What AMD's EXPO DDR5 Memory Hype Is About And How To Know If Your RAM Supports It
Memory is important for Ryzen. Well, memory's important for computers, period, but the specific performance of your PC's main memory is particularly pertinent for Ryzen systems, as enthusiasts are well-aware. Memory overclocking could be a cumbersome on Socket AM4 motherboards, so to sidestep that whole issue, AMD's introducing a feature called "Extended Profiles for Overclocking," better known as EXPO. It hopes this will facilitate easier memory OC for AM5 motherboards.
It's rather fashionable to describe EXPO as "XMP for AMD," and that sentiment is not completely wrong. XMP is Intel's eXtreme Memory Performance feature that allows memory module vendors to embed additional performance profiles in the memory modules themselves. The motherboard can load these to enable one-click memory overclocking.
Using XMP on Socket AM4 systems could be a little confusing. While the vast majority of DIY Socket AM4 motherboards support pulling the values from XMP profiles, it's fairly rare that AMD motherboards will actually use the "XMP" nomenclature due to it being an Intel product. Instead, they use other, brand-specific terms that could confuse novice builders.
EXPO, then, is fundamentally the same thing as XMP. Like many of AMD's other creations (including FidelityFX Super Resolution), it's completely free, at least in the sense that there's no licensing or royalty fees required. (Intel also doesn't charge vendors for XMP 3.0, though.) This should speed adoption by memory vendors—more on this in a moment—but more interestingly, it means that we could feasibly see EXPO support appear on next-generation Intel boards.
GEiL's Polaris RGB DDR5 memory will have EXPO support at speeds up to 6400 MT/s.
To be clear though, EXPO is not XMP; they are not literally the same thing, and they are not compatible. To make use of EXPO, you'll have to have a properly configured DDR5 memory kit that specifically supports the standard. Fortunately, it looks like there will be no shortage of memory sticks on the market that boast EXPO support. AMD's website lists ADATA, Corsair, G.SKILL, GEIL, and Kingston as partners for the launch of the feature, a roster that pretty much covers the enthusiast market.
A sampler of EXPO-capable DDR5 DIMMs from AMD.
Interestingly, despite AMD's website
noting that its Zen 4-based CPUs
will expect DDR5-5200 memory by default (matching that leak we saw back in April
), GEiL seems to imply that only DDR5-4800 memory is "not overclocking," as all of the higher speeds on its listing are marked as "O.C." This is almost-assuredly just a mistake in branding on GEiL's part, as DDR5-4800 is indeed the standard speed for Intel's current DDR5 platforms.
As far as the latter part of our headline—"how to know if your RAM supports it"—well, it doesn't! We don't know if there will be any facility on Socket AM5 motherboards to load XMP profiles for memory currently on the market, but we wouldn't be surprised. However, "over 15" memory kits sporting EXPO support are expected to launch alongside the Ryzen 7000 processors in mid-September. If you're looking to build Zen 4, we'd definitely recommend picking up one of these kits, likely at the 6000 MT/s "sweet spot