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I've been looking around for VRMs, and some of them mention being 'Digital VRMs'

What is the major difference? What are the advantages/inconveniences with having a 'Digital VRM' instead of a 'normal VRM'?

Or is the 'Digital VRM' thing just a marketing ploy?

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  • There are some amd motherboards on Amazon which specifically mention "Ditial" VRM on product titles.
    – Vikas
    Oct 27 '21 at 16:26
  • Digital* correction
    – Vikas
    Oct 27 '21 at 17:10
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First, for those stumbling across this question who don't fully understand what the VRM's job is:

A VRM is a fine-tuned DC to DC power supply for voltage-sensitive electronics like a CPU or GPU. It usually has multiple "phases" that it switches between to ensure that the average voltage output is stable, and so that the components don't have to work for 100% of the time and overheat. (4 phases means each phase is supplying power 25% of the time)

What is the major difference? What are the advantages/inconveniences with having a 'Digital VRM' instead of a 'normal VRM'?

Modern CPUs can decide how much voltage they need to get a certain task done, or to help itself cool off. They tell the VRM to provide a target voltage over a digital connection. This allows the VRM to use a feedback loop so it can control itself based on its own output versus the target output.

On an Analog VRM, the target voltage is compared to the actual voltage in an analog circuit that uses transistors. It is designed to always adjust voltage to make the difference between the two signals be as close to 0 as possible. This is an older/simpler design and works just fine. In fact, analog systems can be very accurate and still show up on "high end" motherboards.

On a Digital VRM, there is a microcontroller that reads all of the voltage values in digital and uses algorithms & math to set the output voltage. Normally using a PID controller. The microcontroller allows the VRM to be "smarter" about how it outputs voltage and may be aware of other conditions in the system to better manage the power.

Generally speaking, analog VRMs respond faster and are cheaper to make.
Digital VRMs are very complex and require a lot of tuning work to make them effective; But if they are designed properly they can do the job well while also providing many extra power management controls or features. (In the BIOS or motherboard software)

In either case, there can be poorly designed VRMs that do not perform well, and really high quality VRMs that can handle extreme overclocking. There is no general answer to which is better.

TL;DR:

  • The CPU tells the VRM what voltage to supply.
  • An analog VRM uses transistors in specially designed circuits to make the voltage always move towards the requested level.
  • A digital VRM uses a microcontroller and algorithms to make the voltage move towards the requested level.
  • Either kind can be built poorly, both can be great for overclocking if made well.
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  • So, if I would be to TLDR your thing, from what I understand, what I was guessing in a chatroom was right: The normal way its a physical thing that makes it so there can't be more than, let's say, 60V passing through. A digital is the same, but that 'gate' is made with a chip that can be programmed to let more or less voltage through, contrary to the normal way where you would need to open up your computer and solder things to the motherboard to change the amount that is 'gated' by the VRM.
    – Fredy31
    Oct 27 '21 at 19:48
  • No, I don't think you understand what VRMs do if that was your takeaway. When you have any kind of system with an output that needs to adjust to match a target, you have to make some kind of control system. Like a thermostat in your house, an old analog one turns on the heat when it gets too cold and turns on the A/C when it gets too hot, all using analog components. The newer ones with microcontrollers use digital temperature readings to tell the heat or A/C to turn on.
    – Romen
    Oct 27 '21 at 19:55
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    Oh ok, that clears it up. Thanks.
    – Fredy31
    Oct 27 '21 at 20:00

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