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Memory Module Analysis. Part 3: Kingston DDR-533 Modules

June 24, 2005




We proceed with the series of articles, dedicated to the low level analysis of the most important characteristics of memory modules using our RightMark Memory Analyzer test package. The object of today's review is a couple of Kingston DDR-533 modules, high performance HyperX series for overclockers.

Manufacturer Information

Module manufacturer: Kingston Technology
Manufacturer of module chips: Hynix Semiconductor
Web site of the module manufacturer: http://www.kingston.com/hyperx/products/khx.asp
Web site of the chip manufacturer:
http://www.hynix.com/eng/02_products/01_dram/index.jsp

Module Exterior

Photo of the memory module




Photo of the memory chip




Module and Chip Part Number




Module Part Number Expansion

Data sheet on Kingston HyperX DDR-533 modules does not contain the expansion of some Part Number components. The documentation provides only brief technical characteristics of the module.

Field Value Expansion
0 KHX4300/512 Module density: 512 MB
Module organization: 64M x64
Voltage: Vdd: 2.7(+/-)0.1V, Vddq: 2.7(+/-)0.1V
Timings (tCL-tRCD-tRP-tRAS): 3-4-4-8

Chip Part Number Expansion

Description of the part numbering system of Hynix memory chips:
http://www.hynix.com/eng/02_products/01_dram/down/DDR.pdf

Field Value Expansion
0-1 HY Manufacturer code: HY = Hynix Memory
2-3 5D Product family: 5D = DDR SDRAM
4 U Process technology/voltage: U = VDD 2.5V, VDDQ 2.5V
5-6 56 Capacity and refresh: 56 = 256M, 8K refresh
7-8 8 Organization: 8 = x8
9 2 Number of banks: 2
10 2 Interface: 2 = SSTL_2
11 C Chip generation C = 4th generation
12   Power Consumption: (blank) = normal
13 T Package type T = TSOP
14   Die package type (blank) = a single die
15   Package material: (blank) = usual
16 (blank)
17-18 D5 Speed/Timings: D5 = DDR500, 3-4-4
19   Temperature conditions: (blank) = usual (0 — 70°C)

According to the expansion of the chip designation, these modules use DDR-500 chips, designed for 3-4-4 timings. However, the DDR-533 value in the Part Number expansion table of Hynix memory chips is not provided.

SPD module chip data

Description of the general SPD standard:
JEDEC Standard No. 21-C, 4.1.2 - SERIAL PRESENCE DETECT STANDARD, General Standard

Description of the specific SPD standard for DDR:
JEDEC Standard No. 21-C, 4.1.2.4 — Appendix D, Rev. 1.0: SPD’s for DDR SDRAM

Parameter Byte Value Expansion
Fundamental Memory Type 2 07h DDR SDRAM
Number of Row Addresses on this assembly 3 0Dh 13 (RA0-RA12)
Number of Column Addresses on this assembly 4 0Ah 10 (CA0-CA9)
Number of DIMM Banks 5 02h 2 physical banks
Data Width of this assembly 6, 7 40h, 00h 64 bit
Voltage Interface Level of this assembly 8 04h SSTL 2.5V
SDRAM Cycle time (tCK) at maximum supported CAS# latency (CL X) 9 50h 5.00 ns (200.0 MHz)
DIMM configuration type 11 00h Non-ECC
Refresh Rate/Type 12 82h 7.8125 ms — 0.5x reduced self-refresh
Primary SDRAM Width (organization type) of the memory module chips 13 08h x8
Error Checking SDRAM Width (organization type) of the memory chips in the ECC module 14 00h Not defined
Burst Lengths Supported (BL) 16 0Eh BL = 2, 4, 8
Number of Banks on SDRAM Device 17 04h 4
CAS Latency (CL) 18 10h CL = 3.0
Minimum clock cycle (tCK) at reduced CAS# latency (CL X-0.5) 23 60h 6.00 ns (166.7 MHz)
Minimum clock cycle (tCK) at reduced CAS# latency (CL X-1.0) 25 00h Not defined
Minimum Row Precharge Time (tRP) 27 48h 18.0 ns
3.60, CL = 3.0
Minimum Row Active to Row Active delay (tRRD) 28 28h 10.0 ns
2.00, CL = 3.0
Minimum RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 29 48h 18.0 ns
3.60, CL = 3.0
Minimum Active to Precharge Time (tRAS) 30 28h 40.0 ns
8.00, CL = 3.0
Module Bank Density 31 40h 256 MB
SDRAM Device Minimum Active to Active/Auto Refresh Time (tRC) 41 3Ch 60.0 ns
12.00, CL = 3.0
SDRAM Device Minimum Auto-Refresh to Active/Auto-Refresh Command Period (tRFC) 42 46h 70.0 ns
14.00, CL = 3.0
Maximum device cycle time (tCKmax) 43 28h 10.0 ns
SPD Revision 62 10h Revision 1.0
Checksum for Bytes 0-62 63 93h 147 (true)
Manufacturer’s JEDEC ID Code (only the first significant bytes are shown) 64-71 FFh, 98h Kingston
Module Part Number 73-90 K
Module Manufacturing Date 93-94 04h, 19h year 2004, week 25
Module Serial Number 95-98 4Ch, 2Ah,
C5h, FFh
FFC52A4Ch

Except for some details provided below, SPD data looks typical. There is only one CAS# latency value supported — 3.0, it corresponds to the standard (for DDR-400, as the latest certified JEDEC standard) cycle time - 5.0ns. It should be noted that the manufacturer uses the standard value, it differs its approach from some other manufacturers (to use the true but non-standard cycle time — for example, 4.3ns). It's obviously done to ensure 100% compatibility of this module with different motherboards and BIOS versions, some of them refuse to automatically setup timings of non-standard memory modules. In this case timings can be defined as 3.0-3.6-3.6-8, 3.0-4-4-8 actually (considering that tRCD, tRP, and tRAS cannot be non-integral values), which matches the specifications provided in the datasheet. Though this module claims to support only a single CL timing (3.0), the cycle time field at reduced CAS# latency (CL X-0.5 = 2.5) is also filled, it's set to 6.0ns, which corresponds to operating at 166.7 MHz, i.e. DDR-333 mode. We also want to note the following peculiarities in SPD data: it uses the only letter K to identify the module Part Number (which is probably characteristic of all Kingston modules) as well as correct data on the manufacturing and module serial number.

Testbed Configurations and Software

Testbed 1

  • CPU: 3.4 GHz Intel Pentium 4 (Prescott core, Socket 478)
  • Chipset: Intel 865PE
  • Motherboard: Albatron PX865PE Pro, BIOS dated 03/01/2004
  • Memory: 2x256 MB Kingmax DDR-466
  • Video: ATI Radeon 9800Pro
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002

Testbed 2

  • CPU: 3.4 GHz Intel Pentium 4 (Prescott core, Socket 478)
  • Chipset: Intel 865G
  • Motherboard: ASUS P4P800-VM, BIOS 1012.002 dated 03/22/2004
  • Memory: 2x256 MB Kingmax DDR-466
  • Video: ATI Radeon 9800Pro
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002

Testbed 3

  • CPU: 2.8 GHz Intel Pentium 4 (Prescott core, LGA775)
  • Chipset: Intel 865PE
  • Motherboard: ASUS P5P800, BIOS 1001.007 dated 07/08/2004
  • Memory: 2x256 MB Kingmax DDR-466
  • Video: ATI Radeon 9800Pro
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002

Testbed 4

  • CPU: 2.8 GHz Intel Pentium 4 (Prescott core, LGA775)
  • Chipset: Intel 915G
  • Motherboard: ASUS P5GD1-VM, BIOS 1003.001 dated 07/14/2004
  • Memory: 2x256 MB Kingmax DDR-466
  • Video: ATI Radeon 9800Pro
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002

Testbed 5

  • CPU: 2.8 GHz Intel Pentium 4 (Prescott core, LGA775)
  • Chipset: Intel 915G
  • Motherboard: Albatron PX915G Pro, BIOS dated 05/26/2004
  • Memory: 2x256 MB Kingmax DDR-466
  • Video: ATI Radeon 9800Pro
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002

Testbed 6

  • CPU: 2.8 GHz Intel Pentium 4 (Prescott core, LGA775)
  • Chipset: Intel 915P
  • Motherboard: Albatron PX915P Pro, BIOS dated 05/26/2004
  • Memory: 2x256 MB Kingmax DDR-466
  • Video: ATI Radeon 9800Pro
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002

Testbed #7

  • CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3500+ (NewCastle core, 2.2 GHz, Socket 939)
  • Chipset: VIA K8T800Pro
  • Motherboard: ASUS A8V Deluxe, BIOS 1005.027 dated 06/17/2004
  • Memory: 2x256 MB Kingmax DDR-466
  • Video: ATI Radeon 9800Pro
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb

Testbed #8

  • CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3500+ (NewCastle core, 2.2 GHz, Socket 939)
  • Chipset: NVIDIA nForce3 250
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte K8NS Ultra-939, BIOS F2 dated 09/24/2004
  • Memory: 2x256 MB Kingmax DDR-466
  • Video: ATI Radeon 9800Pro
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb

Test Results

According to our method, the memory modules were tested in two modes. The first series of tests (performance tests) were carried out in standard mode (DDR-400) with standard timings, set in BIOS by default according to SPD data (Memory Timings: "by SPD") The second series (stability tests) is carried out in the extreme mode, still at the standard frequency, but with minimum possible timings for this module on a given motherboard.

Performance tests

Parameter* Testbed 1 (PAT) Testbed 1 Testbed 2 Testbed 3 (PAT) Testbed 4
Timings
2.5-3-
3-7
3.0-4-
4-8
3.0-4-
4-8
3.0-4-
4-8
3.0-4-
4-8
Average memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
5343
4732
4357
4918
4433
Average memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
1822
1635
1617
1735
1855
Max. memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
6305
6188
6172
6163
6181
Max. memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
4269
4248
4220
4231
4256
Minimum Pseudo-Random Access Latency**, ns
45.9
54.7
60.0
50.1
55.0
Maximum Pseudo-Random Access Latency**, ns
54.1
65.2
70.4
61.4
64.0
Minimum Random Access Latency**, ns
98.5
118.7
129.3
111.2
138.0
Maximum Random Access Latency**, ns
119.3
137.7
149.2
135.3
161.5


Parameter* Testbed 5 Testbed 6 Testbed 7 Testbed 8
Timings
3.0-4-
4-8
3.0-4-
4-8
2.5-4-
4-6
3.0-4-
4-8
Average memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
4454
4456
4104
3910
Average memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
1847
1848
2644
2478
Max. memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
6210
6217
6230
6204
Max. memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
4256
4267
6201
6234
Minimum Pseudo-Random Access Latency**, ns
54.6
54.7
33.7
36.2
Maximum Pseudo-Random Access Latency**, ns
63.8
63.7
37.7
40.2
Minimum Random Access Latency**, ns
137.9
137.6
86.9
74.4
Maximum Random Access Latency**, ns
161.6
161.0
92.1
78.5

 

*the best results are marked in bold (all other things being equal)
**16MB block size

The majority of motherboards set timings correctly in the first series of tests (3.0-4-4-8), i.e. the ones claimed by the manufacturer and written in the SPD chip (that's one of the advantages of the above mentioned standard approach to writing SPD data for non-standard modules). The only exceptions are Albatron PX865PE Pro motherboards (Testbed 1) with enabled PAT — lower timings (in our case — 2.5-3-3-7) are obviously one of the components (not the major one) of Performance Mode, implemented in this motherboard. For some vague reasons, ASUS A8V Deluxe (Testbed 7) does approximately the same thing, using the 2.5-4-4-6 timings by default.

The best result in most parameters among Pentium 4 based platforms (Testbed 1-6) is demonstrated by Albatron PX865PE Pro (Testbed 1) with enabled PAT. This is achieved not so much due to PAT as to a faster timing scheme — because the same motherboard with disabled PAT and standard timings takes the third place, while the second one is taken by ASUS P5P800 (Testbed 3), which also runs in PAT mode. ASUS P4P800-VM (Testbed 2) is a tad slower, it's based on i865G versus i865P, while 915-series motherboards (Testbeds 4-6) are noticeably inferior, especially in memory latencies, being the slowest models.

It's not correct to compare the above results with those obtained on the Athlon 64 platform, so we'll have to confine ourselves to comparing the results obtained on two motherboards — ASUS A8V Deluxe (Testbed 7) and Gigabyte K8NS Ultra-939 (Testbed 8). Though the memory controller is integrated into a processor, there are still some differences between the boards, strange and noticeable at that. A8V Deluxe (Testbed 7) takes the lead in most parameters, while Gigabyte K8NS Ultra-939 (Testbed 8) is the first in terms of random access latencies. When we reviewed stranger behaviour of motherboards on VIA K8T800Pro and NVIDIA nForce3 250 (right up to complete inoperability of memory modules on one of the motherboards, but different operation on another), we assumed that the differences must have to do with different configuration methods for the integrated memory controller in Athlon 64, performed at BIOS POST.

Stability tests

The second series of tests was carried out with minimum possible timing values not resulting in memory glitches.

Parameter* Testbed 1 (PAT) Testbed 1 Testbed 2 Testbed 3 (PAT) Testbed 4
Timings
2.5-3-
3-5
2.5-3-
3-5
2.5-3-
3-5
2.5-3-
3-5
2.5-3-
3-4
Average memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
5343
4764
4396
4978
4495
Average memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
1827
1808
1774
1862
1943
Max. memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
6306
6269
6222
6274
6276
Max. memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
4269
4257
4228
4248
4256
Minimum Pseudo-Random Access Latency**, ns
46.0
54.7
59.9
49.8
54.5
Maximum Pseudo-Random Access Latency**, ns
54.0
62.4
67.9
57.8
63.5
Minimum Random Access Latency**, ns
98.6
113.6
124.2
106.9
129.1
Maximum Random Access Latency**, ns
119.3
133.6
143.7
129.9
153.9

Parameter* Testbed 5 Testbed 6 Testbed 7 Testbed 8
Timings
2.5-3-
3-4
2.5-3-
3-4
2.5-3-
3-5
2.5-3-
3-5
Average memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
4496
4489
4100
4064
Average memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
1957
2048
2671
2483
Max. memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
6255
6244
6277
6242
Max. memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
4268
4268
6119
6238
Minimum Pseudo-Random Access Latency**, ns
54.4
54.5
33.5
33.8
Maximum Pseudo-Random Access Latency**, ns
63.5
63.6
37.6
37.8
Minimum Random Access Latency**, ns
128.8
128.8
78.6
66.8
Maximum Random Access Latency**, ns
153.5
153.6
83.5
70.8

*the best results are marked in bold
**16MB block size

You may easily notice that you can set any tRAS in configuration registers of the chipset (up to 4 inclusive) without damaging memory operating stability. It means that this parameter is ignored by these modules (as well as by the majority of other modules), they use an internal value instead (nobody knows what exactly). The other timing values are common to all tested systems — 2.5-3-3, you cannot possibly call them record breaking.

Switching the memory to extreme mode did not change the alignment of forces among platforms with Pentium 4 as well as (Testbeds 1-6) Athlon 64 processors (Testbeds 7-8).

Bottom line

The Kingston HyperX DDR-533 modules tested demonstrate excellent compatibility with various motherboards on Intel 865P/G and 915P/G, VIA K8T800Pro and NVIDIA nForce 3 chipsets, average overclocking capacity in terms of timings (they allow 2.5-3-3 timings in DDR-400 mode), and good operating stability in these conditions. We can note the following motherboards that lead in memory performance: Albatron PX865PE Pro (Testbed 1) and ASUS P5P800 (Testbed 3), partially due to the PAT option. The worst results with these modules are demonstrated by motherboards based on i915P/G chipsets — ASUS P5GD1-VM (Testbed 4), Albatron PX915G Pro (Testbed 5), and Albatron PX915P Pro (Testbed 6).





Dmitri Besedin (dmitri_b@ixbt.com)

June 24, 2005.

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