One of the more vexing discoveries as memory performance testing was extended to the Athlon 64 platform was that memory often did not perform the same on both platforms. You simply could not assume that a memory that did DDR550 on the Intel 478 chipset would perform the same on the Athlon 64. We have also discovered that certain memory actually performs much poorer on Athlon 64 than on Intel 478, while other memory consistently performs much better on Athlon 64. With these variations, it was time to establish an Athlon 64 memory test platform and run new baseline tests on some of the best recent memories.

You can see the details of our new Athlon 64 testbed in the recent review, OCZ 3700 Gold Rev. 3: DDR500 Value for Athlon 64 & Intel 478. The decision was made to look to the future on Athlon 64 memory benchmarks with a Socket 939 Dual-Channel test bed. With the recent introductions of the 90nm Socket 939 3000+, 3200+, and 3500+ processors, the starting price for a 939 CPU is now well below $200. This will likely encourage further growth of the 939 as the top-performance platform for Athlon 64. We will soon be bringing you performance and overclocking tests of the new 90nm AMD chips, and our decision to concentrate on Socket 939 for our Athlon 64 memory test bed was influenced by AMD's targeting of the 939 for new product developments.

VIA just launched their first reference boards using PCI Express on the Athlon 64. Later this month, we also expect new Athlon 64 chipsets from others that will add PCI Express capabilities to the Socket 939 platform. While these new chipsets could migrate later to Socket 754 single-channel, the new chipsets will launch with Socket 939. This will further push the 754 to the value side of the Athlon 64 line.

As you saw in our DFI LANParty UT nF3-250Gb: Overclocker's Dream review, the 754 is capable of incredible performance. It is even capable of outperforming the newer 939, since base performance is only about 5% higher for the 939. However, this usually requires the use of one DIMM. Overclocking performance with 2 DIMMs on 754 is normally poorer than 2 DIMMs on 939. While there are many reasons to buy 754 for value and performance, future development will revolve around the 939 socket and dual-channel memory.

To understand better how memory behaves on the Athlon 64, we tested a cross-section of some of the best memory currently available in the lab. This included new Samsung TCCD memory form PQI and G. Skill, familiar Samsung TCCD from Geil and OCZ, top performing Micron-based Crucial Ballistix, and the latest Hynix DT-D5 memory from OCZ. We had originally planned to include the unique OCZ 3700EB also, which had performed well in other Athlon 64 tests. However, OCZ told us EB memory was no longer in production, and we could not find EB in stock at any vendor. We, therefore, eliminated EB from our final testing, since it is no longer available for purchase.

Crucial Ballistix PC3200
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  • saechaka - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    i can't seem to find a legit place to buy that ocz 3200 rev. 2. any suggestions
  • Avalon - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    Excellent article. It's good to know what different memories can do on the Athlon 64 platform.
  • ramclocker - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link


    The psu is probably around 20A on the 12V...I know from my testing 20A doesn't cut it anymore on a high end gaming/benching also have to remember that at high speed the ram will be drawing high levels of current also and the board will draw higher current due to heat etc.

    I found the article an excellent read due to the fact it finally proved to me with reasonably tight timings running high fsb over 2-2-2 at 200 is the way to go...running 2.4gig for all tests Wes was the wise move here...great work.
  • Blappo - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    The computer would probably wouldn't use more than 250W. I understand that you don't want to mention the make and model. The nVidia 6800 Ultra draws most of its power through the 12V connection to the PSU, where the ATI 9800 Pro draws its power from the AGP slot. What is the max current rating on the 12V rail for the 465W PSU that you were using? I agree that a high quality PSU is needed (although not necessarily high max rating).
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    #12 - The Asus A8V is reviewed at and compared to other 939 boards. In memory testing we use a standard test bed to minimize variables.

    #11 - The 90nm Athlon 64 tests should appear next week. We have just received 90nm 3500+ and 3000+ processors. AMD did not do a media launch on these processors, so we had to find them on the open market

    #9 and #11 - A Value RAM roundup is in the works, but it has been moved out a while because of a large number of new launches this month.
  • Deuce - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    It sure would be nice with tests also conducted on the Asus A8V. I'm still deciding between the two.
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    Just to follow up that comment, I suppose the DDR533/2.4GHz results are actually the most useful out of them all when it comes to comparing those particular modules. All of them were fastest (at 2.4GHz) at that speed, except for the OCZ PC3200 Plat Rev.2 which was marginally faster at 8x300 for DDR600.

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to the reviews of the desktop 90nm A64 processors, and especially finding out how well each of them overclocks.

    And also the Value Memory review you promised a few weeks ago :)
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    Although all the (admittedly premium quality)memory could reach very high speeds, that didn't have much impact on performance.

    Taking the highest clocking brand as an example, the OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev.2, from the DDR400 2-2-2 speed to the DDR534 2.5-4-3 speed which was the best result still at a CPU speed of 2.4GHz, the results were

    Quake 3: 516.3 -> 525.8
    Super PI: 80 -> 79 (lower is better)
    Wolf: 110.8 -> 112.7

    So running the memory at DDR534 instead of DDR400 provided less than 2% increase in performance. This is to be expected when you compare the real-world performance of S754 and S939. The only thing that is important is that the memory can do 1T command-rate to the maximum overclock of your A64 at default multiplier.

    I think the results on the highest memory performance page are probably misleading to some readers. It shows the Crucial Ballistix coming in at 536.5fps on Q3. Looking at the results I see that was at 9x278 for a CPU speed of 2.5GHz. Your CPU was able to reach over 2.6GHz so the performance in real world tests would have been somewhat higher with a 10x multiplier. Sandra results are irrelevant to most people.

    It would be better if you included an additional test in addition to Highest Memory Speed, and Highest Memory Performance. This would be Highest CPU Speed where the CPU is maxxed out, and the memory run at whatever multiplier gives best performance on real-world tests (ignoring Sandra). I suspect the results would be a *lot* closer.
  • AtaStrumf - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    Now about some value RAM tests? These modules are just too expensive for most of us.
  • Jalf - Friday, October 1, 2004 - link

    Or maybe the "average" user would rather blow $200 on 1GB memory ;)

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