Intel Nehalem To Play Nice With Enthusiast Memory


Chicago (IL) - Intel’s switch to an integrated memory controller with the upcoming Nehalem core will offer enthusiasts to finally take advantage of fast memory devices - which are constrained by the front side bus (FSB) today. The memory controller bandwidth is catching up with performance memory, which means that we should see dramatically improved memory performance one the new CPU arrives.

The performance memory industry is alive and kicking these days, despite the fact that the advantages of higher clock speeds, which currently reach to 2000 MHz, are fading and are virtually non-existent, at least on Intel platforms. The simple reason is that the memory bandwidth is constrained by the FSB, which limits the bandwidth to 8.53 GB/s in a 1066 MHz FSB (266 MHz QDR), to 10.66 GB/s in a 1333 MHz (333 MHz QDR) version and 12.8 GB/s in those rare 1600 GHz (400 MHz QDR) models.

However, dual-channel memory can offer a bandwidth that exceeds what FSB can take: 12.8 GB/s (DDR2-800) to 32 GB/s (DDR3-2000). Even if you buy those ultra-expensive DDR3-2000 devices you won’t see a dramatic increase in performance, at least if you don’t overclock the FSB at the same time. To support that 32 GB/s bandwidth, you would need a CPU capable of running a 4 GHz FSB (1000 QDR).

Intel Nehalem architecture uses 64-bit memory controllers that are directly connected within the CPU silicon, eliminating those "FSB brakes". Expect you bandwidth utilization jumps from current 50-60% to 90%.

Industry sources now indicated that the mainstream Nehalem processor code-named Lynnfield will be able to almost double the memory bandwidth - to about 18.5-20.1 GB/s when DDR3-1333 modules are used.

If you own or plan to buy DDR3 memory, prepare yourself mentally and financially for Nehalem. Intel is currently preparing two different desktop parts: Bloomfield will become the new Core Extreme and feature a triple-DDR3 controller. Using three or six DDR3-1333 modules you should be able to achieve 30 GB/s, while Lynnfield will arrive in Q1 2009 and offer a regular dual-channel DDR3-1333 controller.

So, keep the modules, and wait for their time. It will come.

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  • Anonymous
    ... whats with the controllers... does ddr3 require 3 sticks for 3 channel... if so how can there be a dual channel controller... if not... why would there be a tri channel controller... i'm confused
  • jimmysmitty
    Intel is uping the channels on their memory platforms to offer higher memory bandwidth. The low to mid will have the normal dual channel and the high to extreme will have tripple channel and probably have 6 memory slots.

    From what I have read Bloomfeild will be high to extreme which would be like the Intel E8xxx and Q6/Q9xxx series to the EE models not just the EE models.

    So to respond to the first post yes to get triple channel you would need at least 3 sticks of RAM which I am sure Corsair and such will make packs for those as well as packs of 6 for the max amount you can fit on those mobos, maybe bigger than 8GB say 12GB?
  • evilshuriken
    The triple-channel controller is a feature of the Bloomfield processor, so that WILL require 3 sticks(for obvious reasons).
    And of course the Lynnfield will support just dual-channel so it will require only 2 sticks for the added performance. Not sure how this has confused you.