Update Oct. 5, 2015 - Media confirms: Best to use DDR4 with Intel Skylake
The new Intel Skylake platform is meant to be used with DDR4 memory and has limited support for DDR3L memory. It is important to know that Skylake CPU’s are not compatible with regular DDR3 modules. Intel and Tom’s Hardware Guide state that the CPU’s integrated memory controller (IMC) is not made for the higher voltage and using this kind of memory for a longer period of time might even harm your Skylake CPU. Even though some MSI motherboards are compatible with DDR3L and will even work with regular DDR3 memory, we highly recommend to use DDR4 Boost to ensure maximum stability and compatibility without the risk of damaging your CPU. In addition, your system will be faster and more energy efficient when using DDR4 memory. Market analysts expect DDR4 to be priced similar to DDR3 by the end of this year, and to become even cheaper than DDR3 from the beginning of 2016.
"Although it would be nice to use any DDR3 from 1.35V - 1.65V, running at these higher voltages could burn out the IMC and kill the processor over time." – Tom’s Hardware Guide
With the newest motherboard series for the 6th generation Intel Core processors, better known as 'Skylake', the DDR4 memory standard is brought to a bigger audience. Instead of taking one step from DDR3 to DDR4, MSI decided to take two steps and introduced DDR4 Boost. This technology ensures maximum compatibility and stability while also improving the overclocking performance.
DDR4 Boost is an advanced piece of engineering that offers several improvements over standard DDR4 implementations. Therefore, several memory vendors already embraced this technology and praise it for its ingenuity to get the optimal performance in any situation. To give you an idea of how DDR4 Boost technology actually works, we will cover the technical aspects step by step.
Jeremy Mortenson, Ballistix Global Sr. Product Manager at Micron, said the following about MSI DDR4 Boost: "Ingenious technology ensures DDR4 memory is running optimally"
At first, there is a direct connection from the CPU to the memory slots. Because there are no components positioned in between these major parts, there is less chance of interference thus providing a more stable operation. Another benefit is that the traces can now be shorter. The shorter they are, the better the signal.
Fully isolated memory circuit
However, interference could also be originating from components close to where the CPU and memory are located. To make sure these are shut out as well, motherboards with DDR4 Boost technology are equipped with a fully isolated memory circuit. The easiest way to explain this is a PCB (abbreviation for 'printed circuit board') within a PCB, isolated by a small moat in between.
Optimized routing procedure However, there is one more feature to ensure an optimal signal. The PCB is built up by a combination of resin and fiberglass. To get the best possible signal, it is important that the traces that transport these signals are routed over fiberglass bundles. In the image below, you can see two traces. The upper trace is mostly routed over fiberglass bundles while the other one is constantly interrupted by holes of resin. The signal that is transported by the bottom trace will be affected because of the negative impact caused by interruptions; the fiber weave effect.
To resolve this problem, the traces MSI motherboards with DDR4 Boost are routed differently. To ensure maximum routing over fiberglass bundles, these traces make use of a zig-zag routing procedure which prevents the fiber weave effect and makes sure the signal is stable.
More options Users can get everything out of their memory with DDR4 Boost technology. Below, you can see a comparison between three different MSI motherboards. The first one is based on the Z97 chipset and uses DDR3 memory, the second one is based on the X99 chipset and has a standard DDR4 implementation, the third one is based on the new Z170 chipset and is equipped with DDR4 Boost technology. As you can see, the last DRAM Frequency list supports memory up to DDR4-4133.
"Corsair DDR4 memory paired with MSI Memory Boost delivers blazing fast memory performance" - Colin Brix, PR Director at Corsair.
Improved overclocking performance
Overclockers have the possibility to go even further. Professional overclocker 'Toppc' was able to reach a memory frequency of 4605,8 MHz, the highest dual-channel DDR4 memory frequency ever reached at the time of writing. He achieved this using the MSI Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM EDITION motherboard with DDR4 Boost technology and Adata ZPG Z1 DDR4 memory, using liquid nitrogen cooling. With DDR4 Boost technology, the doors to new records are wide open.
Something for everyone DDR4 Boost technology has a benefit for every user, whether you want the most stable system or seek for the highest frequency. It also allows you to pick from a huge number of different memory kits without having any fear of compatibility issues. Just choose that great looking memory kit for your custom casemod or those extreme modules to take on that overclocking record.