It’s being reported that Intel wishes for its next generation 700 series motherboards to transition to DDR5 support only. 700 series boards will be released alongside 13th Gen Raptor Lake (opens in new tab) series processors, which is said to be happening in Q3 of this year (opens in new tab).
TechPowerUp (opens in new tab) reports that Intel is pushing motherboard makers to drop support for DDR4 memory, even though Raptor Lake CPUs are expected to retain DDR4 support. (opens in new tab) If you don’t want to shell out big money for DDR5, thankfully Raptor Lake is expected to be compatible with existing 600 series motherboards with DDR4 or DDR5 support. That's particularly useful for owners of high end DDR4 kits that lose very little, if anything in performance compared to higher latency DDR5 kits.
If next gen motherboards do drop DDR4 support, it wouldn’t be very surprising. The industry rapidly moved from DDR3 to DDR4 and as long as pricing and availability is reasonable, there’s little reason to continue DDR4 support.
Even without this news we would expect Z790 boards to support DDR5 only, but the situation with cheaper chipsets could be murkier. DDR5 will need price parity with DDR4 or cost just a little more if it’s to penetrate the lower end of the market. If DDR5 continues to carry a price premium, it will certainly slow the adoption rate of systems with B and H series chipsets. Users will be more likely to hold off an upgrade until DDR5 prices entice users to make the switch.
Retaining DDR4 support for 12th Gen systems was a great move in hindsight. DDR5 was completely unavailable at the time of its launch and forcing users to adopt DDR5 only would have slowed the adoption of 12th Gen products. But by the time 13th Gen rolls around, DDR5 supply is expected to be a lot better. Even now it's widely available, although it still carries a significant price premium when compared to DDR4.
Of course, much of this is guesswork as we don’t know what the market will look like in six months or more from now. Will the worst of the semiconductor shortage be behind us? It seems to be trending that way.
Intel’s 13th Gen platform will go head to head with AMD’s Zen 4 platform (opens in new tab), which is also set to adopt DDR5. Add to that RTX 40 (opens in new tab), RDNA3 (opens in new tab) and Intel's Arc Alchemist (opens in new tab) graphics cards and it’s looking like the second half of this year will be a great time to upgrade.