Articles: Memory

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Higher FSB frequency didn’t change the situation in games, either. Although DDR2-1250 ensures that we get maximum performance in almost all games, DDR2-1150 is not performing with the same confidence. We can only say that by using 1150MHz memory with 5-5-5-15 timings we can get the same level of system performance as with DDR2-1067 memory with 4-4-3-11-2T timings or DDR2-800 with 3-4-3-6-1T timings.

The results of application benchmarks are also not so promising. As you see, memory running at 1150MHz+ doesn’t let us get any higher result than with low latency DDR2-800. Only the flagship DDR2-1250 SDRAM retains the leadership here leaving the competitors behind in two benchmarks out of three.

The obtained results drive us to some pretty distressing conclusions about the prospects of ultra high-speed memory solutions working at 1150MHz and 1250MHz. As we have just seen in the tests, the Nvidia nForce 680i SLI chipset so beloved by overclocking fans allows attaining excellent performance levels even with slower DDR2 SDRAM. In particular, the opportunity to set Command Rate to 1T allows lower-speed DDR2-800 memory with aggressive 3-4-3-6-1T timings to perform as fast as DDR2-1150 SDRAM and sometimes even outperform the latter. DDR2-1067 also has settings that allow it to achieve similar level of performance: 4-4-3-11-2T. So, the only indisputable performance leader appears to be unique Corsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-10000C5DF modules that can operate at 1250MHz, although we will have to disregard their price point in this case.

However, it is important to understand that DDR2-800 with 3-4-3-6-1T timings or DDR2-1067 with 4-4-3-11-2T timings praised as an alternative to high-speed memory we are testing today is not a widely available product that you can get in any computer store for an affordable price. There are very few selected memory makers who offer overclocker modules like that. And moreover – what a surprise! – all this memory is built using the same remarkable Micron chips manufactured with 80nm process.

If we compare the memory modules we reviewed today with the more or less widespread mainstream solutions, then we will have to conclude that high-speed products provide 3-5% higher performance in real applications.

So, it turns out that the study of “high bandwidth vs. low latency” doesn’t give any clue regarding the most promising approach to increasing the performance. Increasing the memory working frequency as well as reducing the latencies may provide pretty similar performance boost. Moreover, the Corsair and OCZ memory modules we have discussed and tested today proved to feature certain “universality” reserve. They can not only work at extremely high frequencies, but can also function in high-performance work modes with low latencies.

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