Systems & Design

DDR Memory Test Challenges From DDR3 to DDR5

From DDR3, DDR4 and DDR5, learn the progression of the technology, how tests have evolved, and the test equipment that can help combat challenges.


Cloud, networking, enterprise, high-performance computing, big data, and artificial intelligence are propelling the development of double data rate (DDR) memory chip technology. Demand for lower power requirements, higher density for more memory storage, and faster transfer speeds are constant. Servers drive the demand for next-generation DDR. Consumers benefit when existing and legacy generations economize and become affordable. As dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) decreases in price, it makes its way into our PCs and laptops. To accommodate these requirements, standardization body JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) released the DDR5 synchronous dynamic random access memory (SDRAM) standard in July 2020. Starting in mid-2021, JEDEC expects to start seeing DDR5 devices emerge as manufacturers confirm hardware.

Test Challenges — Signal integrity and data corruption issues can make testing DDR designs problematic. Understanding the issues is the first step toward solving them.

  • Signal integrity
    A common signal integrity challenge found in DDR designs is timing issues with the memory controller. It is likely you purchased the memory controller with your design rather than designing a custom memory controller. If so, you will need to adjust the timing between your board and memory controller. Historically, it was enough to run setup and hold time tests to verify data transfer. In the past, speeds were slower, so margins were wider, meaning you had enough room to declare a DDR2 or DDR3 design within specification as long as you passed a setup and hold time test.

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