=<em>F-A-S-T</em>= DDR Memory: 2-2-2 Roars on the Sceneby Wesley Fink on August 5, 2004 12:05 AM EST
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AMD Athlon 64 TestsWith Intel moving to DDR2, AMD processors will, at some point, become the dominant platform for DDR memory. We intend to do more extensive testing with memory on Athlon 64 motherboards in the future, but the DDR400 2-2-2 roundup is a bit unique in that all the memory is based on the same Samsung TCCD chips, except the Crucial Ballistix DDR400. We therefore ran basic performance and overclocking tests with the 2-2-2 dimms in the MSI K8N Neo2. The MSI was Editors Choice in our recent Socket 939 roundup. The intent was just to verify the performance that we had found with each memory on an Athlon 64 platform.
What seemed a simple idea turned out to be anything but that. All of the memory performed the same at DDR400 and DDR433 on the K8N Neo2 as it did on the Intel platform, but then things began diverging. All of the memory could also do DDR466 on the Athlon 64 platform, but often required slightly slower timings or a bit more voltage. The only Samsung memory that achieved DDR500 on the MSI Athlon 64 was the OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2 - none of the other Samsung-base DIMMs could reach this milestone. In addition, the OCZ, which reached DDR557 on the Intel board, could not reach much higher than DDR500 before we got failed boots.
The only memory that duplicated the Intel results on Athlon 64 was the Crucial Ballistics PC3200, based on Micron chips. Across the entire range from DDR400 to DDR514, the Ballistix performed at the same voltages and timings that it displayed on the Intel test bed. This performance reminds us that Micron memory chips are also used in OCZ 3500EB and 3700EB, which also perform as well on Athlon 64 as they do on an Intel board.
For now, we would recommend Crucial Ballistix or OCZ 3500EB/3700EB as first choice on Athlon 64 motherboards. If you prefer one of the memories using Samsung chips, then the OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2 was the only Samsung memory to work reliably at DDR500. The evidence leads us to believe that the Micron chips perform much better on Athlon 64 than Samsung chips, but this is something that will require more investigation. We are putting together a more in-depth look at the performance of a full range of memory types on Athlon 64 in an upcoming review.