Overvolted RAM May Kill Your Core i7 CPU

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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  • hellwig
    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?
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  • Anonymous
    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?
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  • estreetguy
    "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.
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