the help of voltage reference ICs before each memory chip. This is done in order to ensure that a consistent voltage is applied across each of them individually rather than the whole module at once.

Refresh Algorithm

Before discussing the differences between the refresh algorithms of DDR3 vs DDR4, let us discuss a bit about RAMs in brief. Technically, RAMs are of two types – Static and Dynamic. The Dynamic RAM, as the name suggests, keeps on refreshing its content every few intervals. Now, depending upon the way it refreshes, DRAM is divided into multiple types, of which the most prominent one is SDRAM. Synchronous Dynamic Random-Access Memory (SDRAM) is much faster than previous, conventional forms of RAM and DRAM.

Clock Speed

The clock speed for a RAM represents how fast the RAM can read or write the data. One of the major differences of DDR3 vs DDR4 RAMs lies in their clocked speeds. Even though for DDR3 RAMs, the clock speed ranges from 800Mhz to 2133Mhz, manufacturers have moved on to make sure that the lowest clock speed is 1333Mhz for DDR3.

DDR3 vs DDR4: Who Wins?

As mentioned before, DDR4 picks up from where DDR3 left, improving in almost all the aspects. The DDR4 RAMs have definitely proven to be a worthy successor. While there isn’t much to separate the two when both are operating at 2133 Mhz, the higher clock speeds of DDR4 RAM give it a certain boost over the previous generation of RAMs. The higher raw power, combined with lower power consumption make the DDR4 a clear winner against the DDR3 RAM.

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