In the history of the Random Access Memory (RAM), the new DDR3 standard has been seeing the fastest ever industry ramping for speed and performance. Less than a year from the initial launch of consumer DDR3 models, module speeds have gone from the initial standard DDR3-1066 and high-speed DDR3-1333 offerings to insane enthusiast class memory beyond DDR3-1800. And to think that less than six months ago, we were all excited about the prospect of overclocking DDR3 memory to 1500MHz.
The landscape we're seeing today is a stark difference from what it was like 2-3 years ago and this phenomenon is closely tied to the changing tides in the microprocessor industry. Intel has always been the catalyst for change, but DDR2 didn't fully take off till AMD finally got onboard. Then, Intel got shaken back into action as the driving force behind technology innovation. Still, what has all this got to do with DDR3 memory?
When Intel introduced the Core 2 processor and platform, they raised the FSB bar to 1066MHz throughout. Intel then jumped successively from 1066MHz to 1333MHz FSB and in as little as six months from the first 1333MHz FSB processor (Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850) sighting, Intel is all set to reveal another change to the PC landscape with the next FSB speed bump at 1600MHz. This is just the official side of the story. Unofficially, ever since the Core 2 platform came out with the P965 chipset, enthusiasts have (almost effortlessly) been able to hit 1800MHz and beyond. As you can see, there is a need for faster memory to keep up with the bandwidth requirements of new systems and while DDR3 was initially introduced to address this (among other things), the official standards have not been able to keep up with the speeds Intel is driving at.
In comes the enthusiast memory we talked about before. Forget the fact that early DDR3 reports have shown little improvement to DDR2 (clock for clock) and costs two to three times more, we're not talking about the casual consumer here. We're talking about serious overclocking needs where DDR3 presents a solution for memory speeds to keep up with scaling platform frequencies.
The Patriot PC3-15000 DDR3-1866 (PDC32G1866LLK) module is one such memory. Clocked at 1866MHz, the Patriot DDR3-1866 are some of the highest speed DDR3 modules available...for now. But, with the pace manufacturers are pushing DDR3 boundaries, 2000MHz rated chips are in the pipelines as well.
As with most enthusiast memory clocked outside JEDEC specifications, you're basically looking at overclocked memory, handpicked to operate at their rated retail speeds. This, as we found out, can be a little off the mark, but more on that later.
Among louder brands like Corsair or OCZ, the Patriot DDR3-1866 memory modules are notably 'plain'. Being part of their Extreme Performance (EP) memory lineup, the DDR3-1866 stick looks the same as a DDR2-800 memory. Still, on closer inspection, Patriot EP memory features a heat spreader design that is ribbed - for better heat dissipation.
Checking with CPU-Z, it would seem that the Patriot DDR3-1866 modules are running on DDR3-1066 chips and SPD timings are programmed up to this timing. This means that if you plug them into your PC and selected Auto timings in your BIOS, the Patriot DDR3-1866 memory will most probably run at stock 1066MHz. Remember, these are overclockers' memory and thus, will require a lot of overclocking to meet its rated speeds. We should also point out that these modules do not carry the new Intel XMP memory profiles so they do not offer any enhanced benefits with Intel's X38 chipset other than its already overclocked speeds.