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Review: Memory Shootout - Extremely High Performance DDR using Samsung TCCD DRAMs on Socket 939 AMD64

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 14 March 2005, 00:00

Tags: Samsung (005935.KS)

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Corsair's TwinXP1024-3200XL

Andy had a sneak peak at Corsair's CMXP512-3200XL for us back when the modules were in pre-production. Better known as Corsair Xpert XL, or XMS XL Xpert, or some other combination of words and acronyms beginning with X, they're the modules with the funky display on top of, what at first glance appears to be, a Corsair XL PRO module. A regular Corsair XL PRO module uses a Corsair custom PCB of their own design, and the aforementioned TCCD ICs, in a double-sided configuration.

The PRO designation means similar large, black heatsinks (you'll see them called heatspreaders too) as on a regular PRO module, but with the top modified to take the new Xpert display rather than the regular activity lights. You can get XL in 'PT' form, too, which means a platinum-coloured heatspreader. There's also an Xpert version of their C2 memory, rated to 2.5-3-3-6 on AMD systems.

The XL Xpert is rated to 2-2-2-5 at DDR400 using a nominal voltage of 2.75V, and the SPD is set for that on boot at DDR400. The SPD table is only programmed for DDR400 speeds, whereas you'll find other TCCD-based modules offering SPD tables with other speed settings and timings.

Corsair recently sent along a sample of the final revision (currently XMS3208v1.1) for us to review and use for test platforms, so I'll take a look at their appearance again as Andy did.

Module Appearance

Corsair CMXP512-3200XL
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Corsair CMXP512-3200XL rear
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You can see the module from the front and back in the photographs, with the PCB poking out of the top to allow the display module good purchase on something other than the protruding interface pins.

Corsair CMXP512-3200XL Display Module
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The display module can interface with the module two ways, so there's an overhang left or right, depending on the system you're putting it into. The method you have to choose depends on the mainboard you're using, and to some extent any other modules you want to throw in there too. The overhang and height of the module means that there's a 0.5" x 1.75" space under the overhang to squeeze in some other modules.

Here's a shot of the module from the bottom, so you can see the overhang.

Corsair CMXP512-3200XL display module overhang
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Judicious use of too much flash lets you see the shadow cast by the module if you lay it flat, for another indicator of how it protrudes.

Corsair CMXP512-3200XL shadow caster
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Lit up and scrolling information, the display is certainly impressive. Whether it's your cup of tea or not is another matter. Personally, I've come to grow fond of it, and in a recent article it was key in telling me just how quick the modules were running, since software wouldn't cooperate. It certainly is useful in certain situations, whether or not you like the looks. As Andy told you in the original article, it'll scroll the module name, temperature, frequency and voltage at set intervals, all controlled by Corsair's own Memory Dashboard software.

Corsair CMXP512-3200XL display
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The packaging is larger than the usual blister pack you get for memory, to accommodate larger modules with big heatsinks, and the display modules. It's worth a quick peek.

Corsair CMXP512-3200XL Box
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Corsair CMXP512-3200XL box rear
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Corsair CMXP512-3200XL box open
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The biggest, most impressive, most expensive DDR400-specific memory modules on the market. The Xpert display adds a fair chunk of change to the cost, over and above PRO and PT. At Scan in the UK, XL PT is £183 or so, XL PRO is £192 or thereabouts, and XL Xpert is a frankly scary £293. Those are all prices for a 2 x 512MB TwinX kit. My brain (calc.exe) makes that nearly £100 just for the display modules.

Check out some screenshots of the Memory Dashboard here, here and here.