Articles: Memory

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AMD users may find themselves somewhat disappointed with the recent announcements from the makers of overclocker-friendly memory modules and they have a reason to feel that way. There are DDR3 DIMMs now available with a rated frequency of over 2500 MHz but such high clock rates cannot be enabled on the Socket AM3 platform. As we found out in a recent review, it is quite hard even to start a modern Phenom II X6 up together with DDR3-2000. Thus, the majority of high-speed DDR3 modules offered today are only limited to LGA1156 and LGA1366 platforms and cannot show their best with AMD processors.

AMD claims that a proper combination of a processor, mainboard and memory is required to make DDR3-2000 work on the Socket AM3 platform but in our experiments we couldn’t find that combination even though we used a mainboard capable of supporting DDR3-2000 and a flagship CPU model. None of the overclocker-friendly memory modules rated for 2000 or even 2133 MHz would work as DDR3-2000 on our Socket AM3 testbed then. The highest memory frequency the system remained stable at was about 1900 MHz.

What was the reason of our failure? We thought our CPU was just not a good sample but recently we have found out by consulting with memory makers that the key factor is the memory modules rather than the CPU you use. Most of high-speed DDR3 SDRAM kits are simply not meant for Socket AM3. Instead, you need special memory optimized for this specific platform.

Now we’ve got a new opportunity to test Phenom II X6 processors with DDR3-2000 memory as G.Skill were kind to offer us their Phenom-optimized DDR3-2000 kit marked as F3-16000CL7D-4GBFLS. Thanks to it we've made sure that any Phenom II X6 processors are indeed capable of working with high-speed system memory. You only need an appropriate mainboard out of the numerous models based on the Leo series chipsets (AMD 890FX, 890GX, 880G and 870). The chipset alone doesn’t guarantee such compatibility, though. Right now, there is the following list of Socket AM3 mainboards supporting DDR3-2000:

Now that we’ve established the truth with the DDR3-2000 issue, we want to build a Socket AM3 platform with such memory and benchmark its performance.

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