Final Words

With the latest memory chips from Samsung, Micron, and Hynix, the real excitement in DDR memory performance has shifted to the Athlon 64 platform. In our first full-scale roundup of memory on the Dual-Channel Socket 939, we found several DDR400 memories that reached a stable overclock of DDR600 and several more that came very close to this memory speed. It is clear that DDR memory manufacturers are paying close attention to the Athlon 64 platform, since we are seeing familiar memory reaching further on Athlon 64 than what we saw on our Intel 478 platform.

A 50% overclock of memory is nothing short of incredible, but that is exactly what we are talking about with most of these memories. In comparing memory at the same CPU speed with different memory bus speeds, we also see that, in general, the improvements in memory performance are real. The latest memories are still fast enough at higher memory speeds to outperform DDR400 2-2-2 performance.

The very top of the memory tests are the most revealing results here. Despite the fact that several memories reached DDR600, highest performance was at the fastest speed the memory could achieve with a 1T Command Rate. This varied from DDR546 to DDR590, and it was at those 1T memory speeds that the best memory performance was consistently achieved.

All six memories tested here performed very well in our Athlon 64 tests. They all outstripped our expectations when we first set up the Athlon 64 test bed. However, a couple of memories do stand out. The OCZ 3200 Platinum Rev. 2 was fastest at both DDR400 and it also achieved the highest 1T speed that we found in our tests. Since these are the same chips used in four other tested memories, we can only suspect that OCZ is doing something unique in their SPD programming. We would suggest that the PCB might also be responsible except for the fact that a couple of other TCCD memories are using what appears to be the same PCB. As we saw in our 2-2-2 roundup, the Crucial Ballistix also stood out for the incredibly fast timings that the Micron-based Ballistix achieved in the DDR433 to DDR533 speed range. The Ballistix was faster through much of the tested range, and the OCZ was best at the top and bottom.

This should not take anything away from the excellent and consistent performance of the G. Skill TCCD and Geil 3200 Ultra X. Both exhibited a very wide range of memory speeds and they were both competitive at every speed. The PQI 3200 Turbo was generally a bit slower, probably the result of tweaking for the Intel platform. We suspect that this would quickly change if PQI updated their SPD programming for better Athlon 64 performance. Still, there is nothing to really complain about in the performance curve of the PQI memory.

It is a bit early in Athlon 64 testing to select an Editor's Choice, but the OCZ 3200 Platinum Rev. 2 and Crucial Ballistix are former Gold Editor's choices. These two memories were also the standouts in a group of standouts in these tests. The Hynix-based OCZ 3700 Gold Rev. 3 takes a different approach to memory performance, but it is still an excellent choice, if it can be bought for a lower price than the Samsung TCCD and Micron-chip memories.

We learned that the Athlon 64 quest for a 1T Command Rate is worth the search, but you also will need the tools to allow the best overclock with memory on the Athlon 64. As surprising as it will seem to some, that should include the highest quality power supply that you can find at 500 watts or more. We found that replacing a well-respected 465 watt PS with a 520 watt PowerStream allowed even higher memory overclocks. This was true with both the power-hungry nVidia 6800 Ultra as well as the more mainstream ATI 9800 PRO. If top memory overclocks on the Athlon 64 is your goal, don't skimp on the power supply. Putting the best PS that you can find in your system will pay off in higher memory overclocks with greater stability.

The memories tested here were a cross-section of the best current memory that you can buy. They used Samsung TCCD, Micron G die, and Hynix DT-D5 memory chips. All of the memories based on these current chips performed incredibly well on the Athlon 64 Socket 939. The Samsung TCCD, in particular, seems to be much better on Athlon 64 with recent chips than what was seen in early testing of TCCD. With Athlon 64 performance this good, we can only wonder how long it will be until AMD makes DDR500 or DDR533 a standard DDR memory speed on the Athlon 64 on-chip memory controller.

Highest Memory Performance


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  • Wesley Fink - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    #22, #25 and others -

    The 465W power supply that was not up to the job had the following specifications:

    +3.3V - 38A
    +5V - 44A
    +12V - 20A
    -5V - 2A
    -12V - 1A
    +5Vsb - 2.2A

    I would never have had any reason to suspect issues with this expensive major brand PS based on those specs, but in fact it turned out to be the limiting factor in overclocking the memory.

    This issue requires more investigation as there are many possible reasons for my experience, but I felt an obligation to let readers know what we found in our testing. However, it is not fair to name brands without much more evidence.
  • Blappo - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    Hopefully the value memory roundup will also contain some generic memory as well. Knowing which premium memory is the faster is good, but I want to know how much of a difference memory makes on system performance. I don't want to spend 50% more for only 5% more performance. That money could be better spent somewhere else.

    I'm glad that AnandTech did this article since everywhere else they only benchmark memory on Intel systems.
  • Blappo - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    PrinceXizor - I agree completely. However, with higher wattage PSU most of the extra power comes on the 12V rail. I think that is why nVidia is recommending "monster" PSU for their high-end graphics cards because it is easier to tell people to buy a 480W PSU rather than a PSU that can deliver 22A (or whatever) on the 12V rail. Reply
  • Spearhawk - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    15: 20A? You're kiding right? My oven are at 20A. Reply
  • decptt - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    My Ballistix performance
    "Dec" copyright since Duron600@1000
    Athlon64 Mobile 3200+ Rev.SH7-CG
    AMA3200BEX5AR-ClawHammer L2:1MB
    10x250 vid:1.5v+113%(~1.70v)
    Idle@36C Load(Prime95)@43C
    [10x255 worked @~1.97v Loaded(Prime95)@55C]

    Crucial Ballistix PC3200 512MBx2 vcore:2.70v
    Ratio = 1:1 ; TCl:2.5-Trcd:3-Tras:5-Trp:3 1T
    ATI AIW 9600XT 128MB BUS:75 vcore:1.6v
    DFI Lanparty UT NF3-250 Rev.A00 Bios.9/14(Beta)
    LDT/FSB@ 4X
    Thermalright XP-90 +Panaflo-H1B-92(FBA09A12H)
    Seagate ST3120026A
    DVD model DD0401

    Scroll(Tested@2.50GHz on Sep 30, 2004)
    CPU::ALU 11513 FPU 3954 iSSE2 5156
    Media:: Int 23895 Float 2562
    Ram:: Int 3780 MB/s Float 3779 MB/s
    3DMark03V3.4.0--1751 :(
    Super PI 1M 35s
    Super PI 2M 1M23s
  • quanta - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    Speaking of robust 12V rails, Enermax seems to be the only one make power supplies that can provide more +12V juice than most enthusists ever need, even for models without splitting +12V lines. Reply
  • AlphaFox - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    where did the power supply talk come from?? Reply
  • PrinceXizor - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    Just a further comment on the PSU "recommendation". I really think that the major tech sites are doing a disservice to the community when they keep recommending higher and higher total wattage PSU's. That is NOT the issue! As has already been pointed out, the key component is to analyze what voltage rail is is not providing enough juice. Just as clock speed is a poor indicator of processor performance, total wattage is a poor indicator of PSU performance. Considering that a major computer rig will rarely if EVER draw more than 250W of actual power, the key metrics for a PSU are the actual amperages on the various rails, particularly the robustness of the 12V rails. (Some newer PSU's are providing dual 12V rails for just this reason). So, does an enthusiast overclocking their rig need a 500 Watt "monster" or do they need a robust 12V line and tight voltage variance on those lines (as you drive stuff out of spec, the transients in those lines become more critical).

    I guess the point of my long-winded post is this...tossing off a "recommendation" like was done in this article (well-intentioned I'm sure) without addressing the actual issues involved seems to me to be habit that should be avoided.

  • rjm55 - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    As you pointed out, you can't do the kind of tests you did here with an Intel rig with a locked multiplier. It was good to see all the different memory speeds at the same CPU speed, which proved once and for all that higher memory speeds DO improve performance - even with slower timings at higher speed. Makes my mouth water thinking about how good DDR550 at 2.5-2-2 would be.

    I realize the performance differences weren't huge with just the memory overclocked, but most people will overclock the CPU AND the RAM and that will make a huge combined difference in performance. Tweaking is about squeezing the most from your gear, and you CAN get more out of memory at higher speeds.
  • eetnoyer - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link


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