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Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Impact of Memory Size on Your PC Performance


This report will explore the relationship between a system's memory array size and its performance. The test setups are based on current popular hardware and run a variety of benchmarks using both one gigabyte (1 GByte) and two gigabyte (2 GByte) memory array sizes, while keeping memory settings constant.

John Beekley of Corsair Memory, has set up two different test platforms based on AMD and Intel platforms:

AMD platform

- Processor: AMD Athlon64 FX57
- Motherboard: Asus A8NSLI Premium
- Video: Nvidia GeFORCE 6600GT
- Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar 250GB SATAII

The system was tested with the following memory configurations:

- 1 GByte testing: For this testing we used the TWINX1024-3200C2. This is a matched pair of 512 MByte modules, each built with sixteen 32Mx8 DDR RAMs. Memory frequency was set to 400 MHz with latency settings of 2-3-2-6-1T.

- 2 GByte testing: For 2 GByte testing we used the TWINX2048-3200C2. This is a matched pair of 1 GByte modules, each built with sixteen 64Mx8 DDR RAMs. Memory frequency was set to 400 MHz with latency settings of 2-3-2-6-1T.

Intel platform

For the Intel test platform, which uses DDR2 memory, the following components were selected:
- Processor: Intel P4 540, 800MHz FSB, 3.2 GHz
- Motherboard: Asus P5ND2-SLI
- Video: Nvidia GeFORCE 6600GT
- Hard Drive: Western Digital Raptor 36 GByte

The system was tested with the following memory configurations:

- 1 GByte testing: For 1 GByte testing we used the TWIN2X1024-6400. This is a matched pair of 512 MByte modules, each built with eight 64Mx8 DDR2 RAMs. Memory frequency was set to 800 MHz with latency settings of 5-5-5-12-2T.
- 2 GByte testing: For 2 GByte testing we used the TWIN2X2048-6400. This is a matched pair of 1 GByte modules, each built with sixteen 64Mx8 DDR2 RAMs. Memory frequency was set to 800 MHz with latency settings of 5-5-5-12-2T.

Benchmarks

- SiSoft Sandra 2005 - This system diagnostic has a memory benchmarking tool that is designed to measure memory bandwidth. - Super Pi - Super Pi is a simple application which calculates pi to a specified number of digits.
- 3DMark 2001. The 3DMark benchmarks are game-oriented, and are designed to estimate the relative gaming performance of the system under test.
- Doom 3 timedemo, demo1 - This demo is included with the retail version of Doom 3, and provides a measurement of frames per second.
- Battlefield 2 Flight Demo - This game is generally thought to require large amounts of system memory. The demo was run using screen resolution settings of 800x600 and 1280x1024.
- Adobe Premier Effects, DVD Encoding. The benchmark measures the time required to encode a DVD based on a sample movie composed of video, still photographs, and music.

Summary - Real World Benefits of 2 GByte

Since PC3200 dual channel systems came to market in early 2002, one gigabyte of RAM has been the standard for enthusiasts building performance computers. And, this testing shows that for many applications, one gigabyte is still the sweet spot, regardless of computing platform.

However, as games and applications continue to progress in scope and complexity, we are beginning to see significant situations where more memory provides compelling benefits. As is often the case, a new ground-breaking game leads the way; Battlefield 2 in the current instance. Perhaps more significantly, ground is also being broken by general purpose consumer applications, notably DVD encoding, which is becoming increasingly popular among a variety of home users. We expect to see this trend continue as new, more sophisticated games, applications, and operating system versions are launched over the next several months.

The performance increase realized in real-world applications like Battlefield 2 and Premier elements indicate that the current generation of enthusiast systems will certainly benefit from the selection of 2 GByte memory arrays. These benefits will become greater in the next six months as new memory-intensive applications and games are brought to market.

The complete test report is available at http://www.corsairmemory.com/corsair/products/tech/AN506_1GB_vs_2GB.pdf.


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