Thursday, February 12th 2009

Phenom II AM3 Plagued with DDR3-1333 Issue

Barely a week into the introduction of the DDR3-supportive AM3 socket CPUs, the processors seem to be having design flaws. This, as circulated by AMD in its revision guide document for the 10h family of processors (found here, page 80). The issue, as described by AMD, centers around the DDR3 memory sub-system. On machines with more than one PC3-10600 (1333 MHz) memory module populating a memory channel, the users may experience unreliable operation. The company does not get into the specifics of the symptoms. This issue however, does not affect systems with a module per channel (one or two modules installed in the motherboard), and only those with three to four modules installed.

The AMD K10 memory controllers on AM3-socket processor provide a 128-bit wide memory interface (with DRAM Ganged mode enabled), which amount to two 64-bit wide memory channels. On most motherboards, four DIMM slots with two slots sharing a memory channel are present. With this issue, one is not recommended to use more than one DDR3-1333 memory module per channel. AMD recommends a quick fix for the issue for systems using more than one DDR3-1333 module per memory channel: to manually specify the memory to run at 533 MHz (1066 MHz DDR), and accordingly set DRAM timings. As a little compensation, one can tighten DRAM timings with the drop in frequency. AMD will fix this issue in the next stepping (sub-version) of the CPUs. The "x-factor" with this erratum revolves around DRAM voltage, a significant factor. One might note AMD saying "the processor memory subsystem may exhibit unreliable operation over the allowable VDDIO voltage range", which leads us to think if there is a potential workaround with adjusting the DRAM voltage beyond the allowable range (read: over-volting the memory). We hope to hear more from AMD on this.

UPDATE (02/13): AMD replied to the report, saying that work is in progress toward fixing the issue. While not getting into the specifics, AMD indicated to us that apart from addressing the issue, the company is also working toward something "which will make you ‘feel cozy’ about the DDR3 support". The statement is ambiguous, and is best left uninterpreted at this point in time.
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105 Comments on Phenom II AM3 Plagued with DDR3-1333 Issue

#1
EastCoasthandle
Darren said:
EastCoasthandle, read my post above (you may very well not have any problems)
Yeah, I just caught it. Thanks for the input here. This news had me scratching my head on what's being plagued here. Perhaps the title needs to be re-worded until it's confirmed that we have a problem perhaps? In the example I posted earlier one would want to know if he/she can expect any problems. So far, no one can answer that as of yet (until AMD provide further information about it).
Posted on Reply
#2
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
EastCoasthandle said:
Perhaps the title needs to be re-worded until it's confirmed that we have a problem perhaps?
It won't happen. The processors suffer from an issue, hence listed as an erratum. If you're still in doubt, educate yourself by running four modules on a test-bed at default settings.
Posted on Reply
#3
Kei
While this does prove to suck for some people out there, am I the only person here that read this was an "issue" before they were even released?

As a matter of fact I believe that one or more of the reviews put out stated that if you wanted to use more than one dimm per channel then you would have to decrease the speed to 1066Mhz so I'm not surprised in the least bit.

I'll see if I can find the reviews that state that. :) See reviews at bottom of post!

Kei

Edit: Here are 2 I found real quick, I'd be willing to bet that many more stated the same fact. Always read before you buy...then again majority of the people complaining wouldn't be reading or buying anyway. :roll:

http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=17113&page=2

http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=3512&p=3
Posted on Reply
#4
EastCoasthandle
btarunr said:
It won't happen. The processors suffer from an issue, hence listed as an erratum. If you're still in doubt, educate yourself by running four modules on a test-bed at default settings.
btarunr, erratums happen all the time, be it AMD or Intel etc. This is why I asked for clarification from the example I posted earlier regarding a specific PC setup (which I really have no answer to). No need to get excited about it. For me, the title offers an opinion. Having followed up with issue with you we are left awaiting more information from AMD.
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#5
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
EastCoasthandle said:
btarunr, erratums happen all the time, be it AMD, Intel etc. This is why I asked for clarification from the example I posted earlier. No need to get excited about it.
I am not excited about it. Errata happen all the while, and the news article covers it within its right proportions and quantum of relevance to most users. All required facts known are covered, all information sought from AMD are on the sidelines of the core issue. "allowed range" corresponds to the voltage range AM3 processors support DDR3 modules in, safely, by default.
Posted on Reply
#6
farlex85
Darren said:
Seems like a lot of people are talking bad about AMD already without reading the text thoroughly. DDR3 will work. However if you have ultra fast DDR3 such as DDR3-1333 or faster you have to manually configure it (opposed to automatic configuration) and reduce the bus slightly to 1066 MHz The user will benefit from faster latency timings.

However not all ram stick will cause incompatibility because it says "the users may experience unreliable operation" and hence you may have no problems with DDR3-1333 or faster memory, and therefore this issue is 100% hyperthetical and might materalise users having no problems whatso-ever! in essence it will vary user to user.
1333mhz is not ultra-fast, that's the slowest ddr3 will go and be faster than ddr2. If you take it down to 1066 it's probably gonna have higher latencies than ddr2, making ddr3 in these particular circumstances utterly worthless. A problem that doesn't effect everyone is still a problem, but in this case it seems to be easily sidestepped. ;)

Although, really, at this point there isn't much point to ddr3 anyway. Aside from lower voltages and higher mem benches there seems to be no compelling advantage to ddr3 over ddr2. We seemed to have reached a point (like processor speed) where in most applications more memory speed simply isn't needed, and yields very little gains. Might as well stick w/ ddr2 for now.
Posted on Reply
#7
EastCoasthandle
Darren said:
EastCoasthandle,

There is definitely a problem, but to what extent might vary user to user. e.g. I might put in OCZ DDR3 1600 and be 100% stable on MSI board, however you might put in Kingston DDR3 1600 in a Asus board and get incompatibilities and hence forcing you to reduce the bus to 1033 MHz and tighten the timings to compensate :)
Darren, that's not the confusing part. That's what having erratums are all about. But as you pointed out, I would like to know the extent of this issue. If you purchased said setup (in the other post) do you have to tweak the bios a certain way? Are you stuck with the problem with no real fix except get a new CPU and or motherboard? These questions will hopefully be answered once AMD further expands on the erratum. That will determine (at least for me) if this is a plague or not.
Posted on Reply
#8
Darren
EastCoasthandle,

There is definitely a problem, but to what extent might vary user to user. e.g. I might put in OCZ DDR3 1600 and be 100% stable on MSI board, however you might put in Kingston DDR3 1600 in a Asus board and get incompatibilities and hence forcing you to reduce the bus to 1066 MHz and tighten the timings to compensate :)

btarunr said:
I am not excited about it. Errata happen all the while, and the news article covers it within its right proportions and quantum of relevance to most users.
Intel has a huge budget so there errata issues probably get fixed before the press find out, also Intel's budget allows for them to enhance their advantages through propaganda to cover up the bad media regarding their errata issues.



Edit:

EastCoasthandle said:
do you have to tweak the bios a certain way? Are you stuck with the problem with no real fix except get a new CPU and or motherboard? These questions will hopefully be answered once AMD further expands on the erratum.
I would presume that if the issue effected your system it would be a matter of going into the bios and turning off "Auto" in the settings and selecting "manual" and reducing the memory bus. Typically, when you reduce the memory bus the latency timings also tighten in concert.

As for a fix, it might be that AMD say "forget a fix" only 5% of users are having issues why invest money.

There will be a definite fix on the next revision of CPU stepping which would indeed mean that a new CPU would have to be purchased (presuming you are one of the effected few). Perhaps motherboard manufacturers are able to fix it via a bios update which I doubt.
Posted on Reply
#9
OnBoard
Good, now sell me one of these "faulty" processors for half the price :p

If I were to buy one I'd use 2x2GB DDR2, so no problem at all, but I wouldn't say that buying one.
Posted on Reply
#10
EastCoasthandle
Darren said:
Intel has a huge budget so there errata issues probably get fixed before the press find out, also Intel's budget allows for them to enhance their advantages through propaganda to cover up the bad media regarding their errata issues.



Edit:





I would presume that if the issue effected your system it would be a matter of going into the bios and turning off "Auto" in the settings and selecting "manual" and reducing the memory bus. Typically, when you reduce the memory bus the latency timings also tighten in concert.

As for a fix, it might be that AMD say "forget a fix" only 5% of users are having issues why invest money.

There will be a definite fix on the next revision of CPU stepping which would indeed mean that a new CPU would have to be purchased (presuming you are one of the effected few). Perhaps motherboard manufacturers are able to fix it via a bios update which I doubt.
Thanks for the input. Hopefully we can see some sort motherboard/bios fix while they revise their CPUs.
Posted on Reply
#11
TheMailMan78
Big Member
I find this whole thing kinda funny. I think it should be a problem that needs to be addressed. On the other hand this is the nature of new technology.

Anyone who buys the "latest" revision or release is prone to hit problems. I never EVER buy a first revision of anything. Electronics or cars. Let someone else iron out the bugs......except women. I like first revisions of women ;)

Edit: Can me and Binge still riot in the name of AMD?
Posted on Reply
#12
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
OnBoard said:
Good, now sell me one of these "faulty" processors for half the price :p

If I were to buy one I'd use 2x2GB DDR2, so no problem at all, but I wouldn't say that buying one.
I'd use 2x2GB DDR3, and at the expense of expandability, get the performance/OC potential I need, not to mention, modules with higher densities coming up (4GB), which hopefully become mainstream by the time I find 4GB of system memory insufficient for my applications.
Posted on Reply
#13
Darren
I plan on hanging onto my OCZ PC6400 for a while, running it @ 929 MHz at the moment, can reach around 1000MHz if pushed.

Here in the UK DDR3 is stupidly priced. DDR3 @ 1333MHz will not be a big enough performance boost to justify it over my current stick. Unless I can get DDR3 1800MHz or better I can't see myself buying DDR3 unless their is a drastic price reduction.

At present I can buy 16 GB of premium DDR2 PC6400 or DDR2 PC8500 for the price of 4 GB of basic DDR3 :shadedshu
Posted on Reply
#14
OnBoard
btarunr said:
I'd use 2x2GB DDR3, and at the expense of expandability, get the performance/OC potential I need, not to mention, modules with higher densities coming up (4GB), which hopefully become mainstream by the time I find 4GB of system memory insufficient for my applications.
Does it need high mhz mem? Don't Black Editions have unlocked multiplier, so it doesn't matter what mem you have.
Posted on Reply
#15
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
one thing AMD, MOVE THE MEMORY CONTROLLER BACK TO THE MOTHERBOARD!!!

I wish their techies were listening to this thread.

Also on the current note, AMD may delay the launch of these CPUs or send these with OEM machines and then launch a stepping revision that has the permanent fix.
Posted on Reply
#16
brian.ca
btarunr said:
It is pretty understandable from the title and the subsequent post itself that product is not functioning as intended and hence "plagued" with an issue, description of which from whatever we learn from the AMD document, is provided below (the title).
I think the issue is that the word "plague" is associated with a certain level of importance/severity that is not really representative of / uniform with this problem.... I'm not familiar with all the technical aspects but it seems like for a lot of people (those opting for ddr2, those not using that much ddr3, or those able to simply find a suitable work around) this isn't even a problem at all. I don't think it's fair to call something a "plague" when it will for most people pose absolutely 0 problems, and for those who will see the problem, might still be something they can work around.

And it does seem to be effecting the response... compare the first set of replies to this article vs. the replies on VR-zone.
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#17
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
I could care less. The issue is an issue. The product doesn't function the way it is intended to, memory support being a major part of the product. The title is justified, so is its wording, and will not be further discussed upon.
Posted on Reply
#18
Kei
So.....nobody else read this information in the cpu reviews? Did you all just skip straight to the benchmarks instead of reading the rest of the review that told you beforehand about the memory usage ability of the motherboard/cpu? :confused:

I don't see how this is a surprise to anyone at all that actually read the review of the cpus before they bought one.

To me the title of the thread does suck, but hey it's the news that's what news reporters do so he's just doing his job. Don't get caught up on the wording when you already know better anyway. Read fine print and let our awesome news man do his job. :p

Kei
Posted on Reply
#19
kid41212003
Because it's "unusual" for most people.

For most users, they read about mobos when they want to know the memory supports, not the CPU itself, because:

You put the CPU on the mobo which supported that cpu, and you put the memory on the mobo, which supported that memory.

You don't put a memory on a mobo, because the CPU supports it.

It's obvious isn't it...?
Posted on Reply
#20
wiak
basicly this is saying if you got four ddr3 ram sticks at 1333 it will be down graded to 1066 ;)
if you got two ddr3 ram sticks you still got 1333 speed ;)
who buys 4 sticks of ddr3?
its freaking expensive even two sticks

bit-tech quote!
The thing is, AMD is forced to move to DDR3 eventually - simply because DDR3's data density is designed to be higher, so should we start wanting 4/8GB sticks of memory, DDR3 is our only option. Here's the problem though: to get 1,333MHz DDR3 running, the current Deneb core limits it to just one DIMM per channel - this effectively makes the DDR3 performance limit to just 4GB in today's markets.
http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cpus/2009/02/11/amd-phenom-820-810-720-710-am3-cpus/1

Spotify » Mandy Moore - One Way or Another
Posted on Reply
#21
Assimilator
Congratulations AMD, for once again managing to deliver a product that (a) cannot compete with the latest from Intel and (b) suffers from another crucial design flaw!

AMD needs to do what Intel did with the Pentium 4/Core 2: accept that their current architecture (K10) is fundamentally flawed, throw it in the bin, then build a new architecture based on one that's proven and reliable (K8). If they don't (won't) do this, they are, quite simply, doomed.

I only hope that ATI comes out of this intact.
Posted on Reply
#22
J-Man
Castiel said:
When I rebuild my next system(Damn College Funds!!:banghead:) I will be going INTEL. I am not going to wait for AMD to come out with some good hardware. There 2 years behind Intel and they need to get there work together and start putting out some good stuff. Come on they can't even put a freakin Phenom with DDR3 memory? I rather have a faster chip with DDR2.

I officially announce today I am going full Intel!!:D
Good!
Posted on Reply
#23
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
no one has had issues with DDR3+phenom II on XS and andreyang pushed the crap outta his
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#24
LittleLizard
most people who are buying am3 cpu are going to use ddr2 as is dirt cheap now and when ddr3 comes down, most people are going to go to the next arquitecture or there will be a fix already released
Posted on Reply
#25
ShadowFold
LittleLizard said:
most people who are buying am3 cpu are going to use ddr2 as is dirt cheap now and when ddr3 comes down, most people are going to go to the next arquitecture or there will be a fix already released
Thank you.. By the time DDR3 boards are out and 8gb is cheap AMD will have a fix. I'm surprised they announced this. Now people are having anxiety attacks for no reason because of it.
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