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Shinare
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Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:25 pm

So Back in 2007 I built my last big desktop PC build. It is a Conroe based system with DDR2 memory. I remember the frustration of, immediately after building it, DDR3 started hitting the desktop scene and it was awesome. Especially since I had just panned out for nice DDR2 memory.

I have now been tasked with building another desktop PC (I thought I would never do/own again) and thought it was fortuitous that TR came out with their February system guide. I plan on following the cheapest "Sweet Spot" suggestions to the letter.

All that being said, I was astonished to see that DDR3 is STILL the memory that is in use for PC desktops. 8... Years... Later...

What the heck? DDR4 or 5 not catch on or something? I mean, I see in the TR system guide that one option is DDR4 but that seems like an outlier. What gives? DDR3 just "good enough"?
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derFunkenstein
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:30 pm

DDR4 is coming. Haswell-E systems currently use it, and Skylake will use it late this year. It's not like the olden days when you built your last system and the chipset could support either; you're at the mercy of integrated memory controllers. Haswell desktop and Broadwell desktop aren't compatible, so hence, no motherboards.

And honestly, it isn't that big of a deal, as long as you can get enough RAM into your system.
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DPete27
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:33 pm

DDR4 is still in the early stages of adoption and is only Intel's high end X99 mobos support it so far. That said, aside from the reduced voltage requirements, there isn't a lot of performance benefit from DDR4 (similar to low single-digit increases from OCing RAM in the first place). Similar to the DDR2 -> DDR3 transition, the new stuff has higher clocks but looser timings which offsets some of the performance benefits.

This article should explain most of the DDR4 questions.
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whm1974
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:55 pm

What gives? DDR3 just "good enough"?


Short answer: Yes. Long answer: DDR4 isn't a big jump in performance even with high end systems. Haswell-E could have done almost just as well with DDR3.
 
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 6:04 pm

whm1974 wrote:
Short answer: Yes. Long answer: DDR4 isn't a big jump in performance even with high end systems. Haswell-E could have done almost just as well with DDR3.

The days of gaining noticeable performance increases from RAM overclocking pretty much died with DDR2.
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Ryu Connor
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 6:13 pm

Just to give a simplistic price comparison (just using a single brand for ease of demonstration):

Memory:
Cheapest Crucial 16GB (2x8) DDR3 1600 option is $114.99
Cheapest Crucial 16GB (4x4) DDR4 2133 option is $157.99

Motherboard:
Cheapest Gigabyte Z97 board is $92.99
Cheapest Gigabyte X99 board is $209.99

CPU:
Intel i5-4690K is 239.99
Intel i7-5820K is $389.99

Systems (cheapest options):
i5 + Z97 Mobo + 16GB DDR3 = $447.97
i7 + X99 Mobo + 16GB DDR4 = $757.97

Difference of $310 or ~69% more expensive.
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whm1974
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 6:22 pm

Memory:
Cheapest Crucial 16GB (2x8) DDR3 1600 option is $114.99
Cheapest Crucial 16GB (4x4) DDR4 2133 option is $157.99


There must of been a price drop. I would have sworn that 16 GB of DDR4 was over $200 last time I looked.

Difference of $310 or ~69% more expensive.


And depending on what you doing with your computer, you may or may not see that much increase if any in perfromance with the i7-5820K vs the i5-4690K. Better to spend the money on a better GPU or larger SSD.
 
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 7:38 pm

I also suspect that with IPC increases flattening out over the past few years, having more RAM bandwidth to feed the CPU cores doesn't have as much impact. If the raw core performance isn't increasing that much, there's really no pressing need to feed those cores data any faster.

It's actually kind of nice to not need to constantly buy new RAM when doing system upgrades. :wink:
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 7:45 pm

just brew it! wrote:
It's actually kind of nice to not need to constantly buy new RAM when doing system upgrades. :wink:


For sure!
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whm1974
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:13 pm

It's actually kind of nice to not need to constantly buy new RAM when doing system upgrades. :wink:


So how many more years does DDR3 have left?
 
vargis14
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:20 pm

I would say it will not be expensive like ddr2 is for another 1.5 years perhaps 2. IMHO

Plus it will be around as long as you keep a system running ddr3 also...Just like DDR2 you can still get it but it is expensive, some people are still using it obviously.
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:38 pm

whm1974 wrote:
It's actually kind of nice to not need to constantly buy new RAM when doing system upgrades. :wink:

So how many more years does DDR3 have left?

Until... what?

If you're not building a bleeding edge box it'll still be adequate from a performance standpoint for many years yet. Heck, even DDR2-800 isn't *that* horrible by modern standards; yeah the bandwidth is a little "last decade" but absolute latency of DDR2 and DDR3 is still similar, and most applications aren't heavily constrained by memory bandwidth anyway.

It probably won't make much sense to use DDR3 beyond next year though, since I expect motherboards and CPUs that take it will start to get scarce, and prices will rise as production winds down.
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whm1974
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:49 pm

I would say it will not be expensive like ddr2 is for another 1.5 years perhaps 2. IMHO


So that would be ten years total lifespan for a memory standard then. Geez it used to be they put out a new standard every two or three years...
 
The Egg
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:26 pm

I remember DDR1 being prevalent for a fairly long stretch too (2000-2006'ish).

It's not so cut and dry for when one ends and the other begins. When a new memory tech is released, it usually takes at least 1-2 years for it to really hit the masses. Prices need to drop to reasonable levels, and chipsets need to be released to make use of it. Plus it usually takes at least one increase in frequency for it to offer much tangible benefit over the previous tech.

I was personally hoping we'd see something a little more revolutionary by now, rather than just the standard frequency bump and drop in voltage. Meh.
 
localhostrulez
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:37 pm

I've got a Core 2 laptop that I like, but upgrading it to 2x4GB would be pretty pricey. Not worth it for an older machine. Although I suspect that it's mainly because 4GB DDR2 modules were never common to begin with, not necessarily because prices went up as DDR2 became less common. 2GB DDR2 modules, for example, aren't too expensive (also considering capacities tended to be smaller at the time).

That said, I'm still wishing I had stocked up on DDR3 back when it was cheap... :roll:
 
Shinare
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:28 am

The Egg wrote:
...
I was personally hoping we'd see something a little more revolutionary by now...


I think this is really where I am right now as well. Hehe. For years I have been hearing about "Memristors", MRAM, RRAM, etc; things that were supposed to "blur the line" between system memory and storage and be blazeingly fast at it. Just have not seen ANYTHING come to fruition except for the same old tech just "messaged" a little. I was SUPER excited to hear about Memristors, specifically, when I first heard about them in 2010 and being a few years off...

So reading the above linked article and some other things I found out there, as an executive summary, it really does seem that DDR3 is "just good enough" and performance gains are hampered by latency gains with little or no tangible benefits.
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jihadjoe
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:42 am

Shinare wrote:
I was SUPER excited to hear about Memristors, specifically, when I first heard about them in 2010 and being a few years off...


A few years off from being a few years off =)

Srsly when the news broke in 2010 it was probably about a lab prototyping memristor cells, and the tech was "a few years off" from being in labs producing small chips. It takes a long time before an actual product comes from a technology announcement.
 
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:46 am

If they wanna know how to do it, they should just look at the chip fragment from the original Terminator that they have stored in a vault.


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Re: Why still DDR3?

Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:07 am

jihadjoe wrote:
Shinare wrote:
I was SUPER excited to hear about Memristors, specifically, when I first heard about them in 2010 and being a few years off...

A few years off from being a few years off =)

Srsly when the news broke in 2010 it was probably about a lab prototyping memristor cells, and the tech was "a few years off" from being in labs producing small chips. It takes a long time before an actual product comes from a technology announcement.

Phase-change memory chips (the performance and write endurance of which lie somewhere between memristors and flash) are in production, but the devices are still pretty low capacity. My current day job project has a 16MB phase-change memory chip in it...
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whm1974
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:25 pm

Srsly when the news broke in 2010 it was probably about a lab prototyping memristor cells, and the tech was "a few years off" from being in labs producing small chips. It takes a long time before an actual product comes from a technology announcement.


Very true. However when I heard about memristors my first thought that is they will be put in SSD replacing flash before being used as RAM.
 
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:31 pm

whm1974 wrote:
Srsly when the news broke in 2010 it was probably about a lab prototyping memristor cells, and the tech was "a few years off" from being in labs producing small chips. It takes a long time before an actual product comes from a technology announcement.
Very true. However when I heard about memristors my first thought that is they will be put in SSD replacing flash before being used as RAM.

JBI and I as part of the grey hair crew here can regale you with stories of wonder-tech that was "5 years away" 30 years ago and will be forever "5 years away".

To me, "5 years away" is as false a statement as "it's a five minute job".
What we have today is way too much pluribus and not enough unum.
 
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:34 pm

RAM has been stale for a while. Memory controllers, in turn, have improved vastly and increased throughput, but RAM is still slow as hell.
DDR4 isn't solving any of it, it's still relatively slow and the latencies are higher than DDR3.

That's all because the driver for these technologies are not end users, it's enterprises and their servers. DDR4 allows higher density and lower power consumption, as DDR3 did over DDR2. It just doesn't translate to performance to end users. So you can pack more memory on 4 or 8 memory slots, and it'll consume less power, and that's about it for now. Data centers love this stuff, for the rest of us it's rather a bore.
 
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:41 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
To me, "5 years away" is as false a statement as "it's a five minute job".


:lol: Spot on. Now tell that to all the grey hairs at my office, people STILL don't get that concept.
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:40 pm

Shinare wrote:
I think this is really where I am right now as well. Hehe. For years I have been hearing about "Memristors", MRAM, RRAM, etc; things that were supposed to "blur the line" between system memory and storage and be blazeingly fast at it. Just have not seen ANYTHING come to fruition except for the same old tech just "messaged" a little. I was SUPER excited to hear about Memristors, specifically, when I first heard about them in 2010 and being a few years off...

So reading the above linked article and some other things I found out there, as an executive summary, it really does seem that DDR3 is "just good enough" and performance gains are hampered by latency gains with little or no tangible benefits.


Pretty much that in a nutshell. There's just no need for faster RAM because the CPU isn't able to benefit from it. It may seem silly but I was more interested in DDR4 because it uses a lower voltage... I remember the DDR and DDR2 days where sticks would run very hot, in a few cases factory OC'd models or even some systems that had populated all the RAM slots needed airflow or they would go unstable.

Now the GPU is a different story, those can't ever get enough memory bandwidth. Which is why I am very excited to see AMD's upcoming (and eventually NVIDIA's) HBM cards. :)
 
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:33 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
JBI and I as part of the grey hair crew here can regale you with stories of wonder-tech that was "5 years away" 30 years ago and will be forever "5 years away".

Hey, I don't have *that* many grey hairs yet. More of a "salt and pepper" thing, with the majority still being pepper. :lol:

Kougar wrote:
Pretty much that in a nutshell. There's just no need for faster RAM because the CPU isn't able to benefit from it. It may seem silly but I was more interested in DDR4 because it uses a lower voltage... I remember the DDR and DDR2 days where sticks would run very hot, in a few cases factory OC'd models or even some systems that had populated all the RAM slots needed airflow or they would go unstable.

Lower voltages are pretty much a necessity to keep power and heat reasonable, as clocks continue to rise. I don't think contemporary DIMMs run all that much cooler than those from a decade ago, at least with JEDEC standard timings.
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:40 pm

Bigger caches, far improved memory management on both the hardware and software level, as well as large conventional memory capacities vs. usual workloads.
 
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:38 pm

just brew it! wrote:
I don't think contemporary DIMMs run all that much cooler than those from a decade ago, at least with JEDEC standard timings.


I had many desktop DDR2 800Mhz kits that naturally ran too hot to physically touch unless a fan was kept on them. With modern DDR3 modules they are just warm to the touch. The low power 32GB DDR3 kit I'm using now barely even gets noticeably warm without a fan on it, so I'm totally loving the progress made on that front.

My first "laptop" used a pair of DDR2 modules, 533 or 667 something. Dell placed the SODIMMs on the underside of the mainboard and gave it its own vent / access panel. That RAM was literally the hottest part of the laptop and would cook anything including my lap, just running the machine under load upsidedown temps were north of 110F. I don't know why the temps didn't cook the mainboard on that thing really, using a laptop cooler that blew air onto the RAM indirectly dropped the temps of the CPU/GPU considerably, but I don't remember exact numbers anymore to give them.
 
whm1974
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:46 pm

I had many desktop DDR2 800Mhz kits that naturally ran too hot to physically touch unless a fan was kept on them. With modern DDR3 modules they are just warm to the touch. The low power 32GB DDR3 kit I'm using now barely even gets noticeably warm without a fan on it, so I'm totally loving the progress made on that front


Indeed. Everything else being equal, lowing power usage and temptures is always a good thing.
 
localhostrulez
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Re: Why still DDR3?

Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:16 pm

Kougar wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
I don't think contemporary DIMMs run all that much cooler than those from a decade ago, at least with JEDEC standard timings.


I had many desktop DDR2 800Mhz kits that naturally ran too hot to physically touch unless a fan was kept on them. With modern DDR3 modules they are just warm to the touch. The low power 32GB DDR3 kit I'm using now barely even gets noticeably warm without a fan on it, so I'm totally loving the progress made on that front.

My first "laptop" used a pair of DDR2 modules, 533 or 667 something. Dell placed the SODIMMs on the underside of the mainboard and gave it its own vent / access panel. That RAM was literally the hottest part of the laptop and would cook anything including my lap, just running the machine under load upsidedown temps were north of 110F. I don't know why the temps didn't cook the mainboard on that thing really, using a laptop cooler that blew air onto the RAM indirectly dropped the temps of the CPU/GPU considerably, but I don't remember exact numbers anymore to give them.

My HP 6530b uses a pair of DDR2 800 modules, located under an access panel on the bottom of the machine. And that area does get pretty warm - I never thought of it being the RAM though.

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