Not everyone can (and wants) to update the key parts of any current PC, much less with the prices we are seeing for various reasons. Therefore, there is no shortage of those who could only change a part of their equipment, keeping the rest, where in this particular case it would be the DDR4 that they would currently have. Is it possible to have a PC with DDR4 and DDR5 given the important changes in the latter?
Intel and AMD, different paths for their DDR4 and DDR5 platforms
The truth is that we have to understand that in terms of launch times, both companies are going to take different paths. This is important because as we well know, Intel will arrive first with DDR5, while AMD will stay with DDR4.
The important thing a priori is that currently the memory controller is inside the processor itself, so it determines what types of memory it accepts and which ones it does not, as well as their speeds. So who would be ready for both types?
The answer will be given first by the platform and second by the manufacturers. In the first argument we have AMD with Zen 3 and Zen 3+, which will keep AM4 as a socket and therefore will continue to support DDR4, but not DDR5. Intel is ahead with Alder Lake-S before the end of the year and it will support both types of memory, but you are not interested in keeping the least of them.
Motherboards with DDR4 and DDR5: price, acceptance and performance are the key
Getting there first is not synonymous with success in many areas and may take its toll on Intel. Supporting DDR5 start-up with the prices it currently has and with an unjustified performance jump in gaming (not so in servers) may end up throwing the consumer back.
If all is true, Zen 3+ will be more powerful than Alder Lake-S for equal cores and even in gaming, maintaining DDR4 with more competitive prices and with a greater assortment of chipsets and motherboards available. Also, when I arrive Zen 4 to the market the DDR5 will be more established thanks to the step of Intel, so there is no reason to think that AMD will support both types of memory.
Lastly, we have the manufacturers. ASRock is a specialist in accommodating different types of memory on the same motherboard, but here there are significant changes in the jump from one memory to another. Now the VRM that supply and control the voltage are in the modules themselves, which implies that in high speed models a competent phase system in DDR4 and oversized in DDR5 would be needed.
Electric rails are completely different for these reasons, which implies two different power designs on the same board. Will we then see motherboards with DDR4 and DDR5? Complicated, extremely unlikely, not impossible, but complicated, we will have to wait to see if a manufacturer dares.