Micron: PMIC and VRM Shortages Are Creating Barriers to DDR5 Adoption

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In the medium term, the shortage of DDR5 modules is projected to last until at least the second half of 2022. Micron confirms that a scarcity of PMICs and VRMs is preventing the widespread adoption of DDR5.

Due to a shortage of components, including power management integrated circuits (PMICs) and voltage regulating modules, Intel's Alder Lake architecture is the first mainstream platform to support DDR5 memory. However, obtaining the appropriate memory modules is extremely difficult due to the shortage of components (VRMs). 

"Demand for DDR5 products is significantly exceeding supply due to non-memory component shortages impacting memory suppliers' ability to build DDR5 modules," Sanjay Mehrotra, chief executive of Micron, told investors and financial analysts at the company's earnings call". As a result of the anticipated reduction in shortages through 2022, we expect DDR5 bit sales to reach important levels in the second half of calendar year 2022.

Historically, motherboards were responsible for memory module voltage regulation and featured the necessary PMICs and VRM hardware to do this. Because both the PMICs and the VRMs have been shifted to the modules in DDR5, the voltage regulation has been simplified, and the complexity of server motherboards with more than a dozen memory slots has been reduced. At the same time, the change makes memory module manufacturing more difficult, as DRAM makers must now acquire PMIC and VRM components independently from one another. This is proving to be difficult in a world that is already suffering from a scarcity of computer chips.

Micron and other DRAM manufacturers are currently able to produce sufficient quantities of DDR5 memory chips, but shortages of the other components have resulted in a restricted quantity of genuine DDR5 modules being available. This has a considerable impact on the adoption of the new memory type, particularly among aficionados, who tend to spend substantially more time on their computers than the ordinary user.

PMICs for DDR5 memory modules are available from a number of manufacturers, including Renesas, IDT, Montage Technologies, and Texas Instruments. Intel, on the other hand, appears to have verified only PMICs manufactured by Renesas. Despite the fact that Samsung just introduced its own PMICs for DDR5 DIMMs, the company still uses Renesas components in at least a portion of their modules.

Intel's standard Alder Lake processors, which will be available in early 2022, will almost certainly raise demand for DDR5. Meanwhile, Intel and its partners will need time to ramp up their use of the platform, so Micron does not foresee significant DDR5 shortages in the first half of 2022. DDR5's market share will be impacted by the scarcity of VRM and PMIC components in the coming year, with Micron estimating that DDR5 will account for around 20% of compute DRAM bit sales by 2022.

Micron: PMIC and VRM Shortages Are Creating Barriers to DDR5 Adoption

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