DDR3 Memory: What Makes Performance Better?

Comparative Analysis

Anyone who has glanced at the numbers can pretty much do an "analysis" on their own. Yes, we all know the Intel 4770K is a stronger CPU, both in single-threaded as well as multi-threaded operations. And that, in and of itself, leads to higher scores in Geekbench and plays in with all the benchmarks. I believe the big telling difference, though, is in the memory controller within the CPUs. What we see with the AMD CPU is older technology that is more oriented to lower frequencies and less total DRAM. I, for one, hope that the next generation of CPUs will use the advances the company has made and implemented in its newer APUs, which seem to like higher-frequency DRAM and handle it well. Intel handles the DRAM at lower latency and provides far higher reads and writes.

I could go into a detailed comparative analysis of the different numbers, but that isn't really the point of this. Rather, the point is primarily to give you an idea of what you can expect from either platform as far as DRAM, and why — if you are using one platform or the other — there are large differences in the numbers you will see when running benchmarks, and why it takes longer to perform an equivalent task on an AMD rig than on an Intel one.

You also can get an idea of how higher-frequency DRAM can show an increase in productivity on either platform when jumping from, say, 1600 to 2400, or moving up from 8GB to 16GB to 32GB of DRAM. To that end, the gains shown above may appear small, so I also ran a few tests on the sets that aren't on any list of benchmarks available.

I'm not a big fan of most benchmarks, in large part because most of them don't really use the DRAM. In other words, there are lots of gaming benchmarks available, but most gaming is centered entirely on the CPU or the GPU, and DRAM isn't much more than a conduit for data to flow through. I've long said that having more higher-frequency DRAM tends to show the strength of it more when multitasking or using memory-intensive applications. Earlier, I used WinRAR as a benchmark to provide examples of changes between 2400 and 1600 DRAM, as well as in different amounts (8GB, 16GB and 32GB) at 2400. As I expected, the completion time took longer with the lower frequency of 1600 using 32GB, as well as when using smaller amounts of DRAM. Taking it a step further, though not something one can truly and fully quantify, I experimented with running multiple applications and then running WinRAR to compress the same file used earlier. The "simulation" consisted of opening 10 tabs in Chrome to a page that changes, running a Malware Bytes scan and running Geekbench along with WinRAR. I came up with these numbers (again, it's the average of the mid three of five tests) on the Intel system"

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Original WinRAR ScoreMultitasking Score
2400 32GB3.065.29
1600 32GB4.016:56
2400 16GB3.316:24
2400 8GB4.168:13

When multitasking, you can see even bigger gains with the additional DRAM.

  • blackmagnum
    Since the dawn of computer memory: Faster data rates=More access latency.
  • Damn_Rookie
    It's great to see you getting the chance to do some articles on here, Tradesman1 Jim :)
  • PaulBags
    Interesting. I'll be coming back here several times over the next several months, as I save up for & consider options for a new computer. Good to know 2x 2 stick kits arn't nessicarily equal to a 4 stick kit, and annoying since I don't see many 4 stick kits in local online stores.

    Also good to know frequency has such a measurable impact on compression, I probably don't need fancy high freq ram but now I'm going to be more annoyed my budget won't allow it.

    Thanks for the ponderous read! :)
  • Cryio
    This was such an eye opening read. Until now I though different ram frequencies really didn't amount to much. By those times in multitasking ? Wow.
  • damric
    Thanks Tman. Looks like you really worked your butt off in this testing.
  • Crashman
    15517997 said:
    Since the dawn of computer memory: Faster data rates=More access latency.
    Nope. Latency stays roughly the same while clock cycles speed up. DDR3-1333 CAS 6 and DDR3-2666 CAS 12 have the same latency in nanoseconds, the number of cycles doubles while each cycle occurs in half the time.

  • synphul
    Pretty good review, made for a fun read. I'm still amazed at the ram incompatibility when mixing different sets. I know it exists, it's not the first time people have experienced this. I've mixed various ram just on a roll of the dice and I guess I've been lucky. The brand mixing was random. When upgrading one system from ddr2 to ddr3 I threw 2x2gb of patriot in with 2x2gb of geil evo one without issue. When upgrading one of these systems and adding ram, I added 2x4gb of team zeus at 1600mhz with 2x4gb of geil evo corsa at 1333mhz and just let the motherboard configure it and match to the lower speeds/settings. No issues with either.
  • xFolterknechtx
    1.65V sticks on Z87/97 boards? I think the upper limit Intel mentioned in their white paper for Ivy and Haswell was something around 1.55 - 1.575V for DRAM voltage.

    Do what you want with your hardware guys, but I ll stay clear of these voltages.
  • Pierre Olivier Vidal
    I have 2 questions for future articles.
    1 - Why do memory control sugest no higher voltage then 1.65V yet my DRAM says it can handle up to 2.4V and why would they make a DRAM capable of handling 2.4V if no memory control can push safely over 1.65V? ( I'm runing on Kingston Beast 32GB 2400MHz )
    2 - Why is there some DRAMs that are not compatible with some motherboards, what makes it compatible or not?
  • Onus
    I would hate to risk shortening the life of an expensive Intel CPU by running more than 1.6V through its IMC. You raised it to 1.7??