AMD's next-gen Zen 4 processors are expected later this year along with whole new motherboards, but the possible loss of DDR4 support might make the new upgrade a very expensive proposition for a lot of users hoping to upgrade to the platform.
With AMD's new Zen 4-based "Raphael" 7000-series processors expected to be released later this year, the company is looking to move on from its aging AM4 socket, which it has used for the past few Ryzen series releases, and it looks like DDR4 support will be dropped along with the older socket.
The news comes from our friends over at Tom's Hardware, who spoke to several sources in the supply chain who say that DDR5 will be the only memory supported on X670 and B650 AM5 motherboards expected to launch alongside the Raphael processors later this year.
Nothing has been officially announced yet, and it's always possible that AMD will find a way to keep DDR4 support on another motherboard series besides X670 and B650, but that isn't clear at this point. We've reached out to AMD for comment and will update this story if and when we hear back from the company.
Analysis: will AM5 be a more expansive upgrade than Intel Alder Lake?
The major concern here is that DDR5 RAM modules are very expensive at the moment, and this isn't likely to change any time soon. While the memory modules will inevitably come down in price, they are only just now starting to roll out, and for now only to Intel's 12th-gen Alder Lake processors.
While the Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K are two of the biggest selling processors out there right now, they aren't moving in nearly enough numbers to drive down the price of DDR5 on their own, so prices will still likely be very high when Zen 4 processors drop from AMD toward the end of the year.
If so, then anyone wanting to upgrade to the new Ryzen 7000-series processors would need a new motherboard and more expensive RAM, not to mention a possibly upgraded cooling solution as well. At least with some Intel Alder Lake motherboards, you can still use DDR4 RAM, taking some of the sting off the cost of the upgrade.
Whether AMD finds a way to keep DDR4 support could be a major factor in how many people opt to upgrade to the new AMD platform, or whether – for once – they find Intel a more affordable upgrade option.