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Memory roundup: PC4000 - Memory timings: Forget about low latency

The market for memories has been very hot for some time and we have seen many attempts by producers to win the consumers affection. Early in 2003 aggressive timings were very popular and we saw a number of different labels for the same thing. Corsair came up with their LL series (Low Latency) and OCZ, for example, followed with their EL series (Enhanced Latency).
Both manufacturers did the same thing; optimized the memory modules for aggressive memory timings. Compared with other modules with less aggressive timings, this move improved the performance at the same clock frequencies. Read more about memory timings and the Low Latency concept in our Corsair TWINX512-3200LL review.

The reason for why we bring attention to this topic is that the market now seems to have reversed instead of improving, what memory timings are concerned. It is actually easier to explain than you think, basically it is probably all a matter of the age of the DDR-SDRAM technology. A conclusion one easily draw is that aggressive memory timings require higher quality from the memory modules. Even if you gain performance at the same clock frequencies with aggressive timings, you will lose stability at higher clock frequencies. It is simple; you can't have your cake and eat it.
The aging DDR-SDRAM technology is one of the reasons why manufacturers need to invent new methods to increase the frequency on their modules. DDR-SDRAM technology is just not fit enough for these rates and it is not strange that the DDR-II technology most likely will be used on a number of products next year. We have already seen it enter the graphic card industry where the clock frequencies are far higher.

To achieve anything close to the FSB rates at 250-300 MHz in Pentium 4 systems with an overclocked system the manufacturer has to sacrifice a lot when it comes to memory timings. Corsairs LL specification at 2-2-2-6 timings sounds like heaven when we look at the specifications of the modules we are reviewing today. It is only a very few of these that actually work with 2-2-2-6 timings at any clock frequency.
Just like we said earlier you will lose a little performance if you run the modules at the same rates as modules with more aggressive timings can cope. However, you will regain this loss in performance if you overclock the FSB to 250+ MHz, as this makes it possible to run the memory modules at the same bus rate as the processor. This increases the bandwidth and avoid any possible latency error that occurs using asynchronous clock frequencies (i.e. processor bus and memory bus work at different clock frequencies).

The conclusion we get out of this is that these modules are aimed for overclockers using Intel Pentium 4 systems with 800 MHz FSB. The modules are optimized for this platform and do rarely work that well with AMD systems. For AMD we recommend Corsair TWINX512-3200LL.

Now, let's continue with the reviews, and first is A-DATA.

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