Serving both worlds
DDR4 memory is all about increasing bandwidth through higher speeds while concurrently reducing energy consumption by dropping standard voltage from 1.5V to 1.2V. Such plays work well in the server market, so it's no surprise to see DDR4 memory validated and available for the latest Intel Xeon v3 chips.
But Intel X99 high-end desktop is the solitary consumer platform supporting DDR4 memory, which makes sense as the trio of Core i7-5xxx processors share significant commonality with their Xeon cousins. A new platform and new memory standard go hand in hand, but it will be a while before we see the nascent memory forge reasonable market share for mainstream PCs.
And like everything new and shiny in technology there's a considerable price premium for choosing a DDR4-based platform over widely available DDR3, evidenced by expensive kits to pair alongside that Haswell-E processor.
Crucial understands that a type of DDR4 memory, unbuffered DIMM (UDIMM), can be used for both servers and the X99 platform. Such modules don't need fancy cooling and tend to run to JEDEC-mandated standards, where reliability is far more important than small increases in performance availed by faster speeds.
To this end, serving both the server and high-end desktop markets, Crucial has begun selling DDR4 memory to the public. The UDIMM variant is unavailable on the company's UK site but shows up just fine over the pond when selecting the correct options. Enterprising UK retailers have seen the scope for this memory and also begun selling individual modules.
Available in either 4GB or 8GB sticks and limited to the JEDEC speed of 2,133MHz, Crucial sent us four 8GB modules identified by the part number CT8G4DFD8213. Equipped with 15-15-15-36-2T timings and both unbuffered and non-ECC (so working fine in X99 boards), operating voltage is also a standard 1.2V.
These single modules are currently on pre-order for about £75 in the UK, thus undercutting premium X99-specific DDR4 memory by a healthy degree. There's no corresponding XMP setting as found on regular sets from Corsair or Kingston, mind, but that's a small price to pay for increased capacity.
Crucial naturally uses Micron BGA memories identified as 4LA77, likely a variant of these parts from the catalogue. Notice the curved contacts section that narrows towards the edge of the PCB? That's a hallmark of 288-pin DDR4 memory. Crucial backs these sticks up with a three-year limited warranty.
A competitive cost-per-GB is the standout feature of these multi-purpose DDR4 modules. Let's now see if they can perform to similar levels previously exhibited by performance packs from Corsair and G.Skill.