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Intel P35 Express, FSB1333 and DDR3
by Marc Prieur
Published on June 6, 2007

The motherboards
For this test, we used three motherboards built around this new P35 Express chipset. The first two are designed by ASUSTeK, the P5K Deluxe and P5K3 Deluxe, which manage DDR2 and DDR3, respectively. The Gigabyte P35C-DS3R motherboard, on the other hand, allows the use of two DDR3 slots as well as four DDR2 slots for a more gradual transition.

ASUS P5K Deluxe

In terms of functions, ASUSTeK has added another Gigabit port managed by a Realtek PCI chip to those already available in the P965 Express. We should note, however, that the first port isn't managed by the chipset, but rather by a Marvell PCI Express chip. FireWire is handled by an Agere controller, while an Analog Device AD1988B serves as the HD Audio codec. Finally, ASUS made the nice move of integrating an IDE/SATA JMB363 PCI Express controller chip, which can manage one classic IDE port as well as two e-SATA ports, a WiFi Realtek chip, and USB.

ASUS P5K3 Deluxe

The Gigabyte card, which is not in the same class, has fewer additions. The Gigabit network of the P35 doesn’t seem to excite much emotion because Gigabyte uses a Realtek PCI-Express chip, the same manufacturer supplying the HD Audio codec, an ALC889A. The Jmicron controller is also part of the action, here for the internal SATA which reaches the 8 ports.

Gigabyte P35C-DS3R

Besides their chipset, these motherboards share the particularity of having the latest power supply specifications for processors, giving them assured compatibility with the upcoming Core 2 engraved in 45nm and known as the Penryn. All P35 Express motherboards should theoretically be compatible. For previous motherboards, this may not be the case, but the limitation isn’t related to the chipset, and it is possible to have motherboards based on older chipsets come with « Penryn » revisions.

Jaune & Rouge : DDR2, Vert : DDR3

In terms of performances, given the current state of things the Gigabyte is equivalent to the ASUSTeK motherboards with DDR2. However, in DDR3-1333 mode, we noted that it was behind compared to the P5K3, while being equal in DDR3-1067. In addition, this motherboard showed it was not as good in overclocking, not being able to reach a 450 MHz of FSB with stability. Actually, we only used it to measure the impact of DDR3 on power use and all other tests for performances were carried out on the P5K and P5K3.
DDR3
Compared to DDR2, the main changes related to DDR3 are power (which goes to 1.5V versus 1.8V in DDR2 and 2.5V in DDR) and prefetch. The latter, which went from 2n to 4n bits in the transition from DDR to DDR-2, now increases to 8n bits. The internal organization of memory cells was therefore modified to have a doubled transfer rate without raising the frequency at the expense of that of entry/exit buffer and the external memory bus.

DDR2 au dessus, DDR3 en dessous

Besides the lower power use of DDR3, this memory should bring a noticeable gain in terms of bandwidth, because it will be officially available in the long run from DDR3-800 to DDR3-1600 versions. This is the double of DDR2 which goes from DDR2-400 to DDR2-800. Of course, like for DDR and DDR2 certain chips should go further than official specifications, and we will surely see chips functioning at DDR3-2133, which corresponds to PC3-17000 chips.

In terms of latency, however, the DDR3 doesn’t add anything, because with Micron, for example, according to chips we will be at the following intervals :

- DDR3-800 : 5-5-5 to 6-6-6
- DDR3-1066 : 6-6-6 to 8-8-8
- DDR3-1333 : 8-8-8 to 10-10-10
- DDR3-1600 : 9-9-9 to 11-11-11

These are of course clock cycles and all of this is also dependent upon frequency. A DDR3-1600 in 10-10-10 won’t have slower access than a DDR3-800 in 5-5-5, because it is clocked twice as fast. It should be noted that a DDR3-800 chip in 5-5-5 should have access that is slightly slower than a DDR2-800 in 5-5-5, as memory cells function internally at 100 MHz for the first and at 200 MHz for the second.


For this test, Corsair was able to provide us with its first DDR3 modules, the CM3X1024-133C9DHX. Still in their sample state, the chips we had in our possession are specified to function in DDR3-1333 with latency of 9-9-9-24.

In practice, here are the stable timings which we were able to obtain on these chips with the P5K3 :

- DDR3-800 in 5-5-5-15 at 1,8V
- DDR3-800 in 6-6-6-18 at 1.5V
- DDR3-1067 in 7-7-7-20 at 1.5V
- DDR3-1067 in 8-8-8-22 at 1.5V
- DDR3-1333 in 8-8-8-22 at 1.9V
- DDR3-1333 In 9-9-9-25 at 1.5V

As you can see, we were able to go down a level in comparison to official specifications with variable voltage. We noticed, however, that Qimonda's chip didn’t seem to give us the highest performance in DDR3, because, for example, other chips already allowed a functioning in DDR-3 1067 in 6-6-6, which was impossible with these chips. We can be sure that Corsair will use them on its Dominator, the DHX being the « classic » model.

Update

Kingston was able to give us a 2 GB kit, the KHX11000D3LLK2/2G, which is based on Elpida chips. Results are better as we were able to obtain stability in the following settings:


- DDR3-800 in 5-5-5-15 at 1.5V
- DDR3-800 in 6-6-6-18 at 1.5V
- DDR3-1067 in 5-6-5-15 at 1.9V
- DDR3-1067 at 6-6-6-18 at 1.5V
- DDR3-1067 in 7-7-7-20 at 1.5V
- DDR3-1067 in 8-8-8-22 at 1.5V
- DDR3-1333 in 6-7-6-18 at 1.9V
- DDR3-1333 in 7-7-7-20 at 1.5V
- DDR3-1333 in 8-8-8-22 at 1.5V
- DDR3-1333 in 9-9-9-25 at 1.5V


As you can see, two settings needed more than 1.5V, DDR3-1333 in 6-7-6-18 and DDR3-1067 in 5-6-5-15. However, given that these chips are certified for functioning in DDR3-1375 at 1.7V in 8-8-8-23, and also given the results of the Corsairs, even supporting these timings is already a very good thing.

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