AMD Athlon 64 Tests

With 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.

Highest Memory Speed Performance Final Words
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  • Anemone - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    Would love to see OCZ do further expansion on the EL or EB area of DDR2. I'm sure it's at lower limits (the timings of DDR2 stink really), but if anyone could push them as low as possible I'd expect OCZ to do it.
    Reply
  • Anemone - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    Yeah OCZ seems to have their stuff where it counts.

    I'll note this highlights an issue that's caught my eye, and that is in the furor over the AMD64 chips, its less visible just sometimes how much "special stuff", ie choice memory modules, it takes to keep the AMD platforms running at top speed. On the Intel side of the fence you can plug just about anything in and get some speed, but in many cases that's still a guessing game for the AMD stuff. Given how that plays out a year or two down the line when you want to buy just an upgrade part or two, I'm kind of a fan of the "just buy the latest Superbytes mem module XXX and plug and go" kind of usefulness, which I see 'more' on the Intel side of things, and I do mean 'more' not 'only'.

    Also want to mention that lately tending to see more enthusiasts aiming for as much as 2gb of memory, and when you get there, the AMD controllers seem to not fly as much as with lower amounts, losing as much as 10% of their performance.

    Blah, no easy choices here imo.

    Reply
  • ceefka - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    Great review. For those of us who want to build a 939, we'd love to see the next article. We apparently have a lot of RAM to choose from.

    Now on the theoretical side: How would the best DDR2 perform? What would the differences be? Can these results justify AMD's choice to ignore DDR2?
    Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    Another very timely review.
    You are now answering questions for me in advance - lol.

    Color changes for reviewed items better, but as a nitpick, it might be cool to continue colors to the names of mem also, not just the bar??? Dark green needs to be a lighter color - like pink. 2 greens not friendly.

    Anyway thanx fella.
    Reply
  • cnq - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    Wesley,

    Can you comment on the 2.5-2-2 timings past DDR500 of the Crucial? It seems slightly fishy, considering that you used their PC3200, which is lower-binned than their PC4000...and even the 4000 is only rated at 2.5-3-3 at DDR500.
    Is it possible that Crucial sent you a cherry-picked sample for review?
    Anyone else out there own a set of the Ballistix care to comment?
    Reply
  • JustAnAverageGuy - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    catchy title

    =F-A-S-T=

    A bit unprofessional maybe, but catchy :)
    Reply
  • shady06 - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    OCZ = smokin Reply

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