We're still working on providing detailed results, but one of the interesting aspects of the new Intel X38 chipset is that memory performance improves with X38 - but only with DDR3 memory. Improvements over P35 range from 3 to 5% with DDR3, but there are no real improvements in DDR2 performance compared to P35. It should be clear to enthusiasts at this point that DDR3 appears to offer more potential for high performance than DDR2. This is certainly borne out by the dramatic memory speed increases that have been achieved with DDR3 so quickly after introduction.

There are still early issues with X38 and it will take a while for the market to sort these out, but we do expect BIOS updates and potentially hardware revisions to fix the major issues in the near future. When that happens X38 will fill the position of top performer in the Intel chipset lineup, and DDR3 memory will be the memory of choice for best performance. Looking toward that end, what DDR3 memory is best for X38 and P35 based DDR3 motherboards?

Memory based on the exciting new Micron Z9 memory chips for DDR3 first appeared a few days after the Intel P35 launch in late July. We took a look at these early high-speed DDR3 in Super Talent and TEAM: DDR3-1600 is Here! The Super Talent memory was very memorable in that review as it was the first memory product to ever reach a stable DDR3-2000 speed. OCZ followed with a refinement of the early Micron products and introduced their own higher speed DDR3-1800 a couple of weeks later, which we reviewed in OCZ Introduces DDR3-1800. OCZ extended the performance even further with stable DDR3-2040 performance and the even more remarkable DDR3-1900 at 7-7-7 timings.

It was very clear from these early products that DDR3 was well on its way to becoming the performance memory of choice, and Micron had once again succeeded in producing some of the best high-performance DDR3 chips available to the market. It has taken a couple of months for early issues to sort out and for production of the Micron Z9 chips to reach supply levels. Micron DDR3 chips are finally here in quantity, as should be evident in the new high speed memory kits from Cell Shock, Corsair, and Kingston.

As explained in the past, all memory makers buy raw memory chips available in the open market. They then rate 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 tweaks that outdo the competition.

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. The enthusiast memory market quickly migrates to the best performing chips and you will see the same memory chips used in many top memory kits. However, this does not mean the memory you buy from Super Talent, for example, is exactly the same as memory based on the same chips that 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. Those skills do lead to performance differences among brands - some large and some small.

Despite the real differences in memory performance from different memory makers, memory using the same memory chips tends to cluster in test results. You can usually see a clear pattern of performance from a particular memory chip that tips you off to which memory chip is used in different memory kits.

One of the more interesting results in our tests of the Super Talent DDR3-1600 and OCZ DDR3-1800 was that both memories managed to overclock to DDR3-2000, which is the highest performance we have ever measured for system memory. This memory speed is almost double the top speed for DDR2 and establishes DDR3 as the memory of choice where maximum performance is the main concern. The OCZ RAM, which had a couple of more weeks to refine the binning and SPD, reached slightly further to DDR3-2040 with complete stability.

Will these new DDR3-1800 parts also reach DDR3-2000? With a couple of months more time for refinement is it possible they can do even better than the great results we have already seen with DDR3? Are the performance results for DDR3 on the X38 and P35 so compelling they move the check box to DDR3 despite the price premium that still exists for DDR3? Our review today will help to answer these questions.

The Contenders
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  • geok1ng - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    looking at http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3208&am...">http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3208&am... one may wish that an E8600 can reach 10x400Mhz using 2:1 divider + tRD 5 + DDR3 1600 for top notch performance. I look forward for FSB 400/DDR3 1600 CAS 6 examples of memory performance.
  • mandos9 - Tuesday, November 6, 2007 - link

    "The recent performance improvements in DDR3 memory have far exceeded anything the end user or industry expected to see in such a short period of time. "
    The performance improvement is,in comparison to ddr2,5-7fps.That's almost nothing,especially when the games you test already run at 100+ fps(why don't you test it on the crysis demo or games that have come out more recently?).
    I don't see why i should spend 600(or 300 for that matter) euro to upgrade my pc, when i can buy a second 8800GT for 250 euro and get 30 or more fps.
    Nobody would buy ddr3 for performance. I can only see me buying it if i want a new mobo which i will not have to replace in a year or two.
  • nrb - Monday, October 15, 2007 - link

    Oh joy, yet another anandtech article where I can't see any of the graphs. How many more years are you guys going to allow this to go on?

  • Wesley Fink - Monday, October 15, 2007 - link

    The charts are all there. We can read them fine in IE and Firefox. I just double-chescked to make sure there are no broken links. Can you please let us know what you are using as a browser?
  • DrMrLordX - Saturday, October 13, 2007 - link

    Why have you not included latency numbers as measured in cycles and/or nanoseconds?
  • goinginstyle - Friday, October 12, 2007 - link

    Do you think we could see a DDR2 memory review? Only about 90% of the desktop systems released in the last couple of years use it and considering the unbelievably low prices now it would be nice to see a review of memory that people actually use. It is getting boring to see $650~$900 memory reviewed when most of us cannot even begin to think about buying it or even can afford it if we wanted to change. Show us some results on memory that most people use now.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, October 15, 2007 - link

    The Kingston DDR3, which performed at the top of our test results, has a MSRP of $450 for the 2GB kit - NOT 650-900. It is still much higher than DDR2 but prices are starting to come down.

    We do have a DDR2 roundup coming in the near future. However, if you look back at the DDR2 review you will find many of the currently available DDR2 memory has been reviewed at AT before the introduction of DDR3.
  • retrospooty - Friday, October 12, 2007 - link

    at DDR 2000 at 6X500 CPU the best sisoft standard memory score for DDR3 is 9138 at DDR3 2000 8-7-6-18 ... I get 8871 with my DDR2 1000mhz at 4-4-4-10 with a similar setup on a DFI P35 mobo.

    Thats a lot of cash for an extra 267 mb per second bandwidth. Granted my memory setting are highly tuned, but the speed difference is even smaller than I had imagined. I would say the "dramatic" speed increases are totally crippled by the "dramatic" latency penalties. Hopefully in a year or 2 we will see some lower latencies.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, October 15, 2007 - link

    Congratulations on your great Buffered bandwidth scores with DDR2. We use a standardized setup and do not really tweak timings as you have. Any of our test results can ge tweaked to produce much higher test results, so it is best to compare apples to apples.

    At 1066 our DDR3 at 5-4-3-9 timings is an Sandra bandwidth of 6763, while you get 8871, a difference of 2100+. We are confident we could tweak the 1066 timings to pick up the 2100 points since the latest DDR-3 based on Z9 chips is testing equal or faster than the fastest DDR2 at the same speed at 1066 or above. That means DDR3-2000 could be 2300+ higher when tweaked for top bandwidth. In addition the fastest possible BIOS timings at 1066 with DDR3 are 5-3-3-5, and we are not far from that.

    If you check some enthusiast postings where they tweak the DDR3 for bandwidth you will find bandwidths exceeding 11000 on Sandra with Z9 based dimms. I suspect you already know this.
  • Anonymous Freak - Thursday, October 11, 2007 - link

    At the top of each page of the article is the list of places to buy:

    ZipZoomfly.com $78.00
    Amazon Marketplace $70.20
    Amazon $70.20
    RitzCamera.com $81.39
    WolfCamera.com $81.39
    cameraworld.com $81.39
    PhotoAlley.com $81.39

    That's all well and good. But the last four are the same company. (Ritz Camera owns Wolf, Camera World, and PhotoAlley.)

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