Each time we had approached the launch date for Intel's new 925X/915 chipsets, we ran into delays. The rumors seemed to be consistent that there were still issues with DDR2 memory for the new platform, and almost everyone with whom we talked had described the difficulties with getting the new DDR2 memory working as it should.

Against that background, it is positively amazing that we find such a broad selection of DDR2 memory just a couple of weeks after the launch (finally) of the new Intel architecture. While we received the first samples of DDR2 memory over 3 months ago, it is clear that development has continued over the past few months. We had already found that DDR2 533 performed about the same as fast DDR433 in our 925X/915 launch review using the Intel D925XCV. While this is not the 1:1 to DDR533 that many hoped for, it is still an excellent improvement in performance over the early results with DDR2. However, Intel motherboards are not traditionally geared toward pushing memory to even higher performance than specification, and we also had to contend with the limitation of the Intel 10% overclock lock that is engineered into the 925X/915 chipsets.

However, with the Abit AA8 and Asus P5AD2 known to have found ways around the 10% lock, it was time to take a closer look at the performance of DDR2. Other 925X motherboard manufacturers, such as Gigabyte and MSI, are also rumored to have broken the 10% lock. With a little more open route above a 220FSB setting, it now made sense to look at the current state of DDR2 memory performance. In particular, we were interested in seeing how far current DDR2 memory would need to develop to reach the magic DDR667 that will be needed for the next speed ramp of the Intel architecture within the next few months. The answers may surprise you.

Specifications: DDR2 Memory
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  • betatest3 - Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - link

    The DDR2 667 memory is allready available and price is around $245 to $270 for 512mb .The only memory I found was made by Crucial and some Generic by doing a search on pricewatch.com site The $245 memory can be seen here -->

    Hmm.. this DDR2 memory was just made for Intel ??? or maybe in newer motherboards can be used with AMD also ? I would not think a newer memory made by many company's would just be designed for intel especially when alot of manufacturers are jumping over to AMD or can AMD use this 667 memory ?
  • jiulemoigt - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    A very funny thought aquired to me after reading the older article on AMD's DDR2 stance. If their waiting for DDR2 667 and the memory is ready but quitly being called 533 does that mean AMD may actully be ready to pull a fast on Intel? Considering the way the chip is designed could the memory controller be flashed to update to the memory controller the same way the other frequencies are set? Oh and I would not buy a LGA socket the pin's being spring loaded just looks to be trouble :o cool article
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, July 9, 2004 - link

    FlameDeer -

    Good catch. P. 6 is corrected to 1032FSB.
  • FlameDeer - Friday, July 9, 2004 - link

    Thanks for quick respond at #10, Wesley! :)

    Really appreciate your hours and hours of hard work to publish this very first hand thorough DDR2 roundup! :)

    A quick look again of this good article, I noticed something need to ask. In page 7 till page 14, is that "258FSB" of 686DDR in every table mean 4 x 258 = "1032FSB"? And is this FSB related to page 6 settings no.3 of "1016FSB/DDR2-686"? Just curious, thank you! :)
  • pookie69 - Friday, July 9, 2004 - link

    Cool - i think i understand that now.

    Thanks for replying and explaining. Appreciated :)
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, July 9, 2004 - link

    The ratio is 3:4 looking at base clocks (200 to 266). The bus is then quad-pumped to 800 and memory is DOUBLE Data Rate or 533. I do agree it is a bit confusing since the final 800 ratio is 3:2 of the final DDR2 ratio (533).

    The 975/865 standard was 1:1 since the base clocks are 200, even though the final speeds were 800FSB (quad) and 400 DDR. It was never called 2:1.

  • pookie69 - Friday, July 9, 2004 - link

    Nice article - good job :)

    Only one point; where it reads;

    "This is currently slightly below the memory timing of 250 required to run memory at DDR2 667, at the standard 3:4 Intel memory ratio for DDR2."

    >>> shouldn't that be a 3:2 ratio?

    Or am i confused :S

    Nice article again - keep up the good work Mr. Fink ;)
  • TrogdorJW - Friday, July 9, 2004 - link

    I think a better conclusion might have been: And the winner is... NO ONE! (Or everyone, depending on whether you see the glass as half full or half empty.) While there are definitely measurable differences in performance between the various memories, reality is that only Quake 3 and Enemy Territory are meaningful benchmarks. Seeing that Quake 3 is one of the most bandwidth hungy games of all time, it's rather telling that a 15.4% advantage in Sandra only equates to a 2.7% performance difference in Quake 3 (and even less in W:ET). I'm not criticizing your work, mind you - just pointing out that the best case scenario of Sandra Unbuffered RAM tests are not the way we actually use our systems.

    At some point, it would be nice to see a memory roundup that included all the benchmarks that are used in CPU and graphics comparisons. Obviously, that wouldn't be a prudent use of your time when we're still being limited by the motherboard. However, in another six months, I would like to see a memory comparison put together that broadened the field of view in regards to benchmarks.

    Great article, though. It will certainly be interesting to see how far each memory type can actually overclock when the motherboard is no longer the limiting factor. For the present, though, it looks like we might as well just save our pennies and buy cheaper DDR2 modules. (Not that any of them are actually "cheap"....)
  • Pumpkinierre - Thursday, July 8, 2004 - link

    I suppose with all these new goodies, Wesley, you are going to give up on the excellent straight DDR articles you used to do.

    For the tRAS, the usual formula for DDR is: tRCD+CAS latency + 2 cycles, see:
    So that seems to work for DDR2 at tRAS >10. I dont know why DDR2 still works at tRAS of 4 though. I also dont know why nForce chipsets have their tRAS so high (10-12) on ordinary DDR.

    You've got an engineering sample (multiplier unlocked) Prescott that o'clocks well. So you ought to do some tests at same CPU speed but different FSBs like you have done on the a64s. I know you might think it is stupid given that retail cpus are multiplier locked but some of us want to see whether it is better to put more money in a higher grade cpu or get a cheaper one and o'clock it high using more expensive high speed low latency memory. You had'nt done this with the N'wood/i875 memory tests either, but I cant remember whether you've got a good N'wood engineering sample lying around. Anyway just a suggestion.
  • ariafrost - Thursday, July 8, 2004 - link

    Now if only DDR2 latencies were lower and the pricetag was less than DDR1 :)

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