Memory Frequency Scaling in SFF Systems: An Investigation with SO-DIMMs and Coffee Lake

Overclocking has generally been the domain of enthusiasts with desktop rigs. Though more recently we have seen even SFF PCs joining the bandwagon – Intel’s Hades Canyon NUC, for example, supports overclocking the CPU as well as the GPU. However, increasing the CPU frequency beyond the official specifications is not the only way to extract more performance from a computing system. Memory-bound workloads can benefit from memory hierarchies with increased bandwidth and/or lower latencies.

We last looked at DDR4 memory scaling effects on SFF PCs when we experimented with different SO-DIMMs in the Skull Canyon NUC (NUC6i7KYK) based on the Skylake platform. Current SFF PCs are based on Coffee Lake, which brings in more cores while keeping power efficiency in mind. Compared to the Skylake memory controller’s official limit of 2133 MT/s, the Coffee Lake memory controller ships with DDR4-2666 supported out of the box. In this article, we explore the effects of varying DDR4 SO-DIMM frequencies and timings on a SFF PC with a standard Coffee Lake desktop CPU.

Introduction
Since the introduction of DDR4 dell hard disk 1tb price support in the Skylake platform, we have seen expanded support for overclocked memory kits on both the desktop and notebook segments. On standard non-overclocked systems, the DDR4 memory controller in Coffee Lake desktop CPUs operates at 2666 MT/s, while the U-series CPUs have a 2400 MT/s interface. DDR4 DIMMs operating as high as 4266 MT/s are available for desktop systems with full-sized memory slots. On the SO-DIMM side, we have seen various vendors introduce kits operating between 2133 MT/s and 3200 MT/s. While 2400 MT/s has become the de-facto SO-DIMM frequency for current systems, the usage of desktop CPUs in SFF PCs such as the ASRock DeskMini have ensured that the higher frequency SO-DIMMs also have adoption.

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