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Corsair TwinX1024 XMS4400 CAS 2.5 Memory

Manufacturer: Corsair Micro
Supplied by: Corsair Micro
Street Price: $300 

by Dean Barker  (11/08/2004)

Introduction

When it comes to memory and performance needs, there are two basic camps.  First is the ultra low latency crowd.  A couple of examples here would be the Corsair PC3200XL PRO and the Mushkin PC3200 LII V2 products.  What these offer is DDR400 performance with tightened memory timings of 2-2-2-5.  The tighter the timings, the better the performance.  As a system's bus speed increases over the 200MHz mark, the stability of the memory is increasingly difficult to maintain without loosening the timings.  This leads us into the other camp, that of ultra high speed memory.  These are the DDR500 and beyond group of products.  More often than not, memory timings in this class will be 3-4-4-8.  The looser timings allow for the higher bus speeds to be attained with stability.

In the world of practicality, each type of memory described above has different applications.  Most AMD XP or 64 processors are going to be more intolerant of a high bus speed than say a P4 Northwood would.  I have not yet been able to jack up the bus on an AMD processor too much beyond the 225MHz mark, while we have had many Intel P4 processors here bang up to and beyond 275MHz.  Keeping this in mind, we would run the tighter timing memory on the AMD example because the memory speed wouldn't be so high as to make things unstable at 2-2-2-5.  While at the same time, we could have higher bandwidth at looser timings allowing us to take an Intel P4 up to 275MHz or so.  In regards to my examples, before you go and send me flame mail, remember this is a simplified example used to illustrate a point.

Wouldn't it be nice to have both?  Well, you can't run 2-2-2-5 at 275MHz, at least not yet.  Yet we are one step closer.  Corsair released their XMS4400 memory at the beginning of this year.  This memory has remained the fastest memory here in the shop since our review of it back in February.  The original XMS4400 was set to run at 3-4-4-8, consistent with what we mentioned earlier.  Corsair is aiming at making their already screamingly fast product, faster.  Today, we have a chance to take a look at the newest XMS4400 memory which is set to run at 2.5-4-4-8.

Before we go any further, let me explain what CAS latency is.  CAS (Column Address Strobe) refers to the delay in clock cycles you have to wait after a read command until the data is available.  With Corsair making their XMS4400 memory operate at a CAS latency of 2.5, they have raised the bar a bit over the older XMS4400 that ran at a CAS latency of 3.  How much is what we intend on finding out.


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