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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  • xsilver - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    oh and before when you were arguing about heat --- if you didnt understand... let me translate the graph segagenesis provided
    amd 64 3500 at load = 114w
    intel 550, 3.4ghz /load = 207w

    that's close to DOUBLE power consumption with similar performance/price characteristics.
  • xsilver - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    I remember reading amd's 3 year roadmap right here on AT.... maybe you missed it

    3 year roadmaps aren't very good anyways, they provide no real hard information.... what are you worried that amd isn't going to exist in 3 years???

    what AT people here are arguing is about performance... now you have jumped from heat output to spelling to performance and now to company profile... please be concise
  • Questar - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    "The only defense I imagine he could possibly conjure up right now is currently in the market there is the "Nobody got fired for buying Intel" mentality where companies and such are wary of trying non-Intel products mainly because... Dell and other major manufacturers wont offer it in any quantity."

    Actually there are two reasons:

    1) Qualification costs. it can be easy to drop $150k to qualify a new platform.

    2) Product longevity. Change is very expensive to large corporations. Anything we make a commitment to buy must have a lifespan of at least 18 months from the date we qualify the product. We also must be comfortable with the companies 3 year product roadmap. So far there are no teir one vendors that have AMD product lines that meet these requirements.

  • Questar - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    NVIDIA changed the spelling of their name from nVidia to NVIDIA a few years ago, have a look at NVIDIA's home page for confirmation -

    Questar: NVIDIA is the correct corporate capitalization of the company. I actually don't think I've ever seen it spelled "nVidia".

    I stand corrected. Thank you.
  • glennpratt - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    I think you mean you disagree with his first statement, since his last statement was about DDR2. Personally, I assume reviews on this site are talking to me (PC enthusiast) and not businesses (except reviews which explicitly state otherwise which are few and far between here). In that context, Anand has a point. Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    Questar: NVIDIA is the correct corporate capitalization of the company. I actually don't think I've ever seen it spelled "nVidia".

  • Motley - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    Perhaps it should have been worded differently like... offered performance benefits that have only yet to be realized. But as worded, it is misleading and incorrect. Obviously, I read your site often, and I have come to expect technical correctness in what you write ;-)

    That said, I still would have to disagree with your last statement. Where companies purchase and keep PC's around for 3+ years (OMG, I wish we got rid of PC's in 3 years), the ability to purchase PCI-E when it came out knowing that we could upgrade them to iSCSI, etc in the future *IS* a very tangable benefit. At home, it's a different story, where my motherboard changes with every major change (or every other as money permits).
  • BaronVonAwesome - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    You have to be leery of anyone who resorts to juvenile symantics in an argument. When Questar derided another person for using the word "worthless" to describe Intel, you had to ignore him. Obviously, "worthless" wasn't meant literally. That's one of the wonders of the English language, the way it evolves, with words taking on more subtle meanings through the gradual societal acceptance of colloquialisms and slang. Words like "worthless" also lose their qualitative and quantitative qualities through this evolution...depending on how the word is used of course. Generally, when people resort to literal symantics, they feel like they are losing the argument. Reminds me of when Bill Clinton questioned the definition of the word "is." Questar's back was against the wall, I guess. Reply
  • glennpratt - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    On another note will there be a non-SLI version of the nF4 Intel Ed.? Reply
  • glennpratt - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    Questar - This may have been said before, but I didn't read this whole thread.

    Reviews are generally filled with opinion, it's the nature of the beast. If you wanted an Intel white paper well this isn't the place for it. If you've taken a high school level english class then you should be quite capable of determining opinion from fact in common english.

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