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DDR – BX Boards spells it out

The devil is in the details

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Anyone trying to get their heads round DDR (Double Data Rate) would do well to have a look at this piece by Andy Drake at BXBoards, the estimable (and British) hardware review site.

As yet BX Boards has not produced any benchmarks, as it's a little short of test-kit, but it has assembled a wad of helpful information about the new memory technology.

We've all heard the shorthand explanation of what DDR does - that is, it checks data twice per clock cycle - but this article tries to put the technology in some kind of evolutionary context.

The article also highlights a potential stumbling block for the technology. DDR won't fit in a standard motherboard because it has 184 pins compared to a standard DIMM's 168. With new motherboards come new chipsets...and new problems(at the moment there are three major players: AMD, VIA and ALi)?.

Then to the real heart of the matter: how much better is performance - once DDR is installed?

So far most of the benchmarks we've seen on hardware sites would suggest performance improvements of around 15-20 per cent - certainly nothing close to the doubling it might seem reasonable to expect at first glance.

This is because there are many bottlenecks within a system: "Bus speed, hard drive speed, PCI speed et al all play a part in performance," Drake notes.

However, he points out that some people are "touting DDR as a solution that will magically increase the performance of our processors by 30 or 50 per cent," a suggestion that provokes a sceptical reaction. ®

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