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Intel Core i7 Memory Analysis - Can Dual Channel Cut it?

Taking a break from X58 boards, we have a look at dual vs triple channel memory configurations on the Core i7 platform.

By: Cameron Johnson | Editorials in RAM | Posted: Nov 24, 2008 5:00 am

Intel Core i7 Memory Analysis - Can Dual Channel Cut it?




Core i7 has come out and it's a hard hitting product. Not only is it a new platform based around the Core micro architecture, its native quad core design really packs a punch, too. With this, Intel has finally moved away from the slow Northbridge based memory controller and followed suit with AMD in placing an integrated Northbridge chip on the CPU. This houses the memory controller, allowing for a much faster access path to the memory. Intel has also increased the amount of memory and data paths that the Core i7 can access.


Looking back on the history of system memory and more directly at Intel's implementations, triple channel is simply no big surprise. But is it something we need now, or is it just hype?


Rambus was Intel's big bet back in the late 90's; while it sprouted impressive speeds along with theoretical bandwidth beyond SDRAM or even DDR which hadn't seen the light of day, Intel's reliance in this technology became their downfall and their attempts to push it on the general PC users caused a huge uproar.


DDR was Intel's only reprieve, well after its introduction due to Rambus agreements. However, since that time Intel has not only used DDR, but improved on it. Now that we have seen Intel's pattern with memory we see that not only are they banking a huge amount on their DDR3 technology, but also increasing the bus from 128-bit or dual channel to 192-bit or tri channel memory.


Today's question we pose; does Core i7 really need three channels of memory or can it perform happily on two channels without severely impacting the performance of the system?


Let's move on and find out.


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