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MEMORY

Dual Channel
By: jkabaseball
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    2005-03-08

    Table of Contents:
  • Dual Channel
  • Why dual channeling makes a difference
  • Testing
  • Gaming Benchmarks
  • Taking the video card out of the equation

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    Dual Channel - Why dual channeling makes a difference


    (Page 2 of 5 )

     

    Think of it as a road intersection. The memory controller is the traffic light. In one direction you have a nice four lane road going through the light. One way goes to the CPU and the other goes around the board to where it is needed, such as the video card. There is another way to go, and that is to the memory. In single channel, this isnít pretty. Itís a one lane street which needs to send information both directions. With dual channel it is a little bit easier. It could now be a two lane road, to send and receive at the same time. To see what kind of differences this makes, letís dig into some tests.

    Not all chipsets are created equal. Each chipset will respond to dual channel differently, even with different BIOSes on the same board. Some may show greater boosts over others. I will test the Intel 865 chipset. There are too many chipsets to test them all. This chipset is DDR RAM, but the newer chipsets which support DDR2 will also run in dual channel. The same requirements hold true.

     

    These are in dual channel mode.

    These are not in dual channel mode.

    To set your memory to dual channel is very simple; you may even be running in dual channel already and not know it. Most motherboards are color coded like this one. You set both modules in the same colored slots. If your motherboard doesnít have colored slots it will be the odd or even slots. What if you have three modules? Iím sorry, but youíre out of luck. Dual Channel requires either two or four modules. What you have is three modules trying to all use the same single memory channel.

    To verify that your memory is running in dual channel I recommend CPU-Z. CPU-Z is a little program that grabs information about your CPU, motherboard and RAM. Under the memory tab look for the spot where it says ďChannel #.Ē It will either say single or double.

    Another factor to consider is the type and quality of memory modules you get. It is highly recommended that you buy two of the same modules, and even better, at the same time. Manufacturers over time can switch what chips are in the memory. Make sure the RAM are the same speed and memory latency. You donít want to buy a high speed or low latency memory only to have it washed out by the other stick, which isnít as fast or possesses a higher latency. When running in dual channel each stick must perform exactly the same, so they must have the same speed and same latency. 

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