If you’ve been on the hunt for a shiny new set of DDR5 RAM to suit your 12th Gen build, the chances are you haven’t had a lot of success. In fact, in some markets, DDR5 has been all but unavailable. We’ve talked with some vendors who claim the situation will improve from January onwards and that gave us some optimism, but according to Micron, constrained supplies of critical components mean that DDR5 will remain scarce until the second half of 2022. Ouch.
The comments came during a Micron earnings call (via SeekingAlpha). The CEO of Micron, Sanjay Mehrotra, told investors and financial analysts that "demand for DDR5 products is significantly exceeding supply due to non-memory component shortages impacting memory suppliers' ability to build DDR5 modules. We expect these shortages to moderate through 2022, enabling bit shipments of DDR5 to grow to meaningful levels in the second half of calendar 2022."
The root cause of the poor supply is not the memory itself, but power management integrated circuits (PMICs). Prior to the introduction of DDR5, memory power management was traditionally handled by the motherboard. By moving power management to the modules themselves, motherboard complexity is reduced while the modules benefit from a tailored module specific power supply with cleaner signals and less noise.
Poor supply isn't just affecting high end DDR5 kits. The PMIC bottleneck is hurting supply from the bottom to the top of the market. Even base DDR5-4800 kits are hard to find in stock. Increasing production is not as simple as flicking a switch. Furthermore, it’s been reported that PMIC production lead times are very long, exacerbating the shortage.
It’s fortunate that Intel’s 12th Gen processors include DDR4 support, as without it, Intel would be left with even more frustrated buyers than there are now. Demand is only going to increase as more affordable 12th Gen processors and B660 motherboards come on sale in early 2022.
As we move further into 2022, we’ll all start to look forward to 13th Gen and Zen 4 processors, so demand will only increase. Let's hope supplies will have caught up by then. One day you’ll be able to add a graphics card to your shopping cart or walk into a main street retailer and buy a set of DDR5. PC Gamers have a really tough time of it right now and the bad news just seems to keep piling up.