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Review: Corsair XMS3500 C2 Memory

by Tarinder Sandhu on 7 November 2002, 00:00

Tags: Corsair

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qan6

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Introduction II

Now wee see Corsair pushing the performance envelope once again with a newer, faster module being released. Dubbed Corsair XMS3500 C2, it's arguably the highest specification memory on the market at this time. If all these numbers mean little to you, let me enlighten you. Memory is rated in both basic speed and the timings that it can run at with the specified speeds.

PC1600 - 1.600GB/s bandwidth (8 x 100 x 2), runs at DDR-200

PC2100 - 2.128GB/s bandwidth (8 x 133 x 2), runs at DDR-266

PC2400 - 2.400GB/s bandwidth (8 x 150 x 2), runs at DDR-300

PC2700 - 2.656GB/s bandwidth (8 x 166 x 2), runs at DDR-333

PC3200 - 3.200GB/s bandwidth (8 x 200 x 2), runs at DDR-400

PC3500 - 3.472GB/s bandwidth (8 x 217 x 2), runs at DDR-434

RAMBUS PC800 - 3.200GB/s bandwidth (2-bytes x 800Mhz x 2 RIMMS)

RAMBUS PC1066 - 4.26GB/s bandwidth (2-bytes (16-bit) x 1066MHz x 2 RIMMS)

RIMM 4200 - 4.26GB/s bandwidth (4-bytes (32-bit) x 1066MHz )

To further differentiate your memory from the competitors one can specify stricter timings at the designated speed. A number of memory timings can be manipulated in most motherboards BIOS'. The lower the timings (numerically), the better the performance. CAS (Column Access Strobe) latency usually has the most impact on performance. A CAS latency of 2 clocks is what we ideally look for in our memory. The problem, however, is one of validating memory at this stringent timing. The need to produce high-quality modules is an absolute must as signal integrity is easily compromised at high frequencies.

JEDEC, the acronym that belongs to the governing council on RAM (amongst other things), have yet to ratify any memory faster than PC2700 (DDR333). So we can see that module manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to invent new speed standards, such is the competition.

I've mentioned that Corsair have developed a module that they feel comfortable in qualifying at PC3500 speeds (217MHz or DDR434). The question now is just how this was achieved, how well does it run with stricter timings, and is it worth the considerable outlay ?.

Let's find out as we look at the module, specifications and performance on the following pages.