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Memory Channel Scaling with Sandy Bridge-E - A Core i7-3960X Experience

By Wong Chung Wee - 13 Dec 2011

Memory Channel Scaling with Sandy Bridge-E - A Core i7-3960-Xperience

Four Years Down the Road - A Quad-Channel Update to DDR3 Memory Support

Since 2007, Intel has been offering support for DDR3 memory modules with its 3-series chipsets (Bearlake) that supported both DDR3 and DDR2. Often, there wasn't concurrent support for both DDR3 and DDR2 on the same 3-series chipset motherboard and users needed to make a choice of hanging on to their DDR2 memory modules while upgrading their boards, or take the high road of a complete upgrade of both memory modules and the motherboard.

Four years down the road, DDR3 memory technology has come a long way. With the launch of Intel's X79 chipset and the accompanying second generation enthusiast Core i7 processor family (do read our Intel Core i7-3960X review) that supports quad-channel DDR3 memory architecture, this memory technology still has some room to grow. Naturally, we were curious about this new memory architecture from the Sandy Bridge-E (SB-E) processors and the benefits it may offer to the DDR3 memory technology. In our previous attempt to ascertain the benefits of a third memory controller for the previous generation of enthusiast Core i7 processors based on the Nehalem architecture, we found that it was of little assistance as the platform (the Sandy Bridge CPU with an X58 chipset motherboard) had more than enough bandwidth even on standard dual-channel memory - well, at least for the typical users.

The Intel X79 Express chipset block diagram. Take note of the four memory channels that highlight the platform's quad-channel memory architecture. The default supported memory speeds go up to1600MHz DDR in addition to 1333MHz and 1066MHz still being options too.

Before we recommend you put down your hard-earned money for some of the quad-channel memory kits currently on offer, we have put together a test in an attempt to justify the merits of this memory upgrade. Read on to find out more!

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