Performance DDR3 memory that requires a voltage higher than 1.65V may permanently damage Core i7 CPUs.
It looks like Intel’s upcoming Core i7 platform will have tight limits on the maximum DIMM voltages that can be safely used. According to information uncovered at the Inquirer, motherboard manufactures have been told by Intel that DDR3 memory when set to use voltages higher than 1.65V can burn out the CPU of upcoming Core i7 platforms.
Images of an unreleased Asus X58 motherboard in its apparent retail packaging show a sticker placed across the DIMM slots stating “According to Intel CPU SPEC, DIMMs with voltage setting over 1.65V may damage the CPU permanently. We recommend you install the DIMMs with the voltage setting below 1.65V.” According to the Inquirer, Asus had said it is safely running memory kits at 1.7V in its labs, but beyond that voltage you are on your own.
When Tom’s Hardware contacted Intel on the matter, Intel told us that it could not comment since details regarding Core i7 platform overclocking have not yet been made public. Intel did say however that it feels that knowledgeable overclockers will be pleased; a statement that agrees with early reviews of the Core i7 platform.
What we do know about Intel’s upcoming Core i7 platform is that it does not use a Front-Side Bus, making CPU overclocking essentially independent of the RAM. According to Fudzilla however, CPU and memory voltages on the Core i7 platform are synchronous, creating a potential limit for extreme overclocking if the CPU can only handle 1.65V safely.
What this also means is that consumers wishing to use current generation performance DDR3 memory with a Core i7 system may be in for a disappointment. Much of the performance memory currently available use a voltage greater than 1.7V, such as Patriot’s Viper 4GB 2000 MHz DDR3 memory that operates at 2.0V. It is expected that memory manufactures will release DDR3 memory kits designed for the Core i7 platform with some manufactures already announcing such plans. For example, A-Data’s recently announced a tri-channel DDR3 memory kit that operates between 1.65V to 1.75V and offers a latency setting of 7-7-7-20 2T for DDR3-1333+.
Unlike Intel’s Core 2 platform, the Core i7 platform uses triple channel memory, meaning memory kits designed for the Core i7 platform will come with three memory sticks instead of two. This fact alone might help prevent consumers from accidentally buying memory kits incompatible with Core i7 systems. Intel is expected to release the Core i7 platform in November for the upper mainstream, performance and enthusiastic markets.