Corsair's PC10000 Super-Ober-Uber-RAM Sets Sails

Dominator Features: DHX And EPP

The golden surface in the top area of the modules are copper planes that are used to dissipate heat from the PCB to the aluminum heat spreaders that are placed in between the conventional, black memory heat spreaders.

We found three buzzwords on Corsair’s introductory documents : DHX, EPP and SLI-Readiness. DHX stands for Dual-Path Heat Exchange, which is a cooling technology. EPP represents Enhanced Performance Profiles, an extension to what the memory SPD (Serial Presence Detect) offers for auto-setting memory parameters. Let’s start with DHX and memory cooling.

All memory modules carry their memory ICs either on one side (single-sided DIMMs) or on both sides (double sided) of the printed circuit board (PCB). While ordinary memory modules typically do not require cooling measures, enthusiast products at high clock speeds and bold voltages sometimes do. This is why all enthusiast-type memory modules have metal plates on both sides of the module. These so-called heat spreaders are attached directly to the DRAM chips to provide a larger overall surface for the purpose of efficient heat dissipation. Most heat spreaders are made of thin, solid metal, but there are some variations such as OCZ’s grill-type structure. As only highest speeds at high voltages benefit from memory cooling (a large percentage of heat generated by DRAM chips is dissipated through the memory circuit board anyway), the impact of different heat spreaders typically is hard to measure.

Corsair’ Dominator tries to maximize memory cooling by combining the two ways heat dissipates from a memory module. The first way is through the solder contacts of the BGA DRAM chips (Ball Grid Array) ; this always conducts a certain amount of heat to the PCB. The second way is via the top side of the memory chip and the heat spreader. The Dominator modules have a copper ground plane on both sides of the PCB, which Corsair extends to the top of the actual circuit board by attaching small aluminum heat spreaders to it. In addition, the Dominator also carries the conventional heat spreader on both sides. The results are four rows of small fins that you can see on top of the modules. The whole solution is called DHX or Dual-Path Heat Exchange.

The Enhanced Performance Profiles (or EPP) are an extension to what you already know as SPD technology. Every DDR memory module carries a little memory device (the SPD-ROM), which stores the elementary information on memory timings supported by this particular module. By reading the SPD data, your motherboard can automatically select suitable memory timings. This makes sure that a system will run properly.

However, if you want to run your memory at ideal timings you’ll have to go into the appropriate BIOS menu and set all timing parameters manually. This is something that most users cannot or dare not do. Hence, Corsair and Nvidia came up with their Enhanced Performance Profiles. This feature requires an nForce5 or nForce6 motherboard for DDR2 memory and SLI-ready memory such as the Corsair Dominator. If you got both, the platform can not only read the ideal timings, but also command rate and memory voltage. The latter has been the main reason why memory vendors have to program SPDs with very conservative timings : Quick settings require higher voltages, which could be configured automatically without EPP.

The Corsair Dominator Airflow is mounted right above the memory.

The SPD information will provide suitable memory timings to the system, but it doesn’t allow for any automatic performance optimization.