These DDR2 reviews are flying out of the magic labs of Dev Hardware. We had a pair from OCZ and G.Skill. Now we will take a look at yet another set of DDR2 memory from perhaps the biggest name in memory manufacturing: Crucial.
Today we get the opportunity to play with the Crucial Ballistix DDR2 memory. So what could possibly make these any better than the rest? Well for starters, this RAM runs at tighter timings and is SLI certified. Like other memory manufacturers, they offer a limited lifetime warranty.
I have an SLI motherboard, a pair of 8600 GT in SLI, and an SLI certified case and power supply. I'm not sitting here saying you need SLI versions of everything. I'm actually creeped out about how SLI I have become. Maybe I should just get some SLI RAM and paint an nVidia logo on my head. Well okay, maybe I shouldn't go THAT far, but SLI memory has piqued my interest. Unlike the SLI certified case, which didn't seem to have any advantage over your normal case, SLI memory is supposed to offer some kind of advantage in performance. My first action was to investigate what SLI memory is. Here is what I grabbed from nVidia's site.
"NVIDIA SLI-Ready system memory certification ensures compatibility and system stability with the rest of the SLI ecosystem components, including NVIDIA nForce SLI motherboards, NVIDIA GeForce GPUs, and SLI-Ready power supplies. SLI-Ready memory also supports Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP). When paired with NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI, 680i LT SLI or 590 SLI AMD edition-based motherboards, SLI-Ready memory exposes advanced performance memory settings.
"Only memory that pass NVIDIA SLI certification can be called 'NVIDIA SLI-Ready certified.' Be sure to look for the NVIDIA SLI-Ready badge when you buy your system memory."
After reading this I'm still a little fuzzy on what it does. I take away from this that it adds compatibility and stability while giving the memory advanced settings. Doing a little more research, I found out that it is mostly done via the Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP). This is more information about the timings than what are normally in the SPD profiles. It should make the memory "self-tweaking," in a sense. All those settings in the memory configuration that require countless hours of tweaking can now be done by the memory itself.
This will save me hours of time and should give some benefit in performance, because the memory should be at its best configuration possible. On another note, you don't need a pair of SLI video cards to run SLI memory enhancements. To run the SLI enhancements on your computer you need an SLI chipset and SLI capable RAM; everything else is optional.
If you open up CPU-Z and turn to the memory SPD, you will notice some things you may have never noticed before. Take a look down at the timing table. You see two different types of timings here: JEDEC and EPP. You probably have never seen these before, so I'll give you a little run down. JEDEC are the official, by memory standards, speeds. These are your typical speeds at which you can find memory being sold. Some memory is sold above any rated JEDEC speeds; your more performance-oriented RAM tend to be sold like this. You may find one, two or three settings like this depending on the memory frequency.
EPP stands for Enhanced Profile Protocol. This is what makes the RAM SLI-Ready. It is additional timing and speeds at which the RAM is capable of running. These settings could be very unstable on certain motherboards and certain setups.
This is where SLI-Ready comes in. This RAM will work with any SLI motherboard out there. It has been designed to run at this speed and timing. And each motherboard has the voltage and any other requirement to run this memory.
The big differences between the EPP and JEDEC are the speed, timings, and voltage. To move to EPP, you're pushing 2.2 volts through the memory in order to achieve the rated speed and timings. This isn't an option for some motherboards. The EPP technology could be used in non-SLI RAM, but you reach inconsistencies with different motherboards and chipsets, which may cause some of these EPP settings to not work correctly. A user-programmable EPP would be sweet though.
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