Frequency is the most advertised spec of RAM. As anyone who’s dug a little deeper knows, memory performance depends on timings as well--and not just the primary ones. We found this out the hard way while doing comparative testing for an article on extremely high frequency memory which refused to stabilize. We shelved that article indefinitely, but due to reader interest (thanks, John), we decided to explore memory subtimings in greater depth.
This content hopes to define memory timings and demystify the primary timings, including CAS (CL), tRAS, tRP, tRAS, and tRCD. As we define primary memory timings, we’ll also demonstrate how some memory ratios work (and how they sometimes can operate out of ratio), and how much tertiary and secondary timings (like tRFC) can impact performance. Our goal is to revisit this topic with a secondary and tertiary timings deep-dive, similar to this one.
We got information and advice from several memory and motherboard manufacturers in the course of our research, and we were warned multiple times about the difficulty of tackling this subject. On the one hand, it’s easy to get lost in minutiae, and on the other it’s easy to summarize things incorrectly. As ASUS told us, “you need to take your time on this one.” This is a general introduction, to be followed by another article with more detail on secondary and tertiary timings.
Hardware news hasn’t slowed since Computex; in fact, this week has been among the busiest in months, with several news items out of the “Big Three” manufacturers. NVidia has seemingly purchased too many GPUs, according to GamersNexus sources (and verifying other stories), GPU shipments overall are trending downward, Intel’s CEO “resigned,” and AMD is working on Vega 20 and V340 products.
Other news for the week includes smaller items, like Be Quiet! opening a US service center and expanding US operations. Learn more in the video, or find the show notes below:
Despite Computex’s imminence, there are still plenty of pre-show announcements and news items to discuss. This week’s anchor item is the “conversation” that Micron has been having with memory suppliers; specifically, China’s Anti-Monopoly Bureau has discussed DRAM pricing with Samsung and Micron, Hynix likely to follow. Connecting the dots isn’t too hard here, but keep in mind that there’s still nothing confirmed with regard to price fixing possibilities.
Separately, AMD’s B450 chipsets were detailed, passive AM4 coolers debuted, and JPR thinks cryptomining is waning, giving way to more affordable video cards for gamers.
Show notes are below the video.
We wrote a couple of scripts to scrape the data shown in this content, showing memory price trends for the year so far. We recently set forth on an information gathering mission to learn about how much it costs to actually buy different types of memory, allowing us to look at just how much the memory suppliers are making. They’re raking in record profits with record stock highs – just look at the below Hynix or Micron stock chart: Despite claimed cleanroom limitations, the companies are making record revenue. Today, we’re talking about why and how the memory industry is in the shape it’s in.
This is Part 2 of our RAM Report series. The first part aired previously, and dug deep into five years of memory price data and earnings results for memory suppliers. Be sure to read or watch that content if you haven’t already.
This week's hardware news recap primarily focuses on some GN-exclusive items pertaining to AMD's plans with system memory in the future, mostly looking toward DDR5 for CPUs and HBM integration with CPUs, creating "near memory" for future products. All of this, of course, is before the major Ryzen 2 review publication timelines on Thursday this week, 9AM Eastern, when you'll find still more CPU news to look over. Be sure to check back for that.
In the meantime, today's news covers memory stories, laptop updates, AMD staff changes, Spectre patches, and more.
At GTC 2018, we learned that SK Hynix’s GDDR6 memory is bound for mass production in 3 months, and will be featured on several upcoming nVidia products. Some of these include autonomous vehicle components, but we also learned that we should expect GDDR6 on most, if not all, of nVidia’s upcoming gaming architecture cards.
Given a mass production timeline of June-July for GDDR6 from SK Hynix, assuming Hynix is a launch-day memory provider, we can expect next-generation GPUs to become available after this timeframe. There still needs to be enough time to mount the memory to the boards, after all. We don’t have a hard date for when the next-generation GPU lineup will ship, but from this information, we can assume it’s at least 3 months away -- possibly more. Basically, what we know is that, assuming Hynix is a launch vendor, new GPUs are nebulously >3 months away.
The past week of hardware news has been peculiarly busy for this time of year, with a deluge of news posting toward the latter half of last week. For major stories, [H]ardOCP’s coverage of nVidia’s GPP agreements has undoubtedly garnered among the most attention in the news cycle, with additional stories of interest covering hacks to get Coffee Lake CPUs functional in Z170 and Z270 motherboards.
We’ve got a couple of minor news items – new liquid coolers, a mini-review of a chair – and a couple of game industry items, like Valve’s return to game development.
Find the written and filmed recaps below:
CPUs with integrated graphics always make memory interesting. Memory’s commoditization, ignoring recent price trends, has made it an item where you sort of pick what’s cheap and just buy it. With something like AMD’s Raven Ridge APUs, that memory choice could have a lot more impact than a budget gaming PC with a discrete GPU. We’ll be testing a handful of memory kits with the R5 2400G in today’s content, including single- versus dual-channel testing where all timings have been equalized. We’re also testing a few different motherboards with the same kit of memory, useful for determining how timings change between boards.
We’re splitting these benchmarks into two sections: First, we’ll show the impact of various memory kits on performance when tested on a Gigabyte Gaming K5 motherboard, and we’ll then move over to demonstrate how a few popular motherboards affect results when left to auto XMP timings. We are focusing on memory scalability performance today, with a baseline provided by the G4560 and R3 GT1030 tests we ran a week ago. We’ll get to APU overclocking in a future content piece. For single-channel testing, we’re benchmarking the best kit – the Trident Z CL14 3200MHz option – with one channel in operation.
Keep in mind that this is not a straight frequency comparison, e.g. not a 2400MHz vs. 3200MHz comparison. That’s because we’re changing timings along with the kits; basically, we’re looking at the whole picture, not just frequency scalability. The idea is to see how XMP with stock motherboard timings (where relevant) can impact performance, not just straight frequency with controls, as that is likely how users would be installing their systems.
We’ll show some of the memory/motherboard auto settings toward the end of the content.
This week's hardware news recap teases some of our upcoming content pieces, including a potential test on Dragonball FighterZ, along with pending-publication interviews of key Spectre & Meltdown researchers. In addition to that, as usual, we discuss major hardware news for the past few days. The headline item is the most notable, and pertains to Samsung's GDDR6 memory entering mass production, nearing readiness for deployment in future products. This will almost certainly include GPU products, alongside the expected mobile device deployments. We also talk AMD's new-hires and RTG restructure, its retiring of the implicit primitive discard accelerator for Vega, and SilverStone's new low-profile air cooler.
Show notes are below the embedded video.
While researching GPU prices and learning that GDDR5 memory price has increased by $20-$30 on the bill of materials lately, we started looking into the rising system memory prices. RAM pricing has proven somewhat cyclic over the past few years. We’ve reported on memory price increases dating back to 2012, and have done so seemingly every 2 years since that time. This research piece pulls five years of trend data, working in collaboration with PCPartPicker, to investigate why memory prices might be increasing, when we can expect a decrease, and more.
DRAM prices are crazy right now. We’ve driven that point into the ground over the past few years, but pinpointing a “when” and a “why” is a difficult proposition. With the help of PCPartPicker, we’ve identified some general trends that seem almost cyclic, and provide some relief in pointing toward an eventual downturn.
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