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2GB Vs 4GB of memory

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March 30, 2006 12:51:33 AM

I've had 2GB (512MB x 4) @ 2.5-3-3-7 ~ 2T on my DFI Ultra D for over 8 months now.
With the memory dropping in price, I was thinking of getting 4 x 1GB sticks.
I remember when I upgraded from 1GB to 2GB, I noticed some performance boosts.

What I want to know is.......will upgrading to 4GB give me another performance boost to my existing system?

Things I run on my machine: Games - BF2, NFS - MW, Doom3, Far Cry,etc.
Softwares - Photoshop CS2, Adobe Prem., TMPGEncoder (DVD ripping), other general stuff

Here's my specs
Windows XP Pro - 64bit
A64 3200+ (H2O cooled)
DFI Ultra D (mod 2 SLI)
2GB (512MB x 4 @ 2.5-3-3-7 ~ 2T)
6600GT (Core:550, Mem: 1.2GHz ~ H2O cooled)
2x 160GB WD in raid 0 config.

More about : 2gb 4gb memory

March 30, 2006 1:25:44 AM

I don't really think you will see much of a difference in performance right now with windows xp...when vista comes out memory requirements will jump up but more than 2gb is really quite unnecessary right now. just stick with what you got until more memory actually will make a nice difference.

If anything you will see a bigger difference with a new video card, because I see that you have a 6600GT. For the price of another 2gigs of RAM you can get an X850XT or 7600GT (I personally recommend X850).
March 30, 2006 2:12:31 AM

thanks doomturkey......
I thought about upgrading the video as well, more on that later......

My upgrade from 1GB to 2GB didnt make the system faster but it made it smoother. Such as when converting 6 TV episodes at the same time, my machine remained to be very responsive (able to watch movies, online browsing) where as using 1GB of memory showed pauses here and there. So it lead me think that with 4GB of physical system memory might allow me to convert 10 or more TV episodes while my machine maintains its responsiveness. However you brought up an interesting point on current windows wont be able to ultilize the full 4GB memory. Is that so even with a 64bit OS??

In regards to upgrading my video card, I did look into that as well but I play all my games at 1024 x 768 @ 4AA and 8AF. The card seems to be handling it alright with occasional lags.......
If I had to upgrade the video card, I'd be looking at a 7900GT........which means my CPU probably needs to be upgraded as well just so they match, performance wise.
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March 30, 2006 2:59:25 AM

If you were running Linux 4GB would make a difference.

Under windoze not really.

Ideally you want to have only 2 sticks on memory in Dual channel per AMD64 CPU.
March 30, 2006 3:39:43 AM

I have 4GB and I'm seriously thinking of returning them.
My Asus A8N-VN supports 4GB, but, apparently, depending on the type of models and on the rev of the memory controller in the Athlon 64 you may get lower performance.
For example: up to rev D only DDR 333 was supported. I have the newest, rev E, but I still can't clock the memory at DDR 400 (200MHz).

Win XP ("standard" 32 bit edition) can't even see all the 4GB and it crashes regularly.
Windows XP 64 is more stable and faster but drivers are still a luxury, expecially for wireless network cards and printers.

Since I'm having so much troubles I did extensive stress tests on each module (to find out they were fine) using Memtest.
Memtest also determins the bandwidth of the memory bus: with 2GB gives me something close to 3GB/s. That's almost as much as L2 cache (4.2GB/s)!!
With 4GB it drops to 1.6GB/s.
I read that's mostly due to high resistance on the bus when you have 4 double-sided memory modules (as far as I know all 1GB modules are. Some older 512MB are too).

Hope that helps you making the right choice.
March 30, 2006 4:10:57 AM

To Linux 0
I am not a Linux person and I dont really have the time to learn it all over again just to get everything working like I have in Windows. I am aware Linux is better in some ways than Windows but I use more Windows compatible programs thats all.

To Yankee DDL
I have a Winchester core and I can run my at DDR400 speeds @ 2T 2.5-3-3-7 (1T wont post at all!!!). Apparently I am not the only one with this core thats suppose to only support DDR333 when 4 dimms are populated. There are others on the DFI forum reporting the same result. I use the 623 BIOS for my board, not sure if there is an equivalent to yours though.
Your bandwidths seems odd to me..........Is A8N-VN is a 939 socket board?
In dual channel (4 populated dimms - 512MB x 4 @ 2T, 2.5-3-3-7), my bandwidth is around 4800MB/sec, this equals to around 75% efficiency of the total bandwidth (DDR400 PC3200 x 2 = 6400MB/sec)
On a loan from a friend with 2 x 1GB sticks also at CL2.5, 2.5-3-3-7 but at 1T, my bandwidth is around 5800MB/sec. This equals to about 90% efficiency of the total bandwidth (6400MB/sec)
The 2 x 1GB sticks are actually rated at CL 2-3-2-5 which I tested on Sisoft Sandra as well on a 1T setting. It gave me aroun 6100MB/sec, which is about 95% efficiency of the total bandwidth.
You bandwidths of around 3GB/sec sound more like a CL2 DDR333 PC2700) or a CL3 DDR400 (PC3200) but in single channel. Dual channel should have doubled the bandwidth of a single stick!

With bandwidth aside, my thoughts were will upgrading to 4GB from 2GB give me the performance boost I got upgrading to 2GB from 1GB?? But judging from everyone's opinion, its seems like Windows will let me down with this upgrade.

Vista has been delayed again, hasnt it??
March 30, 2006 4:33:45 AM

all current DIMMs except FB-DIMMS work on a Parralel, Shared Bus archetecture. The same style archetecture was used in PCI (not PCI-E), this was why you dont see motherboards with more than 6 or so PCI slots unless they have two PCI busses; the traces all go out from the memory controller, to the first DIMM, then to the 2nd DIMM, then to the 3rd, then the 4th etc.

The problem comes in that these are not perfect electrical connections. Signals are degraded and there is some signal reflection in DDR DIMMs. As you increase the number of DIMMs, the problem worsens, to get around this, you keep the number of DIMMs small or reduce the speed.

Few if any mobos will allow 4 DIMMs to work at 400MHz, And thoese that do will normally be less stable at 400MHz; Its not because of the A64 Core that you cant have 400MHz with 4 DIMMs, its very hard to maintain stability on these longer links at higher speed and always has been. Server admins will tell you you have to either choose memory capacity or memory speed.

Yes, you wont post at 1T command rate with 4 DIMMs either, if even one of them is double sided, you have more of them to address. This is not just a factor of the A64 memory controller or the amount of memory, but the amount of DIMMs. More 'speedbumps' = lower speed.

Some older revision A64s had a bug with 4 DIMMs, (the 130nm ones) but it is now fixed, and its rare to get the new ones stable at 400MHz either.

The ultimate solution to the issue is FB-DIMMs, although that adds a slight amount of latency. These use a serial interface and repeat the signal at each DIMM. Failing that, (which would at the present time mean a very expensive server mobo etc) Use 2*2Gb sticks if you want 4gb :) 



On the subject of 4Gb with Windows, Win32 will only EVER allocate 2gb at a time to a single process, and has trouble with over 3Gb, and will not support over 4Gb at all. 4Gb is cool, but if thats what you have planned, be sure to run Windws x64
March 30, 2006 5:25:30 AM

Thanks darkstar 782

I doubt my DFI Ultra-D board can take FB-DIMMS. I looked up and check the specs and they dont seem to fit......unless you know something I dont!

I've always thought the Memory Controller was to blame for not being able to take 4 DIMMs and run at DDR400. With A64 and NF4 boards, the instructions always says with 4 DIMMs populated, modules will automatically run only at DDR333 speeds. These were the earlier production A64 CPUs, Venice cores and cores after seems to have that problem rectified. Though there are some reports that people had Venice core CPUs not able to run DDR400 speeds with 4 populated DIMMs.

I have Win XP64 Pro.....and I did try 3GB (512MB x 2 + 1GB x 2) of physical memory when I had the 2x 1GB loan from my friend. Couldnt see that much improvement, if any at all. Doubling 1GB to 2GB was significant for me, which is why I ask will doubling 2GB to 4GB boost it even further??
March 30, 2006 7:41:36 AM

No, it cant, FB-DIMMs are at the moment confined to high capactity servers only, but AMDs roadmap a year or so ago did show them as a path for A64 to take in the future, unfortunately I dont have a link :( 

The greatest thing about FB-DIMMs is that the chips themselves are independand from the chipset, that is to say, you could plug in a DDR2 based FB-DIMM today, and next year plug in a DDR3 FB-DIMM with no other changes needed :D 

Alot of older chipsets, like the VIA KT600 (an athlon XP chipset) dont even recommend 3 DIMMs at 400MHz. The issue was not confined to A64 or even AMD, more DIMMs = noisier signal path. Its partly to do with the chipset, but also to do with the quality of motherboard pathways etc. Either way, more than 4 DIMMs at 400MHz isnt possible on any mobo anywhere as far as I know.

Theoretically, a 90nm A64 should be able to run 4 DIMMs at 400MHz with a 2t command rate, but as soon as you try to overclock and go over 400MHz you will likely run into issues with the RAM, even though it could be rated for 550MHz+
March 30, 2006 9:03:45 AM

Able to go from one generation to another without switching boards sounds fantastic!!!!

Its odd but not out of the ordinary that my Winchester core 3200+ can handle 4 DIMMs running DDR400, others are reporting the same thing.
It is a fact that the overclockability of the modules have dropped after 2 extra DIMMs went in there.

You know what......I am gonna see if I can get hold of 4 x 1GB sticks on a loan from friends and run some tests.

I'll get back to ya'll........
March 30, 2006 2:56:32 PM

Hve you checked if your 4 DIMMs are single-sided or double sided?
Higher end/newer 512MB DIMMs are single sided which reduces ... all the effects described above ...
1GB, as far as I know, are always double sided.

And yes, please, let us know: I'm really curios is there's something I can do to get 4GB working well for me too!
April 1, 2006 1:06:13 AM

Quote:
However you brought up an interesting point on current windows wont be able to ultilize the full 4GB memory. Is that so even with a 64bit OS??

32 bits OS allows for 2^32 bits of adress space. 2^32=4 gigs... and everything in your system has an address that is taken from he whole lot, meaning tha the full 4 gigs will not be available. depending of your HW configuration, you could end up with around 3 to 3.5 total.

64 bits OS and cpu will allow for 2^64 of address space.. and 2^64 = more than you need for now ...
April 1, 2006 3:19:43 AM

That's correct (altough I think Win XP 64 is limited to 128GB. Much less than 2^64 but still, much more than you can fit on your MoBo).
I still remain of the opinion that it's too early for 4GB: my MoBo (and many other that I found on forums online) can't handle 4GB at full speed.
So the benefits will be limited, if any. Infact, most likely if you run software that does not pass the 2GB limit you'll probably see the performance deteriorating.

One more note: if you have an AMD Athlon 64, a 64 bit OS will run faster than a 32 bit one. I don't have the link handy but I think Anandtech showed almost 15% performance increase over common tasks. 32-bit applications won't run much differently but others, like Media Player (native 64 bit in Win XP 64) will crank noticeably faster.
The only issue with Win XP 64 is the drivers. You may want to check first their availability for your hardware: 32 bit drivers are not compatible with win XP 64. I hear that printers and wireless networks are the "rarest".
April 1, 2006 4:00:34 AM

I don't know what some of you people are talking about. I have 4 x 512MB DDR400 from GEIL and my system is perfectly stable running at DDR400.
April 1, 2006 4:11:22 AM

AMD chipsets prior to nforce4... My ATI CF supports 4x215MB chips and still overclocks very well. I had it up to 235x11 stable...
April 1, 2006 4:13:09 AM

Quote:
I don't know what some of you people are talking about. I have 4 x 512MB DDR400 from GEIL and my system is perfectly stable running at DDR400.


Find your max OC with 4 DIMMs. Repeat with only 2 DIMMs installed. Note that its higher with 2 of the same DIMMs than with 4, therefore, stable speed is reduced with 4 DIMMs

Note that if any of them are double sided you cant run at a 1T command rate
April 1, 2006 4:14:41 AM

About windows addressing 3 gb is partly true. But there is a bandaid patch floting around that will allow windows to use 3 gb on a process.
April 1, 2006 11:23:31 AM

If you have single-sided DIMM then you won't have a problem.
High-quality and/or newer 512MB DIMMs are single sided.
I am not saying you won't find a combination timing-MoBO-RAM that won't let you use 4GB (1GB DIMM are *always* double sided today) but I think it's pretty rare.
April 3, 2006 2:56:34 AM

Quote:
I've had 2GB (512MB x 4) @ 2.5-3-3-7 ~ 2T on my DFI Ultra D for over 8 months now.
With the memory dropping in price, I was thinking of getting 4 x 1GB sticks.
I remember when I upgraded from 1GB to 2GB, I noticed some performance boosts.

What I want to know is.......will upgrading to 4GB give me another performance boost to my existing system?

Things I run on my machine: Games - BF2, NFS - MW, Doom3, Far Cry,etc.
Softwares - Photoshop CS2, Adobe Prem., TMPGEncoder (DVD ripping), other general stuff

Here's my specs
Windows XP Pro - 64bit
A64 3200+ (H2O cooled)
DFI Ultra D (mod 2 SLI)
2GB (512MB x 4 @ 2.5-3-3-7 ~ 2T)
6600GT (Core:550, Mem: 1.2GHz ~ H2O cooled)
2x 160GB WD in raid 0 config.


There's pretty much no difference at this point in time except cost. Get 2GB and upgrade later if you want.
April 3, 2006 3:05:03 AM

Quote:
thanks doomturkey......
I thought about upgrading the video as well, more on that later......

My upgrade from 1GB to 2GB didnt make the system faster but it made it smoother. Such as when converting 6 TV episodes at the same time, my machine remained to be very responsive (able to watch movies, online browsing) where as using 1GB of memory showed pauses here and there. So it lead me think that with 4GB of physical system memory might allow me to convert 10 or more TV episodes while my machine maintains its responsiveness. However you brought up an interesting point on current windows wont be able to ultilize the full 4GB memory. Is that so even with a 64bit OS??

In regards to upgrading my video card, I did look into that as well but I play all my games at 1024 x 768 @ 4AA and 8AF. The card seems to be handling it alright with occasional lags.......
If I had to upgrade the video card, I'd be looking at a 7900GT........which means my CPU probably needs to be upgraded as well just so they match, performance wise.


You don't need a new CPU for a 7900GT/GTX. The RAM and GPU is much more important to a system than the CPU.
April 3, 2006 3:40:44 AM

i went from 1 gig, to 3 gigs, then to 2 gigs...the 3rd gig didnt help anything, noticed no difference, and probably actually slowed my pc down for some reason, and all the modules were of the same name and timings. so id be guessing 4 wouldnt do shit until vista, its rumored that when you load games on vista, 2 gigs will be a minimum requirment, rumored, heard it on many so called "official" sites, but who knows.
April 10, 2006 7:04:20 AM

These are the specs for the 1GB sticks, 2-3-2-6 DDR400 @ 2.6V

Tested in dual channel config on Win XP64:
With 4 x 1GB @ 2-3-2-6 ~ 2T DDR400 2.6V, bandwidth = 4687MB/sec
Max OC = DDR466 @ 3-3-3-8 ~ 2T 2.9V, bandwidth = 5498MB/sec

With 2 x 1GB @ 2-3-2-6 ~1T DDR400 2.6V, bandwidth = 6065MB/sec
OC = DDR 500 @ 3-3-3-8 ~ 1T 2.9V, bandwidth = 6960MB/sec

While there are certainly differences in the bandwidth and OC departments, I failed to notice any difference in real world applications.
My video conversion, game play and general usage didnt seem to benefit from the extra 2GB of memory (good thing they were loaned by a friend for the weekend otherwise I've wasted my money). Simply going from 2T to 1T was a big improvement bandwidth and OC wise.

To Fungalberry:
I've read on some reviews where the test system was using a A64 3500+ and it was getting the same frame rates for both high and low resolution benchmarks. As soon as the reviewer throw in a faster CPU (A64 4000+ and above), performance differences began to show in high and low resolution tests.

Anyways, like I said, I play most of my games at 1024 x 768, I was thinking of getting the 7900GT because it should hold me back getting another card for a little while.

I'll re-run this again when Vista is released..................
!