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Interview with Corsair Interview with Corsair: We sat down with Joe James of Corsair and talked a bit about current and upcoming memory technologies and the Hydrocool.
Date: April 5, 2004
Written By:

1. Please introduce yourself.

I'm Joe James, Marketing Director for Corsair Memory, Inc., based in Fremont, California.

2. Based on products released the last 12 months from Corsair, is there anything you would have liked to have seen changed or improved?

We really wouldn't have done anything differently in the past year if we could. We delivered a stream of excellent products throughout the year that set a torrid pace for the market.

3. How would you describe Corsair when it comes to product development& proactive or reactive?

Positively proactive! Corsair is in a constant quest for higher performance. Corsair was the originator of the whole enthusiast memory market, and remains the dominant leader, due to our product innovation and our commitment to excellence. Our XMS Pro Series is a perfect example of our product leadership.

4. What are some of the technologies that enthusiasts should take note of in the next 12 months?

DDR2 is the future of memory. With better signal integrity, it offers a path to scale performance far beyond the limits of DDR. As a member of the JEDEC association, Corsair has been actively involved in developing this and other new memory standards.

5. Does Corsair plan to branch out into other market segments? Will we see a Corsair video card for example?

Our struggle to keep up with demand for our memory has limited our expansion into other product lines. We have no intentions of making video cards, however we are looking at other memory and cooling products.


1. Other than the LEDs, are there any differences between Pro Series XMS and standard XMS? Why not just develop all of your ram as Pro Series?

The two most distinctive features of the XMS Pro Series are the activity LED's and the high efficiency cast aluminum heatsink. We offer Pro Series in several different speed grades to make it accessible to a variety of customers, but it is primarily intended for those with windowed cases. Most people who don't have a windowed case would prefer to save a few bucks and buy the classic XMS.

2. In layman's terms, what is exciting about DDR2? When do you expect it to reach the masses?

DDR2 solves a lot of signal integrity issues at high clock speeds. By cleaning up some of the signaling issues and reducing noise in the IC's and in the module DDR2 can scale up to much higher clock speeds. It will have immediate appeal to gamers and enthusiasts, thanks in part to other great new features on the coming generation of chipsets.

We expect DDR2 to be accepted very quickly. But you won't see it reach the mainstream desktop until it nears price parity with DDR, probably late 2004 or early 2005.

3. Will development of "standard" DDR XMS end once DDR2 is out?

You'd be surprised at how much PC133 memory we still sell. Standard DDR has such a massive installed base that it will continue to sell for a long time. And we are still developing exciting new DDR products that you'll see in Q2.

4. Clock speed or latency?

In short, we recommend 3200LL memory for AMD platforms and high clock speed memory (eg. 4000) for Intel platforms. Unfortunately low latency DRAM chips are getting more and more scarce, while high clock speed DRAMs are becoming less hard to find.

5. Will the benefits (or drawbacks) of DDR2 be evident out of the box, or will motherboard development and application support be the deciding factor?

I expect that by the time motherboards supporting DDR2 are available DDR2 performance will be stellar. It already keeps pace with the fastest DDR memory out there.

6. Will DDR2 command a price premium when compared to the high-end PC4400 modules?

DDR2 prices are still a bit higher, but we expect the DDR2 price premium to drop as more supply comes available, and for DDR2 speeds to increase as yields improve.

7. On many of your tech sheets, the ASUS P4C800 seems to be your testbed of choice. Does Corsair validate their modules on other manufacturers?

We test our modules on a plethora of different motherboards. We do product swaps regularly with companies like Intel, AMD, Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, DFI, and Abit, as well as Tyan and Supermicro for our server modules, to ensure compatibility. And we do hundreds of hours of testing in a lot of different hardware environments.

The P4C800E is one of the fastest boards we've found so we do use it on a lot of our manufacturing test lines, particularly for our high speed modules.

8. How long a lifespan do you estimate for DDR2?

DDR2 has a long way to go before it runs out of headroom. We know from experience that it takes a couple years to develop and implement a new memory standard, and a couple more years to streamline manufacturing and wring every ounce of performance out of it.

9. Do you expect another bump in DDR1, say PC4600, or have we reached the ceiling at PC4400?

The fact is very few motherboards can even clock up that high. The current generation of chipsets and motherboards are tapped out as far as memory bandwidth goes. Sure, I could imagine another speed grade for DDR1 in the next few months, but finding other system components to keep up with it will be the real challenge.

10. What's next after DDR2?

One step at a time, Hubert.


1. Why was the Hydrocool created?

When I started in the business 25MHz CPUs didn't even have heatsinks. Now if your fan dies or you forget to use thermal grease under your leaf blower your CPU will burst into flames in 8 seconds. How hot do you think CPUs will be, and where do you think the cooling industry will be in two years? &in five years?

We think liquid cooling is in its infancy now, but will become mainstream in five years, so the potential market for Hydrocools is enormous.

2. Are there any plans to make a more traditional water cooling solution (blocks, radiator, pump)?

Our intention with the Hydrocool was to design a unit that doesn't require a drill, a hacksaw or a PhD in thermodynamics to install. To make liquid cooling viable for the mass market it needs to be user friendly, close to plug and play. Hydrocool achieves that, and all Corsair's future liquid cooling systems we hope will maintain the ease of use that is designed into the Hydrocool.

3. Is the Hydrocool a large part of your product line, or is it considered a niche product?

To date, Hydrocool has not been adopted by other than power users and case modders. But time will tell.

4. Will the next version of the Hydrocool simply be a refresh, with more CPU compatibility, or is Corsair/Delphi looking into a redesign?

Do you really want me to spoil the surprise? Just trust that what we do next will be very cool.

5. Lately, there are a number of new self-contained water cooling kits being released. Is there anything you consider that makes the Hydrocool stand out amongst the competition.

The Hydrocool's biggest advantage is that it can be installed with only a screwdriver in about twenty minutes. That alone is unique. But the Hydrocool has many other compelling features that its competitors lack. Just to pick one, the patented low-flow Microchannel technology used in the cold block outperforms all other cold blocks on the market, and it does that with only 4.5 ounces of copper by using a smaller pump and smaller tubing than a lot of the "bigger is better" units on the market. The vast majority of the cold blocks on the market are designed for cosmetics rather than optimal cooling.

Thanks for the time!

My pleasure. =D

Final Words: We'd like to thank Joe for taking the time to answer our inquiries today, and for being so candid in his responses. If you're a hockey fan, you may be interested in this memory giveaway we are having right now.

If you have any comments, be sure to hit us up in our forums.


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