Overclocking

We were more than surprised when Super Talent DDR3-1600 topped our overclock charts at DDR3-2008 in our last DDR3 memory review. The OCZ DDR3-1800 is based on a different binning of the same Micron Z9 memory chips, and it achieved an even faster overclock at a stable DDR3-2040.

Highest Memory Speed

Perhaps even more significant were the timings that could be achieved at DDR3-2040. OCZ rates this memory at 8-8-8-27 timings at DDR3-1800. At 2040 the timings of 8-8-8-21 provided stable performance with 2.1V. This compares to the Super Talent, which is also based on Micron Z9, which required slightly slower 9-8-7-18 timings at 2.25V to achieve a stable DDR3-2008. The slightly better timings with the OCZ memory suggests that OCZ is using more aggressive speed binning for their new DDR3-1800 parts than others are using for their DDR3-1600 parts.

Advances in memory technology are rarely as dramatic as the speed and timing improvements we are seeing recently with Micron Z9 memory chips. For reference we included our ongoing overclocking chart results for DDR2 just so you can see how significant the new Micron Z9 memory really is. The highest DDR2 we have tested is Corsair memory at 1315 in an EVGA 680i motherboard. Early DDR3-1066 reached a bit higher as in the typical 1370 achieved with the launch Corsair DDR3-1066. Timings, however, were somewhat slow. Then the Kingston HyperX pushed 7-7-7 timings all the way to DDR3-1500. Now, less than 2 months later, state-of-the-art DDR3 is reaching DDR3-2000+ at aggressive timings. This kind of progress in memory technology makes the original JEDEC target of 800 to 1600 for DDR3 speeds appear far too limited.

Some end users consider 7-7-7 timings a benchmark with DDR3. We set those timings and pushed the OCZ as far as possible. The DDR3-1800 reached DDR3-1900 at 7-7-7-timings at 2.1V. This incredible speed at 7-7-7 eclipses previous results at 7-7-7 timings. The OCZ, Super Talent, and TEAM results are close at all comparable speeds, but the OCZ manages slightly better performance, slightly tighter timings, and a higher overclock than the other two Z9-based kits. OCZ is apparently binning to slightly tighter tolerances than the other two memories and that is showing in the performance improvements.

Super Pi

In Kingston Launches Low-Latency DDR3 memory performance was compared at 800, 1066, 1333, and highest memory speed. With the introduction of higher speed DDR3 we have added 1600 and 2000 to the standard comparison speeds, if the DDR3 memory is capable of reaching that speed.

To look at pure number crunching, Super Pi 1.5 was run in all memory test configurations. Super Pi is a very simple program as it merely calculates the value of Pi to a designated number of decimal positions. In this case we chose 2 million places.

Click to enlarge

Super Pi is fastest (lower value for calc time) on the OCZ DDR3-1800 and Super Talent memory. Both these memories are based on the new Z9 Micron memory chips. At 1333, the Kingston is close behind, but it tops out at around 1500 speed, while the top Z9 memories go on to 2000 speed - shaving another 1.4 seconds off the Super Pi time at the same CPU speed. Lower latency DDR3 now passes DDR2, on either the P35 or P965 platforms, and extends to new performance levels. Any speed above 1066 is the domain of DDR3 and the higher speed delivers improved performance.

It is interesting that by 1333 the lower latency DDR3 has completely closed any gap that existed with the fastest timing DDR2, which can run as fast as 3-3-3 timings at moderate memory clocks. Lower latency DDR3 clearly demonstrates you will not have to give up a thing with DDR3 in the overlap speeds and you will gain higher speeds as well. The only current roadblock to DDR3 is the high price of admission.

DDR2/DDR3 Overlap Speeds Bandwidth and Memory Scaling
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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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