Memory Guide

Total Recall - The Past Decade in Memory

Total Recall - The Past Decade in Memory



Timeline: 2004 - 2008

2004 - 2008

  • While DDR memory was the dominant memory standard with speeds to DDR400, vendors were racing to cater to the enthusiasts with ever increasing clock speeds. Kingmax and Corsair had DDR500 available in 2004 while Corsair and Geil had DDR550 in the market. These were covered in some of our articles in 2004, like this Value for Money memory kit from Geil.
  • Intel brought DDR2 memory to the mainstream with its 9xx series of chipsets in 2004. Although there were DDR2 memory modules available, the speeds weren't terribly impressive and hardly keeping up with the chipset FSB. That would quickly change by 2005 and we saw the first of these high speed DDR2 memory modules in July 2005 with the Corsair TWIN2X1024-8000UL. These were DDR2-1000 modules with ultra low latency memory rated at CAS-5, 4-4-9 timings, though then, it needed quite a powerful setup in terms of processor and chipset to realize its potential.

  • Meanwhile AMD's micro-architecture, with its integrated memory controller meant that it was slower to change to the new memory format and it would only be in 2006 with Socket AM2 that AMD switched over to the DDR2 standard. The positive side of this of course is that supply would be quite plentiful when the shift was done and prices would be reasonable too. Naturally, having both AMD and Intel on DDR2 would lead to mass adoption of the memory standard.
  • NVIDIA too would have its say in this area with its Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP) for memory modules in 2006 with its nForce 500 series motherboards. Supported memory modules and motherboards had the SLI-Ready memory label, even though this has nothing to do with SLI. Instead, the EPP is about having a set of advanced memory settings (clock speed, CAS latency, tRCD, tRP, tRAS, memory voltage, and command rate) stored inside the supported memory module.
  • On supported motherboards, these settings can be applied easily by enthusiasts, safe in the knowledge that the settings used would be correctly and automatically adjusted for that configuration/system. This will make tweaking the memory settings a one-step process for enthusiasts and of course, users can always use these settings as a starting point to further tweak in the BIOS.

  • Corsair would be one of the first to offer memory modules with the EPP support, though we would see that with the AENEON XTUNE DDR2-1066 too. Intel would come up with a similar scheme in 2007, which also stores these additional settings in the DIMM's SPD and simplifying overclocking. Intel's version however is only available for DDR3 memory, which was to be launched widely in the second half of 2007.
  • This was to coincide of course with the introduction of Intel's P35 chipset that supported these new memory modules. Like DDR2 before that, DDR3 was and still is heavily affected by latencies and while the next generation Intel micro-architecture, along with AMD's upcoming products will use DDR3, the benefits of doing so now may not be worth its price.

    Or as our detailed review showed, "There is no doubt that DDR3 will offer higher performance and lower energy consumption in the long run, just as how DDR2 was to DDR, but whether you are an avid overclocker or the average Joe next door, it currently does not make sense to spend the amount of money needed to upgrade your system to DDR3 for the little benefits it provides in current 1066MHz and lower FSB systems."

We saw an example of such enthusiast oriented DDR3 memory in 2008, with the Patriot Viper Fin PC3-15000 (DDR3-1866) 2GB Kit that came with XMP support and was capable of up to 2000MHz while running very cool. This would be the current state of DDR3 memory now, but like any technology industry, expect this to be surpassed soon.