Question on memory speed and throughput

Nothing But Idle Time
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Topic 193750

In 2004 I bought a Dell Dimension 8400 with Intel Prescott P4 530 processor 3GHz w/HT and 1MB L2 cache, dual channel, Windows XP Home. At the time I could choose between 400 or 533 MHz DDR2 SDRAM memory; I chose 400 MHz because it was cheaper.

I joined E@H in 2005 and 3 years has passed. Now I suddenly and mystifyingly wonder if changing the memory sticks to 533 or 677 MHz would increase my Einstein task throughput, so...

Q1: Would something as simple as increasing the memory speed also increase the number of tasks I can complete in a day?

Q2: If so, would it require a bios or OS change or some other concurrent changes? Anything else involved beyond inserting new memory sticks?

Q3: How do I know if the motherboard can support the higher memory speed? I checked Dell's website and upgrade options for Dimension 8400 include 677MHz memory sticks (not available in 2004) but also stipulates that the motherboard must support the speed otherwise it will operate at a lower supported speed, which means purchasing a higher speed would be wasted. And anyway, how would I know what speed the memory is operating at after installation?

Q4: I see references to "Data-integrity check non-ECC" or "ECC", "buffered or un-buffered?..whatever that nomenclature means. How do I know what to select?

Akos Fekete
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Question on memory speed and throughput

Quote:
Q1: Would something as simple as increasing the memory speed also increase the number of tasks I can complete in a day?


Try to change CPU. Probably the Pentium 4 670 and 672 are the best CPUs for the Intel 925X chip set. They offer about a 25% more performance.

Intel Pentium 4 Processors

Quote:
Q2: If so, would it require a bios or OS change or some other concurrent changes? Anything else involved beyond inserting new memory sticks?


I don't think. You should change only the CPU.

Quote:
Q3: How do I know if the motherboard can support the higher memory speed? I checked Dell's website and upgrade options for Dimension 8400 include 677MHz memory sticks (not available in 2004) but also stipulates that the motherboard must support the speed otherwise it will operate at a lower supported speed, which means purchasing a higher speed would be wasted. And anyway, how would I know what speed the memory is operating at after installation?


I visited the Dell site and I found only this technical docs, but it has lots of phone numbers for support...

Quote:
Q4: I see references to "Data-integrity check non-ECC" or "ECC", "buffered or un-buffered?..whatever that nomenclature means. How do I know what to select?


Try to choose cheap memory. ( unbuffered, non-ECC )

ECC is an error correction technique that offers some data safety, but I'm sure that you don't need it to Einstein@Home crunching.

The buffered memories have special line driver circuits to reduce the load on the memory controller, because it can drive only some chips. This technique usually is used on server motherboards to support more than 4 memory modules.

Alinator
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Akos, covered the general

Akos, covered the general basics pretty well.

However, I have a fair amount of experience playing around with Dells.

You are wise to be wary about just running out and getting the higher speed RAM for the 8400 from Dell.

My suggestion would be to put your Service Tag number into the support applet to bring up the exact records and specific info for your machine.

It's possible there is a BIOS update which will let you take advantage of the faster RAM and new processors, but not always.

In any event, I've also seen it where the Dell 'recommended' memory upgrade was for a speed grade my particular rev machine wouldn't/couldn't support. The reason is that Dell stopped stocking the slower part themselves. The newer part will work, just not at the rated speed.

PS, the 533MHz RAM will give you a boost in performance, and you could probably pick that up fairly cheap at this point.

HTH,

Alinator

DanNeely
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Unless you can get one used

Unless you can get one used though the 3.6/3.8gig p4's are still priced stupidly expensive to fleece people looking for a highend upgrade. For $300 you could get a c2d+mobo+ram that would smoke the p4. The 3.4g parts are sanely priced but probably not enough of an upgrade to bother.

Richard Haselgrove
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I would also suggest that you

I would also suggest that you check out third-party memory sites like http://www.crucial.com/.

I have sometimes found that generic third-party memory, even with apparently correct specifications, has failed to work in Dells, but Crucial's quaranteed compatible modules have never let me down. Their scanner tool seems accurate, and it's always a good idea to get a second-source reality check on pricing.

Nothing But Idle Time
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Thanks for the points of

Thanks for the points of view. I will try a memory speed upgrade and see what happens; can afford to lose a few coins otherwise the doctors, lawyers and tax collectors will get it all.

Akos Fekete
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RE: Thanks for the points

Message 82635 in response to message 82634

Quote:
Thanks for the points of view. I will try a memory speed upgrade and see what happens; can afford to lose a few coins otherwise the doctors, lawyers and tax collectors will get it all.

Don't forget that the Intel 925X Chipset supports only 400 / 533 MHz RAM speed. So, the newer RAMs ( DDR2-667/800/1066 ) will run only on 533MHz.

th3
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RE: Thanks for the points

Message 82636 in response to message 82634

Quote:
Thanks for the points of view. I will try a memory speed upgrade and see what happens


I wouldnt do it, e@h is not that bandwidth hungry, low latency and high speed does make a small difference but quite insignificant imo. It was more noticeable on S5R2 i think.

As DanNeely said, Core2 CPU + MB + RAM, that will give you far more performance per buck. P4s are amazingly slow compared to current Intel CPUs, even when at ~4GHz, for example my core2duo E8400 running at stock speed (3GHz, same as your 530) finishes 2 WUs every ~3.5 hours (11000-13000 sec/WU), and it does so at less than half the power consumption.

Nothing But Idle Time
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RE: ...As DanNeely said,

Message 82637 in response to message 82636

Quote:
...As DanNeely said, Core2 CPU + MB + RAM, that will give you far more performance per buck.

New 2GB 533MHz ram costs $45 U.S. currency, can't buy a new computer for that. Let me state precisely that I'm no computer geek when it comes to hardware; I can open the case and insert a mem stick and reboot, that's about the extent of my prowess. Otherwise I will simply buy a newly built computer off the shelf, quad core maybe... technical innovation occurs so fast one cannot keep up with it. Then there is my wife who thinks I should NOT spend money on computer upgrades ever. As long as she can do word processing and email she is content to save her money.

Stranger7777
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Then, perhaps, I should

Then, perhaps, I should suggest you to upgrade your wife to processing words faster. Then the upgrade of hardware is inevitable ;)

Alinator
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RE: RE: ...As DanNeely

Message 82639 in response to message 82637

Quote:
Quote:
...As DanNeely said, Core2 CPU + MB + RAM, that will give you far more performance per buck.
New 2GB 533MHz ram costs $45 U.S. currency, can't buy a new computer for that. Let me state precisely that I'm no computer geek when it comes to hardware; I can open the case and insert a mem stick and reboot, that's about the extent of my prowess. Otherwise I will simply buy a newly built computer off the shelf, quad core maybe... technical innovation occurs so fast one cannot keep up with it. Then there is my wife who thinks I should NOT spend money on computer upgrades ever. As long as she can do word processing and email she is content to save her money.

LOL...

Point well taken! :-D

A simple fact which gets lost on a lot of the hard core crunchers in BOINC is for the vast majority of PC owners PIII's, let alone P4's, have more than enough horsepower for what they actually want the machine to do. So their response is reasonably, "Why should I bother to spend the cake to buy a new machine when the current one is perfectly adequate for it's primary function?". They typically prefer the 'if it ain't broke don't fix it route'. Sometimes it even goes as far as the don't even think of doing anything to it route. :-)

Aside from having to deal with a whole new hardware platform, you'd most likely have to deal with a new version of Windows, transferring applications and data (and possibly having to spend more cake to upgrade them for the new flavor of Windows), etc. and so forth.

It's going to take a lot of 'saved' kwh's to offset the cost of all new hardware and your time and aggravation. ;-)

Alinator

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