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Overvolted RAM May Kill Your Core i7 CPU

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 26 comments

Memory controllers built into the upcoming Core i7 processors could change the way some enthusiasts push their systems beyond spec. Vendors such as Corsair, OCZ, Kingston and other companies market what is referred to as “enthusiast” memory. Enthusiast memory generally has ratings that go beyond JEDEC specifications.

Enthusiast modules need more voltage to run at their rated specifications. On high-end boards geared towards this type of thing, it is generally not a problem however, it could be a potential issue once the Core i7 (Nehalem family) starts cropping up on shelves.

In a report from Custom PC, The P6T Deluxe board from Asus due out soon has a sticker covering its DIMM slots that reads :

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 settings below 1.65V.” According to Iain Bristow, spokesman for Asus, “the sticker had been placed on the motherboard after Intel’s recommendation.”

Memory controllers inside the Core i7 processors support DDR3 memory. JEDEC specifies a standard voltage of 1.5V for that memory type, so this 1.65V limit would leave little leeway for over voltage within specification. This will sure cause enthusiasts to scrutinize over which modules they purchase more carefully. Currently, many enthusiast models go far outside the JEDEC standard of 1.5, coming in around 1.9V to reach rated specification.

Let us not forgot that manufacturers have always recommended against over voltage and clocking in some form or another – but it does not mean you cannot do it. We are pretty certain that this shouldn’t cause a big issue in the long run. The only real difference is that novices will now be more prone to burning out their processors instead of their boards / memory first. Depending on which model of processor is being used, it could be a more costly mistake.

The pioneer overclocking crowd will surely push everything as far as possible to deliver the down-low. For now, there is really no big concern as we take the back seat and wait for actual results.

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  • 1 Hide
    hellwig , October 8, 2008 9:26 PM
    This makes sense since the memory controller is now on the processor and not a separate chip. Although doesn't AMD's AM2+ allow a separate voltage plane for the cores and the memory controller (I know that AM3 socket will). Will overclocked memory damage the processing cores or just the memory controller (obivously either answer results in a useless CPU). I wonder if this will affect the general overclocking ability of the processor itself. I also wonder if Enthusiast Memory is going to go by the wayside. I think the only reason people needed overclocked memory with the old/current Intels was to match the increased FSB speeds (there are plenty of reviews here that show memory speed is rarely a bottleneck with modern DDR2/DDR3 dual-channel setups). I don't know any specs on Intel's method, but AMD's method of tying memory speed to processor speed usually means overclocking the memory is pointless. God, how many returns is Newegg going to have to process because of all the idiots out there who insist on cranking up their memory voltages to 1.9V+ regardless of how fast they plan to overclock it?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 8, 2008 9:28 PM
    With the smaller and smaller transistors and chips there is more issue with crosstalk between components. Maybe the materials at this reduced size can not stand up to the heat and bond more easily?
  • 1 Hide
    estreetguy , October 8, 2008 9:30 PM
    "Let us not forgot that manufacturers have always recommended against over voltage and clocking in some form or another – but it does not mean you cannot do it. We are pretty certain that this shouldn’t cause a big issue in the long run. The only real difference is that novices will now be more prone to burning out their processors instead of their boards / memory first. Depending on which model of processor is being used, it could be a more costly mistake."

    I agree, we have always been warned - but it never really means anything beyond that. I bet the only reason they are putting this warning out is to educated people that the CPU is at greater risk of damage with the controller being onboard now.
  • 5 Hide
    jj463rd , October 8, 2008 9:42 PM
    I bet we will soon be hearing about a lot of careless Core i7 system builders screwing up their newly built systems at the forums.We will soon hear "I am never building another Intel system".
    It might be fun for some laughs for a while.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , October 8, 2008 9:46 PM
    Personally, I find this information about as useful as a milk bucket under a bull currently. As mentioned in the article, John Q. Public hasn't even seen the first full review yet, let alone being able to purchase it. With that said, one wonders, will the tri-channel configuration bandwidth performance make enough difference to not really have to o'clock the DIMMs and rely strictly on the CPU bus speed for performance increases?
  • 0 Hide
    wavebossa , October 8, 2008 11:31 PM
    jj463rdI bet we will soon be hearing about a lot of careless Core i7 system builders screwing up their newly built systems at the forums.We will soon hear "I am never building another Intel system".It might be fun for some laughs for a while.


    Hahaha, so true.
  • 0 Hide
    amonymous , October 9, 2008 12:58 AM
    looks like the enthusiast ram industry is getting a kick in the pants to get in gear with better stuff
  • -3 Hide
    estreetguy , October 9, 2008 1:52 AM
    10taclePersonally, I find this information about as useful as a milk bucket under a bull currently. As mentioned in the article, John Q. Public hasn't even seen the first full review yet, let alone being able to purchase it. With that said, one wonders, will the tri-channel configuration bandwidth performance make enough difference to not really have to o'clock the DIMMs and rely strictly on the CPU bus speed for performance increases?


    You comment was about as useful as the article, in your own words, of course.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , October 9, 2008 8:04 AM
    I wonder if we'll see boards or modules with seperate power plugs soon? So the board would only supply 1,5v thru the cpu and addittional current thru a different means, or a converter between cpu and memory scaling hte 1,5v from the cpu up to 2v on the memory or something ...
  • -3 Hide
    cushgod , October 9, 2008 1:00 PM
    neiroatopelcc
  • 1 Hide
    gwolfman , October 9, 2008 1:57 PM
    “According to Intel CPU spec..." Well, according to Intel spec, you shouldn't overclock due to possible CPU failure. Also, According to Intel spec you shouldn't mess with vDroop at all, but some people bypass this feature and most don't have issues while some do. Intel's just playing it safe.
  • -3 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , October 9, 2008 2:33 PM
    Cushgodneiroatopelcc

    ?
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , October 9, 2008 2:35 PM
    gwolfman“According to Intel CPU spec..." Well, according to Intel spec, you shouldn't overclock due to possible CPU failure. Also, According to Intel spec you shouldn't mess with vDroop at all, but some people bypass this feature and most don't have issues while some do. Intel's just playing it safe.


    The difference I suppose is, that you can buy retail memory modules that won't nessecarily work, and eventually kill the cpu, because those module specs require more power. That is, you can run your mainboard and cpu at stock speeds and still kill it by setting the vendor specified settings for the memory.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 9, 2008 4:08 PM
    how much more performance do we get from an overclocked (and overvoltaged) DDR3 Tri-channel? 1% ? haha! This Overclocking is Ridiculous... if you put little more money, you'll get a better system, why overclock to damage the system and shorten it's lifetime? why overclock in the first place? :D  there's a saying, Who pays more, get more soup! ;) 
  • 2 Hide
    seboj , October 9, 2008 4:47 PM
    Quote:
    why overclock in the first place?


    Because OverClocking is life.

    There's a saying "You, sir, are obviously full of fail".
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 9, 2008 6:37 PM
    There may be a warning, but I think me,IF I ever buy a Core i7 pc,I'd prefer not to try out how far I can up the voltage.
    If intel says 1,65V, it means 1,7 most likely will still go,and I bet some might even get it to work at 1,75V!

    However, seeing how costly the system costs,memory and all included,I am certainly not the first to try out overclocking on a machine like this!
    Let's hope Core I7 will support overclocking without boosting the Voltage too much.

    As for me,I'd probably focus on underclocking such a system to get the max on powersavings!
  • 1 Hide
    v12v12 , October 9, 2008 8:03 PM
    That aside from the OC'ing aspect, which is the #1 reason why I purchase any pricey hardware... Will we really "need" to OC with a 4-8core Nehalem running a psuedo-benched 30-50% faster (in some instances) than the fastest Yorks? I think OC'ing will always be around, it's just that the technological speed range is shrinking based on the current materials and layout used. A new and completely radical material, die design and layout is what I'm more excited about... again we're getting the metered out products (which is good for their business), but drags and slows overall technological innovations. I'm pretty sure for all the conspiracy folks: The SKUNK Works boys that fly out to Groom-Lake (govt still refuses to ack it's existence) have computer technology 10-15yrs beyond what we're seeing now... Too bad obsession with gross profits is keeping us in the slow lane.

    That and the simple fact of "air cooling" using a metal sink and heatpipes seems rather low-tech Vs compact refrigerant units or TEC (Peltiers)... Cooling is def way behind what it could be: We've all see how much higher OC'ing can yield with sub-ambient cooling. Then again Air-cooling is cheap and effective Vs bulky liquid based units.
  • 1 Hide
    infyrno917 , October 9, 2008 9:53 PM
    Sounds like intel is routing VTTDDR directly through the memory controller. Either way, sounds like poor engineering on thier part.

    The reason I'm calling them out for poor engineering is; lets say, for example on a current system such as a modern 775 or AM2+ motherboard, the VTTDDR is fed via a linear regulator from the 5v plane. Also, lets project a scenario of a memory stick burning up and shorting out on one of these 775 or AM2+ motherboard; 5v then becomes short with ground, trips the breaker in your PSU, system shuts down with minimal damage (with a slight chance of frying the VTTDDR regulator on the motherboard if your PSU is a low-grade model). Lets project that same scenario on the new 1366 motherboard... VTTDDR, of which is routed through your CPU becomes short with ground. This will not trip the PSU breaker as there is still resistance in the line (your CPU). So your CPU is left to dissapate not only over 25 amps from the vcore, but a full 30 amps on top of that from the 5v line. I SMELL BACON!
  • 1 Hide
    chaohsiangchen , October 9, 2008 10:41 PM
    Mykohow much more performance do we get from an overclocked (and overvoltaged) DDR3 Tri-channel? 1% ? haha! This Overclocking is Ridiculous... if you put little more money, you'll get a better system, why overclock to damage the system and shorten it's lifetime? why overclock in the first place? there's a saying, Who pays more, get more soup!


    It's not just about speed. It's a quest. The quest for more speed and more computing power one can squeeze out of a commercially available product. It's like why people build drag racers, put turbocharger on their 4-cylinder engines, and install NOx injection system on their cars. The engine might explode if done wrong, but it's heck lot of fun.
  • -1 Hide
    chaohsiangchen , October 10, 2008 12:35 AM
    v12v12The SKUNK Works boys that fly out to Groom-Lake (govt still refuses to ack it's existence) have computer technology 10-15yrs beyond what we're seeing now...


    Can it run Crysis?
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