Memory based on the exciting new Micron Z9 memory chips for DDR3 first appeared a couple of weeks ago and we first looked at it in Super Talent & TEAM: DDR3-1600 is Here! As predicted in that review, it was only a matter of days until most of the major enthusiast memory makers began talking about their own products based on Micron Z9 chips. Some even announced fast availability of the new kits in the retail market.

The reasons for this are basic. All memory makers buy raw memory chips available in the open market. Some memory makers do not like to talk about the chips used in their DIMMs, as they consider that information proprietary, but this secrecy does not normally last very long. It is rare to see a memory manufacturer with a truly exclusive supply arrangement with a memory vendor, but several companies have been trying very hard to do just this, and we may see more of these attempts in the future.

The DIMM manufacturers then speed grade or "bin" the chips to create one or more speed grades from a single chip type. Memory chips are then surface-mounted on generic or proprietary circuit boards with SPD (Serial Presence Detect) chips programmed with generic code or custom SPD programming done by the DIMM maker. This is why the introduction of fast new chips like the Micron Z9 often circulates rapidly through the enthusiast memory market as each manufacturer tries to introduce products based on the new chips with new twists that outdo the competition. This does not mean the memory you buy from Super Talent, for example, is exactly the same as the Micron Z9-based memory you buy from Corsair. Companies pride themselves on the sophistication of their speed-grading technology, their design and/or sourcing of PCBs, and their skill at programming the SPD.

Despite the real differences that emerge in memory performance from different DIMM manufacturers, the normal arrangement is one company successfully uses a new chip in a top-performing new DIMM, and then everyone in the market has a similar memory product based on the same chip. That is why every memory company has announced, or will soon be announcing, their own Micron Z9-based memory.

One of the more interesting of the announcements is OCZ DDR3-1800, rated at 8-8-8 timings at DDR3-1800, which is the fastest production DDR3 kit currently available. This new PC3-14400 Platinum Edition kit is specified to reach DDR3-1800 at 1.9V and is claimed to have substantial headroom above this speed. It certainly appears that OCZ is binning Micron Z9 chips for even higher memory speeds, along with possibly some other tweaks to squeeze more from these chips. The test results should tell us what these new DIMMs can actually do.

OCZ PC3-14400 Platinum Edition
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  • Mithan - Wednesday, August 01, 2007 - link

    I am guessing these games were run at 800x600, which is fairly standard for memory tests?

    IF that is the case, then all this article does is prove once again why over-spending on memory is not the best use of your dollars (except in the case of over-clocking)


    My point is this:
    Farcry going from 112 to 122 FPS is probably being done at 800x600 or 1024x768.

    Bump that resolution up to 1600x1200 or 1920x1200, and that becomes 1 or 2 frames per second difference.

    My point is that the article should articulate this difference better.
    Reply
  • MadBoris - Wednesday, August 01, 2007 - link

    quote:

    I am guessing these games were run at 800x600, which is fairly standard for memory tests?
    IF that is the case, then all this article does is prove once again why over-spending on memory is not the best use of your dollars (except in the case of over-clocking)

    From a testing perspective of any hardware among each other, you have to isolate and remove the other bottlenecks. That should be done and is of course common sense. As you state, the main goal of these types of articles should at their very foundation stay focused on real world performance impact. Otherwise it looks too much like technology promotion and they lose their actual value to the reader. They don't have to go "real world" overboard, but I think that should be the consistent goal of hardware reviews.

    quote:

    Farcry going from 112 to 122 FPS is probably being done at 800x600 or 1024x768.
    Bump that resolution up to 1600x1200 or 1920x1200, and that becomes 1 or 2 frames per second difference.

    Test info would be nice.
    In the same vein of real world impact, the comparison should never have been between DDR3@800 compared to DDR3@2000. That's not even really applicable, the upgrade path isn't from DDR3 800, so I am not sure why the particular comparison was even made. The comparison at the very least, needs to be to current DDR2 offerings. The best case performance that DDR3 can provide right now is actually around 3 - 5 percent from current DDR2 offerings under those specific game tests (as I mentioned earlier), whatever those settings were.

    Obviously testing these memory comparisons isn't simple from an apples to apples standpoint especially with limited time, so I am just glad Anandtech is getting in there and doing the testing and making their findings known. :)
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, August 01, 2007 - link

    Factoring in the slower performance of current 965/975 boards on p.4 of the article, you will see that DDR3-800 on the P35 clearly beats DDR2-800 on the P965 platform. In fact, DDR3 is generally faster than DDR2-1066 at 4-4-3 timings on the P965 (the only exception being Far Cry). Taking that into account our broad statement that current DDR3 can provide as much as an 8% to 10% real world performance improvement over current DDR2 systems is certainly fair. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, August 01, 2007 - link

    DDR2-800 is the fastest official JEDEC spec for DDR2, and memory running at 3-3-3 at that resolution is common among better DDR2. It is among the fastest DDR2 performance due to the fast timings. The fastest DDR2 can reach 1066 at slower timings but it cannot reach 1333.

    Similarly we would compare to DDR-400 at 2-2-2 looking at DDR, since this was the fastest JEDEC speed looking back at DDR. DDR3 starts at 800 and goes officially at the present time to DDR3-1600. It will likley go higher in the future.

    We have compared DDR3 to one of the fastest DDR2 memories ever made at the fastest timings available for DDR2 at both 800 and 1066 in the overlap speed results on p. 4. We also did not really factor in the fact that DDR2 runs slower on the P965, P975, and other current boards than it does on the DDR2 version of the current P35 chipset.

    Reply
  • NegativeEntropy - Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - link

    I read through the article and (quickly) double checked the test config and gaming pages, but I did not see the settings the games were tested at? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, August 01, 2007 - link

    All games were run at 1280x1024. That has been in past commentary, but was dropped somewhere along the way. We will add that info to the game results page. Reply
  • Jodiuh - Wednesday, August 01, 2007 - link

    Unfortunately, you're right in the $$ issues. Those of us that would be willing to pay 2-3 times the amount for 10% gaming improvement would be better off w/ a better GPU, or even a Q66/X32 CPU for games like Supcom.

    Would you mind guessing what perf improvement would come from running @ say 1600x1200 or greater + 8xQ/6x AA? It'd be even less, no?
    Reply
  • chizow - Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - link

    Another underwhelming and unnecessary "update" to memory specifications. Just another example of the memory mfgs and motherboard makers forcing people to upgrade every few years for marginal performance gains. Oh well, good news is DDR2 is dirt cheap and has been for a while. Reply
  • LTG - Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - link

    I started the complaint thread last time about the lack of comparable results, so I want to say this time:

    Great work, excellent article.

    I was a little taken aback by your heated reaction to criticism, due to the fact that I didn't provide the solution, but hey, that's kind of human nature and I'm sure I've done it before.

    The main point here is that AT not only has the best writers of any tech site, but also the only site where they are not afraid to allow feedback and actually engage debate on the issues.

    Tech articles are near impossible to get perfect, because there is so many details to know and new things are discovered across the net every hour. But don't every get discouraged, the effort is all appreciated.

    LTG

    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - link

    Thank you for your comments. They are sincerely appreciated. Reply

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