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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  • Anonymous User - Sunday, August 31, 2003 - link

    This single/double side/bank issue is very misunderstood. To further confuse things the memory manufacturers, who finally getting better about reporting full timing numbers, generally don't publish the side/bank count. I'd like to see an article that helps identify whose memory is really double banked, especially at the 256MB level, since its going to take 4 modules for best performance in an 875 system. Since many of these products are best available thru the internet, I don't have the luxury of looking at the modules before I buy.

    FYI, I'm also more interested in using well matched double banked components with low timings than in overclocking to the max.

    Mushkin has very low timing memory in a 512MB configuration that is double-banked, but it seems like overkill to put 2GB of memory for $800+ into the system at this point. (I also don't know how well the system would perform with this quantity of memory as I hear that more memory can slow timings down.) Their 256MB modules are single-banked unfortunately.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Monday, August 18, 2003 - link

    I would personally buy the Mushkin PC3200 Level II Dual Pack located at this URL: http://www.mushkin.com/epages/Mushkin.storefront/3...

    It says that is is CAS 2-2-2 at 400MHz

    Unfortunately, Anandtech has not added Mushkin to their test products for any of these articles (not that I have seen at least) so I cannot verify the performance. I hope this due to Mushkin not supplying them samples before they complete testing and go to press. Otherwise, it is just a gross oversite by Anandtech not to include Mushkin. Whatever the case, Mushkin is a big name company with many supporters who will vouch for their quality. I am going to upgrade my memory shortly to these exact DIMMs so I feel comfortable suggesting them. 2-2-2 latency just sounds too good to pass up.

    Cheers,
    Wiley
    Reply
  • DaveH - Tuesday, August 12, 2003 - link

    What about running slower RAM in the newer chipsets? Like PC2100 in 800 FSB? Reply
  • Anonymous User - Monday, August 11, 2003 - link

    My personal SiSoft Sandra Memory Bandwidth UNBuffered test results on a Gigabyte 8KNXP (F5 BIOS) with a P4 3Ghz/800Mhz, ATI9800 Pro 256mb, SB Audigy:

    Mushkin PC3500 Level II Black
    4x512mb, 200mhz, 2-2-2-6, 2955/3017
    4x512mb, 217mhz, 2-2-2-6, 2850/2916
    2x512mb, 200mhz, 2-2-2-6, 2844/2862
    2x512mb, 217mhz, 2-3-2-6, 2423/2493

    Corsair TWINX1024-3700
    4x512mb, 200mhz, 3-4-4-8, 2724/2782
    4x512mb, 217mhz, 3-4-4-8, 2614/2723
    2x512mb, 200mhz, 3-4-3-8, 2610/2626
    2x512mb, 217mhz, 3-4-3-8, 2491/2542
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, August 07, 2003 - link

    Need help determining SS vs DS (Single side/bank vs. Double Side/Bank) - how can you tell, as the memory mfgrs don't usually say? Reply
  • Rayalkj - Thursday, August 07, 2003 - link

    How similiar does the RAM have to be? I bought a Dell with 2x128 meg ram and want to up it to 512 megs. Do I need the exact same Brand? Just the same sizes? (ie. 2 more 128 meg sticks) Is there something I should look for especially?

    ... Yes, I am a bit of a noob at this stuff
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, August 06, 2003 - link

    Would this apply to nForce2 Ultra chipsets? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, August 03, 2003 - link

    Regarding "Mixed Memory" configurations, the Best Memory Timings are the fastest timings THAT PARTICULAR COMBINATION WOULD RUN. So they are the best timings for that mix of Dimms. Mixed pairs - particularly widely different memory pairs - can take a very large performance hit in 865/875 boards. The reduction in performance is MUCH greater than we would expect.

    As was also stated, we have seen cases of 2 pairs of dimms from different manufacturers that match closely on capacity and timings that perform just as well as 2 matched pairs.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Sunday, August 03, 2003 - link

    Re: "Intel’s White Papers address mixed memory
    configurations only to say that they will work,
    but they will default to the slowest speed and
    SPD timings of the mixed DIMMs."

    I wish I understood this. I am pretty sure that
    I don't. For example, in the first row of the
    mixed memory benchmark table the "best memory
    timing" is given as 2-7-3-3 but the 512 MB DIMMs
    are said to run at 2-5-2-2. Could it be that this
    column should be labelled "worst memory timing"?
    And suppose that the 512 MB memory was run at the
    slower timing, 2-7-3-3, instead of 2-5-2-2.
    How does that result in a 25% performance loss?

    I would really like to understand this so that
    I could predict what will happen when I mix
    memory timings, avoid really bad DIMM
    combinations and be able to use the not so bad
    combinations. So, can someone explain what it
    really going on here?
    Reply
  • MS - Friday, August 01, 2003 - link

    I'll certainly run a few benches myself. It is really interesting that those guys who should know, that is memory and chipset manufacturers are lagging so far behind the "fanboy" community in terms of understanding how things actually work and what factors are really important.

    As far as your review goes, I am eager to see it, especially the acknowledgement (LOL)

    Michael

    Reply

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