Date Posted: July 3, 2002
By now the majority of PC enthusiasts have made the move over to DDR memory. Not only is the AMD Athlon platform using DDR memory, so is the Pentium 4 platform. While the RAMBUS user base continues to dwindle, DDR continues to rise in popularity. There are only a few reputable companies that manufacture high quality memory, so you have to make sure to choose the right memory.
It has been a while since we have seen a new high-quality memory manufacturer come along. XtremeDDR opened its doors just a few months ago. XtremeDDR came into the industry with some very good ideas that were very much like that of Corsair. They intended on manufacturing RAM that would not only run its advertised speed at aggresive settings, but also run at speeds far greater than advertised. By teaming with fine retailers such as , they were able to expose their memory to many PC enthusiasts that were looking for a new type of memory to enhance their PC tweaking experience. As their name suggests, the only thing XtremeDDR manufactures is DDR memory. When a company focuses on just one thing, their products tend to be of superior quality.
The RAM we are testing today is guaranteed to run at 333 MHZ DDR at CAS Latency 2, 1T Command. That is right. Unlike other memory manufacturers that guarantee their RAM to run at CAS 2.5, XtremeDDR rates theirs for CAS Latency 2. I intend on testing their claims in just a bit, but for now let's focus a bit more on the module and the technology behind it.
If this RAM looks familiar, there is no doubt that you have seen OCZ modules. XtremeDDR uses the same kind of heat spreaders as OCZ, and they look great. They didn't scratch like the other heat spreaders I have used, which attests to their durability. Other than the heatspreaders there isn't anything very unique about the aesthetics of this memory. I was kind of upset that the memory wasn't packaged in nice plastic container or tin, to protect it during shipping, but that is a very minor issue.
The sticker on the XtremeDDR memory tells us a lot about the module. The PC2700DDR typing explains that the memory is guaranteed to run at 166 MHz DDR, which is effectively 333 MHz. When the memory Frontside Bus is running at 333 MHz, the peak bandwidth is 2700 MB/s, hence the PC2700 designation. The PC2100 and PC2700 designations are a fine example of marketing at its very best. If DDR memory followed the same naming patterns as every other memory standard, it would be PC266 and PC333. Why not stick with standard naming? PC2700 sounds faster, doesn't it?
The next portion of the sticker indicates the actual amount of memory on the module. Ours was a single-sided 256 MB module. Single-sided memory tends to lend itself to overclocking more than its double-sided counterparts. Why? More chips processing information tends to equal more heat being produced. When memory produces heat it tends to get caught between the chips themselves and the module. The more heat is produced, the more overheating occurs. Thankfully the heatspreaders on the memory help reduce heat by a couple of degrees Celsius.
The SAM/B3 lettering indicates who manufactured the chips that are on the module. In this case, the SAM means Samsung. The B3 is the actual type of chips being used. The B3 chips on this module are rated at 6 nanoseconds, which means that the RAM takes 6 nanoseconds to complete a command. Samsung memory has been very popular amongst PC enthusiasts for quite some time now, as their memory has proven to be quite stable and perform very well. Corsair Micro, OCZ and XtremeDDR all use Samsung memory in their newest DDR modules. Unfortunately, the XtremeDDR modules will not work properly in many MSI and Asus KT333 boards. In talks with officials at XtremeDDR and MSI it was explained to me that this is a known issue and that it stems down to an error in the manufacturing process of the mainboards. Keep this in mind if you plan on buying an MSI or Asus board. Of note, MSI and Asus use the same fabrication plants for their products. There is good news, though. Xtreme guarantees their memory to run in the Epox, Abit, and Iwill KT333 mainboards. The official list may be found at the .
XtremeDDR doesn't adhere to the PC2700 standard. XtremeDDR actually exceeds the JEDEC standard for PC2700 memory. The module is based on a six-layer PCB, while the JEDEC only calls for a four-layer PCB. The JEDEC doesn't require heatspreaders either, yet XtremeDDR has that base covered anyway. Simply put, let OEM's worry about the JEDEC standard. As an enthusiast you should only worry about what counts and that's stability and performance.