With the Introduction of Intel’s Canterwood 875 and Springdale 865 chipsets, the memory landscape is changing rapidly. These mainstream chipsets bring many new features to the desktop and workstation PC, but memory support may be the biggest innovation as it takes a giant leap with standard support for Dual-Channel DDR400 memory.

It wasn’t long ago that we were talking about whether DDR400 would even become an official standard. Now, with the Intel 875/865 chipsets, we see DDR400 completely legitimized. More importantly, with the excellent performance of the Intel Pentium 4 800FSB chips, we are seeing enthusiasts actively searching for memory that can perform at DDR466/DDR500 and even higher speeds. These were memory speeds that we never thought we would be talking about on the way to DDRII, and apparently, memory manufacturers have also been caught by surprise. Introductions have been slow because chips are apparently unavailable, but we now see high-end memory manufacturers scrambling to bring out these extremely high-speed memory modules for which enthusiasts are asking.

Given this climate, we decided to take a closer look at the question of what is the best memory for the Canterwood and Springdale chipsets. In Part 1, we will try to determine the best Memory configuration for the 875/865. We were able to examine this and find some answers with Memory that we had on-hand. The answers will be important for many of you who are looking to buy memory for the new boards, so we decided to release the results of our memory configuration testing. Part 2 will investigate the performance of the new DDR466 and DDR500 modules that will be coming to market in the near future. Since we are still waiting to receive many of these new modules, or currently have only beta samples of some of the memory, it will be several weeks until Part 2 is posted.

The Best Memory Configuration for 865/875

One of the questions we are often asked is whether a particular motherboard can run with four DIMMs - or at the maximum number of memory slots for the board. Surprisingly, the answer is often ”no”, which is why AnandTech added the process of populating and testing all memory slots to the review procedures. However, with the Intel 875/865 Dual-Channel boards, we are realizing that additional questions need to be raised. Is there a performance difference in two DIMMs vs. four DIMMs? Do single-sided or double-sided DIMMs perform better on Canterwood/Springdale boards? What is the real performance difference in one DIMM, two DIMMs, and four DIMMs?

Answers to all of these questions will lead to determining the best-performing Memory configuration for Intel 875/865 boards. We set out to find the answer to this question, and what we discover may surprise you.

Test Design
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  • jsalpha2 - Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - link

    Pardon me, cause I'm tired. Did the article say if 4x(256) is better or worse than 2x(512). Assuming identicle brand and speed of RAM.
    I think I heard somewhere to go with just two sticks for better performance. Plus then you have open slots for later.

    Question #2 Would 2x(512) of cheaper DDR333 be better than 2x(256) of DDR400?
    thanks
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - link

    Great article, it's just missing latency benchmarks. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - link

    Ok - pardon the newbie question, but - I'm building a P4c with Asus P4P800 board. I want 1 gig of DDR400 ram - what brand/model number do I buy - ?
    Thanks for your help.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - link

    This is all nice and good, but what does it all mean in the real world, run some benchmarks in these various modes and show us whether we should care about it :) bottom line to me is what it does for the games, if i'm losing/gaining 4 FPS i'm more likely to care about the price differences then memtest. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - link

    These are quoted form Intel's White Paper, p.13 "NOTES: Ranks per Dimm (1 Rank is a single-sided DIMM, 2 Ranks is a double-sided DIMM)". The common practice of using higher-density Dimms every other Dimm on both sides (4 chips per side) is FUNCTIONALLY a Single Bank or Single-Sided Dimm.

    As for confirming that 4 dimms was faster, only the tests on the 3.0 were CPU-limited. We also determined maximum overclock on a 2.4C which was not CPU-Limited. Please check Page 7.
    Reply
  • Philippine Mango - Thursday, January 25, 2007 - link

    Wrong, you didn't use a 2.4C, you used a 2.6 processor which from what I know doesn't overclock as well as the 2.8C or 2.4C.. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - link

    "...we confirmed that the added memory bandwidth more than makes up for the slightly lower overclock with four double-sided DIMMs"

    To say you 'confirmed it' is quite a leap indeed... as you notably stated, you were CPU limited in going any higher for 1 and 2 sticks, whereas you clearly reached a blockade with the 4 sticks of memory. It could be that 4 sticks of memory causes a blockade in the chipset performance at some GHz, but with a better CPU you might have gone much higher with the opposing configurations.

    -Robert
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - link

    "If you plan to run DDR400 as your base memory speed with an 800FSB processor, your best memory performance will clearly be with four matched double-sided DIMMs"

    Can somebody help me to understand this?

    I have only heard about 2 matched DIMMs...

    Four matched DIMMs is 2 X 2 matched DIMMS?

    Thank you very much!
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - link

    While the article was interesting in that it at least confirmed Intel's white paper, I would be interested in your also testing ECC. I have a machine which does double duty as a backup server (plug the disks in the SCSI port and away it goes!). I am just curious as to the performamce hit when ECC is being used. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - link

    The writer does not distinguish between DS and double bank module ;) Reply

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