Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/1494




One of the more vexing discoveries as memory performance testing was extended to the Athlon 64 platform was that memory often did not perform the same on both platforms. You simply could not assume that a memory that did DDR550 on the Intel 478 chipset would perform the same on the Athlon 64. We have also discovered that certain memory actually performs much poorer on Athlon 64 than on Intel 478, while other memory consistently performs much better on Athlon 64. With these variations, it was time to establish an Athlon 64 memory test platform and run new baseline tests on some of the best recent memories.

You can see the details of our new Athlon 64 testbed in the recent review, OCZ 3700 Gold Rev. 3: DDR500 Value for Athlon 64 & Intel 478. The decision was made to look to the future on Athlon 64 memory benchmarks with a Socket 939 Dual-Channel test bed. With the recent introductions of the 90nm Socket 939 3000+, 3200+, and 3500+ processors, the starting price for a 939 CPU is now well below $200. This will likely encourage further growth of the 939 as the top-performance platform for Athlon 64. We will soon be bringing you performance and overclocking tests of the new 90nm AMD chips, and our decision to concentrate on Socket 939 for our Athlon 64 memory test bed was influenced by AMD's targeting of the 939 for new product developments.

VIA just launched their first reference boards using PCI Express on the Athlon 64. Later this month, we also expect new Athlon 64 chipsets from others that will add PCI Express capabilities to the Socket 939 platform. While these new chipsets could migrate later to Socket 754 single-channel, the new chipsets will launch with Socket 939. This will further push the 754 to the value side of the Athlon 64 line.

As you saw in our DFI LANParty UT nF3-250Gb: Overclocker's Dream review, the 754 is capable of incredible performance. It is even capable of outperforming the newer 939, since base performance is only about 5% higher for the 939. However, this usually requires the use of one DIMM. Overclocking performance with 2 DIMMs on 754 is normally poorer than 2 DIMMs on 939. While there are many reasons to buy 754 for value and performance, future development will revolve around the 939 socket and dual-channel memory.

To understand better how memory behaves on the Athlon 64, we tested a cross-section of some of the best memory currently available in the lab. This included new Samsung TCCD memory form PQI and G. Skill, familiar Samsung TCCD from Geil and OCZ, top performing Micron-based Crucial Ballistix, and the latest Hynix DT-D5 memory from OCZ. We had originally planned to include the unique OCZ 3700EB also, which had performed well in other Athlon 64 tests. However, OCZ told us EB memory was no longer in production, and we could not find EB in stock at any vendor. We, therefore, eliminated EB from our final testing, since it is no longer available for purchase.




Crucial Ballistix PC3200

Crucial Ballistix was a Gold Editor's Choice in our recent DDR400 2-2-2 Memory Roundup. On the Intel platform, the memory timings were the best that we have ever seen at DDR500. The logical question is, can Ballistix pull it off again on the Athlon 64?

Ballistix is Crucial's first foray into the Enthusiast market, and Ballistix is intended to compete with the best from Corsair, OCZ and other specialty memory manufacturers. Kingston, another memory giant, has a similar Enthusiast line that they call HyperX.

Crucial supplies Ballistix PC3200 in both 256MB and 512MB DIMMs. Test DIMMs were a pair of Crucial Ballistix PC3200 512MB modules.



Crucial uses distinctive orange-gold Ballistix aluminum heatspreaders with black lettering. Ballistix 3200 is based on Micron chips, and not the Samsung chips used in other fast 2-2-2 DDR400. Micron chips were also used in the now discontinued OCZ 3700EB and 3500EB, which we found to be standout performers on Athlon 64.



With OCZ EB discontinued, Crucial Ballistix is the only memory based on Micron chips in the Athlon 64 testing.

Crucial Ballistix PC3200 Specifications


 Crucial Ballistix PC3200 Memory Specifications
Number of DIMMs & Banks 2 DS
DIMM Size
Total Memory
512 Mb
1 GB
Rated Timings 2-3-2 at DDR400
SPD (Auto) Timings 2-3-2-6
Rated Voltage 2.8V




Geil PC3200 Ultra X

Geil PC3200 Ultra X reached the highest memory speeds that we have reached with a new DDR400 2-2-2 memory in Geil PC3200 Ultra X: High Speed & Record Bandwidth. After reaching DDR561 on the Intel platform, we were very interested in finding where the Ultra X could go on the A64 Socket 939.

Geil produces an extensive line of memory from value-priced memory to some of the fastest enthusiast memory that you can find the market. Geil produces both standard and enthusiast DDR, DDR2, and so-DIMMs.

Ultra X is a new line for Geil, basically a high-performance extension to the Ultra series of DDR. The current Ultra line extends from Ultra PC3200 all the way to an Ultra Platinum DDR550. The Ultra X 3200 modules are available in individual 256MB and 512MB DIMMs, as well as in matched pairs as a 512MB kit (2x256) and 1GB kit (2x512). Test DIMMs were a pair of Geil PC3200 Ultra X in a 1GB kit (2x512MB modules).



The Ultra X DIMMs use platinum-colored heat-spreaders that have a copper core for heat dissipation.



As seen in the 2-2-2 roundup, most DDR400 2-2-2 memory uses Samsung TCCD memory chips. Since our earlier review of the Geil Ultra X, we have determined that Geil uses Samsung TCCD memory chips in the Ultra X memory. The blanks are labeled as Geil chips with a speed rating of 3.5ns. Geil describes the chips as hand-selected for performance from 5ns chips.

Geil PC3200 Ultra X Specifications


 Geil PC3200 Ultra X Memory Specifications
Number of DIMMs & Banks 2 DS
DIMM Size
Total Memory
512 Mb
1 GB
Rated Timings 2-2-2-5 at DDR400
SPD (Auto) Timings 2.5-2-2-5
Rated Voltage 2.55V - 2.95V




G. Skill TCCD

This is our first look at G. Skill memory. You can learn more about this Taiwanese memory maker at www.gskill.com.tw. G.Skill was established in 1989 by Enthusiasts and specializes in the production of memory.



With a name of G. Skill TCCD, the memory chips should be obvious. This is another DDR sporting Samsung TCCD chips. Where G. Skill is a bit different is in rated speed of the memory. G. Skill actually quotes three different speed ratings - DDR400, DDR500, and DDR560. We have seen recent TCCD DIMMs reach DDR500 and beyond, but this is the first TCCD DIMM that actually specifies speed ratings to DDR560. The Samsung TCCD DIMMs are part of the G. Skill Extreme series and they carry a lifetime warranty.

You will also notice that there are no heat spreaders on the G. Skill DIMMs. Frankly, we have seen little, if any, cooling advantages with heatspreaders, so their absence will not be an issue to most. Heatspreaders are more often a cosmetic appearance item. They also appear useful when manufacturers want to make it a bit more difficult to determine the memory chips used on the DIMM.

Test DIMMs were a 1GB kit, a matched pair of 512MB double-sided DIMMs.

G. Skill TCCD Specifications


 G. Skill TCCD Memory Specifications
Number of DIMMs & Banks 2 DS
DIMM Size
Total Memory
512 MB
Rated Timings 2-2-2-5 at DDR400
2.5-3-3-6 at DDR500
3-4-4-8 at DDR560
SPD (Auto) Timings 2.5-4-4-8
Rated Voltage 2.7V




OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2

The OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2 was a Gold Editor's Choice in the recent 2-2-2 memory roundup. The speed and bandwidth of this OCZ memory based on the latest Samsung TCCD chips was very impressive in our benchmarking. Platinum Rev.2 reached DDR557 on the Intel platform, one of the fastest TCCD memories that we have tested on the Intel test bed.

Manufacturers have used well-known names from their BH5 product days for their latest PC3200 2-2-2 memory, and OCZ has done the same, calling their latest 2-2-2 PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2.



Test DIMMs were a matched pair of 512MB PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2 with platinum-colored heatspreaders.

OCZ PC3200 Platinum Revision 2 Specifications


 OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev2 Memory Specifications
Number of DIMMs & Banks 2 DS
DIMM Size
Total Memory
512 MB
1 GB
Rated Timings 2-2-2 at DDR400
SPD (Auto) Timings 2-2-2-6
Rated Voltage 2.75V




OCZ 3700 Gold Rev 3

The 3700 Gold Rev. 3, based on Hynix DT-D5 chips, was recently reviewed in OCZ 3700 Gold Rev. 3: DDR500 Value for Athlon 64 & Intel 478. Gold Rev. 3 is the representative for the latest Hynix memory chips, which carry higher speed ratings than Samsung TCCD, but with slower timings in the DDR400 to DDR450 range. Gold Rev. 3 is being marketed as a value RAM by OCZ with very high speed capabilities.

3700 Gold has been a very well-known memory product for OCZ, as you can see in our earlier reviews of the original 3700 Gold and 3700 Gold Rev 2. The first two generations of 3700 Gold earned quite a reputation for outstanding overclocked performance, but they were also premium-priced DIMMs. This latest Revision 3 is the first 3700 Gold to be marketed by OCZ as a value DIMM.

Test DIMMs were a pair of PC3700 Gold Rev. 3 in a 1GB kit (2x512MB modules). PC3700 Gold Rev.3 is available as a 512MB kit (2x256MB DIMMs), a 1GB kit (2x512MB), and as individual 256MB and 512MB DIMMs. The 3700 Gold Rev 3 is shipped in the new Orange OCZ package.



OCZ 3700 Gold Rev 3 Specifications


 OCZ 3700 Gold Rev 3 Memory Specifications
Number of DIMMs & Banks 2 DS
DIMM Size
Total Memory
512 MB
1 GB
Rated Timings 2.5-3-3-8 at DDR466
SPD (Auto) Timings 2.5-3-3-8
Rated Voltage 2.8V (3.15V Maximum)

Voltage is specified as 2.8V at the rated DDR466. We found lower voltages worked fine at lower memory speeds. OCZ specifies the highest recommended voltage as 3.15V, which certainly allows for even higher overclocking on the few boards that support this memory voltage. This also provides some headroom if you choose to use the OCZ DDR Booster.




PQI 3200 Turbo

PQI has US Offices in Fremont, CA and offers a full line of memory products, including flash memory manufactured by the parent PQI Corporation. More information on product line, the lifetime warranty on memory, and the company are available at www.pqimemory.com.



The PQI 3200 Turbo comes in a slick wrap-around package that stands out from the standard memory packaging.



Test DIMMs were a matched pair of PC3200 512MB modules. Like most other 2-2-2 rated DDR400 memory, the PQI is based on Samsung TCCD memory chips.

PQI 3200 Turbo Specifications


 PQI 3200 Turbo Memory Specifications
Number of DIMMs & Banks 2 DS
DIMM Size
Total Memory
512 MB
1 GB
Rated Timings 2-2-2-5 at DDR400
SPD (Auto) Timings 2.5-4-4-8
Rated Voltage 2.6V




Performance Test Configuration

The first tests with the new Athlon 64 test bed were in the recent OCZ PC3700 Gold Rev. 3 review. In this round, we extend the Athlon 64 memory tests to some of the fastest memory that we have tested and the newest memory in our labs. Since we have found DDR memory to perform very differently on the memory controller with Athlon 64 chips, we will be including Athlon 64 benchmarks in all future memory reviews.

The A64 test bed includes components that have been proven in Socket 939 Athlon 64 benchmarking, such as the Gold Editors Choice MSI K8N Neo2, the completely unlocked Socket 939 FX53, and the OCZ Power Stream 520 Power Supply. Since the Athlon 64 tests represent a new series of DDR testing, we have chosen the current generation nVidia 6800 Ultra video card for benchmarking. We have found the 6800 Ultra to be a particularly good match to nVidia nForce3 Ultra motherboards.

All other basic test conditions attempted to mirror those used in our earlier Intel memory reviews. However, test results are not directly comparable to tests performed on the Intel test bed.

 AMD nForce3 Ultra Performance Test Configuration
Processor(s): AMD FX53 Athlon 64
(2.4GHz, Socket 939, Dual Channel, 1000HT)
RAM: 2 X 512MB Crucial Ballistix (DS)
2 X 512MB Geil PC3200 Ultra X (DS)
2 X 512MB G. Skill TCCD (DS)
2 X 512MB OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev 2 (DS)
2 X 512MB OCZ PC3700 Gold Rev 3 (DS)
2 X 512MB PQI 3200 Turbo (DS)
Hard Drives Seagate 120GB PATA (IDE) 7200RPM 8MB Cache
PCI/AGP Speed Fixed at 33/66
Bus Master Drivers: nVidia nForce Platform Driver 4.24 (5-10-2004)
Video Card(s): nVidia 6800 Ultra 256MB, 256MB aperture, 1024x768x32
Video Drivers: nVidia Forceware 61.77
Power Supply: OCZ Power Stream 520W
Operating System(s): Windows XP Professional SP1
Motherboards: MSI K8N Neo2

We have found the fastest performance on AMD Athlon 64 chipsets (nForce3, VIA K8T800 PRO) to be achieved at Cycle Time or tRAS of 10. Athlon 64 platform benchmarks were, therefore, run with the tRAS timing of 10 for all A64 benchmarks.

Test Settings

The FX53 is completely unlocked, something not currently available with Intel processors. This allowed a different approach to memory testing, which truly measures performance differences in memory speed alone. All tests were run with CPU speed as close to the specified 2.4GHz of the FX53 as possible, with CPU speed/Memory Speed increased at lower multipliers to achieve 2.4Ghz. This approach allows the true measurement of the impact of higher memory speed and timings on performance, since CPU speed is fixed, removing CPU speed as a factor in memory performance.

The following settings were tested with the six memories on the Athlon 64 test bed:
  1. 12x200/DDR400 - the highest stock memory speed supported on K8T800/nF3/SiS755 motherboards.
  2. 11x218/DDR436 - a ratio near the standard DDR433 speed.
  3. 10x240/DDR480 - a ratio near the standard rating of DDR466.
  4. 9x267/DDR533 - a standard memory speed used in testing other high-speed memory.
  5. Highest Memory Speed - the highest memory speed that we could achieve regardless of the multiplier. This setting was generally achieved at a 2T command rate and performance is often poorer than slower memory timings at a 1T Command Rate.
  6. Highest Performance - the highest memory performance settings that we could achieve. This setting is normally the highest stable speed using a 1T Command Rate.
A couple of the memories tested here were able to run at an incredible 8x300/DDR600 speed. This is the next ratio multiple for 2.4GHz speed and will be added to future memory benchmarks as more memory is able to reach this performance level.

Command Rate is not normally a factor in Intel 478 tests, but it is a major concern in Athlon 64 performance. A Command Rate of 1T is considerably faster on Athlon 64 than a 2T Command Rate. For this reason, we had added the Command Rate to the timings and voltage reported for each memory speed setting.

We ran our standard suite of memory performance benchmarks - Quake 3, Super Pi 2M, and Sandra 2004 UnBuffered. Since the results for Athlon 64 tests are new, we are now including Sandra Buffered (Standard) test results as well as Sandra UnBuffered test results. Return to Castle Wolfenstein-Enemy Territory has also been added as a standard memory benchmark.




Test Results: Crucial Ballistix PC3200

To be considered stable for test purposes, Quake3 benchmark, UT2003 Demo, Super PI, Aquamark 3, and Comanche 4 had to complete without incident. Any of these, and in particular Super PI, will crash a less-than stable memory configuration.

Crucial PC3200 Ballistix (DDR400) - 2 x 512Mb Double-Bank
CPU Ratio at 2.4GHz Memory Speed Memory Timings
& Voltage
Quake3
fps
Sandra UNBuffered Sandra Standard
Buffered
Super PI 2M places
(time in sec)
Wolfenstein - Radar - Enemy Territory fps
12x200 400 DDR 2-2-2-10
2.6V 1T
514.0 INT 2622
FLT 2799
INT 6082
FLT 6033
81 110.3
11x218 438 DDR 2-2-2-10
2.6V 1T
520.9 INT 2815
FLT 2952
INT 6471
FLT 6402
80 111.5
10x240 480 DDR 2.5-2-2-10
2.7V 1T
526.2 INT 2917
FLT 3101
INT 6703
FLT 6625
79 112.6
9x267 533 DDR 2.5-3-3-10
2.75V 1T
529.1 INT 3029
FLT 3258
INT 6960
FLT 6870
79 113.2
8x297(2.38GHz) Highest Mem Speed
594 DDR
3-4-3-10
2.85V 2T
513.8 INT 2897
FLT 3080
INT 6708
FLT 6647
80 110.3
9x278(2.5GHz) HIGHEST
Performance
556 DDR
3-4-3-10
2.85V 1T
536.5 INT 3117
FLT 3299
INT 7165
FLT 7109
76 116.1

As we first saw on the Intel test bed, Ballistix continues to astound with fast memory timings at the DDR438 (2-2-2) and 480 (2.5-2-2) speeds. The biggest surprise, however, was the added bandwidth that we achieved on the Athlon 64 test bed. Where Ballistix topped out at DDR514 on our Intel tests, we were able to reach DDR594 - right at DDR600 - on the Socket 939 testbed. While this did require a 2T Command Rate, we still achieved DDR556 at a 1T rate.

We have asked AMD to provide some insight into why we are getting much higher speeds with the Micron chips on the Athlon 64 Socket 939 platform that we have seen in testing on the Intel platform.



Test Results: G. Skill TCCD

To be considered stable for test purposes, Quake3 benchmark, UT2003 Demo, Super PI, Aquamark 3, and Comanche 4 had to complete without incident. Any of these, and in particular Super PI, will crash a less-than stable memory configuration. We have also included results for RCW-ET using the Radar benchmark.

G. Skill TCCD - 2 x 512Mb Double-Bank
CPU Ratio at 2.4GHz Memory Speed Memory Timings
& Voltage
Quake3
fps
Sandra UNBuffered Sandra Standard
Buffered
Super PI 2M places
(time in sec)
Wolfenstein - Radar - Enemy Territory fps
12x200 400 DDR 2-2-2-10
2.6V 1T
512.7 INT 2636
FLT 2767
INT 6117
FLT 6046
81 110.4
11x218 438 DDR 2-3-2-10
2.8V 1T
513.4 INT 2791
FLT 2928
INT 6486
FLT 6415
80 110.7
10x240 480 DDR 2.5-3-3-10
2.85V 1T
520.4 INT 2794
FLT 3035
INT 6707
FLT 6609
80 111.5
9x267 533 DDR 2.5-4-3-10
2.85V 1T
525.5 INT 3032
FLT 3226
INT 6956
FLT 6875
79 112.5
8x292(2.34GHz) Highest Mem Speed
584 DDR
3-4-4-10
2.85V 2T
503.9 INT 2779
FLT 2969
INT 6595
FLT 6514
81 108.2
9x285(2.57GHz) HIGHEST
Performance
570 DDR
2.5-4-3-10
2.85V 1T
557.8 INT 3321
FLT 3429
INT 7408
FLT 7287
74 119.8

When we first tested memory based on the Samsung TCCD chips, none of the modules performed as well on the Athlon 64 as they did on the Intel test bed. At that time, TCCD topped out at a bit over 500 on Intel and about 466 on the Athlon 64. The lone exception to this was the newest OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2, which reached much higher on the Intel and to at least DDR500 on the A64 platform.

It is now clear with the G. Skill and other later TCCD memory in the roundup that the OCZ performance was not a fluke. All of the recent TCCD is now doing even better on the A64 than they do on Intel.

In the course of testing for this review, we also stumbled upon another mild surprise. We had been using a major brand 465 watt Power Supply in one of the A64 test beds with the FX53 and an nVidia 6800 Ultra video card. We were experiencing serious problems with video corruption and we were also seeing lower overclocks on memory in the 465 watt machine. We switched to the 520 watt OCZ PowerStream power supply in the problem test bed and found that video corruption disappeared and memory overclocks reached higher levels. Out of curiosity, we switched to the ATI 9800 PRO in the same test bed. We did not experience video corruption with the ATI and the 465W power supply, but memory overclocks were still lower with the 465 than what we could achieve with the PowerStream 520W.

Based on our experience, we would recommend a quality 500 watt+ power supply if you plan to seriously overclock memory on the Socket 939 platform. The difference in performance is substantial, with higher overclocks possible with the larger quality power supply. For that reason, we have updated the specifications of our A64 memory test bed to the 520W OCZ PowerStream.

The G. Skill reached DDR582 at 2T and achieved the best performance at 1T at DDR570. Both of these overclocks are substantially higher than what we could achieve on the Intel test bed with the same memory.




Test Results: Geil PC3200 Ultra X

To be considered stable for test purposes, Quake3 benchmark, UT2003 Demo, Super PI, Aquamark 3, and Comanche 4 had to complete without incident. Any of these, and in particular Super PI, will crash a less-than stable memory configuration.

Geil PC3200 Ultra X - 2 x 512Mb Double-Bank
CPU Ratio at 2.4GHz Memory Speed Memory Timings
& Voltage
Quake3
fps
Sandra UNBuffered Sandra Standard
Buffered
Super PI 2M places
(time in sec)
Wolfenstein - Radar - Enemy Territory fps
12x200 400 DDR 2-2-2-10
2.6V 1T
513.0 INT 2598
FLT 2709
INT 6074
FLT 6033
81 110.3
11x218 438 DDR 2-3-2-10
2.75V 1T
511.2 INT 2728
FLT 2920
INT 6446
FLT 6383
80 110.2
10x240 480 DDR 2.5-3-3-10
2.8V 1T
510.9 INT 2863
FLT 3009
INT 6655
FLT 6560
80 111.2
9x267 533 DDR 2.5-4-3-10
2.85V 1T
523.1 INT 2972
FLT 3201
INT 6902
FLT 6847
79 112.1
8x300(2.4GHz) Highest Mem Speed
600 DDR
3-4-3-10
2.85V 2T
518.7 INT 2842
FLT 3121
INT 6799
FLT 6715
79 111.3
9x275(2.48GHz) HIGHEST
Performance
550 DDR
2.5-4-3-10
2.85V 1T
537.5 INT 3108
FLT 3319
INT 7129
FLT 7034
77 115.5

We were impressed when the Geil Ultra X had reached DDR561 in our earlier tests on the Intel 478 platform. We will have to search for a new adjective after the Ultra X hit DDR600 in Dual-Channel mode on the Athlon 64 Socket 939. Even though the speed is impressive, it is still worth noting that the best memory performance with the Geil was achieved at the lower DDR550 with a Command Rate of 1T. DDR550, 1T, 2.5-4-3-10 also allowed the Geil to reach over 7000 in the SiSoft Sandra Standard Buffered memory test.




Test Results: OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2

To be considered stable for test purposes, Quake3 benchmark, UT2003 Demo, Super PI, Aquamark 3, and RTCW had to complete without incident. Any of these, and in particular Super PI and Return to Castle Wolfenstein, will crash a less-than stable memory configuration.

OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev 2 (DDR466) - 2 x 512Mb Double-Bank
CPU Ratio at 2.4GHz Memory Speed Memory Timings
& Voltage
Quake3
fps
Sandra UNBuffered Sandra Standard
Buffered
Super PI 2M places
(time in sec)
Wolfenstein - Radar - Enemy Territory fps
12x200 400 DDR 2-2-2-10
2.6V 1T
516.3 INT 2652
FLT 2805
INT 6131
FLT 6077
80 110.8
11x218 438 DDR 2-3-2-10
2.75V 1T
515.6 INT 2747
FLT 2927
INT 6482
FLT 6411
80 110.8
10x240 480 DDR 2.5-3-3-10
2.85V 1T
520.8 INT 2895
FLT 3123
INT 6685
FLT 6603
80 112.4
9x267 533 DDR 2.5-4-3-10
2.85V 1T
525.8 INT 3022
FLT 3234
INT 6952
FLT 6894
79 112.7
8x300(2.4GHz) Highest Mem Speed
600 DDR
2.5-4-3-10
2.85V 2T
526.6 INT 2951
FLT 3123
INT 6911
FLT 6802
79 112.4
9x290(2.61GHz) HIGHEST
Performance
580 DDR
2.5-4-3-10
2.85V 1T
571.1 INT 3258
FLT 3523
INT 7559
FLT 7474
73 122.4

The impact of the upgraded power supply on Athlon 64 memory testing is probably most obvious in our tests of OCZ Platinum Rev. 2. This is the second TCCD memory to reach DDR600 on the A64, much better than what the DDR 557 achieved in memory testing on the Intel test bed.

As impressive as DDR600 sounds, you should remember that this was achieved with a 2T Command Rate. Actual Performance at DDR600 was therefore about the same as 1T performance at DDR533.

The most impressive performance with 3200 Platinum Rev. 2 was the ability to run at a 1T Command Rate at DDR580 - the highest 1T performance achieved in this roundup. At that speed, performance was truly exceptional, with the highest benchmark results achieved.




Test Results: OCZ PC3700 Gold Rev. 3

To be considered stable for test purposes, Quake3 benchmark, UT2003 Demo, Super PI, Aquamark 3, and RTCW had to complete without incident. Any of these, and in particular Super PI and Return to Castle Wolfenstein, will crash a less-than stable memory configuration.

OCZ 3700 Gold Rev 3 (DDR466) - 2 x 512Mb Double-Bank
CPU Ratio at 2.4GHz Memory Speed Memory Timings
& Voltage
Quake3
fps
Sandra UNBuffered Sandra Standard
Buffered
Super PI 2M places
(time in sec)
Wolfenstein - Radar - Enemy Territory fps
12x200 400 DDR 2-3-3-10
2.5V 1T
503.3 INT 2577
FLT 2673
INT 6063
FLT 6014
82 109.0
11x218 438 DDR 2-3-3-10
2.8V 1T
510.0 INT 2687
FLT 2845
INT 6413
FLT 6350
81 109.8
10x240 480 DDR 2.5-3-3-10
2.6V 1T
517.6 INT 2814
FLT 2985
INT 6659
FLT 6551
80 111.2
9x267 533 DDR 3-3-3-10
2.7V 1T
524.9 INT 3013
FLT 3234
INT 6959
FLT 6871
79 112.5
9x273(2.46GHz) Highest Mem Speed
546 DDR
3-3-3-10
2.85V 1T
536.2 INT 3071
FLT 3298
INT 7110
FLT 7002
77 115.1
9x273(2.46GHz) HIGHEST
Performance
546 DDR
3-3-3-10
2.85V 1T
536.2 INT 3071
FLT 3298
INT 7110
FLT 7002
77 115.1

The Hynix-based 3700 Gold Rev. 3 takes a different approach to memory performance. As a value memory, it does not perform as well as Samsung TCCD at DDR400, but it is very competitive with the best memory available in the DDR440 to DDR533 range. In this "sweet spot", range Rev. 3 is very good. At the top, R3 also does not reach quite as far as the best TCCD, but look closely at the test results. OCZ Gold Rev. 3 achieved the same DDR546 memory speed at both 2T and 1T Command Rates. In other words, Command Rate did not seem to affect the memory overclock. This 273 CPU frequency is very close to the best 1T settings that we could achieve with TCCD, so Gold R3 performs nearly as well as the top memory in the roundup, looking at the results for Highest Memory Performance.

In the end, you should look at the price of OCZ 3700 Gold Rev. 3 compared to Samsung TCCD modules. If the Gold R3 is cheaper, it is a good alternative to Samsung TCCD or Crucial Ballistix. We can say with confidence that the latest Hynix DT-D5 chips do perform very well on Athlon 64, with none of the performance penalty that we have seen in the past with some memory chips on Athlon 64.




Test Results: PQI 3200 Turbo

To be considered stable for test purposes, Quake3 benchmark, UT2003 Demo, Super PI, Aquamark 3, and RTCW had to complete without incident. Any of these, and in particular Super PI and Return to Castle Wolfenstein, will crash a less-than stable memory configuration.

PQI 3200 Turbo - 2 x 512Mb Double-Bank
CPU Ratio at 2.4GHz Memory Speed Memory Timings
& Voltage
Quake3
fps
Sandra UNBuffered Sandra Standard
Buffered
Super PI 2M places
(time in sec)
Wolfenstein - Radar - Enemy Territory fps
12x200 400 DDR 2-2-2-10
2.6V 1T
512.9 INT 2605
FLT 2796
INT 6091
FLT 6039
81 110.4
11x218 438 DDR 2-3-2-10
2.7V 1T
512.1 INT 2725
FLT 2906
INT 6446
FLT 6368
81 110.1
10x240 480 DDR 3-3-3-10
2.7V 1T
513.0 INT 2849
FLT 2977
INT 6627
FLT 6545
80 110.6
9x267 533 DDR 3-4-3-10
2.75V 1T
517.2 INT 2930
FLT 3159
INT 6910
FLT 6821
80 111.5
8x298(2.38GHz) Highest Mem Speed
596 DDR
3-4-3-10
2.8V 2T
514.7 INT 2916
FLT 3099
INT 6765
FLT 6685
80 110.7
9x285(2.57GHz) HIGHEST
Performance
570 DDR
3-4-3-10
2.75V 1T
551.4 INT 3172
FLT 3413
INT 7402
FLT 7282
74 119.1

The PQI 3200 Turbo is another memory based on the latest Samsung TCCD chips. The latest TCCD chips appear to perform much better on Athlon 64 than the first TCCD samples tested in =F-A-S-T= DDR Memory: 2-2-2 Roars on the Scene.

PQI reaches DDR596 at the highest memory speed, very close to DDR600. Highest Performance was achieved at a Command Rate of 1T at DDR570.




Performance Comparisons

The six DDR memories were compared at each of the 2.4Ghz settings, the Highest Memory Speed, and the Highest Memory Performance. Comparisons of memory on the Intel 478 platform can be found in memory reviews at:

OCZ 3700 Gold Rev. 3: DDR500 Value for Athlon 64 & Intel 478
Geil PC3200 Ultra X: High Speed & Record Bandwidth
=F-A-S-T= DDR Memory: 2-2-2 Roars on the Scene
Buffalo FireStix: Red Hot Name for a New High-End Memory
New DDR Highs: Shikatronics, OCZ, and the Fastest Memory Yet
The Return of 2-2-2: Corsair 3200XL & Samsung PC4000
OCZ 3700EB: Making Hay with Athlon 64
OCZ 3500EB: The Importance of Balanced Memory Timings
Mushkin PC3200 2-2-2 Special: Last of a Legend
PMI DDR533: A New Name in High-Performance Memory
Samsung PC3700: DDR466 Memory for the Masses
Kingmax Hardcore Memory: Tiny BGA Reaches For Top Speed
New Memory Highs: Corsair and OCZ Introduce DDR550
OCZ PC3700 Gold Rev. 2: The Universal Soldier
OCZ 4200EL: Tops in Memory Performance
Mushkin PC4000 High Performance: DDR500 PLUS
Corsair TwinX1024-4000 PRO: Improving DDR500 Performance
Mushkin & Adata: 2 for the Fast-Timings Lane
Searching for the Memory Holy Grail - Part 2

Memory performance was compared at 200x12 (2.4Ghz, DDR400), 218x11 (2.4Ghz, DDR438), 240x10 (2.4Ghz, DDR480), 267x9 (2.4Ghz, DDR533), the Highest Memory Speed that could be reached, and the Highest Memory Performance Settings that we could reach. With a constant CPU speed, memory comparisons show the true impact of faster speed and slower memory timings on memory performance.

Results are compared for Quake 3, Return to Castle Wolfenstein- Enemy Territory, Sandra UNBufferred Memory Test, Sandra Standard Buffered Memory Test, and Super PI. SiSoft Sandra 2004 reports 2 results for each memory test - an Integer value and a Float value. Results reported in our charts are the result of averaging the INT and FLOAT scores, which are normally close in value. INT and FLOAT scores were added and divided by 2 for our reported score.




DDR400/2.4GHz Performance


DDR400 (2.4GHz) Gaming Performance

DDR400 (2.4GHz) Calculation Performance

DDR400 (2.4GHz) Standard (Buffered) Memory Test

DDR400 (2.4Ghz) UNBuffered Memory Test

DDR400 (2.4GHz) Gaming Performance

Results should be very close for the four TCCD memories at DDR400, but the OCZ 3200 Platinum Rev. 2 still manages a slight lead in every benchmark. This can only be the result of the PCB used by OCZ and the SPD programming used for the OCZ DIMMs. Results at DDR400 on the Athlon 64 are very close for the TCCD and Crucial Ballistix. The OCZ 3700 Gold Rev. 3 is the slowest memory at DDR400 with slower memory timings.




DDR436/2.4GHz Performance


DDR436 (2.4GHz) Gaming Performance

DDR436 (2.4Ghz) UNBuffered Memory Test

DDR436 (2.4GHz) Standard (Buffered) Memory Test

DDR436 (2.4GHz) Calculation Performance

DDR436 (2.4GHz) Gaming Performance

By 438, the Crucial Balllistix, Geil Ultra X, and G. Skill TCCD pull slightly ahead with memory timings that are a bit faster. OCZ Platinum Rev. 3 remains among the top performers. PQI seems a little slower at this speed, which points out the fact that the PQI appears to have been tweaked for best performance on an Intel platform.




DDR480/2.4GHz Performance


DDR480 (2.4GHz) Gaming Performance

DDR480 (2.4Ghz) UNBuffered Memory Test

DDR480 (2.4GHz) Calculation Performance

DDR480 (2.4GHz) Standard (Buffered) Memory Test

DDR480 (2.4GHz) Gaming Performance

As we reach DDR480, OCZ 3700 Gold Rev. 3 is becoming more competitive, since we are now in the best speed range for that memory. Top performance is still provided by the Micron-memory Crucial Ballistix as a result of the very fast timings it can use around DDR500. G. Skill and OCZ Platinum Rev. 2 also shine at this speed with good memory timings. It is clear that PQI, with the same memory chips, is tuned a bit differently from the other TCCD memory. This could change with something as simple as an SPD programming update.




DDR533/2.4GHz Performance


DDR533 (2.4GHz) Gaming Performance

DDR533 (2.4Ghz) UNBuffered Memory Test

DDR533 (2.4GHz) Standard (Buffered) Memory Test

DDR533 (2.4GHz) Calculation Performance

DDR533 (2.4GHz) Gaming Performance

Ballistix, G. Skill, and OCZ Platinum R2 continue to top the TCCD memories at DDR533, and Gold R3 remains competitive in this range. All of the memories are very close in performance.

Perhaps more important is the fact that we are now entering a range of memory speeds, which we normally could not reach with Micron and TCCD chips on the Intel 478 test bed.




Highest Memory Speed


Highest 1:1 Memory Speed

Highest Memory Speed Gaming Performance

Highest Memory Speed UNBuffered Memory Test

Highest Memory Speed Standard (Buffered) Memory Test

Highest Memory Speed Calculation Performance

Highest Memory Speed Gaming Performance

The only time that we have really seen DDR600 performance in the past has been with a single DIMM on the Socket 754 Single-Channel DFI LANParty UT nF3-20Gb. The new Socket 939 Athlon 64 test bed will force a rethinking of what constitutes high memory speed performance. Two of the six memories, the Geil Ultra X and OCZ 3200 Platinum Rev. 2, reached DDR600 in our tests, and most others came very close to that memory milestone with highest speeds in the DDR590 to DDR600 range.

The latest memory based on Samsung TCCD chips and Micron chips is clearly performing much better on the Dual-Channel Socket 939 Athlon 64 that we expected. Both memories are faster on Athlon 64 when combined with a robust power supply. The latest Hynix DT-D5 is also performing very well on A64, with performance comparable to Intel test bed results. Since the Hynix-based 3700 Gold Rev. 3 reaches the same overclock at either 2T or 1T Command Rate, it competes very well when we look only at benchmarks run at the highest memory speed that we could achieve with each


Highest Memory Performance


Highest Performance - 1:1 Memory Speed

Highest Performance - Gaming Performance

Highest Performance - UNBuffered Memory Test

Highest Performance - Standard (Buffered) Memory Test

Highest Performance - Calculation Performance

Highest Performance - Gaming Performance

Since the introduction of Athlon 64, we have learned that Command Rate is very important to memory performance in A64 boards. A Command Rate of 1T is significantly faster than memory running at 2T. This series of charts really shows how these six memories perform at the top.

While memory performance at the top is influenced by memory timings, the top performance on Athlon 64 correlates well with the highest 1T memory speed that each memory could achieve. The winner in this benchmark was the OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2 and it is also the top performing memory in the roundup. Other memories are faster in lower speed ranges, but the fast 1T performance wins at the top.




Final Words

With the latest memory chips from Samsung, Micron, and Hynix, the real excitement in DDR memory performance has shifted to the Athlon 64 platform. In our first full-scale roundup of memory on the Dual-Channel Socket 939, we found several DDR400 memories that reached a stable overclock of DDR600 and several more that came very close to this memory speed. It is clear that DDR memory manufacturers are paying close attention to the Athlon 64 platform, since we are seeing familiar memory reaching further on Athlon 64 than what we saw on our Intel 478 platform.

A 50% overclock of memory is nothing short of incredible, but that is exactly what we are talking about with most of these memories. In comparing memory at the same CPU speed with different memory bus speeds, we also see that, in general, the improvements in memory performance are real. The latest memories are still fast enough at higher memory speeds to outperform DDR400 2-2-2 performance.

The very top of the memory tests are the most revealing results here. Despite the fact that several memories reached DDR600, highest performance was at the fastest speed the memory could achieve with a 1T Command Rate. This varied from DDR546 to DDR590, and it was at those 1T memory speeds that the best memory performance was consistently achieved.

All six memories tested here performed very well in our Athlon 64 tests. They all outstripped our expectations when we first set up the Athlon 64 test bed. However, a couple of memories do stand out. The OCZ 3200 Platinum Rev. 2 was fastest at both DDR400 and it also achieved the highest 1T speed that we found in our tests. Since these are the same chips used in four other tested memories, we can only suspect that OCZ is doing something unique in their SPD programming. We would suggest that the PCB might also be responsible except for the fact that a couple of other TCCD memories are using what appears to be the same PCB. As we saw in our 2-2-2 roundup, the Crucial Ballistix also stood out for the incredibly fast timings that the Micron-based Ballistix achieved in the DDR433 to DDR533 speed range. The Ballistix was faster through much of the tested range, and the OCZ was best at the top and bottom.

This should not take anything away from the excellent and consistent performance of the G. Skill TCCD and Geil 3200 Ultra X. Both exhibited a very wide range of memory speeds and they were both competitive at every speed. The PQI 3200 Turbo was generally a bit slower, probably the result of tweaking for the Intel platform. We suspect that this would quickly change if PQI updated their SPD programming for better Athlon 64 performance. Still, there is nothing to really complain about in the performance curve of the PQI memory.

It is a bit early in Athlon 64 testing to select an Editor's Choice, but the OCZ 3200 Platinum Rev. 2 and Crucial Ballistix are former Gold Editor's choices. These two memories were also the standouts in a group of standouts in these tests. The Hynix-based OCZ 3700 Gold Rev. 3 takes a different approach to memory performance, but it is still an excellent choice, if it can be bought for a lower price than the Samsung TCCD and Micron-chip memories.

We learned that the Athlon 64 quest for a 1T Command Rate is worth the search, but you also will need the tools to allow the best overclock with memory on the Athlon 64. As surprising as it will seem to some, that should include the highest quality power supply that you can find at 500 watts or more. We found that replacing a well-respected 465 watt PS with a 520 watt PowerStream allowed even higher memory overclocks. This was true with both the power-hungry nVidia 6800 Ultra as well as the more mainstream ATI 9800 PRO. If top memory overclocks on the Athlon 64 is your goal, don't skimp on the power supply. Putting the best PS that you can find in your system will pay off in higher memory overclocks with greater stability.

The memories tested here were a cross-section of the best current memory that you can buy. They used Samsung TCCD, Micron G die, and Hynix DT-D5 memory chips. All of the memories based on these current chips performed incredibly well on the Athlon 64 Socket 939. The Samsung TCCD, in particular, seems to be much better on Athlon 64 with recent chips than what was seen in early testing of TCCD. With Athlon 64 performance this good, we can only wonder how long it will be until AMD makes DDR500 or DDR533 a standard DDR memory speed on the Athlon 64 on-chip memory controller.

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