Next-Generation DDR5 RAM Will Double Speeds of DDR4 RAM as MacBook Pro Remains on LPDDR3
JEDEC, the organization that develops global standards for computer memory, has announced it will be previewing its next-generation DDR5 standard for RAM in June 2017. The standard is expected to be finalized by 2018, at which point chipmakers like Intel will be able to add support for the technology.
As noted by Ars Technica, DDR5 RAM will double the speed of current DDR4 RAM while offering greater power efficiency.
DDR5 memory will offer improved performance with greater power efficiency as compared to previous generation DRAM technologies. As planned, DDR5 will provide double the bandwidth and density over DDR4, along with delivering improved channel efficiency. These enhancements, combined with a more user-friendly interface for server and client platforms, will enable high performance and improved power management in a wide variety of applications.
It might be quite a while until DDR5 RAM goes mainstream, however, as the first computers with DDR4 RAM did not arrive until two years after that standard was finalized. Apple itself has yet to even adopt DDR4 RAM, with nearly every current Mac equipped with older LPDDR3 RAM, which maxes out at 16GB.
• MacBook: 8GB of 1866MHz LPDDR3 RAM
• MacBook Air: 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 RAM
• MacBook Pro: 8/16GB of 1866/2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM
• iMac: 8/16/32GB of 1867MHz LPDDR3 RAM
• Mac mini: 4/8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 RAM
• Mac Pro: 12/16GB of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC RAM
Apple said the 2016 MacBook Pro does not support DDR4 RAM because of battery life considerations. DDR4 memory's low-power variant LPDDR4 is not supported by Intel's Skylake processors powering the latest MacBook Pro models, and using regular DDR4 RAM would have reduced space for batteries.
Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller responding to MacDaddy developer Ben Slaney in November:
The MacBook Pro uses 16GB of very fast LPDDR memory, up to 2133MHz. To support 32GB of memory would require using DDR memory that is not low power and also require a different design of the logic board which might reduce space for batteries. Both factors would reduce battery life.
The often reliable Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said Apple will release a 15-inch MacBook with 32GB of desktop-class RAM later this year, but it is unclear which Intel processor the notebook would use.
Intel's next-generation Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake processors do not support LPDDR4 RAM beyond ultra-low-power chips, while Cannonlake processors expected by early 2018 are not designed for the MacBook Pro.