Even if you are not really following the news from the memory market on a regular basis, you may have definitely noticed that the working frequencies of the DDR2 memory modules have actually grown pretty modestly over the past year. In the end of last summer we tested DDR2-1100 memory modules from Corsair and OCZ (for details see our article called DDR2 SDRAM to Hit 1.1GHz: Corsair Dominator vs. OCZ PC2-8800 Gold Edition). After the launch of these memory modules the manufacturers of DDR2 memory for computer enthusiasts couldn’t really offer anything principally new for quite some time. It is only recently that we started witnessing some minor movement towards higher memory speeds: Corsair Company managed to shift the top speed limit to 1250MHz, and OCZ Technologies – to 1200MHz. These relatively small increases from the overclocker memory makers are not incidental. There are two reasons for that.
First, until recently it didn’t really make much sense to manufacture faster memory. Even advanced users and extreme overclockers didn’t really require ultra high-speed DDR2 SDRAM. Widespread Intel core logic sets for Core 2 Duo processors could only take real advantage of the 1200MHz+ memory with an extremely successfully overclocked processor in the system. Moreover, the performance improvement obtained thanks to this high-speed memory was ephemeral, and analogous performance level could be achieved with DDR2-800 SDRAM running with aggressive timing settings (for details see our article called Choosing the Right Memory for Core 2 Duo Platform - Part 1). As for the systems built around AMD Athlon 64 processors, we can skip them here, because they are no longer of interest to the majority of computer enthusiasts and hardcore gamers. In other words, high-frequency memory kits could become really demanded by the market when the next-generation chipsets got popular.
Secondly, design and manufacturing of high-frequency DDR2 memory has been and still is being slowed down by the absence of necessary memory chips with sufficient frequency potential. The makers of DDR2 SDRAM chips haven’t yet offered anything better than the renowned Micron D9GMH chips that are still the best components for overclocker memory modules available in the market these days. So, further production of faster DDR2 SDRAM memory modules requires even more thorough selection of components and hence increases the labor-intensiveness and production cost of the end product.
Everything I have just said means that there should have been a very good reason for the manufacturers to start making 1200MHz DDR2 memory. And this reason is the Nvidia nForce 680i SLI based mainboards that started invading the market and have already become pretty popular (for details see our article called Nvidia nForce 680i SLI Chipset Review). The thing is that DDR2-1200 SLI-Ready Memory support is one of the official characteristics of this chipset. Moreover, nForce 680i SLI allows pseudo-synchronous clocking of the memory bus, which enabled DDR2 SDRAM overclocking independently of the set FSB frequency. These peculiarities shaped up the demand for high-speed memory modules: this demand was created by dedicated computer enthusiasts eager to fight for higher performance of their systems at any rate.
Today we are going to introduce to you three 2GB kits of dual-channel DDR2 SDRAM that offered by the two leaders of the memory market for advanced users – Corsair and OCZ. We will discuss solutions designed to work at 1150MHz and 1250MHz default frequencies and will try to find out how the actual users can benefit from this endless hunt for higher memory speeds. Especially since the same Nvidia nForce 680i SLI chipset also offers an alternative approach to selecting the most optimal DDR2 SDRAM modules based on latency minimization and for that purpose offers efficient tools for 1T Command Rate adjustment.