Articles: Memory

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Testbed Configuration and Testing Methodology

Sandy Bridge processors offer us a lot of flexibility when it comes to experimenting with system memory. You can use high-speed DDR3 SDRAM modules even in those systems that are not cut for overclocking and have their CPU working in nominal mode. That is why we decided to investigate the influence of the memory speed on the system performance in two different modes: in nominal mode and with the overclocked processor. And even though the only difference between the overclocked and non-overclocked Sandy Bridge processor is in the multiplier, the system memory speed may have different effect on performance in both cases. Overclocking increases the CPU’s need for processing data that is why high memory speed may be of greater importance in high-performance systems. Moreover, higher CPU frequency leads to higher bandwidth inside the processor ring bus, so the memory controller efficiency may also improve during overclocking.

To check out whether our assumptions are true, we put together an LGA1155 system on a quad-core Core i5-2500K processor from the overclocking-friendly K-series that features an unlocked clock frequency multiplier. We completed the system with a pair of DDR3-2100 memory modules from GeIL: GeIL EVO ONE PC3-17000, that support a wide range of frequencies and latencies. As a result, in the end our test system consisted of the following components:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.3 GHz, 6 MB L3);
  • CPU cooler: Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme with Enermax Everest fan;
  • Mainboard: ASUS P8P67 Deluxe (LGA1155, Intel P67 Express);
  • Memory: 2 x 2 GB DDR3 SDRAM, GeIL EVO ONE PC3-17000 (GE34GB2133C9DC);
  • Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 6970.
  • Hard drive: Kingston SNVP325-S2/128GB.
  • Power supply unit: Tagan TG880-U33II (880 W).
  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64.
  • Drivers:
  • o   Intel Chipset Driver;
  • o   Intel Rapid Storage Technology;
  • o   ATI Catalyst 11.3 Display Driver.

In nominal mode the technologies responsible for interactive management of the processor clock frequency, namely – Turbo Boost and Intel Enhanced SpeedStep – remained active.

In overclocked mode Turbo Boost technology was disabled, but Intel Enhanced SpeedStep remained up and running. The CPU clock frequency was set at 4.7 GHz.

The memory was tested in the following modes, which represent the settings of the today’s most popular DDR3 SDRAM kits:

  • DDR3-1066 CL7 (7-7-7-21-1T);
  • DDR3-1333 CL9 (9-9-9-27-1T);
  • DDR3-1333 CL7 (7-7-7-21-1T);
  • DDR3-1600 CL9 (9-9-9-27-1T);
  • DDR3-1600 CL8 (8-8-8-24-1T);
  • DDR3-1600 CL7 (7-7-7-21-1T);
  • DDR3-1866 CL9 (9-9-9-27-1T);
  • DDR3-1866 CL8 (8-8-8-24-1T);
  • DDR3-2133 CL10 (10-10-10-30-1T);
  • DDR3-2133 CL9 (9-9-9-27-1T).
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