DDR2 certainly isn't dead yet; it's clear that there is still a lot of demand for DDR2 modules even though DDR3 is now bedding itself into the market as the new performance choice. AMD's dependency on DDR2 is quite well known as AMD integrates its memory controller directly into its CPU; a new CPU, Socket and board are all required for a memory upgrade. While this is an extreme handicap for the AMD upgrade path, its does have one distinct advantage. Any CPU to memory access times are greatly reduced, in fact the CPU has direct access to memory rather than having to go through a slow FSB, this allowing it to excel in memory tasks using DDR2 where Intel needs higher speed memory to make up for it. AMD can get away with using lower speed memory and doing the same amount of memory calculations.
Intel has the upgrade path under its belt. The memory controller sits on the Northbridge chipsets, and like it has done for the past 10 years all CPU to memory transactions have to go along the FSB to the Northbridge chipset then through the memory bus and back again. This does incur quite a bit of latency; however, the upgradeability for Intel users is extremely flexible. If you're still using an old 500 series LGA775 Pentium 4 CPU or even a Celeron-D processor, the latest X38 motherboard and DDR3 memory are usable to you.
DDR2 is sticking around mostly because of AMD; while AM3 is on its way, it's still a fair way off, and the way AMD do launches these days it will be delayed months before we even seen the AM3 socket. Intel still supports DDR2 quite readily, and even X38 and upcoming X48 motherboards will both have DDR3 and DDR2 memory controllers as options on select boards, so you still have the flexibility there depending on what board you get.
Today we are testing out another somewhat unknown company to us; while we have heard of PNY before, we haven't seen them in the extreme memory range which they are pushing for today with the new PC2-9384 DDR2 memory kit we have been sent. Let's see just what it has in store for us.
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