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Updated: DDR Memory Analysis. Part 1: Micron DDR2 Modules

August 31, 2004



We call your attention to a new series of articles devoted to the analysis of the most important characteristics of memory modules on the low level. We shall use a universal test package RightMark Memory Analyzer, which we developed for this purpose. Its new version has been recently announced. Objective of this analysis is to provide our interested readers with information on compatibility of this memory module from this manufacturer with different mainboards based on various chipsets. By "compatibility" of the memory module with a mainboard we mean the balance between the maximum performance and stability of the module possible to achieve on this mainboard. It goes without saying that the higher is the performance of the memory module (i.e. greater real throughput and lesser latency) that we can get on a mainboard preserving operation stability in comparison with the other mainboards, other things being equal, the more reasonable is the choice of the given combo of the memory module and the mainboard.

By the way, in future we plan to provide this information automatically – it will be part of the functionality of our database (catalog) of memory modules, which is now in the development stage. The main function of this database will be to search for an optimal mainboard to a selected module (as it has been mentioned above, the search criterion is a balance of performance and stability) and vice versa. The database will grow with test results added by our developers as well as by users. Note that the option to submit test results was implemented in Version 3.2 of our test package RightMark Memory Analyzer.

Thus the present article can be considered sort of an information model, which should be presented to users by their requests from our database. In this connection, we are looking forward to any feedback from our readers on how we should present this information to make it most comfortable to perceive and use. And now we proceed to the analysis of our today's memory module sample.

Manufacturer Information

Module manufacturer: Micron Technology, Inc.
Chip manufacturer: Micron Technology, Inc.
Web site of the module manufacturer: http://www.micron.com/products/modules/ddr2sdram/
Web site of the chip manufacturer: http://www.micron.com/products/dram/ddr2sdram/

Module Appearance

Photo of the memory module

Photo of the memory chip



Part Numbering System of Modules and Chips

Module Part Number Expansion

Part numbering system of Micron memory modules and chips:
http://www.micron.com/numberguide/

Field Value Expansion
0 MT Manufacturer code:
MT = Micron Technology
1 16 Number of memory chips
2 H Protocol:
H = SSTL 1.8V DDR2 SDRAM
3 TF Product family:
TF = DDR2 FBGA
4 64 Module depth, bit
5 64 Module width, bit
6 A Module version:
A = 168-pin/184-pin/240-pin unbuffered DIMM
7 G Package code:
G = lead plating, one- or two-bank DIMM
8 -53E Speed characteristics of the module:
-53E = DDR2-533, PC2-4300, timings 4-4-4
9 B Chip revision number
10 2 PCB revision number

Chip Part Number Expansion

FBGA code Part Number
Z9BQT MT47H32M8FP-37E ES

Due to space limitations, FBGA-packaged Micron memory chips have an abbreviated part marking that is different from the part number. Thus, chip marking of the Z9BQT memory module is decoded into the following part number: MT47H32M8FP-37E ES. You can decode an abbreviated part marking of any Micron memory chip into a part number at http://www.micron.com/decoder/

Field Value Expansion
0 MT Manufacturer code:
MT = Micron Technology
1 47 Product family:
47 = DDR2
2 H Process technology:
H = SSTL 1.8V VDD CMOS
3 32M8 Device type: 256Mbit (32Mbit x8)
4   Device version (n/a)
5 FP Package code:
FP = lead plating, FBGA, 60-pin 8x12
6 -37E Access/cycle time:
-37E = 3.75 ns (266.7 MHz), 4-4-4
7   Operating temperatures:
Blank = 0..85oC
8   Special options (n/a)
9 ES Special processing:
ES = engineering sample

SPD module chip data

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

Description of the SPD specific standard for DDR2:
JEDEC Standard No. 21-C, 4.1.2.10 - Appendix X: Specific SPDs for DDR2 SDRAM (Revision 1.0)
JC-45 Appendix X: Specific PD's for DDR2 SDRAM (Revision 1.1)

Function Byte Value Expansion
Fundamental Memory Type 2 08h DDR2 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 61h 2 physical banks
Data Width of this assembly 6 0x40 64 bit
Voltage Interface Level of this assembly 8 0x05 SSTL 1.8V
SDRAM Cycle time (tCK) at maximum supported CAS# latency (CL X) 9 3Dh 3.75 ns (266.7 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
Primary SDRAM Width (organization type of the memory module chips) of the ECC module 14 00h Not defined
Burst Lengths Supported (BL) 16 0Ch BL = 4, 8
Number of Banks on SDRAM Device 17 04h 4
CAS Latency (CL) 18 18h CL = 3, 4
Minimum clock cycle (tCK) at reduced CAS latency (CL X-1) 23 50h 5.00 ns (200.0 MHz)
Minimum clock cycle (tCK) at reduced CAS latency (CL X-2) 25 00h Not defined
Minimum Row Precharge Time (tRP) 27 3Ch 15.0 ns
4, CL = 4
3, CL = 3
Minimum Row Active to Row Active delay (tRRD) 28 1Eh 7.5 ns
2, CL = 4
1.5, CL = 3
Minimum RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 29 3Ch 15.0 ns
4, CL = 4
3, CL = 3
Minimum Active to Precharge Time (tRAS) 30 2Dh 45.0 ns
12, CL = 4
9, CL = 3
Module Bank Density 31 40h 256 MB
Write recovery time (tWR) 36 3Ch 15.0 ns
4, CL = 4
3, CL = 3
Internal write to read command delay (tWTR) 37 1Eh 7.5 ns
2, CL = 4
1.5, CL = 3
Internal read to precharge command delay (tRTP) 38 1Eh 7.5 ns
2, CL = 4
1.5, CL = 3
Minimum Active to Active/Refresh Time (tRC) 41, 40 3Ch, 00h 60.0 ns
16, CL = 4
12, CL = 3
Minimum Refresh to Active/Refresh Command Period (tRFC) 42, 40 4Bh, 00h 75.0 ns
20, CL = 4
15, CL = 3
Maximum device cycle time (tCKmax) 43 80h 8.0 ns
SPD Revision 62 10h Revision 1.0
Checksum for Bytes 0-62 63 11h 17 (true)
Manufacturer’s JEDEC ID Code 64-71 2Ch, FFh,
..., FFh
Micron
Module Part Number 73-90 16HTF6464AG-53EB2
Module Manufacturing Date 93-94 04h, 0Bh year 2004, week 11
Module Serial Number 95-98 10h, 23h,
19h, 1Ch
1C192310h

Analysis of the SPD chip data shows that this module supports CAS latencies (CL) of 4 and 3 cycles. The former corresponds to the timing loop of 3.75 ns, so it is recommended to be used at 266 MHz, that is in DDR2-533 mode. The latter – 5.00 ns timing loop, that is it's recommended to be used at 200 MHz in DDR2-400 mode. The corresponding timings (tCL- tRCD-tRP-tRAS) can be recorded as 4-4-4-12 for the native DDR2-533 mode and 3-3-3-9 for DDR2-400 mode.

It's interesting to note that tRAS values (Minimum Active to Precharge Time) marked on the module (10 cycles) and on its SPD chip (12 cycles) do not match. Let's hope that this inconsistency is peculiar only to the engineering sample under review in our lab. Anyway, for our tests we set the timings in BIOS to 4-4-4-11, and thus tRAS was set in between the two settings "recommended" by the manufacturer.

Testbed Configurations and Software

Mainboards based on the chipsets of Intel i915 series

Testbed #1

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3.6 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i915P
  • Mainboard: Gigabyte 8GPNXP Duo, BIOS v.F2
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Micron DDR2-533, 4-4-4-11 timings
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: nVidia Forceware 62.01, Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, DirectX 9.0b

Testbed #2

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3.6 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i915G
  • Mainboard: Foxconn 915M03-G-8EKRS2, BIOS v.5/29/2004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Micron DDR2-533, 4-4-4-11 timings
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: nVidia Forceware 62.01, Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, DirectX 9.0b

Testbed #3

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3.6 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i915G
  • Mainboard: Foxconn 915M03-G-8EKRS2, BIOS v.5/29/2004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Micron DDR2-533, 4-4-4-11 timings
  • Video: Internal, 32 MB
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: Intel VGA 14.5, Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, DirectX 9.0b

Testbed #4

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3.6 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i915G
  • Mainboard: Intel D915GUX, BIOS v.0234
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Micron DDR2-533, 4-4-4-11 timings
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: nVidia Forceware 62.01, Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, DirectX 9.0b

Testbed #5

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3.6 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i915G
  • Mainboard: Intel D915GUX, BIOS v.0234
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Micron DDR2-533, 4-4-4-11 timings
  • Video: Internal, 32 MB
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: Intel VGA 14.5, Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, DirectX 9.0b

Testbed #6

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3.6 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i915P
  • Mainboard: ASUS P5GD2 Premium, BIOS v.1004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Micron DDR2-533, 4-4-4-11 timings
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: nVidia Forceware 62.01, Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, DirectX 9.0b

Mainboards based on the chipsets of Intel i925 series

Testbed #7

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3.6 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i925X
  • Mainboard: Gigabyte 8ANXP-D, BIOS v.F2
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Micron DDR2-533, 4-4-4-11 timings
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: nVidia Forceware 62.01, Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, DirectX 9.0b

Testbed #8

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3.6 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i925X
  • Mainboard: Intel D925XCV, BIOS v.0218
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Micron DDR2-533, 4-4-4-11 timings
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: nVidia Forceware 62.01, Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, DirectX 9.0b

Testbed #9

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3.6 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i925X
  • Mainboard: ASUS P5AD2 Premium, BIOS v.1004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Micron DDR2-533, 4-4-4-11 timings
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Drivers: nVidia Forceware 62.01, Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, DirectX 9.0b

Test Results

Mainboards based on the chipsets of Intel i915 series

Parameter* Testbed 1 Testbed 2 Testbed 3 Testbed 4 Testbed 5 Testbed 6 Testbed 6 (PAT)
Average memory read bandwidth, MB/sec 4782 4736 4558 4729 4548 4755 5185
Average memory write bandwidth, MB/sec 2024 2205 2204 2212 2200 2219 2246
Max. memory read bandwidth, MB/sec 6383 6388 6073 6345 6067 6425 6488
Max. memory write bandwidth, MB/sec 4266 4245 4245 4238 4238 4260 4293
Minimum Pseudo-Random Access Latency, ns** 50.4 50.9 52.3 50.9 52.3 50.6 46.4
Maximum Pseudo-Random Access Latency, ns** 57.2 57.8 59.0 57.9 59.1 57.5 52.9
Minimum Random Access Latency, ns** 120.3 121.0 123.0 121.3 123.1 120.5 105.4
Maximum Random Access Latency, ns** 138.6 139.4 141.0 139.7 141.3 139.0 124.0

*the best results are in bold
**Block size – 16 MB

As we have already mentioned in the previous analysis, the current generation of processors and chipsets with the FSB frequency of 800 MHz does not allow to reach the maximum DDR2-533 throughput in dual channel mode. Nevertheless, even in this case we can draw certain conclusions about the real memory bandwidth, which can be achieved on various mainboards.

Among the mainboards based on the Intel i915 series chipsets the obvious leader absolutely by all parameters is ASUS P5GD2 Premium (Testbed #6) in PAT mode (Turbo mode). This advantage comes into particular prominence in the average memory read bandwidth (5185 MB/sec) and in Random Access Latency (105.4 ns). Nevertheless, the same mainboard with PAT disabled already loses to Gigabyte 8GPNXP Duo (Testbed #1) equipped with the same i915P chipset, which occupies the second place by the majority of parameters (except for a strange Average memory write bandwidth of 2024 MB/sec instead of the typical 2200 MB/sec). And the worst results are demonstrated by the mainboards on i915G – both Foxconn 915M03-G-8EKRS2 (Testbeds #2, 3) and Intel 915GUX (Testbeds #4, 5), especially with the enabled on-board video controller (which reduces the maximum real memory bandwidth and raises the memory latency approximately by 4%). Note how close the module characteristics taken from both mainboards are with integrated video enabled and disabled.

Mainboards based on the chipsets of Intel i925 series

Parameter* Testbed 7 Testbed 8 Testbed 9 Testbed 9 (PAT)
Average memory read bandwidth, MB/sec 4949 4906 4934 5366
Average memory write bandwidth, MB/sec 2261 2256 2331 2388
Max. memory read bandwidth, MB/sec 6458 6401 6399 6494
Max. memory write bandwidth, MB/sec 4266 4238 4260 4293
Minimum Pseudo-Random
Access Latency, ns**
47.7 48.1 47.8 43.6
Maximum Pseudo-Random
Access Latency, ns**
54.6 55.0 54.7 50.3
Minimum Random
Access Latency, ns**
115.2 116.2 115.6 100.6
Maximum Random
Access Latency, ns**
133.6 134.7 134.0 119.7

*the best results are in bold
**Block size – 16 MB

First of all it should be noted that on the whole mainboards on i925X outscore mainboards based on i915P/G by all parameters. The leader here is again the mainboard from ASUS (P5AD2 Premium, Testbed #9), but again only with PAT mode enabled (Turbo mode). When this mode is disabled, the mainboard goes down to the third place giving the pas to Gigabyte 8ANXP-D (Testbed #7). The worst choice among the mainboards on i925X is Intel D925XCV (Testbed #8).

Results

Thus, from the point of view of the maximum performance of DDR2 Micron modules (other things being equal) the best mainboards are the ones from ASUS based on Intel i925X and i915P chipsets. Mainboards from Gigabyte (8ANXP-D and 8GPNXP Duo) based on the same chipsets are losing to the leader, but not much. And the worst option in respect to maximum performance of the memory subsystem are the mainboards Intel 915GUX and Foxconn 915M03-G-8EKRS2 based on Intel i915G (which demonstrated almost the same results), especially with the integrated video controller enabled.

Dmitry Besedin (dmitri_b@ixbt.com)
August 6, 2004
Updated on September 27, 2004

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