Memory Performance

The biggest question on our minds when comparing these two heavyweights was: who has the better memory controller?  We turned to the final version of ScienceMark 2.0 for the answer.

Memory Latency Comparison

Amazingly enough, at the same memory timings, NVIDIA drops memory latency by around 13%.  This is a worst case scenario for memory latency. In all of our other memory tests, the nForce4's memory controller was equal to Intel's controller - but even any advantage here is impressive, not to mention such a large advantage.

Memory Bandwidth Comparison

NVIDIA's latency reduction and DASP algorithms offer a negligible 2% increase in overall memory bandwidth.  While you'd be hard pressed to find any noticeable examples of these performance improvements, the important thing here is that NVIDIA's memory controller appears to be just as good as, if not faster, than Intel's best.  Kudos to NVIDIA - they have at least started off on the right foot with performance. 

DDR2-667 or 533?

When Intel sent us their 955X platform, they configured it with DDR2-667 memory running at 5-5-5-15 timings.  NVIDIA sent their nForce4 SLI Intel Edition board paired with some Corsair DIMMs running at 4-4-4-15 timings at DDR2-667.  Given that we have lower latency DDR2-533 memory, we decided to find out if there was any real performance difference between DDR2-667 at relatively high timings and DDR2-533 at more aggressive timings. Once again, ScienceMark 2.0 is our tool of choice:

DDR2: 533 vs 667

Here, we see that even at 3-2-2-12, DDR2-533 isn't actually any faster than DDR2-667. 

DDR2: 533 vs 667

...and it offers slightly less memory bandwidth. 

It looks like there's not much point in worrying about low latency DDR2-533, as higher latency DDR2-667 seems to work just as well (if not a little better) on the newest Intel platforms. 

The Motherboards Business Application Performance


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  • KeithDust2000 - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    JoKeRr, "However, with such a great product, why couldn't AMD strike a deal with major OEMs like Dell? I know they're doing great on the server side with opteron, but why not desktop?"

    You must be "joking". Dell may be the the biggest PC OEM in the world, but not by much, and No.2 HP, No.3
    Lenovo/IBM, No.4 Acer and No.5 Fujitsu-Siemens all carry AMD desktop CPUs, from Sempron to Athlon 64.
  • chennhui - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    Why not impliment something like Hyperthreading when it's proven to work so well?

    " Fred's response to this question was thankfully straightforward; he isn't a fan of Intel's Hyper Threading in the sense that the entire pipeline is shared between multiple threads. In Fred's words, "it's a misuse of resources." "
  • KeithDust2000 - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    Hi Anand, wrt. your comment

    "A bit of that changed when Intel brought forth their dual core plans - assuming that they can actually guarantee availability, Intel is planning to ship more desktop dual core processors, at lower prices, than AMD this year."

    I think it´s unlikely that the 1.8Ghz Athlon 64 X2 will cost more than $240. After all, a single core Athlon CPU @ 1.8Ghz can be had for ~$125. Not mentioning that it will likely show higher overall performance (note that Pentium D has no HT), will fit into existing platforms, have about half the power consumption, and probably better 64bit performance and power management. We´ll see, I guess...

  • JoKeRr - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    OK, I was going to flame Questar with an old Chinese saying:
    It's always the idiot who got the loudest mouth and who thinks he/she knows everything, and it's always the smarties who only speak the truth and state the facts when necessary.

    Anyway, I take that back b/c I think Questar has changed.
    On the flip side, this is how I view the whole processor debate:

    great marketing power and OEM support, great fabs and lots of engineering power. P4 prescott is hotter than it should be, but Intel has made a lot of progress from C0 stepping to the newest N0 stepping. Plus you've got to give Intel some credit for being the first that brings Dualcore to desktop (I know AMD's the first in server) and willing to widely spread the eventual benefit of dualcore to everyone today at a very fair price even though the cost of manufacturing is definitely higher. Sure it's essentially 2 prescott 1mb core glued together but it works. It takes guts for a company to widespread something so bleeding edge and so much at the same time (DDR2, PCI-E, HD audio, etc). And if we look ahead, Intel is making dualcore 65nm's thermal evenlope same as Northwood at 89W (don't count on me though), I'm impressed b/c Intel is actively addressing the problems. And who's not impressed with the introduction of Centrino?

    On the other hand, there are things I don't like about Intel either: Such as the frequent change of socket (was 775 really neccessary before dualcore?? what about 423?), not supplying nearly as much 875P chipset as it should b/c 925XE/925/915 is not selling well, and now a whole new platform just to add dualcore support, just to name a few. As for performance: Other than gaming, Intel's P4 is only behind in 3 or 4 benchmarks when I last counted.

    AMD: They do have a wondering processor with Athlon64 right now, cool and fast, especially in gaming. They are also making good progress with dualcore, and mobile platform (turion64) and they have great chipset from NVDIA and VIA. And props to AMD who's the first to introduce 64bit support, well done. However, with such a great product, why couldn't AMD strike a deal with major OEMs like Dell? I know they're doing great on the server side with opteron, but why not desktop? Lack of marketing in my own opinion hurts a lot for companies like AMD. And I wish AMD could have addressed the issue of multitasking better before the coming of dualcore: Why not impliment something like Hyperthreading when it's proven to work so well?

    One last question for Anand b4 I shut up:
    DDR could run at 2-2-2-5 but fetches 2bit per cycle. DDR2 runs at 4-4-4-10, even though twice the latency but fetches 4bit per cycle, so essentially DDR2 at 4-4-4-10 is about the same (in terms of bandwidth and maybe even latency??) as DDR at 2-2-2-5?

  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link


    I'll see if I can get Derek to do an article on audio quality of the latest solutions, but a lot of that will vary from one motherboard to the text. If an article does end up shaping out, I'll post something about it.

    The 2 single core CPUs vs. 1 dual core CPU comparison is an interesting one that I'd like to make and I'll do my best to fit some of those numbers in there, but I think there are other, more useful (from a purchasing standpoint) comparisons out there that you will see in the article.

    As far as my reasons for not doing an AMD NF4 vs. Intel NF4 comparison, it has nothing to do with pleasing any manufacturer - as I've said many times before, I don't care about pleasing any manufacturers, I'm here to deliver what you all want. It doesn't matter that Intel supplied the CPU, they just send us the hardware and we do whatever we want with it. I was originally going to do an AMD vs. Intel comparison in that article, but a handful of readers responded that it wasn't necessary so I left it out - I agreed with them as I thought it would be redundant and after all, if you're looking at a comparison of Intel chipsets you've already decided that you want an Intel processor (if not, consult our CPU reviews first to figure out what CPU to buy, then read the chipset reviews to figure out what chipset, then what motherboard, etc...).

    Take care,
  • mino - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    Just one correction that's worth it:
    " Albeit not beeing unjustified. At least insom cases like HD audio. "
    should sound more like this
    " Albeit not beeing justified. At least in some cases like HD audio. "

    You know, in my native language there could be even 3 to 4 negations in one simple sentence:
    Nikdy som nepovedal ze nie si blbec. goes word for word:
    I never didn't said that you aren't silly.

    Funny those "dirty" translations are. In manuals topic it's sometimes an issue if instead of EN you've got just your native one.;(

    Soo, thats all for some uninteresting dully comments. At least have got a feeling I wasn't alone...
  • mino - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    bleh; just got pissed of by my own spelling/hypnetation/thesaurus/etc .. ;) Reply
  • mino - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    Rand: Yeah ! so am I.
    Actually this is the first time I noticed they have changed it ;-) Funny is I started to watch IT closely just 2yrs bacwards...

    from the evolution of your posts through out this discusion I see you HAVE changed the opinion. It's quite refreshing to see some valid arguments in your last post. That's it you should have started with.

    In case you are who you claim to, this flame was surely worth the paper (literaly meant :).

    Please could you take a look at the audio quiality of the new SB from nVidia(;-) ? You know, nF4's AC'97 is nothing to sing about...
    From the other keg - hope to see 2x248(848) versus single 1x275(875) in the SAME board compared. this would be waaaays more usefull spent time than any other comparison possible. PLEASE take note here so those of us who have current image of situation in the performance arena doesn't have to make indirect guesses(wonder if that word spells such way ;D).

    To all who would like to se nF4 AMD vs. Intel SLI roundup: Please take in mind that such an embarassment would not please Intel(AND the provider of tested HW) very much. It would also make no other sense than to sink the P4 platform even more into mud. Albeit not beeing unjustified. At least insom cases like HD audio.
  • Rand - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    I still spell it as nVidia all the time, purely out of habit. Even after all these years I haven't quite gotten it stuck into my head that NVIDIA is now the appropriate spelling.
  • Rand - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link


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