Intel Reminds: Skylake Processors Do Not Officially Support DDR3 RAM, Use Could Damage the IMC – Only DDR3L and DDR4 Supported

Usman Pirzada
Posted Sep 30, 2015
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One of the biggest advantages of Skylake is the fact that it has an IMC design with multiple memory support.  As prices of DDR4 drop ever faster, users will want to jump ship and upgrade to the latest standard. That said, DDR3 is currently a very comfortable place for some users upgrading from old builds. In an interesting report by Toms Hardware (Via KitGuru), it turns out that using DDR3 RAM at its stock settings could actually be detrimental for the health of your processor.

SkylakeA picture of a wafer with Skylake dies. @Intel Public Domain

Intel Skylake processors can be damaged by using DDR3 memory for a prolonged period

The default voltage of DDR4 is 1.2V. You might recall that one of the benefits of the DDR4 memory standard is the increased power efficiency. This also means that the memory controller designed for such a standard will naturally be able to tolerate less extreme voltages. DDR3 memory on the other hand is actually 1.5Vs. Now the primary problem is that Intel has officially listed support for DDR3L standard, not DDR3, which actually has a voltage of 1.35V. And it is DDR3L, which is supported with Skylake. 

Ofcourse, if you plugin DDR3 memory (provided your motherboards has the necessary slot), it will run. But prolonged use can (and will) damage your brand new Skylake chip (or the IMC inside it to be more precise) – especially if you are running enthusiast memory with high voltages (1.65V). That leaves migrating users with a budget problem only with DDR3L memory, which officially runs at 1.35V. Ofcourse it goes without saying that most motherboards that hit the mainstream market only support the DDR4 standard. Very few will have support for DDR3L and even those who do have so, will have separate slots for both standards and will not allow simultaneous use of both standards.

The new UniDIMM memory standard from Intel allows users of the mobile platform to enjoy both DDR3L and DDR4 Memory on the same slot. Prominent AIBs such as Kingston, Micron and many more are fully supporting this initiative. This upgrade to the current SO-DIMM standard has made the notebook market more user friendly and also helped drive the sector that most Investor’s care about. We have seen motherboards in the past which supported both DDR2 and DDR3 but that was by utilizing multiple RAM slots. The UniDIMM standard will only have one slot for both generations.

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