Athlon FX-53 memory

I am on the verge of ordering all the parts for my new system when I hit a major snag: when did memory become so COMPLICATED??? I built systems professionally for 4 years and never saw anything like what I’m seeing now (back then it was ECC or not, 70ns or 60ns, 30 pin or 72 pin).

Here are my system specs (feel free to comment if you see an area for improvement)

AMD Athlon FX-53
ASUS SK8-V Motherboard
ATI X800 Pro Video Card
SB Audigy ZS Pro Sound Card
Hauppage Win TV 350 Video Capture Card
2 Maxtor 250 Serial ATA hard drives in a RAID configuration (Striped for speed)
Enermax 500W power supply
Promise ATA/66 IDE controller (For my zip drive)

(plus floppy, zip, CD, DVD, CD-RW, DVD+-RW)

Now here’s the rub…I want 4GB of RAM. But I am so confused…my motherboard specs say I can have up to 8, but the types change the maximum value. I want fast RAM, and as I understand that would be the 400MHz PC3200, right?

I don’t really care about generic vs. name brand so long as it works just as well and just as fast (I have no desire to burn money on a name) but I don’t even know where to start. To make matters worse, now I’m hearing that I need “registered” RAM vs. unregistered RAM.

Can someone please help and at least point me in a direction?

6 answers Last reply
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  1. Take a deep breath. The Athlon FX cores are based on the AMD Opteron Core, which is a server core. Therefore, since it was originally meant for servers, it uses ECC memory, which has error-checking capabilities to insure data integrity (which is important for a server). Almost any memory will say if it is ECC or not, since that is a very important feature. Registered means it has a tempory buffer to store info in before sending it. If you want to run 4 Gigs, you'll have to buy 4 1 gig PC 3200 ECC Registered RAM. <A HREF="" target="_new">here</A> is a possible choice, I don't think you have many. I suggest, despite your disinclination to, that you go with name brand, since you will be running 4 gigs of memory, and if that stuff isn't up to par, it's gonna puke when your FX-53 starts hitting it.
  2. OK, running 4 modules of 1 GB each is a problem:
    1. It's really expensive (thought by judging from your system-to-be that isn't really a problem)
    2. It's slower than running 8 modules of 512 MB each since the latencies are a lot worse - usually 1 GB modules have the worst timings of 3-4-4-8 while 512 MB modules and below have timings as good as 2-2-2-6 or something close to that.
    3. Having 4 GB of RAM is a bit past overkill, are you sure that 4 x 512 MB isn't enough? What are you planning on doing with that rig?
    For those reasons it might be best to stick to 512 MB modules for now, until the technology progrsses.

    Also, a comment about the rig: In about a month and a half or so AMD's socket 939 is being released along with 939 pin versions of the FXs. That socket will give you better options for upgrading later on as well as letting you use unbuffered (not registerd) modules - Can you wait?

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  3. Well this system will be used primarily for two things: 1) Heavy duty video rendering
    2) Heavy duty gaming

    I currently run 2GB on my current system (2GHz Pent 4) and video processes take forever, even without hard drive access. I was hoping doubling the RAM again would help with that. I knew the XP benefits would be slight but the XP 64 benefits look good.

    The latency of the chips I'm looking at now (Corsair TWINX2048-3200PT matched pair) is 3-3-3-8...but what do those numbers mean exactly?

    Finally, I don't plan on upgrading CPUs again in the next year. Just about every time I upgrade it seems I replace mobo, RAM, and CPU as they keep changing. Plus the next time I upgrade I'll be getting PCI Express stuff compared to the current PCI/AGP stuff what's the benefit of waiting for that socket?

    Thank you for the help...almost there :)
  4. Besides the memory speed, latencies also determine practical memory bandwidth (in MB/S). The lower the latencies, the better. The numbers are arranged in order of significance and the first number (CAS latency) being the most important one. Memory latencies don't have a very big effect on practical memory bandwidth and make even a smaller difference on overall system performance but they do make a difference sometimes, like in video editing where there is a slight difference.
    You said that video processing takes a long time even when the drive isn't accessed, so I'd think that increasing memory volume won't matter and that memory speed and processor power is what's holding you back, no?
    Also, you should know that even though the FX is great in gaming and supports 64 bit, today, the fastest versions of the P4 are faster at video and audio coding because of their high clock frequencies.

    This is the end of my post. No wait, this is...
  5. Okay, I'm looking at this situation. Corsair Registered ECC memory.

    If I get 4 512kb modules (2GB) it will have latency of 2-3-2-6

    If I get 4 1024kb modules (4GB) it will have latency of 3-3-3-8.

    Now I've done some digging on benchmarks and see about a 1% difference between a 2-3-2-6 and a 3-3-3-8. I also read that Windows XP (32 bit) will use 2GB of RAM for system memory and 2GB of RAM for its cache memory. So when I am dealing with 8GB files being rendered I would think my hard drive access would be even more infrequent on a system with 4 GB than with 8. am I mistaken?

    As for the Extreme Pentiums being faster for video I did see that in benchmarks, but the Athlon is faster in games and it's 64-bit so I can run XP 64 (as compared to waiting for Intel's 64 bit chips to go extreme and to actually work...I never trust Intel's fisrt gen).

    So I guess my nutshell questions are:

    1) Is it really a huge difference between 2-3-2-6 and 3-3-3-8?

    2) Is there any benefit to waiting for the new socket other than future CPUs? With the new mobos have PCI Express or something else?

    3) Will the 32 bit version of XP show any benefit with more RAM (will it use it)?

    A bit off the topic where I started but these forums really helped me to figure out WHAT RAM I needed, now it's just a choice of how much/how fast :) For that I thank you!
  6. 1. Like you said, something like 1-2%. That's not huge, but it is a difference.
    2. I don't know if Socket 939 has PCI-EX, but it does support unbuffered RAM.
    3. 64 bits means two things:
    1. Support for 64 bit processors, which means that processors like the Athlon FX will gain performence.
    2. Support for 64 bit memory addressing. Until now only 2^32 bytes of memory were supported which is 4 GB, now more RAM would be supported, probably limited by the mobo.
    If the only difference from Windows XP 32 bits would be the use of 64 bit extentions these are the only differeces there would be you won't see any real differences between a 1 GB system and a 4 GB. I do know thought that Longhorn, the next version of MS's OS, will use a lot more memory than XP.

    I doubt that when you render an 8 GB file that amount of memory is used for two reasons. First, if 8 GB is the final size of the file, the size of the raw data, what's stored in RAM is several times that. Second, I see no reason for the whole file to be stored on the RAM at the same time. You eventually need to write the whole 8 GB to the hard disk.

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