With Intel’s latest extreme platform, Haswell-E and X99, supporting DDR4, all fingers have been pointing towards the state of DDR4 support for the 100-series motherboards and Intel’s 6th generation of processors, Skylake. At Computex we saw a number of 100-series motherboards, although I want to point out a couple which showcase a little of the DRAM support we should expect.

At the Biostar booth there was a H170 motherboard and a B150 motherboard that had clearly defined DDR3 and DDR4 memory slots:

The H170Z3 in show looks similar to a standard mATX motherboard using a single PCIe 3.0 x16, a couple of PCI slots, support for USB 3.0, SATA Express and M.2. It’s the DRAM slots with different spacing that act as the giveaway:

Note at the motherboard it states DDR3_A1 and DDR4_A1. Further questioning at the booth gave us two tidbits of information. Firstly, DDR3 is technically DDR3L, because the 1.35V requirement of DDR3L aligns better with the 1.2V (or 1.35V of high speed) DDR4 requirement. Regular DDR3 may work, though chances are it will not be tested. The other point of information was to be expected, because it mirrors that of the previous changeover – DDR3 and DDR4 cannot be used at the same time. As a result, this motherboard is essentially a one DIMM per channel design, but allows users an upgrade path if they already own DDR3L.

A full sized ATX-based B150Z5 with both DDR3 and DDR4 slots was also on show. It would seem (looking at the other motherboard manufacturers as well) that this type of hybrid design will not be on the Z170 series of motherboards, and is more resigned to the sub-$120 market. We would expect other manufacturers to come out with similar products as well.

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  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, July 2, 2015 - link

    I've never understood the appeal of these kinds of motherboards.

    Are there that many people itching to pay twice as much for ddr4?

    Maybe the performance is there, but it doesn't feel that influential for most use cases.

    If I had an old ddr3 kit, is want to use it for as long as humanly possible. I surely wouldn't go out of my way to but a motherboard that allows me to prematurely upgrade to ddr4.

    Am I crazy?
  • extide - Thursday, July 2, 2015 - link

    You have it backwards. Boards will typically be DDR4 only, or 3 and 4. SO, apparently these boards appeal to you!
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, July 2, 2015 - link

    Why won't we see DDR3-only Skylake boards?

    I'd hate to waste two DIMMs that I would literally never use.
  • extide - Thursday, July 2, 2015 - link

    You probably will, but they will be the exception, not the rule.
  • TomWomack - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    If you're not able to reuse the memory, it's there when you sell the previous computer whole on craigslist or gumtree, and you have extra money to buy new parts.
  • cmdrdredd - Thursday, July 2, 2015 - link

    considering most boards will be DDR4 only, this is what you would want if you didn't want to upgrade to DDR4. Personally if I'm buying a whole new system including Motherboard and CPU, I am also going to go all the way with DDR4.
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, July 2, 2015 - link

    I don't recall that DDR3 was much to write home about in the context of DDR2. I doubt DDR4 will bebe much different.
  • extide - Thursday, July 2, 2015 - link

    DDR3 was great with Core 2's because a lot of the time when overclocking those you ran out of dividers for the memory bus and ended up having to run really high mem clocks to get really fast FSB's. DDR3 obviously was much more OK with that.

    However, that probably wont be an issue this time around as there is no more fsb and all that .. soo yeah DDR4 will probably offer little to no perf improvement, BUT when DDR4 goes mainstream it will get cheaper, a lot cheaper.
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, July 2, 2015 - link

    I'm thinking that by the time DDR4 gets to DDR3's prices, we'll be past Skylake and onto something else.

    Eventually DDR4 will make sense for a budget-minded desktop user, but I don't think Skylake will be Intel's best & brightest when that happens.
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, July 2, 2015 - link

    Ok, so apparently DDR4 is basically at DDR3 prices. There's a small premium, but it's <20%.

    I still think it is wasteful for those with existing machines, but it probably makes sense to go for DDR4 for brand new builds if you have a little bit of extra cash in the budget.

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