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Exploring the impact of memory speed on Core i7 - Exploring the impact of memory speed on Core i7
Fri, December 05 2008 | 2:05PM | PermaLink Feedback?
With three channels of lowly DDR3-1066, you're looking at a whopping 25.6GB/s of memory bandwidth. Crank the memory clock up to 1600MHz, and bandwidth jumps to an even more impressive 38.4GB/s. This fat pipe, combined with the low access latencies inherent to on-die memory controllers, gives the Core i7 a formidable memory subsystem. It also poses an interesting question: how bound by memory speed is Intel's new processor architecture? That might seem like a purely academic question on the surface, the sort of thing an especially geeky hardware reviewer would address to satisfy their own obsessive technical curiosity. But it's an issue that leads to many more pertinent questions that should be on the minds of prospective Core i7 system builders. For example, is there any tangible performance benefit—beyond higher scores in synthetic memory benchmarks—to pairing a Core i7 with fancy DIMMs with lower access latencies, or are you better off saving a few bucks with more pedestrian DIMMs that run at looser timings? What about memory frequency? Does the Core i7's performance scale up if you drop a little extra coin on memory capable of running at 1333 or 1600MHz? And while we're at it, does performance really suffer if you drop down to just two memory channels? Join us as we throw multiple memory configurations at a pair of Core i7 processors to find out.
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