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DDR3 RAM Explained

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the faster-and-then-some dept.

Data Storage 200

Das Capitolin sends us to Benchmark Reviews for an in-depth feature on DDR3 memory that begins: "These are uncertain financial times we live in today, and the rise and fall of our economy has had [a] direct [effect] on consumer spending. It has already been one full year now that DDR3 has been patiently waiting for the enthusiast community to give it proper consideration, yet [its] success is still undermined by misconceptions and high price. Benchmark Reviews has been testing DDR3 more actively than anyone. ... Sadly, it might take an article like this to open the eyes of my fellow hardware enthusiast[s] and overclocker[s], because it seems like DDR3 is the technology nobody wants [badly] enough to learn about. Pity, because overclocking is what it's all about."

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Just a tad over the top? (5, Insightful)

florin (2243) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370354)

This article was rather amusing, at times I wasn't quite sure if the author was serious, with statements like:

One particularly important new change introduced with DDR3 is in the improved prefetch buffer: up from DDR2's four bits to an astounding eight bits per cycle.
Woo I think I wet my pants there. But the author seems genuinely excited about this technology. I mean:

DDR3 is very similar to the advancement of jet propulsion over prop-style aircraft, and an entirely new dimension of possibility is made available.
Hahaha

Re:Just a tad over the top? (4, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370734)

Whether or not the author was really serious, I think about the only really worthwhile comments of his might have been related to the "uncertain economy".

Right now, all too many people I know are finding themselves out of jobs, with no good-paying alternatives in sight. I just attended my girlfriend's college graduation ceremony yesterday afternoon, and the guy sitting behind us was a 40-something year old who decided to go back to school last semester, because he couldn't make it anymore in the construction business. He said he worked in construction for 18 years, and until 3 years ago, it was a good career for him. But in the last few years, things have gotten so bad, many people are resorting to selling off the trucks and equipment they used in their trade, just to keep the bills paid and to stay afloat. They're seeing their work dwindle to the point where they can do it as a side job, but can't guarantee they're always busy. Therefore, he finally decided to go back to school and start a new career path.

My g/f is in a similar dilemma. Here is she. fresh out of school with a degree in psychology, and really can't do a thing with it except continue on to earn a Masters' in psych. After that, she could open her own practice (MORE $'s on top of huge student loan debt!), or possibly partner with someone else - with results varying depending on what part of the country you decide to live in. She's thinking about going for a double major, with the 2nd. one in business .... because at least the internships for MBAs seem plentiful and promising right now.

Anyway ... my point is, most people just aren't going to be as "free" with their spending money as they were when they were sure their good-paying job was there for them. Playing with stuff like DDR3 vs. DDR2 amounts to "unnecessary entertainment" for the computer hobbyist, really. You can get a plenty fast PC running regular old DDR2 memory that will do whatever you need done. Buying into anything else, just for the sake of "overclocking" amounts to tinkering and computer hot-rodding for the fun of benchmarking and seeing how high a number you can get. It's not a practical activity when finances are uncertain or possibly very limited.

Re:Just a tad over the top? (2, Insightful)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 6 years ago | (#23372142)

Well, what the hell did your girlfriend expect to do with a psychology degree in the first place? ;)

Back to RAM though, I don't see how this is any different than with DDR and DDR2. At first, the new technology was barely faster (sometimes not at all) then the old one, was not very widely supported, and of course cost more. I don't see why this should be any different now with DDR2 and DDR3. A slowdown in the US economy isn't going to bring technological progress to a halt.

Re:Just a tad over the top? (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370810)


It's not a bad article and covers all the relevant points of DDR3. Well worth reading by people not familiar with DDR3. It's not an unreserved sales-pitch for DD3 as it does detail the disadvantages of the technology as well. The only thing the article seems to gloss over in terms of negatives is the ratio of performance to cost. Right now, I'm seeing DDR3 chips starting at around double their DDR2 equivalents and then rising substantially for the very fastest. For most people, I would say that this is not a good use of their cash, unless they just don't care about paying more for the best. What is interesting is that DDR3 has greater potential in terms of capacity. A 16GB memory sounds fine to me. But then I put a bit more strain on my system than most users. We've reached a point where customers have maxed out their computing power needs. Only gamers are still asking for more from the hardware manufacturers. Everyone else just wants progress to be in the direction of 'cheap.' Well, you get the odd programmer like me that wants to compile fat code, but I can be sure I'm not going to support the DDR3 market on my own. ;)

I would like to see DDR3 do well, but its timing is really bad.

Re:Just a tad over the top? (4, Interesting)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371174)

The author of this article seems to think that since 1.5V is 17% less than 1.8, the power savings are 17%. Granted, the saving is more like 31% if the memory has the same resistance, since power usage is proportional to the square of the voltage, but it's not worth reading an article from someone who doesn't know such basic knowledge that is so relevant to the topic being written about.

Re:Just a tad over the top? (0, Troll)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 6 years ago | (#23372200)

It's probably taken for granted that most journalists don't really understand military strategy and tactics at a core level...but when they say Iraq is a shit samich, everyone listens.

Most kids writing in gamer-enthusiast magazines don't understand how the cpu registers keep track of memory in the stack, but who fucking cares? They know about what they know about...I bet there's something you don't know either, but if you make a good point, most of us won't be so 1337 that your article wouldn't be "worth reading".

Timmy the Parakeet says: Don't be a dick.

Re:Just a tad over the top? No ECC = NO buy (5, Interesting)

Zeio (325157) | more than 6 years ago | (#23372172)

I really like ECC memory. I've built a lot of machines here and there for various purposes and people and can safely say that ECC should be mandated. People oft talk of blue screens, panics, etc. A lot of these are due to bad memory. And these types of errors can often be hard to replicate. I believe EETimes had an article about how bad bad memory is.

Anyhow, I'm on a 975X chipset with 4GB of DDR2 800 MHZ unbuffered ECC memory machine now. Not a single unforced error since I bought this machine and assembled it December, 2006. Nothing. This unit is primarily a gaming rig, the 3DMark 2006 score is 11500 with an 8800GTX, all with ECC memory.

The most irritating thing for me is, looking at the great new CPUs available, is the utter lack of any unbuffered ECC memory in the DDR3 range. This to me is unacceptable. I refuse to compromise so I will wait. Intel has a motherboard featuring DDR2 800 fully buffered memory for the 'high end workstation' , D5400XS, this is $600+. Supermicro offers something similar.

The X38 does DDR2 ECC, and for whatever reason the X48 took that away. I don't get why Intel wants to deny us DDR3 unbuffered ECC? Its really a selling point, a very good thing. If you overclock, its nice to have because it can tell you the limits minus the guesswork, not that I would bother with OC personally.

Fundamentally, without ECC, do you even know if the memory works at all? My experience leads me to believe that without ECC present, the answer is no at all.

Re:Just a tad over the top? No ECC = NO buy (4, Interesting)

Omnedon (701049) | more than 6 years ago | (#23372270)

I run memtest for a minimum of 48 hours on any new system I build and have never had any problem with RAM that has passed that. This is the best I can do without the premium of paying for ECC capable motherboards and RAM.

Screw DDR3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370364)

I'm skipping it. Heck, I'll skip DD4, too. Tell me when DDR5 is ready.

We Drink Ritalin (5, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370580)

Tell me when DDR5 is ready.
Wikipedia says DDR5 was ready on 2001-03-27 [wikipedia.org] .

TEPPLES 18K COMMENT COUNTDOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370674)

Tepples only has 251 more posts to hit the big 18k total comments. Cheer him on!

Re:TEPPLES 18K COMMENT COUNTDOWN (1)

thedrx (1139811) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370786)

Or, looking from a different perspective, he only has 28 comments to reach 17777. That's one less than 20000 man!

Re:We Drink Ritalin (2, Interesting)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370750)

I'm very curious about your sig:

> If PC gaming is dying, HTPC gaming can revive it.

Considering the HTPC itself doesn't seem to be gaining much traction these past couple years, and consoles have been encroaching (albeit very slowly) on the HTPC space, I'm interested to hear what your view on the topic is.

Re:We Drink Ritalin (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371380)

Thank you for your interest. I've answered your question in my journal [slashdot.org] . Feel free to come read what I wrote, think it over, and respond civilly.

Why would Dance Dance RAM you? (1)

OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371468)

Tell me I'm not the only person who saw that and thought Dance Dance Revolution had some kind of new RAM feature. Go on, tell me!

Waiting for DDR11 (0, Offtopic)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370384)

This way, mine will always be faster than yours, because it goes to 11.

Overclockers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370386)

I love how overclockers spend $$$ on specialized fans and water cooling systems, just to squeeze some extra performance from their less expensive processors. I've often wondered if they took the money they had to spend on cooling and put it into buying a faster processor if they would come out ahead on price/performance.

I guess its one of those things that people do for fun, for the challenge, just to see if they can do it.

Re:Overclockers (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370406)

I guess its one of those things that people do for fun, for the challenge, just to see if they can do it.

Like Slashtards who seriously think they can run a FOSS-only system in the real world.

Re:Overclockers (1)

chunk08 (1229574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370726)

I do... Open source graphics drivers, WLAN drivers, office software, games, email, web on my school laptop. FOSS-only is an ideal, don't assume that no-one can make it though.

Re:Overclockers (3, Insightful)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370754)

You're still lacking the source for

* BIOS
* BMC
* WLAN Card
* Disk Controllers

etc. pp.

Re:Overclockers (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370886)

Uh, Mr Balmer, phone for you sir. It's the ghost of ME-past, sir. It says the ghost of Vista-present has been trying to get hold of you, something about news on the ghost of Windows-future...

Re:Overclockers (1)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370538)

Um, with overclocking utilities distro'd by nearly every motherboard manufacturer, anyone with a minimal ability to click the "auto overclock" button can up their system bus and get a few extra clocks.
Why pay for the highest clocked processor when you can get the exact same core(and performance) with the cheaper one?

Re:Overclockers (2, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370586)

Because some value stability over speed.

Re:Overclockers (3, Informative)

the_B0fh (208483) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370804)

While there's some of that, there's also the fact that the silicon itself wasn't fabricated at a certain speed. Once cut up, it's evaluated for the speed. If the silicon was capable of performing at higher speeds, but the market is only paying for lower ones, guess what do the cpu makers do?

Yes, mark it at a lower speed, and sell it as such.

Why do you think they "lock" things?

Re:Overclockers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23371594)

I dont know what retard modded you insightful. Anyone with even the slightest understanding of overclocking knows that you don't overclock to the point of instability.

Way to go Moderators.

Re:Overclockers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370916)

I think overclocking is silly, however it has side benefits - the ultra-quiet PC I'm using uses much the same tech, mostly noctua and zalman kit. You don't realise quite how annoying the whine of a typical PC is until you've used one without it. :-)

Re:Overclockers (1)

Rob Simpson (533360) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371836)

I think overclocking is silly, however it has side benefits - the ultra-quiet PC I'm using uses much the same tech, mostly noctua and zalman kit. You don't realise quite how annoying the whine of a typical PC is until you've used one without it. :-)

I have a passively-cooled PSU and video card, and two 120mm fans running nearly silently at minimum speed, and still I overclocked my Core 2 Duo nearly 50% just for the heck of it.
It's not all about fans roaring like jet engines or ridiculously intricate water-cooling systems.

This is the legacy of the Pentium 4/Prescott era - people got fed up with ridiculously hot and noisy systems, so 3rd party heatsinks improved greatly (heatpipes, easier to install) while Intel scrapped Netburst in favour of more efficient processors.

How about a DDR2 versus DDR3 chart? (5, Insightful)

PoderOmega (677170) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370402)

Great, now that I know how well certain DDR3 chips overclock, can I see how DDR3 compares to DDR2 in terms of raw performance and overclocking ability? I'm not an expert on how DDR2 works, so DDR3 could be better explained to me by showing me how it is better than DDR2.

Re:How about a DDR2 versus DDR3 chart? (4, Informative)

ruiner13 (527499) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370570)

I came here to say the same thing. The whole article can only be called a theoretical comparison between DDR2 & DDR3, as there is not a single benchmark that compares the two. Where is the latency, bandwidth, power consumption, etc charts for DDR2 & DDR3 when running at similar clock speeds? The author says that people are taking the latency increase too seriously, and that it doesn't come into play, but then under the "downside" discussion, they mention the latency. Also, when all the arguments they use preface concepts with "in theory" or "should" kinda makes you think they're just making this stuff up. I'm still waiting for an AM2+ chipset that will support DDR3, as the Phenoms (I think) have a memory controller that supports it. That should give the AMD chips a boost when compared to the current crop of Intel chips as the on-chip memory controller should allow for better usage of the RAM, but again, I'll wait until a benchmark confirms it. Intel motherboards, at least to me, seem to be 2-3x as costly as AMD varieties, and don't always offer the same BIOS flexibility. Not to mention the top-end Intel chips are 2x as much as the top-end AMD chips, and I still prefer AMD over Intel when building my own systems.

Re:How about a DDR2 versus DDR3 chart? (1)

isthisorigional (527077) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370738)

A bit of an older article but it should give you a good idea on how they compare: http://www.anandtech.com/memory/showdoc.aspx?i=2989 [anandtech.com]

I think their conclusion is still applicable: wait on DDR3 to come down in price before you jump. Although the price won't come down much if no one is buying it because they're waiting for the price to come down and well you see the problem.

Using His Jet Analogy (4, Insightful)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371422)

He's like a jet engine supporter immediately after World War II:

"Jet engines are inherrently capable of much greater speeds than propeller engines!"

"OK, so show me one that goes much faster than the prop driven spitfire?"

"Well, uh, there's the Gloster Meteor!"

"It does about 500mph*, right? That's not bad compared to the Spitfire XIX's 460mph. But there are tons of Spitfires out there, available cheaply vs. paying several times the cost for the Meteor for about a 10% speed improvement." *note: F-3 variant, not the "overclocked" tweaked versions that set speed records.

"Well, but the point isn't that it's better today. It's a better technology! It'll be better in the future! Props will never go supersonic. Jets can potentially go several times supersonic."

"That is cool. Doesn't really help me today though, does it? I'm still paying several times the cost for a small improvement, today."

"Yeah, but if you don't buy jets now, how will their prices ever come down? How will we ever reach the heady perfection they're capable of?"

"Again, not helping me today, is it?"

"But! But! It's really cool!"

Yes, the technology shows promise. But its future promise with only small increases today doesn't justify its current high cost.

If more people bought it, the cost would come down over time and more investment would mean unlocking more of that promise. Which is great in the future but gives you very little today in exchange for that high cost.

The argument he seems to be making is that everyone should adopt it right now, not because it actually gets them much for their money but because their investment will enable him to buy even faster stuff for a lower price later.

Not really compelling.

Re:Using His Jet Analogy (1)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371620)

Nice illustration. Hits the nail on the head.
+1 insightful

stupid (0)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370404)

This article is ridiculous. Here's a question for anyone who's passed ohhhh about the 6th grade. What is the one and only thing that has ever helped companies servive a depression? Well besides military contracts, inventions and new technology! If they wanted to make money while the economy is bad, the last thing they should ever do is sit on their current technology. People don't buy more of what they already have if they don't need to. They want something far better! So logically there must be another reason for it not catching on immediately and this article is a load of BS and incorrect speculation

Re:stupid (2, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370464)

Actually, with the current technology, such as 900 MHZ CPUs, 1 gig of RAM and Linux, things are selling. I am referring to the eeePC along with the other UMPCs that are growing in use. The slowing US economy has made computer makers adapt to lower spending incomes or face lower sales. Other computers such as the gPC reflect this. Along with the growing use of Linux (which is free) helps make the computers cheaper so they sell better. MS has been failing lately due to Vista's high-priced hardware need, compare that to Linux which can run on a Pentium II or III. New technology doesn't sell well in this economy, cheap, older technology does.

Re:stupid (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370594)

Vista has sold 140,000,000 copies. Not what I would call a failure.

Re:stupid (1)

Yokaze (70883) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370690)

Does that statistic include Windows Vista with an "XP downgrade license"?

Re:stupid (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370722)

How many were individual sales vs forced bundles? Now compare the sale of OSX Leopard, boxed vs with new systems.

If you have a monopoly, every system sold will contain "vista" whether they downgrade it or not. Now, otoh, if you have numbers that showed that only 3% or 30% or 80% of vista users downgraded to XP, then I may give you that 140mil number has some significance.

Re:stupid (3, Informative)

Penguin Follower (576525) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370870)

Vista has sold 140,000,000 copies. Not what I would call a failure.

I wouldn't call it a success, either. I'd wager that figure is 90%+ copies that came with new PCs. The large majority of which probably end up in a corporate setting where it was re-imaged with XP Pro (happens all the time where I work and for our clients).

Re:stupid (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371536)

How many copies of that were sold to OEMs? I assume most of them were. How many were wiped and put XP or Linux on? Chances are a good amount. Vista is a failure in perception too, ask the general person what they think of Vista and even those who just get on the computer to check their e-mail find that Vista is noticeably slower then XP, if you ask how many people would rather have XP, I am sure that the number would be very high. If any other OS replaced Vista in the OEM sector you could say that they have "sold" 140,000,000 copies, no matter how good/bad the OS is. Vista may sell well, but thats just because its what most computers have by default, it still is a failure for MS because people don't like it.

Re:stupid (2, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370568)

What is the one and only thing that has ever helped companies servive a depression?

Burning down the factory and collecting the insurance?

Re:stupid (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370862)

What is the one and only thing that has ever helped companies survive a depression?

Services.

NBC was the dominant radio network in the thirties, so big that it had two AM and one shortwave feed. You might not be able to afford a concert ticket, but big band jazz and the NBC Symphony Orchestra broadcasts were free.

The movie studios had a rough time of it until they hit on the formulas that would draw audiences to a cheap - air-conditioned - respite from the stresses of home and work.

not cost effective for the performance gain (4, Informative)

Indy1 (99447) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370418)

DDR3 is still 5-10 times the cost of DDR2, and the performance gain is not big (maybe 10% at best) on overall system performance.

Re:not cost effective for the performance gain (5, Informative)

halivar (535827) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370428)

Exactly. I'm not buying a product whose only real advantage comes when you void the warranty.

Re:not cost effective for the performance gain (5, Informative)

aztektum (170569) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370462)

And to take it even further, that's just the cost of memory. A quick NewEgg search for DDR3 motherboard came up with a whopping 10 boards. The cheapest are 150 for open box items. The typical price is over 300.

Re:not cost effective for the performance gain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370472)

it's about 3x the cost, which really isn't horrible for 10%. Hell compare it to the video chipset market!

Re:not cost effective for the performance gain (4, Interesting)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370518)

Maybe DDR3 is the memory industries way of keeping people on 32-bit OS's interested in their product? Because you can't really use much more than 2GB in a 32 bit system, and that's selling for about $50 now for DDR2 (I paid over $300 a year and a half ago!).

If you want real performance improvement get a 64 bit OS and 8GB DDR2 instead of 2GB DDR3. It will probably cost less and you'll notice the performance improvement as fewer accesses to HD (given you're OS knows how to pre-fetch intelligently).

Re:not cost effective for the performance gain (1)

GotenXiao (863190) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370878)

32bit Slackware.

$ cat /proc/meminfo
MemTotal: 8310468 kB
MemFree: 5979288 kB
Buffers: 38932 kB
Cached: 1234492 kB
-snip-
SwapTotal: 0 kB
SwapFree: 0 kB
-snip-

Normally the Cached value is sat around the 6GB mark. PAE is a dirty, filthy hack, but it works rather well. The main limitation is the 4GB per-process virtual memory space - but under 32bit Linux can handle up to 64GB of RAM.

Real gains (1)

EmotionToilet (1083453) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370932)

If you want real performance gains get a Mac and stop wasting all your time on Vista.

I don't understand why your average person would need more than 4GB of ram for a desktop computer anyways. What could you possibly run that would take up that much ram? Are you going to be using Pro Tools and Photoshop and Final Cut Pro all at once, as well as ripping a DVD and playing Duke Nukem Forever? Then maybe you'll need 8GB of ram, but other than that I don't see how it's necessary and I don't see any major advantage to DDR3.

The main limitation these days is not ram speed or size, or even processors, as the quad cores offer more than enough horsepower for most people, even professionals. These hard drives are what's slowing us down. Once we can switch over to a flash drive that can load data much faster than they can today and are relatively cheap, we'll be set.

Re:Real gains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23371218)

You insensitive clod, Firefox is eating up nearly 2 gigs by itself! I MUST YOUTUBE FASTER!

(In all actuality, yes, I'm using pro tools- most specifically running a SQL server database, a slew of development tools and environments, and usually have to have 3-4 ginormous solutions open at once. And probably an playing LOTRO too.)

Re:Real gains (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371520)

These hard drives are what's slowing us down.

Which is exactly why we need more RAM: RAM is a cache for your hard drive. The more RAM you have, the less your hard drive gets accessed so the less its slowness matters. If your RAM is large enough to hold your entire working set (data, programs, shared libraries), then your computer hits the disk the first time it needs each file and then only touches it for writes afterwards.

Just as much, I assure you that memory speed is a very serious concern. Read up on the memory wall [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Real gains (1)

EmotionToilet (1083453) | more than 6 years ago | (#23372066)

I don't think that flooding our PCs with more ram is a reasonable fix for our extremely slow hard drives. It solves the symptoms of the problem without actually addressing the problem directly. Within the next few years I expect SSD to become more common and more affordable. They are more reliable, last longer, use less electricity, and read and write data faster then normal hard drives.

As for ram speed, I'm not sure that I would ever even be able to notice a difference between 500mhz and 1066mhz. If I sat down at a new computer and started using photoshop or watching videos on youtube, there would be no way for me to indicate the speed of the ram.

Not Needed (1, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370432)

Though DDR3 is nice and all with it being much faster, computer speed hits quite a few bottlenecks outside of the RAM speed.

1) Hard disk speed, until SSDs become very common this is one of the causes of decreased speed because a HD can only run so fast
2) The OS. Vista is much much slower then other versions of Windows and as it is the main OS (For now) the fact that it struggles on a 1.6 GHZ dual-core CPU and 1 GB of RAM, only begins to tell you the sluggishness of the OS. And until MS fails and Linux becomes the top OS or MS manages to create a decently fast OS, this will be a problem
3) Connection speed. Its becoming where the Internet is nearly as important as the computer itself. And if you are still on dial-up (and in many places in the US thats all the connection choices offered) even a supercomputer will struggle with sites such as YouTube.

Until those problems get fixed, faster RAM won't make a bit of difference to the end-user.

Re:Not Needed (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370606)

Add 1GB to that dual core 1.6Ghz and Vista preforms rather well.

Re:Not Needed (3, Informative)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370612)

Hard disk speed, until SSDs become very common this is one of the causes of decreased speed because a HD can only run so fast

And the actual reason memory manufacturers have such a hard time selling memory performance is an extension of this; most purchases of memory have an implicit tradeoff: amount versus speed.

In most cases the real memory pain will come when you hit swap. That means you will almost always notice having less memory more than you'll notice having slower memory. So basically the only ones who end up having 'fast memory' on their system purchase checklist is those for whom money isn't an issue at all (ie, there is nothing else you could buy for that money that would improve your system (or life) more than faster memory). Or those who have very small applications they need to execute blazingly fast. Such as benchmarks.

Until those problems get fixed, faster RAM won't make a bit of difference to the end-user.

More accurately, faster RAM will make less of a difference than more RAM.

Re:Not Needed (1)

SD-Arcadia (1146999) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371518)

The point you make is valid for desktop apps, however faster ram often translates into a few more fps in Direct3D, which some people care a lot about. Not sure about the actual numbers for DDR3 vs. DDR2 though (if any).

Re:Not Needed (1, Informative)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370638)

until MS fails
Sheesh. You talk like they don't already. ;)

Re:Not Needed (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371504)

Sheesh. You talk like they don't already. ;)


Well, I was trying to avoid a flamebait mod, but it happened anyways (as it seems like any comment that involves MS is either an instant flamebait or +5 insightful depending on who mods the comments)

hardhack (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370436)

WTF, why is everything on slashdot tagged as a hardhack? Maybe all that is left are the general equivalent to script-kiddies, waiting for someone two write an .msi they can run and it will do it for them. What has happened to the hacker mentality? I'm not talking about the illegal hacker, but the real hacker who can figure things out on their own? I have seen so many basic things labelled as a hard hack, I guess this was just the one that pushed me over the edge!

Re:hardhack (2, Informative)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370614)

Hardware hack, smart guy.

I think I'm being trolled.

Memory Bandwidth... (4, Insightful)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370446)

Memory bandwidth is not problem right now. I/O is too slow. We need faster disks and LANs first.

Re:Memory Bandwidth... (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370480)

And faster OSes !

Re:Memory Bandwidth... (2, Insightful)

klapaucjusz (1167407) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370542)

We need faster disks and LANs first.

LANs are already fast -- when did you last saturate a GigE switch ? Right now, for most applications, the bottleneck is in the disk.

Re:Memory Bandwidth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370600)

We need faster disks and LANs first.

LANs are already fast -- when did you last saturate a GigE switch ? Right now, for most applications, the bottleneck is in the disk.

Unless, of course, you play some audio under Vista while downloading huge amounts of porn over gigabit Ethernet...

Re:Memory Bandwidth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370624)

I'm saturating one right now, thank you very much.

Re:Memory Bandwidth... (1, Interesting)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370652)

The bottleneck is the guy sitting at the keyboard.

I'm typing this, and by the time I release the key I'm pressing for the current letter the computer has already received it, sent it to the right app, which put it in the right text-box, updated the undo buffer, re-rendered the window, checked if it completes a word, and spell-checked the new word if it does (and readied a list of likely corrections if it isn't correct).

It's hard to get enthused about x% lower memory latency when it still takes me 100ms to process what my eyes see. (I know there are exceptions, and some software will benefit, but it's becoming rarer and rarer)

Re:Memory Bandwidth... (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370676)

(I know there are exceptions, and some software will benefit, but it's becoming rarer and rarer)
What I meant to say is that it's becoming rarer and rarer that your average user uses these pieces of software. I know I don't use any software that would benefit appreciably from lower memory latency, or even lower disk latency.

Re:Memory Bandwidth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370744)

> What I meant to say is that it's becoming rarer and rarer that your average user uses these pieces of software. I know I don't use any software that would benefit appreciably from lower memory latency, or even lower disk latency.

One word... Photoshop.
Actually 2 words: Photoshop & Bridge.

Re:Memory Bandwidth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23371360)

Nonsense! I saturate Gb links daily in a small office environment. Gb ethernet can handle about 100MB/sec transfer if you have everything well-tuned. I have a cheap RAID array that can deliver about 150MB/sec. The network is the bottleneck already a bottleneck with just one workstation talking to a file server. When several workstations hit the file server at once, the slowdown is quite noticeable. For small files, this isn't a big deal, of course, but for large media files, backups, scientific data sets, it can be quite frustrating.

Re:Memory Bandwidth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23371702)

A network switch with 10gbe uplink port may be what you are looking for to fix that problem.

Re:Memory Bandwidth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370618)

So true. I'm so frustrated with crappy, unresponsive system performance during heavy disk access that I'm considering getting a solid-state drive for my desktop.

Windows XP and Leopard both suffer from this problem.

Re. overclocking is what it's all about (1)

DanWS6 (1248650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370458)

Huh. I thought it was all about the Pentium's, at least according to Weird Al.

I didn't read the article... (0, Offtopic)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370460)

Someone explain to me why more RAM in Dance Dance Revolution version 3 machines is such a big deal?

Pity - Performance is what it's really all about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370470)

Or blinking lights, or loud fans, or whatever my own omniscient opinion given to you using the tone of absolute authority is what it's really about. It's a pity you took that tone.

You forgot the [sic]s man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370490)

At lest teh edturs r doin there job !!

Overclocking is stricly amateur level (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370510)

An for wanabees. Real enthusiasts get hardware that performs without the risk of data corruption and untimely death. DDR2 is perfectly fine at the moment, especially as the impact of faster RAM is pretty small for most applications. Say up to 10% of the raw speed gain, if you are very, very lucky. That is not worth paying anything more for it, except in servers.

Re:Overclocking is stricly amateur level (2, Interesting)

PenGun (794213) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370934)

Uh the Opteron 165 in this machine is supposed to be running at 1.8Ghz. It's been doing 2.4Ghz for several years now with no problems at all. It will do 2.6 no problem but I like to back off a bit from what is possible.

  Every machine I have had since my 120 Pentium Doom special o/c'd to 133 has been overclocked with no problems. Once you have everything stable there is almost always at least 10% with room to spare.

Re:Overclocking is stricly amateur level (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371968)


Yeah, but that's Opterons. You could probably smear them with jelly instead of thermal paste and they'd still work. ;)

But for most users, people would prefer the "certainty" of running under a manufacturers specifications to the "risk" of overclocking their CPU.

Re:Overclocking is stricly amateur level (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371090)

Seems you have the same priorities like me :-)
Performance wise, a mid-level PC does fine for me (my latest one is an AMD dual core with a Nvidia GT8600 GPU). But the reliability better be above average. That means
-no overclocking
-reliability enhancing extras where they are not too expensive (ECC RAM is one of those)
-choosing vendors that have a history of good quality rather than flashy features
-not necessarily the very latest technology, as older stuff is often more mature

Of course, this will not solve software problems. At the moment I have two programs that will reproducably crash Windows 2000 :-(
If I can get them to run reliably under WINE in Linux, Windows will be booted a lot less on my machine...

They must have it backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370548)

I always thought the motivation for overclocking was that you pay less for more. You buy the cheaper part and try to get more bang from your buck. I admit I haven't been keeping up with the latest hardware trends, but the summary seems to suggest overclockers should pay more for their parts, which kind of defeats the purpose.

Don't [you] just [love] these... (4, Funny)

kclittle (625128) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370550)

... really careless[ly] written submission[s] that the editors [have] to fix [up] before they can be [read] by us[?]

Re:Don't [you] just [love] these... (1)

CaptainPinko (753849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370592)

Whoa... since when did we (i.e. /.) get real editors? Did I miss the memo?

Teenage enthusiasm (5, Insightful)

klapaucjusz (1167407) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370584)

It's always nice to see a tech writer full of teenage enthusiasm, but this article goes a little over the top.

It's supposed to be an article about a performance enhancement, and there's barely any performance values at all (except for the theoretical peak throughputs on page 3, and we know how much that means).

I think what the guy really wanted was to write about planes, not about computer hardware.

DDR3 simply picks up speed where DDR2 left off... which is as accurate as saying an airplane picks up where a kite left off.

DDR2 technology is no better prepared to reach higher speeds than a propeller airplane is capable of breaking the sound barrier;

DDR3 is very similar to the advancement of jet propulsion over prop-style aircraft,

Re:Teenage enthusiasm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23371052)

DDR2 technology is no better prepared to reach higher speeds than a propeller airplane is capable of breaking the sound barrier

Guess this author wasn't aware of the problems P-38 pilots experienced in WWII when the aircraft was put into a steep dive. The plane itself acheived transonic speeds, and the airflow over the wings actually became supersonic, causing all kinds of nasty controllability problems.

No advantage to DDR3 (?) (5, Interesting)

DJStealth (103231) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370596)

I was asked to purchase 4 of the fastest desktop PC's I could find (just less than a year ago) for a contract placement; I ended up going with the QX6850 and for 3 machines DDR2-800, and with the extra money on the 4th machine, going with a capable motherboard and DDR3-1333; hoping for at least some speed difference.

First of all, as the technology was brand new at the time, the motherboard, although capable of 1333mhz ram, it only detected it as 1066 (we double checked they sold us the right stuff), so we manually set the RAM in the BIOS to run at 1333.

After all the setup, on otherwise almost identically configured machines, we found absolutely 0 performance gain on the DDR3 machine over the other 3 DDR2-800 machines. Although one might argue that our applications we were using to test were not so memory intensive, the fact is it was a computationally intensive task that regularly accessed about 200-300mb of data from ram. I would think that even if everything would be pre-fetched into the 8MB CPU cache before it was used, we should at least see some small difference.

In the end, it seems that we spent an extra $800 for no noticeable performance gain.

Re:No advantage to DDR3 (?) (4, Interesting)

DJStealth (103231) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370668)

Sorry, just wanted to append some details:

- We were using XP Pro x64 edition
- I believe there was 4GB RAM, possibly 8GB
- I tested exactly the same program that we wrote and compile with the same input data and timed it between the DDR2 and DDR3 machines.
- The processing took exactly the same number of seconds on both platforms. (Approx 20sec). Testing on older Xeon 3.6 gave me approx 50sec, and Pentium D-3.2 at 30 seconds.

What about the 4GB limit in Vista 32? (3, Insightful)

plusser (685253) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370752)

The problem with sales of DDR3 is probably down to the fact that most computers are being sold with versions of Vista 32. To really make a difference with faster SRAM would probably also mean having a larger amount of SRAM. But the problem is Vista 32 only addresses just under 4GB of SRAM. As many computers for the home market max out by being supplied with 4GB of SRAM as new, the computers are effectively un-upgradable unless a different operating system is used. This leaves an interesting situation:- 1. Run Vista 64 - but then a large portion of hardware and software will not work as you cannot sign unapproved drivers. 2. Run Linux 3. Buy a MAC And there is the problem, the alternatives to using DDR3 are in fact called using a different operating system and adding standard DDR2 memory, which is more cost effective that paying the extra for the DDR3 SRAM. The only area I could possibly see DDR3 technology in the commercial hardware is in cutting edge graphics cards, where performance is everything. Unfortunately, as Vista 32 is already at is technology limit and that many potential users of this technology will baulk at the price, I can see games console manufacturers adopting this technology before the general PC market.

Re:What about the 4GB limit in Vista 32? (2, Interesting)

edschurr (999028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371376)

I'm running 32-bit Ubuntu Linux and it has the same problem that Vista has regarding memory. Ubuntu reports 3.2 GB and Vista reports 3.3 GB of my 4 GB. I might use 64-bit Ubuntu but I heard 64-bit Flash is buggy.

Oops - missed a tag. (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23372154)


Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. :(

Re:What about the 4GB limit in Vista 32? (1)

mako1138 (837520) | more than 6 years ago | (#23372262)

s/SRAM/DRAM/

(snoozes) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370894)

Wake me up when it is affordable and widely supported. Those nifty new phenom mobos I was looking at for example don't support it.

So professional not even heard of Ohm's law (1)

chx1975 (625070) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371098)

As U/I=R => I = U / R and U * I = P, we get that U * U / R = P. The power consumption is NOT linear with the voltage but square. So if you lower U by 17% then P gets lower by 21%.

Re:So professional not even heard of Ohm's law (1)

electrostatic (1185487) | more than 6 years ago | (#23372094)

Did you mean 31%?

100% - 17% = 83% = 0.83 // assume 17% supply voltage reduction and const "resistance," which might not be the case
0.83^2 = 0.6889 ~ 69% // power goes as voltage squared
100% - 69% = 31% // power reduction

Did he really understand what he wrote? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23371264)

I've rarely seen a more confused article than that one. He clearly seemed like he grabbed buzz-phrases out of fliers and pasted them into an article.

If I had $20K for a really big workstation (1)

jfb2252 (1172123) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371350)

I run large electromagnetic finite element problems on a machine with 16GB of DDR2 with two Xeon Dual Cores at 2.66 GHz on XP64. One job takes about four days. I can run two in parallel before memory gives out. If my firm had $20K available I'd get a machine with 64GB of DDR3 at "1600 MHz" and dual quad-core at 3.2GHz. I could run larger jobs or more in parallel and they might take only three days - two iterations per week.

More importantly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23371470)

But does it run Linux?

I've learned my lesson before (1)

davmoo (63521) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371590)

I haven't bought in to DDR3 yet for one simple reason...I was an early adopter of RDRAM, and look where that went.

prefetch (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371600)

"One particularly important new change introduced with DDR3 is in the improved prefetch buffer: up from DDR2's four bits to an astounding eight bits per cycle. This translates to a full 100% increase in the prefetch payload" *If I remember correctly*, the reason the "prefetch" is increased is because the internal clock speed is still slow.. eg. dram running at 1000mhz internal/external with 4bit prefetch would have the same bandiwdth as dram running with 500mhz/1000mhz internal/external and 8bit prefetch. because it easier to make the internal clock run slower but have more "prefetch" and let the bus run at high speed. it's hard to get a chip to run at 1.6ghz but it's easy to have the chip run 400mhz with a 1.6ghz bus. this would add latency because all internal calculations are going the same speed, but the data transfered is now higher. bus speed needs to increase in mhz or width to make it go faster. trying to add width sux because you now need more traces on the mobo, and no one needs a 500pin ddr3. more than likely, ram will keep increasing in "mhz" of the fsb to keep up with bandwidth needs, but latency will keep increasing as "prefetch" is constantly increased to keep internal bandwidth symetrical with the fsb. this author doesn't talk about anything like this and i think he gives a very biased view on ddr3 vs ddr2. I do think power efficiency is a good point he makes though.

Bending the facts, paid advertising? (4, Insightful)

pnis (664824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23372182)

This article seems to be paid advertising, with some bending of the facts.
And the fact is that the double prefetch buffer is the sole reason for the double bandwith and the double latency. As a matter of fact the speed of the individual memory chips on the ram module are the same as on ddr2 (see that table in the article, just divide the ddr3 clock by 2 to get the corresponding ddr2 speed) - but instead of reading 1 bit from 4 chips at once into the prefetch buffer (that is four bit prefetch buffer), they are reading from eight at once (so that's the 8 bit prefetch buffer), so double the amount of data can be read in the same time (hence the double bandwidth). However because the memory chips are the same speed as in ddr2, the time needed to program the individual chips stays the same - so because the clock is double the speed, it takes twice as many clocks to tell the individual chips which bit we want to fetch. And that bullshit about lower latencies is also not quite right: ddr3-1600 cl6 is the same latency as ddr2-800 cl3 - and such modules have been sold for years.

Of course ddr3 is better, because it has higher bandwidth, and absolute latency is not worse than ddr2's. Also there are in deed technological advances (e.g. the lower voltage). But this article is still not exactly honest.

Re:Bending the facts, paid advertising? (1)

pnis (664824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23372310)

ok, maybe it's not malice only incompetence in the article...
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