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Digital-Daily : Motherboard Reviews : gigabyte_ga_p35c_ds3r_znakomimsya_s_ddr3

Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R: introducing DDR3

Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R: introducing DDR3
Author: Vladimir Romanchenko
Date: 02.08.2007

Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R

New-generation motherboards built on the new Intel 3 Series family chipset - Intel P35 Express which is going to be the most popular is gradually winning the living space on the shelves of computer retail stores. Among all the varieties of this series, the P35 chipset is remarkable for the fact that it offers a vast majority of key distinctions from the previous generation - the Intel P965 series. This primarily applies to support for 45-nm Intel processors, FSB speed up to 1333 MHz; as well as new south bridges ICH9, and of course support for the new DDR3 SDRAM memory. Certainly, the most advanced will be the soon anticipated flagship of the family - the X38 chipset, which along with support for PCI Express 2.0 will use the Intel Extreme Tuning and Intel Extreme Memory technologies to tune numerous system parameters, including the FSB speed, as well overclocking in the manual and automatic modes, but these features are optional for mass solutions which are available at an affordable price.

The motherboard Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R which we are reviewing today can be safely regarded as belonging to the class of relatively cheap solutions which support the whole spectrum of Intel P35 Express capabilities and, as an added bonus, able operating the customary DDR2 memory along with the latter-day DDR3 standard. In fact, it is now hard to judge which components in our desktop systems will gain faster occurrence - new 45-nm processors with the Penryn architecture (Yorkdale and Wolfdale), or DDR3 SDRAM, however, we can state for sure that migration to these standards will be the least painful or costly for owners of Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R, which also applies to the possibility of using Intel's new processors with FSB=1333 MHz.

The reasonableness of support for DDR3 in the new generation of desktop platforms can be explained at least by the fact that the currently most powerful dual-channel DDR2-800 memory is able providing performance as high as 12.8 GB/s, whereas for DDR3-1066 the peak bandwidth of the memory bus is already rated at 17 GB/s. Another plus is in the new 1.5 V power supply interface implemented in DDR3, which will allow attaining greater power savings as compared to 1.8 V in DDR2 SDRAM. For details of the new-generation memory for desktop PCs, read our recently published FAQ on DDR3.

GA-P35C-DS3R (Rev. 1.0)
Supported processors Support for Intel's multicore processors, including new generation of 45-nm processors: Intel Core2 Extreme Quad-Core, Core2 Duo, Pentium Extreme, Pentium D with the bus speeds 1333, 1066, 800 MHz
Chipset Intel P35 in combination with the south bridge Intel ICH9R, plus a Gigabit Ethernet controller, and 8-channel ALC889A Audio codec
Supported memory Dual-channel DDR3 and DDR2; two slots for DDR3 DIMM with support for up to 4 GB DDR3 1333/1066/800 MHz memory; four slots for DDR2 DIMM with support for up to 8 GB DDR2 1066/800/667 MHz memory
I/O connectors
  • 24-pin ATX
  • 4-pin ATX 12 V
  • 1 x CD in
  • 1 x CI connector
  • Power supply for the CPU fan
  • 1 x FDD
  • 1 x audio
  • Connector for the front panel
  • 1 x IDE
  • Power connector for the fan
  • 1 connector for Power LED
  • 1 x SPDIF in
  • 2 System Fan connectors
  • 4 x USB 2.0/1.1
  • 8 x SATA II GB/s
Audio ALC 889A DTS audio codec, signal-to-noise ratio 106 dB; support for Blu-ray and HD DVD audio formats
Expansion slots
  • 1 x PCI Express x16
  • 3 x PCI
  • 3 x PCI Express x1
Connectors on the rear panel
  • 1 x COM
  • 1 x LPT
  • 1 x RJ45 LAN
  • PS/2 keyboard/mouse
  • 2 x SPDIF out (coaxial + optical)
  • 4 x USB 2.0/1.1
  • 6 audio connectors (Line In / Line Out / MIC In/Surround Speaker Out (Rear Speaker Out) / Center / Subwoofer Speaker Out / Side Speaker Out)
BIOS
  • 8 Mbit ROM
  • Award BIOS
  • PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, ACPI 1.0b
  • Virtual Dual BIOS
Form Factor ATX (305 ? 245 mm)
Design features Only solid-state capacitors of Japanese make are used.

Along with support for the 1333/1066/800 MHz system bus and and Intel Core2 Duo, Intel Core2 Quad processors with the Intel VT (Intel Virtualization Technology), the Intel P35 Express (Intel 82P35) chipset also operates dual-core Intel Pentium and Intel Celeron processors. The new improved memory controller of the chipset supports the Intel Fast Memory Access technology to improve system performance through optimization of the memory bus bandwidth and decrease of the memory access latency. Support for the Intel Matrix Storage Technology (Intel MST) means that addition of another hard disk allows enabling the RAID 0, 5 and 10 modes, and support for external SATA (eSATA) storage allows fully using the bandwidth of modern SATA bus (up to 3 GB/s) with external storage outside the system.

Another capability is the Intel Quiet System Technology (Intel QST) that provides a smart control over the rotational speed of fans of the cooling system depending on the temperature following new algorithms, minimizing the noise and without excessive transitions among the modes.

Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R

The Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R which we are introducing to you is one of the solutions of the new GIGABYTE Ultra Durable 2 Series product line whose specifications are summarized in the below table.

Gigabyte Ultra Durable 2 GA-P35-.. series.
Model Name
DQ6
DQ6
DS4
DS3P
DS3R
DS3R
DS3
S3
S3L
Segment
High - end
Standard
Entry
Low-end
Supported memory
DDR3
DDR2
DDR2 and DDR3
DDR2
Power supply, phases
12
6
-
BIOS
Quad BIOS
Dual BIOS Plus
Virtual Dual BIOS
PCI Express x16
2
1
eSATA cable
2
1
-
IEEE1394a
+
-
SATA
8
6
4
RAID
0/1/2/5/10
0/1 0/1
-

Among the distinguishing features of the Ultra Durable 2 family is using highly effective components like Low RDS MOSFET transistors, magnetic-ring throttles made of a special alloy, which allow reducing energy losses, solid-state compact capacitors of Japanese make, and of course the Intel P35 Express chipset. As is well seen from the table, the Ultra Durable 2 family also offers motherboards much more advanced than Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R, but it is the only motherboard which supports two memory standards, DDR2 and DDR3, at a time.

Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R is highly interesting just in terms of flexible settings through the BIOS. For instance, the FSB speed is flexibly adjustable within 100 MHz to 700 MHz in 1 MHz increments; the memory clock speed is adjustable with the multiplier 1.2; 1.5; 1.6; 2.0; the PCI Express bus speed - within 90 MHz to 150 MHz in 1 MHz increments; the CPU Vcore voltage - within 0.5125 - 1.60 - 2.0 V in 0.00625/0.2000 V increments; the memory supply voltage - within 1.50 V to 2.20 V in 0.1 V increments, etc.

Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R

The closing trait in the description of Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R (rev. 1.0) is the optional boxed bundling of the product, which along with the customary clamps for USB2.0 etc. includes one 33 cm SPDIF and two e-SATA cables to plug in external storage.

Kingston HyperX DDR3 KHX11000D3LLK2/2G

We should also mention that in today's tests there took part DDR3 memory modules made by Kingston Technology. Namely, a kit of two 1 GB PC3-11000 modules codenamed KHX11000D3LLK2/2G of the HyperX DDR3 series, which is DDR3 1375 MHz CL7 memory with the latency timings set to 7-7-7-20. Like most of modern memory modules rated at least at 1066 MHz operating speed, the KHX11000D3LLK2/2G kit runs on the nominal mode with the supply voltage raised to 1.7V.

Kingston HyperX DDR3 KHX11000D3LLK2/2G

Among the other specifications of the Kingston KHX11000D3LLK2/2G memory, of note are other key parameters:

  • Module layout: 128M x 64-bit (1024 MB) DDR3-1375 CL7 SDRAM, 16 64M chips x 8-bit DDR3 in FBGA packages per module
  • SPD set to 7-7-7 latency timings (as per JEDEC) at 1.5V which is standard for DDR3-1066
  • 240-pin layout of the DIMM module
  • Programmable CAS: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
  • Dimensions: 133.35 ? 30 mm

Like all the remaining products of the Kingston HyperX series, the Kingston KHX DDR3 modules are equipped with additional heat-spreading plates of the "proprietary" blue color.

Kingston HyperX DDR3 KHX11000D3LLK2/2G

Since DDR3 is not yet freely available on every corner, we bring in detailed photos of the modules and their layout on the board. I am drawing your attention to the positioning of the DDR3 key, which is well seen on the below photo: although the size is similar to that of DDR2 and the same number of pins (240), the "fool-tolerance" in the form of a (asymmetrically) ported key will be operating reliably.

Kingston HyperX DDR3 KHX11000D3LLK2/2G

Tests

We can't state that the motherboard Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R in combination with DDR3 was thoroughly tested at our test lab. Unfortunately, that was due to the time trouble related to "reception-return" of the hardware. So the below graphs should be treated more likely as the first experience of using DDR3 in general and with the new series of Gigabyte motherboards in particular. That is some sort of "express-tests" in anticipation of truly comprehensive experiments with the new memory type.

In our today's tests, we used a system based on the Intel Core2 Extreme Quad-Core QX6700 CPU of 2.93 GHz clock speed, video NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX, as well as Corsair XMS Xpert DDRII-800 memory of similar capacity, plus a Thermaltake ToughPower 750 W PSU – all powered by MS Windows XP + SP2 + DirectX 9.0c.

Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R. 3DMark06 CPU Score

Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R. WinRAR

Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R. F.E.A.R.

Summing it up

Basing on the so superficial tests, we'd better refrain from any, even the most cautious, conclusions. In fact, in most cases (including based on the results of other tests not mentioned herein) there is an actual parity between DDR3-1006 and DDR2-800 at performance, with the hardly visibly advantage of each memory type of over the other, but in most ways within the measurement error.

In any case, these are merely the very fist specimens of DDR3 memory, why should we expect too much? If we remember the first market steps of DDR2 in replacing the DDR, there was the same picture: with the substantial growth in the clock speed, the DDR2 at best demonstrated a parity versus DDR, but all was eaten up by the improved latency. There is about the same analogy in transition from DDR2 to DDR3; with the evident and irrefutable advantage being the reduced power consumption on moving to the supply voltage 1.5V. Most likely, we'll see an impressive "gap" of DDR3 at performance on no earlier than a migration to the new generation, i.e. DDR3-1333 and DDR3-1600, is completed.

In any case, it is still premature to put a dot on the investigation of DDR3-1066, as well as on the capabilities of the chipset P35. Overclocking of memory, selection of various latency timings, experiments with processors supporting FSB 1333 MHz etc. will bring many interesting and probably unexpected results.

Unfortunately, we can't yet state with confidence that the time of DDR3 has come: even if you happy about the performance boost at some applications, no more than 5% by the way, you will unlikely be happy about the prices for DDR3 SDRAM modules. In this regard, solutions based on the Intel P35 chipset, like the motherboard Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R which supports current Intel's processors with FSB up to 1333 MHz, as well as the 45-nm chips anticipated by the end of the year, are gaining a special value, since they allow using DDR2 until DDR3 SDRAM modules are offered at affordable prices.

So, when on earth will the DDR3 SDRAM memory, especially versions faster than DDR3-1066 in the "non-overclocked" make be available? For now, it is extremely difficult to answer this question. Evidently, as the market turns more saturated with motherboards offering support for DDR3, memory of this type will be getting cheaper.

DDR3

Additional impetus towards the demand for DDR3 in the nearest future will be given by the forthcoming announcement of the "extreme" Intel X38 chipset. For now, we have to be content with the forecasts of marketing analysts and keep an eye on the news.

DDR3



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