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RAM questions

Discussion in 'Recording' started by David French, Jul 1, 2004.

  1. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Hi Mark, everybody.

    I' ve been toying with the idea of upgrading my DAW. I'm not sure what RAM to pick; there are several specs I don't understand. Could someone clue me in?

    First, is there any real, well defined reason for using name brand RAM over generic? There are order sites out there that claim the generic stuff is only compatible with a couple of SiS chipsets. I have seen other people use generic RAM with VIA, AMD, and NVidia chipsets with no apparent problems. I'm just wondering if there's any truth to this compatability issue.

    What are CAS latency values?

    What is the difference between 4 layer and 6 layer modules?

    What is meant by 64x4 and 32x8?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    its a gamble really generic stuff is not the quality of name brand which is why name brand stuff has warrenties they do a QA step theat the genrics dont and wile yes from time to time generic stuff can be pushed just as hard and fail less often you know name brand stuff WILL fail less often if it doesent hay send it back for some new stuff, six months latter when the generic stuff fails try to find the guy who sold it to ya.

    none of this is really anything to worry about, its just MB per chip
    64MB per (multiplied by) 4 chips is 256MB. if your conserned about compatabilaty i would reccoment ether corsair or crusial brand you can order exactly somthing that would fit your board.
  3. kinetic

    kinetic Guest

    Yes I agree with dmfrench - you might be lucky to buy generic RAM that works well, but then again you might not. Name brand RAM is usually marketed as having greater and more reliable performance which comes with guarantees. Why compromise your system by buying generic RAM when the good stuff is not that much more expensive (considering the overall cost of a good system)?

    Corsair and Crucial are excellent brands. Geil, Kingmax and Kingston also have good performance/reputations. I might add that you should buy as much RAM as possible - at least 1Gig for a DAW. The systems I build have a minumum of 1 Gig and I usually use Corsair TwinX Ram modules which are matched pairs (2 x 512M for 1 Gig total). The next system I build for myself will be next year - a 64 bit AMD for sure, and I will be putting in at least 2 Gig Corsair TwinX, but by then the modules will probably be DDR2

    For a DAW there is practically nowhere where you can skimp and save. Every component is important, from the case, the power supply, the RAM, CPU.....everything. Buy right first up and you won't regret it.
  4. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input guys.

    So I guess there is no specific reason that generic RAM is worse than name brand RAM, eh? I was looking for a reason that generic RAM was less reliable, rather than a statement of its unreliability. And, does anyone know if there's any reason generic RAM would not be compatible with any specific motherboards?

    Also, still looking for definitions of CAS latency and 4 layer/6 player... not cause i'm worried about them, rather, i'm trying to be educated.

    And another thing... what's the story on Dual Channel? How does it work? Is it beneficial to audio?
  5. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    basicly its like the diffrance in prosser speeds, two intell prescotts same architechure yet one is rated at a higher speed that is because one has been tested and passed QA(Quality Assurance the specific reason why corsair is better then kingrainbow brand). yes they dont make chips to run at 2.8 and others to run at 2.6. they make chips test them and if they run stable at 2.8 then they are marked and pakaged 2.8 but if they fail then they get tested agien at 2.6 and so on.

    thier are about 5-10 manufactuers(dont quote me on the exact number but thats close) of rame chips then they are put through QA then rated high quality get shiped to name brands mid to underdog name brand and low to every one else thats why you can find to same brand same spec sticks of mem with difrant chip manufacturers stamped one the IC that is sodlerd to the stic of mem.

    i hope this clarifies the specific reason why its best to go with name brand. a 2.6 way run at 2.8 but it will run hotter and less stable.
  6. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    one more thing goto arstechnica.com and thier is all the ansers you could ever want.
  7. BladeSG

    BladeSG Guest

    There can be issues with no-name memory. Since Win XP's release there have been many cases of PC's I've built or fixed that would not install XP or not run stable because of memory type. Windows XP will not tolerate memory parity errors, so as default will restart your machine when it detects an error. Error messages usually mention something about memory dumps. If this is turned off in XP you will likely get a BSOD instead of the restart.

    Intel 865PE and 875P chipsets are a liitle picky on the memory they'll accept sometimes.

    CAS latency timings of memory are the timings of the DRAM modules and how they are accessed by your CPU via the memory controller chipset. Lower values are better, BUT this sort of performance (CAS2) will only really be noticed under benchmark. Most memeory is CAS3 and relatively cheap name memory usually CAS2.5.

    Dual Channel memory is a newer technology that has without doubt been more beneficial to Intel P4 CPU's than AMD's Athlon's. If you have 2 memory channels running at DDR400 (400MHz) this equates to 800MHz of memory bandwidth. It just so happens that Intel P4 (Northwood 'C' & Prescotts) run a 800FSB. This FSB (Front Side Bus) is the Bus between the processor and it accessing memory. So an Intel P4 @ 800FSB with Dual DDR400 is running in Sync with a FSB:DRAM ratio of 1:1. AMD Athlons can't take advantage as well because the FSB of late model Athlon XP's is 400MHz FSB. So an Athlon running Dual DDR400 is not running in sync with the Bus, it's still an advantage but not like it is with Intel 800FSB CPU's. 400MHz (PC3200) memory will allow for 3.2 Gb/s and in dual channel mode this is obviously doubled to 6.4Gb/s.

    Dual Channel memory has to be run with Memory modules the same or very similar. For e.g. 2 X 512Mb ddr400 sticks in dimms 1 & 3. A 512Mb stick and a 256Mb stick in dimms 1 & 3 won't run in dual mode. For that matter DDR400 (PC3200) and DDR333(PC2700) can't be mixed either if Dual Channel mode is wanted.

    I hope that helps you.
  8. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    frob, Blade, thanks a bunch for the lessons!
  9. simonw

    simonw Guest

    CAS Latency - The lower the better usually :)

    Cas 2 is better than Cas 3, infact with memory timings pretty much each value is better lower.

    The most expensive Corsair comes in at 2,5,2,2 and cheap generic ram is usually 3,9,4,4 or somthing

    My Geil Ultra is 2,6,3,3 and Im very happy with the performance of it. Because Its branded and came in a nice box, no im joking, the reason I like it is that its guarenteed for life. 433 mhz is future proofing for a potential new processor as far as I can with my current amd motherboard.

    I would suggest Corsair, Geil or Ocz as a brand. Get as high a mhz as your processor will work well with. pc3200 at a minimum these days.

    p.s. My previous ram was generic, and it resulted in longer export times from cubase and random hangs in some new games.

    With this new RAM in place ive been able to overclock my old processor from a 2100+ to the same speed as a 2800+ and not one crash or hang yet :)
  10. BladeSG

    BladeSG Guest

    The future of memory seems to be in the guise of the new 240pin DDRII memory as introduced on Intel LGA775 motherboards sporting the new 915G/915P and 925X chipsets.

    But yes only current motherboards thatt support the current memory will able to take advantage of any new memory purchases.
  11. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    OK, a couple more...

    What is SPD RAM? I know it stands for Serial Presence Detect, but how is this beneficial? How can you tell if a given stick is SPD RAM?

    This one's probably dumb...
    I just read a paper about the new Intel 800 mHz FSB CPUs and how dual channel RAM is required in the case of these fast FSBs so that the processor is not waiting for data since a single channel does not have enough bandwidth to keep up. For example, an 800 mHz FSB has 800 * 8 bytes = 6400 MB/s peak bandwidth. A single channel of DDR400 RAM could only supply 400 * 8 bytes = 3200 MB/s. Now, if you have two channels, you can multiply that last figure by 2 and it can now supply data fast enough so that the CPU is being used efficiently. Here's what I want to know - is dual channel really necessary with a 400 mHz FSB? the FSB would have a peak bandwidth of 3200 MB/s but the dual channel DDR400 RAM would have 6400 MB/s. Isn't that more bandwidth than the processor can use?

    Thanks in advance.
  12. BladeSG

    BladeSG Guest

    David the SPD is present on all memory modules. This SPD is what the motherboards BIOS (Basic Input Output System) uses to set up the RAM module at it's factory specified latency setting's for example Corsair's TwinX 3200LL that I have has timing's of 2-3-2-5.

    And yes on a 400MHz FSB CPU the advantage of Dual Channel DDR400 is not as significant as it is on 800FSB Pentium 4 PC's. If you have another read of my previous post in this thread it's explained a little better.
  13. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Oops, I guess I forgot that you had already mentioned this! Thanks again Blade for your patience.
  14. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    Hey SimonW - I have simular Geil 1 Gig DDR400 RAM, and I was able to get it up to 480MHz in DC mode with 2.85V and 2.5-3-4-7 timings! The best $200 I spent in a while.

    I know some of the Asus MoBo's will report SPD incorrectly, and loosen timings incorrectly - causing lower RAM bandwidth. You can run something like "Sanrda" by Sy-Soft, and it will tell you practically EVERY aspect about your system - including RAM timings, bus speed, steppings, etc... And its FREE! If your RAM timings are slower than spec'ed, you can manually adjust them in your BIOS.

    Later :cool:
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