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 PostPost subject: Intel Core i7: Dual-Channel vs. Triple-Channel Memory Mode        Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 4:55 pm 
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Intel Core i7 CPU introduced few novelties to desktop users and one among those was triple channel memory mode. This mode is supported by memory controller that is integrated into CPU itself. If you plan to upgrade to Core i7 platform one of advantages will be triple channel memory mode and with this test we offer you a straight answer to question: Is triple channel memory mode faster and better solution than dual channel mode?

To provide real results we kept frequencies of RAM (DDR3-1066) and CPU at default values. Differences between tests are only in amount of memory that was present at the system: 2GB in case of dual channel mode and 3GB in case of triple channel mode. Of course difference was in a way IMC was operating: in first case it was dual channel mode and in second triple channel mode. We tested system under 32-bit Windows XP since it cannot address more than 2GB so no differences in performances could be caused by different amount of RAM memory. All other components of test rig were identical so we could make direct comparison of performance levels. As you can see from results, we compared bandwidth of RAM in games and applications. This way you can decide what memory mode to use, depending on what you are using your system for.

After we finished tests in triple channel mode we proceeded to dual channel mode test. First test that we run was Everest and we were really shocked with results. It was clear that memory access was faster in case of dual channel memory mode while bandwidth had very close values. After Everest we were slightly less shocked with results that provided WinRAR test that is very sensitive to memory subsystem performances. It showed only 2-3% difference in performances in favor of dual channel mode. Better performance of dual channel mode showed also DivX test where our test showed 3% performance difference in favor of dual channel mode also. Then we started Blender that showed minor differences between system operating in dual and triple channel memory mode. Nuclear MC also showed minor differences between two memory modes tested here, while 3DMark06 showed almost identical results. We all know that Crysis can react positively in case of better memory performances so results weren’t that much of a surprise. World in Conflict also showed differences in performance levels of both memory modes. Both gaming tests favored system that operated in triple channel mode.


Conclusion

After all these tests you need to ask yourself: What the heck is that triple channel mode useful for anyway, when it is obvious that is doesn’t provide performance boost that is expected? Maybe in the future and with some new versions of memory controllers, triple channel mode will provide better performances so transition to this platform will make more sense. Until that moment triple channel mode will be just another nice sticker on LGA 1366 motherboards and memory packages. Of course memory manufacturers already have triple channel DDR3 kits that are intended to be used on Intel Core i7 platform. Since these are triple channel kits they have three DDR3 modules with total capacity of 3GB or 6GB. Since prices for DDR3 memory are still pretty high it is obvious who will profit the most from this situation where (uninformed) users will go for triple channel kits with intention to use up potentials of their new platform.

More info:http://www.insidehw.com/Reviews/Memory/Intel-Core-i7-Dual-Channel-vs.-Triple-Channel-Memory-Mode.html

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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Core i7: Dual-Channel vs. Triple-Channel Memory Mode        Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 10:24 pm 
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First of all, this "test" doesn't say anything since you didn't tell us what kind of CPU you used to compare the i7 with, nor which chipset you can it on or what kind of clocks, latencies etc. So it's meaningless. Since your nickname here differs from the authors name on the linked website I am at least guessing you are the one (or one of those) that did this benchmark. If not then don't take all of this personally, it's just a reflection of what I think of the "benchmark" in general. So all my "you" references are pointed towards the author of the article. Now...:

You are clearly missing the point, as most people do when they make these kind of tests. Triple channel memory came around for many reasons, the least of being the fastest at the moment. Let me give some examples first... a little history lesson here:

When the Intel 486 came out, fresh out of the factory it was slower than the cheaper high end 386 models.
When the Pentium came out, fresh out of the factory it was slower than the cheaper high end 486 models.
When the Pentium 4 came out, fresh out of the factory it was slower than the cheaper high end Pentium 3 models.
When Core2Duo came out it, fresh out of the factory it was slower than the cheaper high end Pentium 4 models.

When DDR memory came out it was slower than the normally clocked SDR memory.
When DDR2 memory came out it was slower than the normally clocked DDR memory.
When DDR3 memory came out it was slower than the normally clocked DDR2 memory.

See a pattern here? Now for some Q&A:

Did the 386 chips in the end clock as high as 486 chips?
Did the 486 chips in the end clock as high as Pentium chips?
Did the Pentium 3 chips clock as high as Pentium 4 chips?

Would SDR in the end still be faster than DDR?
Would DDR in the end still be faster than DDR2?

etc etc. I think you get my drift here...

Now, for those of you that still don't get my meaning here:

New technology is most often not built to be faster than todays tech right from the start. Consider this:

For example, you may own a Core2Duo E7650 or a Core2 Quad Q-something-something. Seen from the perspective of the entire Core2 series both these chips are high end (compare it to a low end Pentium Dual or Celeron and you get my point). When the Core2Duo came to market you would only dream of a E7650 since it was a long way from the first Core2Duo model.

On the other hand, the new i7 models are the first one hitting the market. It's the first series, and many speed enhancements, speed steppings, core revisions, cache enhancements etc will be developed during its lifetime until the next generation comes around. So in essence, this is like the first Core2 CPU. It's fresh, it's unpolished and it's "slow" (compared to the high end models of the same series).

As always you also need to consider the other hardware that a computer is made of, most important the chipset, memory, quality of the board and speed of the various channels on the motherboard. It too is quite fresh out of the drawing board. It too will go through many changes where speed and stability is cranked up to now unbelievable speeds.

OK, still get what I mean? No? OK, here's a good word to explain my points:

Future Proof

Another one from a different angle:

Entry Model

So what I said from the start is that the new models are not normally built to be faster right off the bat. They are built on new hardware that has room to develop and expand. You can't crank up the Core2 series much more, it has hit its limits in terms of speed, heat dissipation, bus speeds and memory speeds. Same happened to the 386, 486, Pentium, Pentium 2, 3, 4 etc etc. New technology had to be developed so speeds could be cranked up without blowing up or melting down the entire system. See what happened to the last Pentium 4 models, they more or less melted your computer down, and all you need to do is change to a baseline Core2 system and you got a system that is MUCH faster at half the cost and half the power consumption.

Just as with the original Pentium, DDR2, DDR3 and now triple channel DDR3 is that it WILL be faster. Better chipsets will be developed, faster memory will be developed, faster i7 chips will be developed to harness the power of triple channel memory. You need triple channel to get higher speeds beyond those of dual channel DDR2. You need an i7 to get higher computing speeds beyond the Core2 architecture.

Sure i7 is expensive, but so was a slower Pentium system when it came out. DDR3 is also expensive, but in a few years you will not even think for a microsecond if you had to choose between an old Core2 system with DDR2 or an i7 system with triple channel DDR3.

I am sorry if I sounded harsh, but I am just tired of all the people with the "this new thing is crap and sh!t because it's slower than my current cheaper rig, Intel sucks bigtime" attitude. Yes it's slower, but for how long? The i7 architecture is built for a future 16 core architecture with more than 6 channels of triple memory (that's 6x3 RAM chips!). Can your Core2 system do that in the future? After all, the current i7 line is the very low end model of the current i7 family. The very first DDR platform was much slower than the SDR platform, but today DDR beats SDR in every situation, hands down and blind folded.

So, if you want to upgrade to an i7 today then fine, do that. But do it with the belief that you will use the same platform to upgrade the RAM and CPU in the future. That way you will have a great foundation today with lots of upgrade options in the future. Or you save your money today and wait until all the minor bugs of i7 and triple channel DDR3 has been ironed out and when the speeds starts to rise. It's your choice.

So reviews and tests are all nice and fun, but do them with all the facts on the table (list all CPU:s, all mobos (brand, model), memory type, speed and timings, chipset on the mobos, settings, OS, test software and test methodology. Otherwise the test is just a way to get a biased point across (which in this case can be "triple channel sucks") and the test will be pointless.

As a minor addition, I do have an i7 rig myself with 12GB of DDR3 memory. I've run some tests myself and compared it to my Core2 system (which is a quad system) and I can say that the memory speed here is about 5-10% faster than the dual channel DDR2 the Core2 runs on. It's not much, but I knew that when I got the i7 system. And I know that in the future that percentage will rise a LOT.

Enough with the ranting, but I felt I had to vent some. As a professional tester I've done a few benchmarks in my life, and I've written a few reviews and previews, so I think my opinions has some validity =).

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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Core i7: Dual-Channel vs. Triple-Channel Memory Mode        Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 10:50 pm 
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*blink*

...owned.

Seriously though, agreed on all points. I love seeing a crap point/argument being completely shut down (I know that wasn't really the point, but it was a side-effect and I enjoyed it :P).


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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Core i7: Dual-Channel vs. Triple-Channel Memory Mode        Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 10:53 pm 
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mrpijey, from the amount that you wrote, you really deserved to be admin. Now many people asked about using dual-channel with the Core i7 so when I spot this article I decide to post it. I did not wrote this article as I do not have it yet but I agree with you. They should have provide the specification if the hardware they use to test. This test compare Core i7 with dual-channel to Core i7 with triple channel while using the same cpu.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Core i7: Dual-Channel vs. Triple-Channel Memory Mode        Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:04 pm 
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We probably won't see a difference until the DDR3 RAM's speed improve in years to come. The Core i7 isn't that great of a processor as of right now. The price has to come down and applications need to be developed for multi-core processor to take advantage. Today, many applications used commonly are still developed for 32bit single core processor. What's the point of getting a 64bit quad core processor?

My Core 2 duo @ 3.0GHz is good enough for me for the next few years, I don't see a point in triple channel yet.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Core i7: Dual-Channel vs. Triple-Channel Memory Mode        Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:33 pm 
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Day2Die wrote:
mrpijey, from the amount that you wrote, you really deserved to be admin. Now many people asked about using dual-channel with the Core i7 so when I spot this article I decide to post it. I did not wrote this article as I do not have it yet but I agree with you. They should have provide the specification if the hardware they use to test. This test compare Core i7 with dual-channel to Core i7 with triple channel while using the same cpu.


Thanks =). I hope tho it's not the amount that matters, but the contents of it. I may rant a lot in my long posts, but when I write I got a lot of stuff I want to put together, and it's not always easy hehe.

Well, there's the problem with the "test" right there, comparing a system built with triple channel in mind with a dual channel configuration, especially on an old system. They use a configuration that had years of optimization to speed up dual channel (using fast and stable DDR2 memory) with a fresh and new triple channel system where the chipset nor memory has been tweaked properly to the CPU. Remember that the i7 also has a built in memory controller, but this memory controller is crippled to keep compatibility with DDR2. So a big "duh!" when they get equal or better performance with DDR2 =). My system is a pure triple channel system and it's held back only because I couldn't find fast enough memory for it. And considering the amount of memory I have the mobo I have was quite unstable, but I expect to replace it as soon as the next generation chipsets are released by Intel. By then triple channel DDR3 will get a well deserved speed boost.

And I hope you didn't get offended by my "rampage", since I was unsure if you really wrote it or just linked it I wasn't sure if I would offend you. A good tip is to write at the very beginning that you're not the author, that would clear any confusion hehe.


XDude wrote:
We probably won't see a difference until the DDR3 RAM's speed improve in years to come. The Core i7 isn't that great of a processor as of right now. The price has to come down and applications need to be developed for multi-core processor to take advantage. Today, many applications used commonly are still developed for 32bit single core processor. What's the point of getting a 64bit quad core processor?

My Core 2 duo @ 3.0GHz is good enough for me for the next few years, I don't see a point in triple channel yet.


We will see a speed difference once the boards go "pure" triple channel DDR3 with a new chipset from Intel. At the moment the speeds are crippled since they use old DDR2-based chipsets. Like I said it's a first gen system where Intel are showing "look what we can build" rather than "look how fast it is!". Once new chipsets come out and new DDR3 RAM comes out speeds will get ahead of DDR2. And when prices drop then people will migrate to i7 systems as well.

And I agree with you on 32bit vs 64bit, the main point today of getting a 64bit system is to use more than 4GB RAM. DDR2 RAM being cheap today you get quite a boost with new OS:es (Vista, Win7) and games that use a lot of RAM. The 64bit platform sure has other advantages as well (address registers, improved multimedia extensions, better memory paging etc) but it will take some time before 64bit really makes a difference. But we'll get there eventually whether we want it or not :). As for going multicore there is quite an advantage, especially if you use many applications. The more cores you got the more cores get allocated to the total amount of processes and applications you run, so overall each process get a lot more "CPU" to work with. Even when running games background processes get more power to work with, and a lot of games uses multiple cores now as well. So not getting at least a dualcore today would only be stupid in my opinion. As for going quad... well, if you can afford it then go for it, it's worth it in the long run. Remember that the baseline i7 has four cores + HT (hyperthreading), so Windows will see 8 cores in total :).

But in the end it's the users perception of the system that matters. If you feel you're happy about your system then there's no need to upgrade. Saves you a few bucks as well, and those extra bucks can give you a better speed boost the day when you do upgrade.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Core i7: Dual-Channel vs. Triple-Channel Memory Mode        Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:01 am 
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mrpijey, don't think of your post as a waste as I sometime publish benchmark and some of your tips are really helpful/

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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Core i7: Dual-Channel vs. Triple-Channel Memory Mode        Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:03 am 
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mrpijey, I do agree that HT on the core i7 is quite impressive. It's one of the thumbs up I have for the processor.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Core i7: Dual-Channel vs. Triple-Channel Memory Mode        Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 2:02 am 
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Meh. Your Disk IO is what bottlenecks your machine anyway. All moot.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Core i7: Dual-Channel vs. Triple-Channel Memory Mode        Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:05 am 
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RentedMule wrote:
Meh. Your Disk IO is what bottlenecks your machine anyway. All moot.


That's an awful generalisation. I have a machine here that boots off a usb flash drive and it's not slow at all. Sure, the disk will bottleneck your system if you're say, playing games and watching movies with it, but for other tasks it will make no difference, such as breaking encryption or doing mathematical analysis on data.

If you had have said "The disk IO is what bottlenecks many consumer home machines" then you would have been closer to being right.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Core i7: Dual-Channel vs. Triple-Channel Memory Mode        Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:57 am 
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Even a very good quality USB stick is miles slower than a crap ATA100 IDE drive so it cant be /that/ fast. Anyhoo, on the RAM matter, what are we talking here in terms of figures? I see claims of xx% faster ect but no real figures. What sort of differences are we talking about here in terms of actual usable bandwidth between dual and triple channel configurations? I was always under the impression that triple channel was little more than a stop gap gimmick that was taking advantage of the fact that people seem to be avoiding the 64bit switch, and as such are buying 3 stick kits as opposed to 4 stick dual channel, and consumer level quad channel aint that far off.

I do somewhat agree about all this being moot, but only to a point. DiskIO will always be the bottleneck, I dont see any drive being able to manage a throughtput of 6000mb/s+ anytime soon so perhaps its about time people stopped whining about how much ram their OS used and the OS actually strated making more use of RAM rather than disk (ramdisk?). It seems to me it would be a faster more efficient use of resources.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Intel Core i7: Dual-Channel vs. Triple-Channel Memory Mode        Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:55 pm 
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OG wrote:
DiskIO will always be the bottleneck, I dont see any drive being able to manage a throughtput of 6000mb/s+ anytime soon so perhaps its about time people stopped whining about how much ram their OS used and the OS actually strated making more use of RAM rather than disk (ramdisk?). It seems to me it would be a faster more efficient use of resources.


...unless you're only using the disk to boot or something. That's what I was getting at with my previous post. If you're doing something which requires no to very little disk access, the disk speed will be negligible in terms of impact on overall performance.


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