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The supply of new DDR5 memory is already running dry, driving up prices

As if building a new PC wasn’t expensive enough, even the newest memory modules are now running into supply problems.

DDR5 is the latest generation of RAM, and it notably comes supported in the new Intel Alder Lake CPUs and Z690 motherboards. While Intel’s new chips have remained successful in terms of performance and in stock, the shortage of memory has left those dual in-line memory module (DIMM) slots vacant.

White Corsair DDR5 RAM slotted into a motherboard.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The new Z690 chipset that launched in conjunction with Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs features support for both PCIe 5.0 and DDR5. Surprisingly, the CPUs and motherboards have been in good supply, but DDR5 has not been due to a shortage of PMIC (Power Management Integrated Circuit) chips.

PMIC chips are different from what we’re used to seeing from DDR4 and all previous memory generations as PMIC chips feature a different power management system that pulls all of its power from the motherboard to the RAM sticks. Because of that, a new chip is needed.

According to 12chip, there is a severe price difference between DDR4 and the newer DDR5.

“The PMIC chip is currently in very short supply, while the purchase price of the PMIC chip to be used in DDR5 memory is 10 times more expensive than the corresponding chip in D4 (DDR4).”

As if this wasn’t bad enough, RAM prices were projected to rise by 13% to 18% in the second quarter of this year. We are now in the fourth quarter of 2021 and the new DIMMs are still expensive and harder to obtain due to the PMIC chip shortage.

Fortunately, there is somewhat of a workaround for this issue as there are some Z690 motherboards that support DDR4, like the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Elite. However, this choice does leave you without DDR5 support in the future once the sticks become more available.

It should be noted in case you decide to pick up a new set of DDR4 sticks that Crucial, one of the most popular memory companies, promises that over time, DDR5 will be able to get up to speeds of 8,400MHz.

It doesn’t seem too long ago when we would see DDR4 prices at an all-time low and who knows, maybe that will be the case with DDR5. But for now, there aren’t enough RAM stick to go around.

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