We recently reviewed the ASUS P5K3-Deluxe in our P35 chipset introduction article that provided a first look at 1333 FSB and DDR3 support for current and upcoming Intel processors. We found the ASUS board provided a high level of performance, as did the Gigabyte GA-P35T-DQ6 DDR3 motherboard in our follow up article. However, neither board offered any real tangible benefits over their DDR2 brethren in our opinion.

Our first look at DDR3 technology provided a glimpse of where memory technology is headed for the next couple of years. We still do not expect widespread support for DDR3 until 2008 but with the right DDR3 modules we have seen performance equaling or bettering that of current DDR2 platforms in several instances.

Considering DDR3 memory is currently selling for a little over two times the cost of very good DDR2 memory, we have a situation where even the most die hard enthusiast would have trouble justifying a purchase even if DDR3 technology looks very promising in the near future. With that in mind we set out on a search to see where the manufacturers of DDR3 motherboards are headed with this new and still expensive technology during our Computex 2007 visit.

What we found out is that the board manufacturers are still excited and to some degree looking forward to the eventual switch over to DDR3, but they are still very apprehensive about the current cost factors and performance of early DDR3 memory. They have high hopes that as memory production ramps, costs start to drop, and modules offering enhanced speeds and latencies come onto the market later this summer that the enthusiast sector will start taking a serious look at DDR3 products.

They foresee this technology starting to provide upper echelon performance for a small price premium late this year and expect the Intel X38 chipset to be the catalyst or at least provide the enthusiast sector a reason to take a second glance at DDR3. While we agree with them somewhat, we do not believe DDR2 will go away quietly, especially with AMD promoting DDR2-1066 heavily for their upcoming K10 series of processors and the continued improvements in speeds/latencies we are seeing. In fact, the manufacturers are hedging their bets to some degree by now offering DDR2 capable X38 boards, though in early previews this chipset seemed to really respond best to DDR3.

The question is: what type of DDR3? Based on what we have seen at the various motherboard and memory companies it appears from all indications that the new Micron DDR3-1066 8x128 1GB modules will be the hot product to have for the next few months if you invest in DDR3. We have already seen these Micron modules reach over DDR3-2200 in single channel mode and DDR3-2000 in dual channel mode. The various memory manufacturers who will provide products based upon the Micron IC expect to have it available by the time X38 launches in August.

We have an early production set and while it has at least partially changed our perception about DDR3 performance, until costs are competitive it is yet another impressive "niche" product to have around the labs. We will have a full review of this memory once retail product samples are received but will provide a glimpse of its performance in the ASUS P5K3-Deluxe today. Speaking of the P5K3, let's get to the topic of discussion now.

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  • anandtech02148 - Tuesday, June 19, 2007 - link

    what am to going to do with my 7gigs of ddr2 800mhz.
    It was a nice fire sale this season,.. the promises of vista,direct 10 games, anyone want to trade 7gigs of ddr2 for 2gigs of ddr3 when all the promises matured?

  • ViRGE - Monday, June 18, 2007 - link

    DDR3 is going to have a really hard time taking off if the memory consortium doesn't manage to push out some good 2GB sticks soon. At this point 4GB is about to become the norm for a high-end system and 4 1GB sticks leaves no room for future expansion plus invites any problems/slowdowns that happens with 4 sticks over 2 sticks. The sweet spot needs to be 2GB sticks so that high-end computers build with DDR3 can use a 2x2GB configuration and leave the other 2 slots open for another 2x2GB set when said system gets upgraded in a couple of years.
  • BigLan - Monday, June 18, 2007 - link

    I don't really think that 2gb sticks is going to help ddr3 much, but I agree that it's going to have a hard time taking off. I actually think it'll take much longer for ddr3 to catch on than ddr2 did, which was helped enormously by Intel's chipsets only supporting ddr2 which forced dell and the big oems to transition early and helped the overall adoption rate (though AMD still stuck with DDR1 for a long time.)

    This time around, oems don't really have a reason to transition so will likely stay with the cheaper product for longer.

    Having said that, Intel has a much bigger incentive to push ddr3 this time than they did with ddr2. AMD showed that they could not move their chips to ddr2 easily because they have to rework the memory controller and the same is likely to be true this time around. I think an early push by intel to dd3 would help them keep the performance crown for a long time.
  • TA152H - Monday, June 18, 2007 - link

    Are you sure AMD couldn't move to DDR2? Seeing as how DDR performed as well, was there really any point to it? Originally AMD said they would go straight to DDR3 and skip DDR2, so I think it was more of a choice. Also, the memory controller on the K8 isn't designed well for DDR2, whereas the Barcelona has deeper request and response ques, so should take better advantage of DDR2. It looks like AMD changed their minds in the middle, which was probably a mistake and a waste of design resources since DDR2 pretty much sucks, at least for the K8.

    DDR3 should take off because it's clearly better than DDR2, and it's essentially no more difficult to make. The price will drop quickly and for whatever reason people have everything backwards. Supply/demand says that if demand is too high, price goes up, not down. So what the heck is everyone talking about? That demand will be moderate and growing should help, since every memory company knows they need to make DDR3 since it will take over, but demand isn't crazy immediately so they have time to get it right and ramp production.
  • wolfman3k5 - Monday, June 18, 2007 - link

    When will you guys review the Abit IP35 motherboard? It's supposed to be pretty cool.
  • TA152H - Monday, June 18, 2007 - link

    Any idea why Everest is showing faster L2 cache speeds with higher FSB speeds? Seems to me Everest is rubbish and shouldn't be used if you can't trust the results, but maybe I'm missing something (although I can't imagine how, the L2 cache shouldn't care about the FSB). Is it just bad software or is there something I haven't thought of?

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