The memory industry of late has been amazing in its ability to launch impossible memory speeds at impossible timings. At the technology launch of the P35 chipset on May 21st all of the DDR3 memory available for testing was rated DDR3-1066. Interestingly all of the DDR3 also ran fine at the next milestone of DDR3-1333, albeit at timings of 9-9-9-25. These timings sound slow to DDR users accustomed to 2-2-2 timings at DDR400 or DDR2 users running at DDR2-800 3-3-3, but in fact at the increased speeds of DDR3 these timings were reasonably fast.

It took less than a week for low-latency DDDR3-1333 to appear with the launch of Kingston's new DDR3-1333 7-7-7 memory. This new memory dropped those 9-9-9 timings to 7-7-7 at 1333 and ran at 1066 at 6-6-6 timings - about as fast as the DDR3 BIOS would allow at that speed. It was interesting to see reader comments to the Kingston LL article, with some proclaiming they would not move to DDR3 until it could hit DDR3-1600. We believed, as did most readers, that DDR3-1600 would appear sometime next year, probably as 9-9-9 parts.

Less than 2 months after the launch of P35, and just a few days after launch of the processors that can officially use the new 1333 bus, we were notified by several vendors that they were ready to launch DDR3-1600! Some rated the new DIMMs at 9-9-9 timings, but others like Super Talent rated their retail DDR3-1600 at 7-7-7 timings at 1.8V.

Almost all memory makers buy raw memory chips available in the market, perform their magic binning or speed-grading, and assemble the finished DIMM using generic or proprietary circuit boards and SPD programming. There are always some variations on performance of different brand DIMMs, but we always see a cluster of memory performance based on the memory chip used in the memory. In the last couple of weeks Micron has finally introduced their new DDR3 memory chip, called Z9, and this memory chip is what is making DDR3-1600 and beyond a reality.

All of the major memory manufacturers have just announced or will soon announce DDR3-1600 parts. Many of the smaller makers have also developed DDR3-1600 parts. Of course you are interested in how these new memory rockets perform, and samples were requested whenever we received a new announcement. The first two kits to appear in our lab are from Super Talent and TEAM. Both kits are 2GB (2x1GB) based on a single-sided DIMM. This certainly means there will potentially be 4GB kits available with these new memory chips down the road, but the timings for a 4GB Z9 kit are still open for speculation. The Super Talent kit is rated DDR3-1600 7-7-7 at 1.8V, and the TEAM is rated DDR3-1600 at 9-9-9 at unspecified (default for DDR3 is 1.5V) voltage.

In this review we will take a closer look at the capabilities of these new DDR3-1600 DIMMs based on Micron Z9 memory chips. What are the best timings possible at DDR3-1600? Can these new parts reach DDR3-2000, which will be the next DDR3 speed, or even higher? What timings are possible at slower DDDR3 speeds? Does the faster DDR3 really improve performance compared to DDR2 and DDR?

Super Talent W1600UX2G7
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  • Wesley Fink - Friday, July 20, 2007 - link

    1333 and 1066 are both at 2.66GHz - which was the best we could do. We would definitely prefer to compare ALL memory speeds at the same CPU frequency as we have done in all memory testing in the past. However, as we point out in the article, with just a 1333 strap and a 333 multiplier it just isn't possible. With boards with 1600.166 and possibly 2000 atraps we can do fixed CPU speed and varied memory speed again.

    Suggestions for test speeds are welcomed.
  • rjm55 - Friday, July 20, 2007 - link

    I can see where a 1600 strap is now almost a must on motherboards with these new 1600 kits. Does anyone know of ANY Intel P35 motherboard that has support for the 1600 or 1666 strap?
  • LTG - Friday, July 20, 2007 - link


    few computer parts offer the kind of breakthrough performance advantage we see in these new DDR3-1600 kits

    Please cite an example of "break though performance".

    It seems any benchmark gains were largely due to CPU speed differences.

  • Wesley Fink - Friday, July 20, 2007 - link

    I consider almost doubling memory speed in less than 2 months qualifies as breakthrough, just as a 6 GHz CPU would be a breakthrough. It is true that memory is just one component in overall performance and that the impact of doubling memory speed is definitely not the same as doubling CPU speed or doubling video speed would be. That still does not change the fact that the Z9 chips are a significant memory development.

    It is also true that potential gains are dampened by the current lack of straps above 1333 for DDR3. However, those will come sooner, rather than later, now that memory exists that can run at 1600/1666 and 2000.

  • LTG - Friday, July 20, 2007 - link

    Well, you still didn't answer the question so I'll repeat:

    Whats one single example of "breakthrough performance" provided by this memory?

    Wait, let's make it easier - shouldn't the article provide any examples of significant performance differences at the same CPU speed (aside from artificial benchmarks)?

  • bryanW1995 - Friday, July 20, 2007 - link

    A 50% increase in memory speed is not "breakthrough"? This is enthusiast/overclocking memory, it's not designed for the wannabe. Which one are you?
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, July 20, 2007 - link

    It's not when there is only a minuscule real world performance increase. It's the same situation as the P4 clock speed crap. The P4 may have run at 3.6Ghz, but it was still bested by an A64 running a Ghz or more slower.
  • TA152H - Saturday, July 21, 2007 - link

    The fallacy with your argument is that the tests presented do not include every "real world" situation (no amount of tests could), and there will be situations where the extra memory performance will exhibit extraordinary improvements, depending on the software. I was not crazy about their choice of operating systems either, and you would expect the memory difference to be more in Vista than in XP, simply because Vista uses more memory and resources, and should have a lower cache hit percentage.

    It's also useful within a hardware context too, not everyone will be buying a Core 2 with 4 MB cache. Right now, yes, it will be what most people get, but when AMD goes to DDR3, and DDR3 prices drop so it becomes mainstream, it will be used on systems with a smaller cache and you'll see a better improvement in speed. So, it's informative.

    Also consider that DDR3 does all this with lower voltages than DDR2, so is meaningful in a performance/watt criteria.

    If all you are walking away with is a 2.5% improvement with a huge increase in cost, that's not much of interest because it's not worth it for most people. But, extrapolate from that in terms of different hardware and software, and the incredible changes in DDR3 performance lately, as well as the inevitable price drops, and you might get more value out of the review.

    DDR2 is obsolete. I said it a month ago, and I'm saying it again. It's low cost, but the performance is not there. It is fading fast (even faster than I thought, to be honest). In less than a month it went from being very competitive in performance and much lower cost against a technology that was showing potential but little real world current value, to already being a low cost, low performance alternative. It is not power efficient either, so all that remains to happen for DDR3 is for the price points to drop. Obviously, the performance delta will increase, but it's already better at that. Reviews like this are useful in that they show this to be true and they will give you a way to plan your next system, or perhaps put off a system purchase until a better time.

    Would you buy a DDR2 based system now? It would be like buying a DX9 based video card. Why buy obsolescence when already the next generation is showing real improvements. Time will make the differences greater.
  • strikeback03 - Monday, July 23, 2007 - link

    Speaking of voltage, no complaints over the 2.25V they used with the Super Talent DDR3? You complained about 1.7 volts in the Kingston article after all.

    And the comparison with DX9 video cards is not a great once for making your point either, as you already know that most people who comment here disagree with you on that point as well.
  • domski - Saturday, July 21, 2007 - link


    TextAlso consider that DDR3 does all this with lower voltages than DDR2, so is meaningful in a performance/watt criteria.


    DDR2 [...] is not power efficient either, [...]

    Do you have any real-world power consumption figures to back up these assertions?

    Don't get me wrong -- I believe you. But I would be interested to see the magnitude of the difference in both absolute power consumption and performance per watt.

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