AMD Radeon Gamer Memory Debuts



Company: AMD
Author: James Prior
Editor: Sean Ridgeley
Date: May 7th, 2013

Built for speed and comfort

Today AMD are unveiling a new edition of their Radeon branded memory: 'Gamer' edition. The current lineup consists of DDR3 desktop and notebook modules which feature the Value, Entertainment, and Performance series, in 4, 8 and 16GB kits; Value and Entertainment are available in single or dual kits and speeds up to 1600MHz, and Entertainment has the SODIMM (notebook) style offering. Heat shields are optional, and timings reflect the price position of the kits.

AMD Radeon Memory

Performance Edition is a little different, available at up to 1866MHz -- the fastest specification supported by AMD CPU and APU products. The kit is dual channel, and uses AMD Memory Profile (AMP) technology. AMD AMP is the equivalent to Intel's XMP specification, which allows for a non-JEDEC standard set of timings and voltages to be automagically used, and still allow the memory to work in a JEDEC compliance manner. AMP modules also support XMP, to permit use in non-AMD platforms.

AMD Radeon Memory

AMD Radeon Gamer Edition memory breaks the mold and offers a 2133MHz quad stick set of 4GB DIMMs for $154.99. The memory chips I'm told are specially selected by manufacturer DataRAM for overclockability, and run at 1.65v and CL 10. Detailed timing information is not available, nor are product samples for testing, unfortunately, but they are likely DDR3-2133K specification (PC3-17000 10-11-11-11). Outside of North America, the modules are provided by SMI. Again, the modules are subjected to high quality inspection and binning.

Radeon Gamer Series Memory

The AMD Radeon Gamer series memory DIMMs are branded on both side and edge with the product name, and look the part for an enthusiast build in the photos we've seen. The DIMMs are equipped with aluminum heatspreaders and are 'low profile', in that they are not taller than a standard DIMM at 30mm high; Samsung's 30nm DDR3-1600 PC3-12800 very low profile DIMMs are under 20mm tall and are reputed to overclock very well.

'Capacity' was the word you needed, AMD - not 'Bandwidth'; it should offer 12.8GB/s bandwidth

The kit also grants the user an AMD Radeon RAMDISK 64GB license, newly iterated to version 4.1. The new version is touted to be up to three times faster in loading profiles from cold boot, and 20 times faster in saving to disk for shutdown. This is a significant update, decreasing boot time from 256 seconds to 84 seconds, and reducing shutdown time from 535 seconds to 23 seconds. It's made possible by moving to a streaming data model, using the RAMDISK as a persistent cache held in RAM for the storage drive instead of replacing it.

You can install each of your games to an individual RAMDISK image and just swap RAMDISK image profiles to play different games. The data is streamed from disk until it's fully resident in memory, so you don't have to wait for a 12GB load before clicking run.

Radeon RAMDISK

AMD's Radeon RAMDISK is not exclusive to the Gamer series: different versions are available. Everyone can grab a 4GB version, and if you've got any version of AMD memory installed (Value, Enthusiast, Performance or Gamer), that will be increased to 6GB. A 32GB version is available for $14.99, and the new 64GB version is free with Gamer series. If you've already bought it, and buy Gamer series, your previous license is extended to 64GB as well.

AMD APUs and CPUs have the ability to read and write to different banks concurrently, which requires dual-dual channel population -- four sticks -- to operate. A quad kit therefore shows the benefit of AMD platforms, and the high memory clock benefits APU systems the most due to the converged CPU and GPU design.

A10 APU Performance with Radeon RAM

Few modern desktop platforms support more than 32GB of RAM, and at 2133MHz, many integrated memory controllers (IMC) feel the strain, although AMD most recent FX Piledriver processor featured a revised IMC that ran high memory clocks better than the first gen Bulldozer series. Current APUs and CPUs from AMD are only rated to 1600MHz for quad channel and 1866MHz for dual channel, which leads me to speculate AMD's next-gen APU, Kaveri (being shown to select press and analysts this week), will have a higher supported memory speed rating.

AMD Memory Profiles for Performance and Energy Savings

An interesting note in the presentation from AMD was the possibility of future green profiles for sub-1.5v modules. Last year at AFDS '12, AMD's then newly acquired SeaMicro division showed off Opteron processors running with 1.35v DDR3-1600 SO-DIMMs on their processor add-in cards. Moving this technology into client notebook and desktop spaces is the obvious next step. Profiles for high speed, high performance and low power, and reasonable performance make playing in the AMD ecosystem easier, and offer more incentive for AMD's partners to give AMD platforms some attention.

Installed Game sizes

The product and bundling are sensible, and the pricing is sensible, too. At the low end of the market for this type of memory kit, it's not earth shatteringly good or roof-collapsing bad. The RAMDISK bundle is a non-obvious value-add; the weak point isn't the technology, but the use case. Modern games are pushing 10-15GB for an install now and a 64-bit gaming system will use 4-6GB for having fun at high settings, and more if you're running super quality textures, AA, and/or mods.

RAMDISK vs. SSD & HDD

With an AMD Radeon Gamer edition equipped platform, you've got 8-10GB left for your RAMDISK, meaning the games that use the most memory (online multiplayer, i.e. the ones that you want to load new levels/maps quickly) and therefore would benefit the most from having the install reading at 5GB/sec don't see any benefit: you're out of RAM. However, you might find a benefit from having other commonly used applications like a web browser, email client, and Office, and moving temporary file folder locations to a RAMDISK.

RAMDISK's also silo your memory: you can't use what you need and dynamically allocate from system allocated RAM to RAMDISK allocated RAM; a better product for AMD to sponsor and/or develop would be a user-controlled RAM cache. AMD should reserve the Radeon brand for Graphics and make a new branding for memory, storage, and caching technology. Maybe reuse an old brand -- Rage-128 for a 128GB SSD, anyone? Rage Enthusiast/Performance/Gamer Memory? Rage Performance Cache?

Stock for the new memory is now available on Newegg, and test samples should be on their way to reviewers soon. If we get hands on we'll get more details for you about the memory, including how well it overclocks and the benefit seen for different platforms. Until then, if you're building or upgrading an AMD platform, it's worth putting AMD Radeon memory on your list for the lifetime warranty, guaranteed compatibility, and a nice branding match with the rest of your system components.