Friday, December 31st 2021

ASUS is Working on a DDR4 RAM Adapter for DDR5 Motherboards

With the current short supply and maybe more importantly, the rather insane pricing for DDR5 memory, ASUS is working on what could be called a quick fix for the problem, an adapter that would allow DDR5 motherboard owners to put DDR4 memory in their motherboards. It's not what we'd call an elegant solution at this point, but it's said it'll be refined before it's ready for retail—if it ever enters the market—since apparently the engineer that developed the adapter doesn't always get to see his projects hit retail, as from our understanding he's responsible for a lot of the more unusual products from ASUS' ROG brand.

That said, considering that a lot of high-end Z690 motherboards only support DDR5, this might be an interim solution that makes sense for a lot of people until availability of DDR5 improves. There's some complexity in making the adapter work though, as not only does it need its own power regulation, since DDR4 memory doesn't have onboard power conversion components unlike DDR5, but there's also the 2x 32-bit vs 64-bit bus to take into consideration as well. On top of this, the DRAM traces are obviously extended, which could lead to instabilities, which is why it's apparently only tested with one type of memory right now, which appears to be G-Skill's Tridentz Royal. A further limitation of the adapter is that it requires a special UEFI version to be installed that allows DDR4 memory to be used, but this might be the smallest issue in this "skunk works" project from ASUS' ROG team.

Sources: Bing on YouTube, via Anandtech
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104 Comments on ASUS is Working on a DDR4 RAM Adapter for DDR5 Motherboards

#26
Fouquin
delshayI wonder how it's going to work. One would think next gen processors will support DDR 5 only, so I take it, it has DDR4/5 controller built-in just like the good old Phenom Processors which supported DDR2/3.
Or Skylake, Kaby Lake, and Coffee Lake which all support both DDR4 and DDR3.
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#27
silentbogo
I have an old 775 board at the office with DDR2+DDR3 slots(I think it's MSI), and I did have a few Skylake boards with DDR3/DDR4 (AsRock, Biostar).
Back in a day had quite a few with DDR&DDR2 slots on the same board as well.
Almost every gen we had at least a few "transitional" boards that had both old and new gen of memory slots.
I'm wondering why not now? Adapters are cool and all, but it's going to be unnecessarily convoluted.
C'mon, BIOSTAR and Eltegroup - it's your chance for comeback :peace:
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#28
Jism
VerpalDon't know the specific of this, but there are two issue that I can immediately imagine:
1. latency! Longer wire = more latency = less FPS = bad.
2. This thing need voltage converter, and they are, too, in short supply.

Either way, it isn't optimize yet, maybe there are other things that can be done on UEFI to compensate.
If the traces are "big" enough and the impedance strong enough, then this really woud'nt impose an issue under normal day conditions. The difference you will note only when you take it to extreme levels like LN2 world records or so.

I mean have you ever seen the Gigabyte Superclock VRM Board? It's a thing that you solder directly onto your GPU as a full replacement for the VRM:



Now these "power" traces are'nt small either, and big as possible using copper to minimize any resistance as much as possible. And they work pretty well.
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#29
Broken Processor
Aside from ddr5 being hard to get and scary expensive atm the performance is garbage compared to what it will get to later I'll stick to ddr4 for at least 2 more year's.
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#30
delshay
The KingI don't see why board don't come with two slots for DDR4 and 2 slots for DDR5.
Basically if you using DDR4 then the DDR5 slot get disable and vice versa.

Then you would not have to make separate DDR4 and DDR5 versions of the same board.
One would think they would have tons of DDR 4 sockets, so it's all about trace layout & putting in voltage regulation for DDR4, if the newer CPU has DDR4/5 controller.
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#31
goodeedidid
Don't these adapters need chips themselves lol
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#32
MentalAcetylide
The KingI don't see why board don't come with two slots for DDR4 and 2 slots for DDR5.
Basically if you using DDR4 then the DDR5 slot get disable and vice versa.

Then you would not have to make separate DDR4 and DDR5 versions of the same board.
Sure, but then you're wasting/losing two slots to use one or the other type of RAM, and you certainly can't populate all of the RAM slots and use two different RAM types together. It would essentially be a waste of space on a motherboard. I'm almost positive that 99.999% of the consumers out there would prefer to be able to use all four RAM slots rather than have the choice of being able to use both types of RAM on the same board with only half of the # of RAM slots functioning. The only scenario I could see this possibly being useful is for those who frequently swap RAM for testing. Other than that, RAM just isn't one of those components that is frequently swapped out or dicked around with by your average computer user, so it would be a waste, especially the cost.
If anything, it would be a better idea just to make a board that supports both DDR4 & DDR5 instead of only making half of the slots work for one or the other.
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#33
silentbogo
MentalAcetylideI'm almost positive that 99.999% of the consumers out there would prefer to be able to use all four RAM slots rather than have the choice of being able to use both types of RAM on the same board with only half of the # of RAM slots functioning.
99.9% of customers don't even know how many RAM sticks they have in their PC. And out of the remaining 0.1% only a small fraction is going to max out all 4 slots.
The only reason I had 4x8G, is because it was the bargain deal on OEM B-Die stick, and I already had plans of parting it out between 2 rigs.
By the time DDR5 becomes mainstream(e.g. few years down the road at least), it will make more sense to simply move on to 2x16GB DDR5 kit.
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#34
MaenadFIN
S.T.A.R.S.
The KingI don't see why board don't come with two slots for DDR4 and 2 slots for DDR5.
Basically if you using DDR4 then the DDR5 slot get disable and vice versa.

Then you would not have to make separate DDR4 and DDR5 versions of the same board.
At least in the past those combo boards were a thing, though not as usual as typical boards with only one supported memory generation. I remember seeing several DDR/DDR2 (Intel LGA775) and DDR2/DDR3 (Intel LGA775 & AMD AM3) boards.
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#35
The King
MentalAcetylideSure, but then you're wasting/losing two slots to use one or the other type of RAM, and you certainly can't populate all of the RAM slots and use two different RAM types together. It would essentially be a waste of space on a motherboard. I'm almost positive that 99.999% of the consumers out there would prefer to be able to use all four RAM slots rather than have the choice of being able to use both types of RAM on the same board with only half of the # of RAM slots functioning. The only scenario I could see this possibly being useful is for those who frequently swap RAM for testing. Other than that, RAM just isn't one of those components that is frequently swapped out or dicked around with by your average computer user, so it would be a waste, especially the cost.
If anything, it would be a better idea just to make a board that supports both DDR4 & DDR5 instead of only making half of the slots work for one or the other.
Yes, I was aware if those points. However most people dont even use more than two slots to begin with and if you need all four then buy a board that has four of the same type.
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#36
MaenadFIN
S.T.A.R.S.
The KingYes, I was aware if those points. However most people dont even use more than two slots to begin with and if you need all four then buy a board that has four of the same type.
I'm pretty sure that having only two slots isn't a problem for those who would get a combo board. Let's say that you have now a 2x8GB or 2x16GB kit of DDR4, I'm pretty sure that it's enough for that time before you upgrade to DDR5 and probably get a 2x16GB or even a 2x32GB kit.
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#37
MentalAcetylide
The KingYes, I was aware if those points. However most people dont even use more than two slots to begin with and if you need all four then buy a board that has four of the same type.
You're missing my point though. You're proposing that they build a motherboard that has two sets of completely different RAM slots that cannot be used together(i.e. you can't have DDR4 & DDR5 RAM working together). Like I said, you're essentially halving the RAM upgrade-ability of the system just for the sake of being able to run two different generations of RAM. The motherboard itself would be a lot more expensive just for that feature alone.
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#38
silentbogo
MentalAcetylideLike I said, you're essentially halving the RAM upgrade-ability of the system just for the sake of being able to run two different generations of RAM. The motherboard itself would be a lot more expensive just for that feature alone.
Yet these kinds of boards existed for nearly 2 decades, including OEM variants, and everyone was happy. And the price was never a big issue.
I think you are overestimating how much is "a lot more expensive" would be, since you still have to do data lanes for both kinds of RAM, and the DDR4 VRM costs pennies in BOM and by now is ironed out to the crisp. I still have hope that we'll see those on lower-end boards w/ H610/B660/Q670 hubs.
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#39
TheLostSwede
silentbogoYet these kinds of boards existed for nearly 2 decades, including OEM variants, and everyone was happy. And the price was never a big issue.
I think you are overestimating how much is "a lot more expensive" would be, since you still have to do data lanes for both kinds of RAM, and the DDR4 VRM costs pennies in BOM and by now is ironed out to the crisp. I still have hope that we'll see those on lower-end boards w/ H610/B660/Q670 hubs.
Again, according to Anandtech, Intel doesn't allow mixed memory slots for this generation of boards.
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#40
The King
MentalAcetylideYou're missing my point though. You're proposing that they build a motherboard that has two sets of completely different RAM slots that cannot be used together(i.e. you can't have DDR4 & DDR5 RAM working together). Like I said, you're essentially halving the RAM upgrade-ability of the system just for the sake of being able to run two different generations of RAM. The motherboard itself would be a lot more expensive just for that feature alone.
If you consider the current situation (the reason why ASUS came up with a DDR5 to DDR4 adapter?) It would not be that hard to integrate DDR4 modules into a DDR5 board as you make it out to be.

It would acutally be cheaper have one product line than two separate ones. The point you making about upgrading from 2 sticks to 4 is not relevant in this case at all. And there are board that have only two ram slots to begin with.
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#41
silentbogo
TheLostSwedeAgain, according to Anandtech, Intel doesn't allow mixed memory slots for this generation of boards.
If that was really the case, then that memory adapter prototype wouldn't exist. And as you can see - it's at least good enough to read out SPD and do basic initialization.
That's just one of those artificial barriers that's not really enforceable. If you can make a board with DDR4 and you can make a board with DDR5 - you can definitely make a board with DDR4 and DDR5. There may be some firmware limitations (like old HP/DELL prebuilts and laptops that did SPD check in order to phase-out non-QVL memory), but it's not hardware, not permanent, and it's still controlled by board makers.
P.S. I'm sure there's still an argument to be made about traces and tolerances, but remember what happened to PCIe 4.0 on 400-series... I'm still pissed about that.
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#42
The King
TheLostSwedeAgain, according to Anandtech, Intel doesn't allow mixed memory slots for this generation of boards.
The reason Asus came up that monster adapter is most likely that ASUS are not selling much of there DDR5 boards because of the supply and cost issues surrounding DDR5.

If i was ASUS i will tell Pat whatever his name is to stop blowing hot air out his @$$ and start producing some DDR5 modules. :laugh:
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#43
TheLostSwede
silentbogoIf that was really the case, then that memory adapter prototype wouldn't exist. And as you can see - it's at least good enough to read out SPD and do basic initialization.
That's just one of those artificial barriers that's not really enforceable. If you can make a board with DDR4 and you can make a board with DDR5 - you can definitely make a board with DDR4 and DDR5. There may be some firmware limitations (like old HP/DELL prebuilts and laptops that did SPD check in order to phase-out non-QVL memory), but it's not hardware, not permanent, and it's still controlled by board makers.
P.S. I'm sure there's still an argument to be made about traces and tolerances, but remember what happened to PCIe 4.0 on 400-series... I'm still pissed about that.
How so, it's not integrated on a motherboard, so it's a workaround that doesn't go against Intel's rules.
Then again, I'm just saying that there appears to be a reason why we're not seeing boards with two memory types, as I don't know if this is a fact or not.
Intel is very good at punishing bad parters, they simply don't give them any MDF next time, which is what the board makers makes most of their income from, although that does apparently not apply to Asus.
The KingThe reason Asus came up that monster adapter is most likely that ASUS are not selling much of there DDR5 boards because of the supply and cost issues surrounding DDR5.

If i was ASUS i will tell Pat whatever his name is to stop blowing hot air out his @$$ and start producing some DDR5 modules. :laugh:
Intel doesn't make RAM...
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#44
Chrispy_
If I had to guess, a pair of these adapters probably cost a fair amount of money for an ugly compromise with extra-long traces (which are bad for overclocking).

How much more do you need to spend to just buy a purpose-built DDR4 board instead of these?
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#45
Totally
TheLostSwedeIntel doesn't make RAM...
Don't they own or are the majority shareholder of Crucial?
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#46
TheLostSwede
TotallyDon't they own or are the majority shareholder of Crucial?
Micron you mean? That was a partnership and it ended a couple of years ago and that was related to flash memory, not DRAM.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IM_Flash_Technologies
Chrispy_If I had to guess, a pair of these adapters probably cost a fair amount of money for an ugly compromise with extra-long traces (which are bad for overclocking).

How much more do you need to spend to just buy a purpose-built DDR4 board instead of these?
They're most likely going to cost more than PCIe 4.0 riser cables and they cost $50+ so...
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#48
The King
TheLostSwedeIntel doesn't make RAM...
I was hardly serious. My point was if Intel's policy is that DDR4 and DDR5 should not be mixed then what should ASUS do with all the DDR5 mobos?

That's why this horrendous adapter came into existence! Unless intel can produce DDR5 RAM they should take their policy and stick it ...
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#49
stimpy88
Confirmation that DDR5, at this time, is a total bust.

DDR4 for the next 2 years baby!
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#50
Chrispy_
TheLostSwedeThey're most likely going to cost more than PCIe 4.0 riser cables and they cost $50+ so...
Hahah, so for two DIMMs we're talking about basically the cost of a B660 board and for four DIMMs we're past entry-level Z690 and well into the price range of capable overclocking boards like the Tomahawk or TUF models?

I wonder if an entry-level $180 DDR4 Z690 is more stable and overclocks better than a flagship DDR5 board hampered by these kludgy adapters! :laugh:
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