DDR3 vs. DDR2

by Wesley Fink on 5/15/2007 2:40 PM EST


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  • RichyDitch - Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - link

    Hey there, I'm still not sure what would be better. I have an AsRock P35 motherboard, and am totally confused as to what would be better when it comes to DDR2 or DDR3.

    The motherboard it's self can hold up to 8gb of PC2 8500 1066mhz duel channel DDR2 memory, and up to 4gb of PC3 10600 1333mhz duel channel DDR3 memory.

    What would end up being better, if I get the max amount of memory for the motherboard. The DRR2 specifications I mentioned or the DDR3 specifications mentioned?
  • mikegonzalezrubio - Saturday, January 24, 2009 - link


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  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, May 17, 2007 - link


    Two conditions would shift the recommendation to DDR3 instead. When DDR3 prices come close to DDR2 then buy DDR3 instead. More significantly, when DDR3 becomes available at higher speeds and/or faster timings then definitely choose DDR3 if you are looking for performance - even if the price is higher.

    No there are not just two conditions. There is a third condition that I wish you'd start considering: How it screws over everyone who wants to upgrade. This article has proven that Intel can squeeze more performance out of their memory controller. What this ultimately shows is that improvements in memory controller design actually outweigh the change to a new memory standard! Is DDR2 18% faster than DDR? (Maybe now, just barely. After 3 years!) Yet intel just pulls a new memory controller out of their wazoo that does 18% better? I smell a big rat and anadtech aint talking about it.
  • TA152H - Thursday, May 17, 2007 - link

    You're not the first person to be frustrated by how poorly memory speed increases, but there are a few things to consider.

    For one, the new controller is NOT 18% faster than the old, that is only in bandwidth, not latency. Latency is VERY important, and discounting is a huge fallacy. And yes, bandwidth has increased a lot more than 18% from DDR.

    Secondly, this isn't by any means the end of DDR2, it's a forward looking move that paves the way for DDR3. DDR2 will continue to dominate the market, and by the time it's obsolete you'll have DDR3 ready. What would happen if Intel waited for DDR2 to already be obsolete before they introduced DDR3? You'd have that long wait while memory companies worked on the new technology, and prices were very high and performance wasn't what it should be. After a couple of years, DDR3 would finally be mature in performance and cost, but nearly obsolesence itself. So, Intel is just getting things started so when DDR3 does become necessary, it is ready. It's like a pipelined processor, Intel is starting DDR3 in stage one while DDR2 is in stage 2.

    Also, keep in mind that DDR2 is not made to go much faster than it is, and will run into a wall. That's where DDR3 comes in. Again, it's forward looking by Intel. DDR2 can still increase a bit, but by the time it runs into a wall, DDR3 will be right there to go to higher speeds.

    Also keep in mind the number of people that upgrade is very, very small. It's not their intention to screw people over, but it's something they are willing to do because of the importance of evolving technology, and the miniscule percentage of people that upgrade processors without motherboards. It's a necessary evil.
  • sprockkets - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link


    We can tell you that Intel does not really have an NDA, but they have been very aggressive in holding first tier manufacturers to a May 21st performance embargo and retail distribution on June 4th

    Funny how we can let you benchmark hardware not coming out till this Autumn but we can't let out any info or benchmarks on a new chipset coming out in 5 days.
  • cornfedone - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link

    Anyone who thinks 2-5% increase in system performance is a big deal needs to get their head examined as it don't mean nothing real world. Most people couldn't even see a 2-5% system performance increase on their best day. Bearlake is more hype with no tangible performance increase. Reply
  • TA152H - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link

    Wow, that's a really uninformed remark.

    You might not notice X-Rays, but they can kill you. So don't talk about this babble with tangible (it's a poor choice of words, since it literally means "touchable" and it's bad enough Anand overuses it) and what's noticeable. You're getting an amazing increase from a chipset, and this is the mainstream chipset. On top of that, it supports DDR2 and DDR3 so it pushes the technology envelope forward. Getting any increases in memory performance is simply amazing at this point, since chipsets are so mature it's not like there is a low hanging fruit, and Intel processors have such a large cache it makes memory performance less important than would otherwise be. It's a fantastic chipset, arguably the next 440BX. I knew it was good, but even I'm shocked at just how good it is. Kind of kills the argument for the on-die memory controller, which I never was completely sold on. It's scary though, it makes you wonder just how well Intel will do with that if they can get this type of performance with the memory controller on the chipset.

    It's an amazing chipset, it is shocking in terms of performance, so much so I doubt anyone thought it was possible. Give them their kudos when they deserve it, because they do with this bad boy. I wish I knew how they did it, but my guess is by finally moving their chipsets to modern lithography, they were able to include a lot more buffers and run it faster without using too much power. I am really clueless though, that's pure speculation. I don't know how they made this so much better than everything else. It's shocking.
  • bldckstark - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link

    Shockingly enough, 2% is within the error of the tests performed, and therefore is not, statistically speaking, significant. Not only that, but the cost of progress is passed on to the consumer, who usually rates the speed of their computer based upon how fast their favorite website loads, not on how fast it performs computations. Shocking, I would say. Reply
  • TA152H - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link

    So, you're saying that on every single test by weird coincidence, the Bearlake is higher just be statistical scatter? You're saying the huge increase in bandwidth is somehow also weird coincidence?

    How do you know what the margin of error is anyway? When you get repeatable results where one is always higher, you can conclude pretty easily that they are real and not statistical scatter.

    And you know the cost of Bearlake how? You are sure it's more expensive? It probably uses less power, since it's made on finer lithography. So, you're talking about something you probably don't know anything about. I do agree that most people don't need the latest and greatest, so I fundamentally agree with that part, but who is going to make them buy this chipset? If they want cheap, they can still buy something cheap, if this isn't, which I don't know. But, some people need performance, and this is a great item for that, and it's a real accomplishment from Intel.

    By your perverse logic, all improvements that don't increase web speed are immaterial. That's clearly wrong. That only applies to some people.

    You're completely illogical.
  • OrSin - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link

    Thats total system performance, from 1 part. Memory performance is 16% and that huge from a low cost part. Unless your adding a $400 video card over $200 card you will not notice the diffenecen either. One part theats 15% more in price then a similar part will rarely give you 5% improvement.

    Remember this is a systems and it mean each part gives some improvement to make a better system.

    Yeah you will not notice 5%. Bet then why get a part that works 5% slower when the cost is similar. Some people are never happy.
  • 13Gigatons - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link

    Suddenly it doesn't seem like a bad decision on AMD's part to hold off on their move to AM3 and DDR3 until 2008/2009. I really don't get why we need to change the memory technology so fast, with DDR2 finally dropping in price so fast.

    I'd rather have 4GB of DDR2 then 1GB of DDR3.
  • Sunrise089 - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link

    Actually, a 2%-5% performance jump is very impressive from anything other than a CPU or GPU. Running a Raptor versus a 7200RPM drive, or a high-end motherboard versus a budget model, or a add-on sound card versus onboard audio all are choices many people make without any huge double digit performance gains in most applications.

    Thats said, the 2%-5% gain isn't from the memory standard (did you even read the article?) but from the new chipset. So these numbers have absolutely no bearing on AMD's choices.
  • Googer - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    If you wanted to test bandwidth effects, why use a processor that is not very bandwidth dependant? Instead a bandwidth hungry LGA-775 Prescott should have been one the CPU's used in these DDR3 benchmarks. I'd like to see this article updated with a dual core netburst processor added. Reply
  • TA152H - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link

    Are Prescotts even relevant anymore though? I mean, how many people are going to be perspecacious enough to buy a P35 based motherboard, and care about memory performance, and then go out and buy something as foul as a Prescott? It might make for an interesting data point, but it's a very little practical value. Reply
  • vailr - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    Please include, in your forthcoming P35 board review: enabling SATA AHCI mode. Still remains puzzling, especially when a board uses a non-Raid Intel chipset, such as the ICH8. Gigabyte says on their web site, that on the GAS-965P-DS3, that AHCI should only be enabled when running Vista. Several other questions remain, such as: AHCI seems to work fine under WinXP when using the latest 1.17.17 JMicron drivers (single HD connected to a JMicron SATA port). Connecting the same HD to an Intel port, and AHCI won't work. Intel's offical AHCI drivers only seem to install when a Raid array is present.
    In summary: please include comments on any differences and/or improvements in AHCI support between the 965 v. P35 chipsets.
  • Comdrpopnfresh - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    There was an article a few months ago saying that speed increases on ddr2 didn't really matter, the architecture for the memory was old enough that there was a decline in performance advantage as speeds increase. If ddr3 is basically the same as ddr2, wouldn't the same be expected? Does anyone have any idea when the timings will come down? The voltage is nothing to gawk at- it's the reason for the increased speed. On the gate level, the less space between high and low, he faster a gate can transition. I'm most interested to see ddr3 performance and bandwidth numbers w/ amd processors. Reply
  • R3MF - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    i currently have
    an X2 system with PC3200 dual channel
    and a C2D system with PC6400 dual channel

    i definitely see a quad core 3.2GHz chip running PC12800 in my future.

    hooray for technology!
  • DeepThought86 - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    I wonder how long before Intel gets impatient and starts not-so-gently shoving DDR3 down people's throats long before the price or performance justify it?

    "Oh look, our chipsets for Nehalem don't support DDR2, woops you'll have to dump your DDR2 and get this spiffy new stuff. Look, it went from 2 to 3, it must be better!"
  • theprodigalrebel - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link

    I remember reading an article somewhere where the interviewer asked an AMD person about Intel pushing for DDR3. The guy admitted that DDR3 is the way of the future - though not ready/relevant today - and only a company like Intel can drive that change.

    In his words, AMD's move to DDR2 came at the right time - in terms of price and advances in bandwidth/latency where DDR2 finally defeated the best DDR kits. He admitted that the move wouldn't have been possible unless Intel had moved the market in that direction over the past year or so.

    Intel has driven changes from AGP to PCI-Express, IDE to SATA and DDR to DDR2. It seems forced at first - and it probably is - but you don't HAVE to be an early adopter. You had the 925 chipset introducing DDR2 and 915 boards supporting DDR. That is exactly what is happening here.
  • TA152H - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    You need for Intel to push stuff down people's throats, or you'd never get these changes. No other company is in a position to, it's like IBM used to be almost 20 years ago.

    The price of the memory will go down as production goes up, which of course is driven by demand, which of course has to be driven by Intel. If not Intel, then who?

    By offering a chipset that offers both, they are slowly starting the transition and the prices should get closer. At some point, supporting DDR2 is just a waste of chipset space and is costing people money that have no intention of ever using it, so you get rid of it. At that point it might cost a little more still, but that's the price you pay for transitioning to a better technology, and making that technology cost effective. I think they're extremely important to the industry for exactly that reason, not a malicious force.
  • Final Hamlet - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    Oh look! It's Bicycle repair man! Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link

    I don't really know what to think with ddr3 .. or even ddr2.

    When I jumped from PC 2700 memory (cas 3 i think) up to PC3200 memory cas 2 I noticed a increase in the overall speed of my computer.

    When I jumped to DDR2 PC5300 I noticed no speed increase. When I jumped to PC6400 I noticed no speed increase. When I overclock my memory I notice no...

    You get the picture.

    I have a question. DDR3 with tight timings, Will we accualy notice it over ddr2? Or will it be one of those things where only a benchmark tends to notice anything.
  • Starglider - Friday, May 18, 2007 - link

    Depends on what applications you're running. But based on your recent experience, probably not. Reply
  • defter - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    The article says that P965 board was running at 1066MHz FSB and then writer is suprised when P35 + DDR2 running at 1333MHz FSB is slightly faster??? Then in the conclusion it's said that the reason for an increased performance is the chipset instead of a higher FSB???

    If you want to make P965 vs P35+DDR2 comparision, why not use the same FSB.....
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    The P965 was running at 10x266 or 2.66GHz. The P35 boards ran at 8x333 or 2.66GHz. 1333 is not a natural CPU ratio on the P965 so when you choose 1333 there is no way to also choose DDR2-800. At 1333 the closest you can get (at a different strap) is 833. We believe the way we tested was as close to apples to apples as we could design. Remember we are looking at MEMORY PERFOMNACE, and the FSB should not matter as long as memory speed and timings are set the same on all test boards, which we definitley insured.

    Despite that, we know that Sandra XI results can be influenced a small amount by CPU speed and possibly FSB. To make sure our results were still as close to apples to apples as possible we did run 10x266 on all boards and compared results to our test setup. The MEMORY PERFORMANCE results were virtually the same as we have reported.

    We do agree that were we testing CPU performance the differing bus speeds at the same resulatant CPU speed could make some difference.
  • IntelUser2000 - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link


    Despite that, we know that Sandra XI results can be influenced a small amount by CPU speed and possibly FSB. To make sure our results were still as close to apples to apples as possible we did run 10x266 on all boards and compared results to our test setup. The MEMORY PERFORMANCE results were virtually the same as we have reported.

    Defter is right. You guys were just testing performance increase by using a 1333FSB instead of 1066FSB. Memory bandwidth tests like Sandra will show HUGE differences. Remember, the CPU will not benefit from faster memory when FSB isn't faster. It's different from AMD where Hypertransport is only used for northbridge to southbridge communications(which yields into 0% improvement ) for PC.
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link

    P35 is a combination of an increase in bus speed to 1333 and an improved memory controller. We are working on a followup article to appear in a few days that shows the breakdown of the bus speed contribution and the memory controller contribution.

    That does not change the fact that memory bandwidth for P35 is improved 16% to 18% over P965, but we have run additional tests to show the individual impact of the bus speed increase and the memory controller improvements.

    In approaching testing it is not possible to run 1333 FSB on the P965/975x and also run memory speeds like 800 and 1066 as we would like. On P35 if 1066 FSB is selected then 1333 is not available as a memory option. We can, however, run 1066 FSB on P35 to roughly determine Memory Controller contribution compared to P965, and then compare those results to 1333 equivalents (8X333 instead of 10x266) to see the additional impact of the 1333 bus on memory performance. Those results will be reported as soon as testing is complete.
  • defter - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link


    1333 is not a natural CPU ratio on the P965 so when you choose 1333 there is no way to also choose DDR2-800

    Why not report results at 1066MHz FSB then?


    Remember we are looking at MEMORY PERFOMNACE, and the FSB should not matter as long as memory speed and timings are set the same on all test boards, which we definitley insured.

    Intel's CPUs are FSB limited since memory traffic goes through FSB. For example, 1066MHz FSB can transfer 8.5GB/s while dual channel DDR2-800 can provide 12.8GB/s. Thus, increasing the FSB also affects memory performance.
  • vaystrem - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    I'm curious:
    A) Why did you chose Farcry?
    B) Why you didn't include more game tests?

    I think it would be particularly interesting to see how a game like Supreme Commander or Company of Heroes performs. In strategy games you have the stress from the graphical component and a heavy AI load which may take better advantage of all that bandwidth than a simple FPS.
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    This was a comparison of DDR3 and DDR2, not a launch review for P35. You will see that when the performance embargo lifts on May 21st. Far Cry is part of our standard memory test suite and we are very familiar with how it behaves with variations in memory bandwith and timings. That is why it was chosen.

    You will see test results with many more games when we review the chipset on May 21st and the new P35 motherboards on June 4th.

    Consider this a preview, and all the advance info we could give you at this point. The NDA for DDR3 memory has lifted, but the performance NDA for P35 is in place until the 21st.
  • vaystrem - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    Thank you for your response :) Reply
  • cool - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    What am I missing? How can you have DDR2 800 results for the DDR3 Bearlake mobo?
    Look at the 3rd row, 4 column of the Sandra benchmarks results on page 5.
  • TA152H - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    Their chart is a little bit off. It is how they did their best to speed normalize DDR2 and DDR3, so for the DDR2 column for the Bearlake it is DDR2 memory they tested, for the DDR3 version, it is DDR3 memory.

    It's probably the most useful thing in there, in my opinion. It shows you get extra speed even at the exact same timings, with memory using lower voltage. It's pretty impressive.
  • cmdrdredd - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    not very impressive to me considering the prices you'll be paying. That's $300 difference between a good DDR2 kit and a DDR3 kit (probably not even high bin or binned at all). Reply
  • TA152H - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    Well, agreed, currently you're not getting much bang for the buck, but that's always the case when new memory comes out. Look at the price of RDRAM, it never got better :P.

    But, obviously, the prices today mean essentially nothing for the future of the technology, it's just representative of it being a very new technology right now. I'd expect it should be a tiny bit more expensive everything else being equal because some of the additions to it, but it should be insignificant. It's a much cleaner design, and you get some performance on top of it, so I think it's a good technology. I agree, for now, it's difficult to validate the price of it. It's not even like you could say that you're better off getting a DDR3 based design now so you can reuse the RAM. The latencies are so poor on the current stuff you'd probably be aghast at using it a year from now, and you'd probably be able to buy 1 GB of DDR2 today, and 1 GB of DDR3 in a year for less than 1 GB today. So, right now, I don't think it makes much sense to anyone.

    Good thing for Intel pushing it though. Anyone that dislikes them needs to recognize how important they are for moving technology forward even at their own cost. Sometimes they've failed though, such as with RDRAM and, so far, EPIC.
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    DDR3 will run at DDR3-800 6-6-6-15 timings. We will add this to the DDR-800 5/6-6-6- line to clarify. The point was to run all 3 boards and the two memories at the exact same speed and timings. 800 was the only speed that allowed this. Reply
  • cool - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    Thanks for the explanation, Wesley.
    I was confused thinking the P5K3 was maybe one of those motherboards that can take 2 types of different RAM, namely DDR2 and DDR3. But that is not the case.
  • TA152H - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    I see timings of 5/6-6-6-15 and such. What does 5/6 mean? The P965 is running at five and the others at six? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    We added this clarification to Page 4 - Memory Test Configuration:

    "While memory timings were matched to the same memory speed wherever possible, there were a few settings where the chipsets did not allow a direct comparison. DDR3-800 runs at 6-6-6-15 timings. The P965 has options to set 6-6-6-15 timings but the board would not boot under any settings or voltage we fed it at 6-6-6 timings. The closest timings that would work on the P965 at 800 speed were 5-6-6-15. The P5K DDR2 board, based on the P35 chipset, would allow setiing and running 6-6-6-15 timings. This is reflected in our charts with the line ID of 5/6-6-6- for timings. We also tested DDR2 at the fastest timings it could achieve with complete stability on both the P5B Deluxe and P5K Deluxe. This was 3-3-3-9 at DDR2-800 and 4-4-3-11 at DDR2-1066."
  • TA152H - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    That's clear, I think that will remove any questions relating to the charts. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    Yes. The P965 would not boot witha a CAS setting of 6 even though it could be selected. So the P965 was tested at 5-6-6 timings. The same DDR2 on the P5K was tested at 6-6-6, which would work and also matched the DDR3 timings. We will clarify this in the article.
  • TA152H - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    OK, thanks.

    One thing I would suggest when you do the final tests for the Bearlake and DDR3 is to use the 2M processors as well. You'd expect the 4M cache to hide the differences better, obviously, so the 2M cache processors would be pretty interesting to see as well, if for no other reason to see how much the larger cache does mask the difference in the chipset and memory. Since Intel is planning on increasing cache sizes, it would be a pretty useful data point.
  • TA152H - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    You measured the performance of the memory, but why not take a power measurement of it as well. That is one of the draws of the technology, it uses lower voltage, and therefore should use a little less power and generate less heat. Both are significant.

    Good article though, I just wish that had been included.
  • kalrith - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    Page 2, second line of second-to-last paragraph says, "which is a 16% reduction form DDR2". "form" should be "from".

    Last page, fourth line of third-to-last paragraph says, "the shift to DDR2 may be further delayed". "DDR2" should be "DDR3".

    BTW, I found the article interesting, informative, enlightening, and unbiased (as usual).
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  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    Mild dyslexia and less-than smart built-in spell checkers always win :) Both errors are corrected. Thanks. Reply
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