Memory based on the exciting new Micron Z9 memory chips for DDR3 first appeared a couple of weeks ago and we first looked at it in Super Talent & TEAM: DDR3-1600 is Here! As predicted in that review, it was only a matter of days until most of the major enthusiast memory makers began talking about their own products based on Micron Z9 chips. Some even announced fast availability of the new kits in the retail market.

The reasons for this are basic. All memory makers buy raw memory chips available in the open market. Some memory makers do not like to talk about the chips used in their DIMMs, as they consider that information proprietary, but this secrecy does not normally last very long. It is rare to see a memory manufacturer with a truly exclusive supply arrangement with a memory vendor, but several companies have been trying very hard to do just this, and we may see more of these attempts in the future.

The DIMM manufacturers then speed grade or "bin" the chips to create one or more speed grades from a single chip type. Memory chips are then surface-mounted on generic or proprietary circuit boards with SPD (Serial Presence Detect) chips programmed with generic code or custom SPD programming done by the DIMM maker. This is why the introduction of fast new chips like the Micron Z9 often circulates rapidly through the enthusiast memory market as each manufacturer tries to introduce products based on the new chips with new twists that outdo the competition. This does not mean the memory you buy from Super Talent, for example, is exactly the same as the Micron Z9-based memory you buy from Corsair. Companies pride themselves on the sophistication of their speed-grading technology, their design and/or sourcing of PCBs, and their skill at programming the SPD.

Despite the real differences that emerge in memory performance from different DIMM manufacturers, the normal arrangement is one company successfully uses a new chip in a top-performing new DIMM, and then everyone in the market has a similar memory product based on the same chip. That is why every memory company has announced, or will soon be announcing, their own Micron Z9-based memory.

One of the more interesting of the announcements is OCZ DDR3-1800, rated at 8-8-8 timings at DDR3-1800, which is the fastest production DDR3 kit currently available. This new PC3-14400 Platinum Edition kit is specified to reach DDR3-1800 at 1.9V and is claimed to have substantial headroom above this speed. It certainly appears that OCZ is binning Micron Z9 chips for even higher memory speeds, along with possibly some other tweaks to squeeze more from these chips. The test results should tell us what these new DIMMs can actually do.

OCZ PC3-14400 Platinum Edition
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  • MadBoris - Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - link

    "Far Cry sees a similar increase from 112.90 at 800 to 121.94 at DDR2-2000"
    I think you meant DDR3-2000. Although DDR2-2000, would be nice. ;)
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - link

    Corrected. Reply
  • Spoelie - Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - link

    ...populating only one channel? With dual channel bandwidth exceeding double the bandwidth of the fsb, I'm curious as to how a single channel with equal or more bandwidth than the fsb would perform. Reply
  • Myrandex - Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - link

    Eh I hate it when people run dual channel boards in a single channel config. I remember a laptop review of the new Turion X2 and they were running it in single channel mode with onboard video. Heck where I work they do that all the time in the ATM systems that they manufacture. They pay for the dual channel chipset, yet they configure it to run in single channel mode. Reply
  • YellowWing - Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - link

    Thanks for keeping the CPU clock constant this time. We get the chance to see what the memory is adding without having to factor out the CPU clock changes. I look forward to new straps for a completely even test environment. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - link

    You're welcome. All of your suggestions on making this a better memory test platform were very helpful. We need 1600 and 2000 memory straps right now with DDR3 boards. I sincerely doubt that it even occurred to JEDEC and motherboard makers that we would be caring about DDR3-2000 this early in the development of DDR3. The memory speed development of DDR2 seems almost glacial by comparison. Reply
  • mostlyprudent - Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - link

    Although I did not participate in the discussion of the last article, I did follow it and want to tip my hat to Wes (and really all the AT authors) for being willing to engage readers in the comments and apply the feedback and critiques offered. This is why, IMHO, AT has continued to get better and better over the years. Reply
  • qpwoei - Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - link

    As a critic of the last article, I'd like to chime in and say well done on this one as well. Unfortunately, I don't think you'll be seeing any > 1:1 ratios on external chipsets (ie: non-IMC) for a while, if ever. The design issues for making > 1:1 ratios really outweigh the benefits, especially in a system where the memory bandwidth is already twice the FSB bandwidth. Reply
  • MadBoris - Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - link

    Hey wesley,

    I also wanted to say thanks for the more apples to apples comparison with DDR2. I think this is really of utmost importance to most folks before we start comparing DDR3 among other DDR3 modules. As exciting as DDR3 is as a technology we still want to see the real world performance improvement over DDR2 to justify for ourselves any price increase with new purchases, let alone the three fold price increase. If I get 3 to 4 percent less performance for 1/3 the price then that is a good purchasing decision for me. All new memory suffers from these teething pains, I just wanted them quantifiable.

    In further search for the real world comparison and the true advantages that DDR3 brings at it's current highest speeds comared to DDR2 at it's highest speeds(1066 in this case), I did have to flip back and forth between pages 4 and 7 several times. With page 4 using a 2.66 GHZ CPU clock frequency and page 7 using 3GHZ, a direct comparison in the benchmark numbers themselves wasn't possible due to the 10% CPU difference. Initially page 7 scores looked much better than page 4 until I factored in the 10% CPU difference. It took a few minutes to come to a method of distinguishing the real world advantage of DDR3 running at it's highest speeds, compared to DDR2 at it's higher speeds.

    basically, I came to the conclusion if 1333 is where DDR3 starts to get it's legs and surpass DDR2(as you state on page 4). Page 4 doesn't actually show the 1333 speeds of DDR2 in the chart (as none exists), but you can see there is a minor advantage in the two games emerging over the previous chart with 1066 DDR2. So then comparing DDR3 at 1333 to DDR3 at highest speeds on page 7 gives me a rough estimate of the "real world" performance of DDR3 at it's highest speed over what DDR2 has it's highest speeds (with an additional 1% tossed in as advantage over 1066 ddr2). All this extrapolation was necessary due to the 10% CPU difference. Not complaing, just stating a fact in trying to get to the real world benefits if I was going to by a platform today, and having to justify the cost/performance ratio.

    In the end, the real world benefit of DDR3 at it's highest speeds, compared to a P35 running DDR2 at it's highest speeds(both with fastest timings using 1333 as the cutoff where DDR2 is left behind) came out to about 3 - 5 percent real world gaming benefit in benchmarks of Far Cry and Quake 4. Obviously the synthetics showed much more, but they always do. All that of course is based on the reality that 1333 is where the performance shift takes place with the current fastest DDR2 and fastest DDR3, which is what I was after. To me, 3 - 5 percent definitely doesn't justify 3 times the cost of the memory yet, especially if a board supports both DDR2 and DDR3.

    Anyway, thanks for making an apples to apples comparison more possible in this review, even though not exact, I could extrapolate the necessary info I wanted. I'm sure as latency continues to lower on DDR3, than all this additional frequency will be worth something beyond the current meager benefits over DDR2 at 1066.
    Reply
  • indeed - Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - link

    Is there any chance that we'll be seeing DDR2 1066 4GB packs with 2 modules any time soon? Reply

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