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DDR Memory Analysis. Part 2: Kingston DDR2 Modules

October 25, 2004




We proceed with a new series of articles devoted to the low level analysis of the most important characteristics of memory modules using our RightMark Memory Analyzer universal test package. I remind you that the purpose of this analysis is to provide all interested readers with information on compatibility of a given memory module from a given manufacturer with different mainboards based on various chipsets. Today the object of our analysis is 512-Mb DDR2-modules Kingston ValueRAM.

Manufacturer Information

Module manufacturer: Kingston Technology
Chip manufacturer: Elpida Memory, Inc.
Web site of the module manufacturer: http://www.valueram.com/ddr2/
Web site of the chip manufacturer: http://www.elpida.com/en/products/ddr2.html

Module Appearance

Photo of the memory module




Photo of the memory chip




Part Numbering System of Modules and Chips




Module Part Number Expansion

Description of the part numbering system of DDR2 Kingston ValueRAM modules: http://www.kingston.com/literature/MKF_586.pdf

Field Value Expansion
0 KVR Manufacturer: KVR = Kingston ValueRAM
1 533 Frequency: 533 MHz
2 D2 Memory type: D2 = DDR2
3 N Error correction type: N = Non-ECC
4 4 CAS# Latency: 4
5 512 Module capacity: 512 MB

Chip Part Number Expansion

Data sheet on 512 Mbit DDR2 Elpida memory chips: http://www.elpida.com/pdfs/E0323E81.pdf

Field Value Expansion
0 E Manufacturer: E = Elpida Memory
1   Type (n/a, D = monolithic device)
2   Product code (n/a, E = DDR2)
3 51 Density/Bank: 51 = 512M/4 banks
4 08 Bit organization: 08 = x8
5 A Voltage, interface: A = SSTL 1.8V
6 B Die revision
7   Package code (n/a, SE = FBGA)
8 5C Speed: 5C = DDR2-533 (4-4-4)
9 E Environment code: E = lead free

Note that part numbering of this module, to put it mildly, is different from the official specification provided in the data sheet on this memory chip type. Namely, there are no fields with the device type (monolithic, DDR2) and package (FBGA). Perhaps, it has something to do with the fact that the memory module we got is not a production but an engineering sample. And it most likely uses an earlier revision of Elpida memory chips than the one described in the data sheet.

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 0Eh 14 (RA0-RA13)
Number of Column Addresses on this assembly 4 0Ah 10 (CA0-CA9)
Number of DIMM Banks 5 60h 1 physical bank
Data Width of this assembly 6 40h 64 bit
Voltage Interface Level of this assembly 8 05h 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
Error Checking SDRAM Width (organization type) of the memory chips in 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 38h CL = 3, 4, 5
Minimum clock cycle (tCK) at reduced CAS latency (CL X-1) 23 3Dh 3.75 ns (266.7 MHz)
Minimum clock cycle (tCK) at reduced CAS latency (CL X-2) 25 50h 5.00 ns (200.0 MHz)
Minimum Row Precharge Time (tRP) 27 3Ch 15.0 ns
4, CL = 5, 4
3, CL = 3
Minimum Row Active to Row Active delay (tRRD) 28 1Eh 7.5 ns
2, CL = 5, 4
1.5, CL = 3
Minimum RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 29 3Ch 15.0 ns
4, CL = 5, 4
3, CL = 3
Minimum Active to Precharge Time (tRAS) 30 2Dh 45.0 ns
12, CL = 5, 4
9, CL = 3
Module Bank Density 31 80h 512 MB
Write recovery time (tWR) 36 3Ch 15.0 ns
4, CL = 5, 4
3, CL = 3
Internal write to read command delay (tWTR) 37 1Eh 7.5 ns
2, CL = 5, 4
1.5, CL = 3
Internal read to precharge command delay (tRTP) 38 1Eh 7.5 ns
2, CL = 5, 4
1.5, CL = 3
Minimum Active to Active/Refresh Time (tRC) 41, 40 3Ch, 00h 60.0 ns
16, CL = 5, 4
12, CL = 3
Minimum Refresh to Active/Refresh Command Period (tRFC) 42, 40 69h, 00h 105.0 ns
28, CL = 5, 4
21, 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 E1h 225 (true)
Manufacturer’s JEDEC ID Code 64-71 FFh, 98h,
FFh, 00h,
..., FFh
Kingston
Module Part Number 73-90 - Not defined
Module Manufacturing Date 93-94 04h, 19h year 2004, week 25
Module Serial Number 95-98 67h, 28h,
53h, 83h
83532867h

According to the SPD chip data, this module has the 64M x 64 organization type and can operate at three different CAS latencies (tCL) of 5, 4 and 3. It's interesting to note that the first two values of tCL, CL X = 5 and CL X-1 = 4, correspond to the same 3.75 ns clock cycle, that is operating in normal DDR2-533 mode at 266.7 MHz. In this case module timings can be written as 5-4-4-12 and 4-4-4-12 correspondingly. The last supported CAS latency value (CL X-2 = 3) corresponds to the 5.00 ns clock cycle, that is operating at 200.0 MHz in DDR2-400 mode. The corresponding timings are 3-3-3-9. Another distinctive feature of this module is a relatively large minimum refresh to active/refresh command period (tRFC) – 105 ns, which corresponds to 28 memory bus cycles at 266.7 MHz and 21 cycles at 200.0 MHz.

Testbed Configurations and Software

Mainboards based on the chipsets of Intel 915 series

Testbed #1

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i915G
  • Mainboard: Intel D915GUX, BIOS 1028 dated 06/29/2004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Kingston DDR2-533
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Operating system: Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, nVidia Forceware 61.77

Testbed #2

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i915P
  • Mainboard: Foxconn 915A01-P-8EKRS, BIOS 6.00 PG dated 06/10/2004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Kingston DDR2-533
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Operating system: Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, nVidia Forceware 61.77

Testbed #3

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i915G
  • Mainboard: Foxconn 915M03-G-8EKRS2, BIOS 6.00 PG dated 05/29/2004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Kingston DDR2-533
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Operating system: Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, nVidia Forceware 61.77

Testbed #4

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i915P
  • Mainboard: MSI 915P Neo2, BIOS V1.3B0 dated 09/08/2004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Kingston DDR2-533
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Operating system: Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, nVidia Forceware 61.77

Testbed #5

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i915G
  • Mainboard: MSI 915G Combo, BIOS 080011 dated 07/14/2004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Kingston DDR2-533
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Operating system: Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, nVidia Forceware 61.77

Testbed #6

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i915G
  • Mainboard: ASUS P5GDC-V, BIOS 1003.003 dated 08/18/2004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Kingston DDR2-533
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Operating system: Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, nVidia Forceware 61.77

Mainboards based on the chipsets of Intel 925 series

Testbed #7

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i925X
  • Mainboard: Gigabyte 8ANDXP-D, BIOS F1 dated 06/07/2004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Kingston DDR2-533
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Operating system: Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, nVidia Forceware 61.77

Testbed #8

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i925X
  • Mainboard: Intel D925XCV, BIOS 1259 dated 08/19/2004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Kingston DDR2-533
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Operating system: Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, nVidia Forceware 61.77

Testbed #9

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i925X
  • Mainboard: ASUS P5AD2, BIOS 1004.007 dated 07/02/2004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Kingston DDR2-533
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Operating system: Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, nVidia Forceware 61.77

Testbed #10

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i925X
  • Mainboard: MSI 925X Neo, BIOS 6.00 PG dated 06/18/2004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Kingston DDR2-533
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Operating system: Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, nVidia Forceware 61.77

Testbed #11

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (Prescott core, 1 MB L2)
  • Chipset: Intel i925X
  • Mainboard: Foxconn 925A01-8EKRS, BIOS 6.00 PG dated 08/28/2004
  • Memory: 2x512 MB Kingston DDR2-533
  • Video: Leadtek PX350 TDH, nVidia PCX5900
  • HDD: WD Raptor WD360, SATA, 10000 rpm, 36Gb
  • Operating system: Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
  • Drivers: Intel Chipset Utility 6.0.1.1002, nVidia Forceware 61.77

Test Results

Mainboards based on the chipsets of Intel 915 series

From this time on, memory modules will be tested in two modes. The first series of tests – let's call them "performance tests" – are carried out in normal mode, that is with standard timings written in the SPD chip. The second series of tests is carried out in so called "extreme" mode with maximum possible timings for a given module on a given mainboard. Let's call this test series "stability tests", because the capacity to operate steadily with "harder" timings for a long time can be directly associated with operating stability in normal mode.

Performance tests

DDR2 Kingston modules in DDR2-533 mode suppose the existence of two different timing schemes, 5-4-4-12 and 4-4-4-12. But in the first series of tests we used the 4-4-4-12 scheme, because, firstly, it is closer to values typical of DDR2-533, and, secondly, it was set in BIOS settings by default (Memory Timings: "by SPD") in all mainboards unexceptionally.

As we have already mentioned before, 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.



Parameter* Testbed 1 Testbed 2 Testbed 3 Testbed 4 Testbed 5 Testbed 6
Timings
4-4-4-12
4-4-4-12
4-4-4-12
4-4-4-12
4-4-4-12
4-4-4-12
Average memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
4470
4469
4485
4519
4467
4483
Average memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
2018
2019
2010
2036
2049
2015
Max. memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
6337
6346
6337
6401
6321
6353
Max. memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
4267
4266
4266
4324
4266
4281
Minimum Pseudo-Random Access Latency, ns**
54.8
54.8
54.8
54.2
55.1
54.7
Maximum Pseudo-Random Access Latency, ns**
63.8
63.8
63.9
63.0
64.1
63.7
Minimum Random Access Latency, ns**
130.4
130.1
130.3
128.5
130.5
129.6
Maximum Random Access Latency, ns**
155.6
155.6
155.5
153.5
155.7
155.1

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

MSI 915P Neo2 based on i915P (Testbed #4) is the leader almost by all parameters (maximum real memory bandwidth, minimum memory latency) among the mainboards based on Intel 915P/915G. Interestingly, it's actually the only leader – all the other mainboards, regardless of the chipset type (P/G), have demonstrated more or less average results. So, the values of real read memory bandwidth are within 4470-4480 MB/sec, maximum memory bandwidth – within 6330-6350 MB/sec, the pseudo-random access latency is within 55-64 ns. By the way, the first place of MSI 915P Neo2 can be comparatively easy explained by its somewhat increased FSB frequency. It results in the increase of maximum real write memory bandwidth to 4324 MB/sec, which is normally limited to the 2/3 of the system bus throughput (4266.7 MB/sec).

Stability tests

Before we proceed to quantitative evaluation of memory bandwidth/latency in the "extreme" mode, let's dwell on memory timings proper, which values were varying "on the run" due to the built-in RMMA function to dynamically modify memory settings supported by the chipset. Memory system stability with certain timings was estimated using a specially developed utility, which will be included into the next RMMA version as an add-on to the existing RAM Stability Test.

So, minimal timings allowed in DDR2 Kingston modules are 4-3-3-8. The memory system is quite stable in this mode on most mainboards used in this test, except for "combined" boards based on i915G supporting both DDR and DDR2 simultaneously – MSI 915G Combo (Testbed #5) and ASUS P5GDC-V (Testbed #6). Minimal timings allowed on these mainboards without compromising the operating stability of the memory system are 4-3-3-9.

Parameter* Testbed 1 Testbed 2 Testbed 3 Testbed 4 Testbed 5 Testbed 6
Timings
4-3-3-8
4-3-3-8
4-3-3-8
4-3-3-8
4-3-3-9
4-3-3-9
Average memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
4502
4510
4515
4577
4502
4518
Average memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
2110
2110
2103
2135
2114
2195
Max. memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
6411
6408
6404
6498
6395
6430
Max. memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
4267
4267
4266
4324
4267
4282
Minimum Pseudo-Random Access Latency, ns**
54.6
54.6
54.6
53.8
54.7
54.5
Maximum Pseudo-Random Access Latency, ns**
63.5
63.6
63.7
62.6
63.8
63.5
Minimum Random Access Latency, ns**
123.9
123.7
124.0
122.2
123.8
123.3
Maximum Random Access Latency, ns**
149.5
149.6
149.6
147.4
149.8
149.2

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

You can easily see that the use of a "harder" timing scheme does not change the overall picture of the memory performance, which we got in the previous series of tests. MSI 915P Neo2 (Testbed #4) is still a leader, while all the other mainboards demonstrate approximately the same results.

Mainboards based on the chipsets of Intel 925 series

Performance tests

As in our previous tests, on the whole, mainboards based on i925X outscore the mainboards based on i915P/i915G by all parameters. The leader in this series is again a mainboard from MSI – 925X Neo (Testbed #10), which is also achieved by a slightly higher FSB frequency (maximum real memory write bandwidth – 4327 MB/sec). The second place, almost with the same result, is shared by Gigabyte 8ANDXP-D (Testbed #7), ASUS P5AD2 (Testbed #9) and Foxconn 925A01-8EKRS (Testbed #11). Intel D925XCV (Testbed #8) is the last almost by all parameters.

Parameter* Testbed 7 Testbed 8 Testbed 9 Testbed 10 Testbed 11
Timings
4-4-4-12
4-4-4-12
4-4-4-12
4-4-4-12
4-4-4-12
Average memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
4640
4495
4629
4682
4623
Average memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
1950
1990
2078
2015
1983
Max. memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
6357
6308
6343
6445
6383
Max. memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
4287
4266
4282
4327
4266
Minimum Pseudo-Random Access Latency, ns**
52.0
54.8
52.0
51.6
52.3
Maximum Pseudo-Random Access Latency, ns**
60.3
63.5
60.4
59.9
60.7
Minimum Random Access Latency, ns**
125.0
129.8
125.0
124.2
125.6
Maximum Random Access Latency, ns**
150.1
154.9
150.1
149.1
150.9

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

Stability tests

Unlike the first series of tests with mainboards based on i915P/i915G, all tested mainboards based on i925X are doing fine with DDR2 Kingston modules with minimal timings of 4-3-3-8.

Parameter* Testbed 7 Testbed 8 Testbed 9 Testbed 10 Testbed 11
Timings
4-3-3-8
4-3-3-8
4-3-3-8
4-3-3-8
4-3-3-8
Average memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
4684
4525
4676
4715
4644
Average memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
2078
2089
2167
2120
2099
Max. memory read bandwidth, MB/sec
6434
6367
6429
6522
6438
Max. memory write bandwidth, MB/sec
4287
4266
4282
4327
4266
Minimum Pseudo-Random Access Latency, ns**
51.7
54.6
51.8
51.4
52.4
Maximum Pseudo-Random Access Latency, ns**
59.9
63.2
60.1
59.6
60.8
Minimum Random Access Latency, ns**
118.1
122.0
118.1
117.1
118.8
Maximum Random Access Latency, ns**
142.9
147.4
142.9
141.9
144.1

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

And again the use of a "harder" timing scheme did not lead to any considerable changes in the alignment of forces. The first place is taken by MSI 925X Neo, the second place is shared by Gigabyte 8ANDXP-D and ASUS P5AD2, while Foxconn 925A01-8EKRS is a tad behind them taking the third place. Well, and Intel D925XCV is the last in this series of tests.

Results

Thus, the best memory system performance with DDR2 Kingston ValueRAM modules is achieved on the mainboards based on Intel 925X, especially on MSI 925X Neo. Among the mainboards based on Intel 915P/915G, the best performance is also demonstrated by a mainboard from MSI – 915P Neo2. The worst performance of the memory system (among the counterparts) is demonstrated by the mainboards from Intel – D925XCV and D915GUX. What concerns operating stability of the memory system (in "hard" mode), all tested mainboards demonstrate similar results, except for "combined" models supporting both DDR and DDR2 simultaneously – MSI 915G Combo and ASUS P5GDC-V.

Dmitry Besedin (dmitri_b@ixbt.com)

October 25, 2004



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