Ganged Vs Unganged: Which Memory Mode for What?

Computer architecture is a mystery in its ways. Keeping the basic idea of improvising data transmission intact, the technology gets revamped to support faster communication between RAM and memory. And it has led to the creation of multi-channel memory architecture. 

All modern-day bigshots, like Intel, AMD have supported this innovation for upgrading the ability to utilize data for quick transactions. One of the concepts that got popular under the regime is Ganged and Unganged memory.

These terms are indeed literal to their names. In the former, you can combine two buses to form one single unit, whereas in the latter each bus is given independent access. For quite some time, there has been a good struggle between both of the memory types. 

Interested to broaden your knowledge on the domain? Read on to learn more about the tussle between ganged vs unganged memory, and realize which is ultimately the best one!

Ganged Vs Unganged: The Basics

This section would focus in detail on both of the memory variants. 

What Is Ganged Memory?

As defined in the name, ganged memory refers to combining two separate buses to form one large single unit. For example, you can combine two 64-bit buses into a single 128- bit bus, and maximize the memory throughput. 

The following points would clarify the working mechanism:

  • Allows a combined channel to communicate with the memory module.
  • Faster and bigger data exchange due to enhanced size.
  • Allows channel interleaving, i.e. assigning memory addresses in a given order. 

To support this, the most important thing needed is compatible hardware. 

What Does Ganged Memory Indicate?

Ganged memory indicates the memory distribution done across its group of connected RAMs. For example, in a 128 bit DIMM, mapping is first completed on 64-bit Channel A and then followed by 64-bit Channel B. 

This split in between the memory channels aid in interleaving and effective communication with the controller. In simpler terms, both of the 64-bit components access different memory channels and the combined 128-bit utilizes both.

But here’s a catch, these channels cannot run independently. Despite this, the ganged mode has greater potential to be faster as interleaving is finely grained by the manufacturers. 

What Are the Applications of Ganged Memory?

You would generally find Ganged Memory applied in areas where high bandwidth is needed in parallel to greater power capacity. Some of the classic examples include:

  • Mobile internet.
  • Networking
  • Latest apps

The high-frequency operation, dynamic power management, rapid debugging abilities- are the key USPs for which the developers’ community prefers going for ganged memory mode. 

What Is Unganged Memory?

As defined by the name, Unganged memory refers to the independence in the separate RAM sticks on communicating with the controller. For example, in dual-channel architecture, the unganged mode goes by default. So, both of the 64-bit memory buses work independently to access their respective channels and support multithreading. 

Dual-channel unganged mode is generally selected for purposes where accelerated bandwidth is not a mandatory requirement. In simple terms, the controllers will be allowed to work separately and show top-notch performance. 

What Does Unganged Memory Indicates?

Both ganged and unganged memory types belong to multi-channel architecture. When it comes to the latter, there is one major takeaway- there will be independent channel access and each core will be gaining access to only a single stick of RAM. 

When it comes to the theoretical explanation, the access to data is quicker as there is no logical sequence defined for the running of the channels. Some developers say that they can receive two data blocks in a single fetch due to unganged mode. 

What Are the Applications of Unganged Memory?

Unganged memory is generally preferred by hardcore gamers, who want to maintain the optimal data transfer and receiving mechanism. It is also utilized for multi-threaded applications.

Whenever it comes to the battle between ganged or unganged for gaming, the latter is selected due to greater speed. 

Ganged Vs Unganged: Which One Is Default Memory Mode?

The answer to the question is completely dependent upon the brand of processor used. For example, if you go for the AMD Phenom family, you would find unganged as the default mode, whereas in Intel you would find ganged as the default. 

It again depends upon the users and the mode in which they run the computers for their daily activities. You can change the settings in BIOS. 

Ganged vs Unganged: The Significances

Now comes the important part- how can you decide between ganged and unganged mode? Both of them have their pros and cons, and one of the ways to judge them is by comparing the core temperatures as these memory modes run.

RealTemp and CoreTemp are popular tools for checking the DTS to match accuracy. The next section would detail the important aspects of Ganged and Unganged memory. 

Which Mode Is Better for Single Thread Applications?

Single thread applications refer to the functions of an operating system where only a single thread or channel is used to run the complete task throughout. The major advantages of running these applications include:

  • Reduced complexity in programming and debugging.
  • Lesser overhead on the application. 

Ganged Mode for Single Thread Applications

If you go for ganged mode for single-thread applications, the sequence of performance is decided by the logic set between the two separate channel sticks. You would observe the following sequencing:

  • Clock cycle for setting the memory to either read or write mode.
  • Faster synchronization for I/O processing.
  • Prioritization of tasks in the single thread. 

As a result, the ganged mode would not be that efficient and the response time would be quite high. Therefore, it is not recommended to run ganged mode in single-thread applications. 

Unganged Mode for Single Thread Applications

Unlike ganged mode, the separate channel sticks are independent of each other in unganged mode. Therefore, you can observe proper synchronization between the tasks, and most importantly multi-tasking becomes a possibility.

So, unganged mode is suitable for single-thread applications, and the system can plan the response time by dedicating one channel for the particular application, and the other for the rest of the background processes. 

Which Mode Is Better for Multi-Thread Applications?

Multi-thread applications refer to the feature in operating systems that break the programs into sub-components and allow them to be run in parallel threads. As a result, the long-running tasks are distributed evenly, and the users gain the perception that the tasks can be completed in the shortest possible time. 

The following are advantages of multi-thread applications:

  • Enhanced responsiveness.
  • Fast performance of the applications.
  • Proper prioritization of the tasks. 

Ganged Mode for Multi-Thread Applications

Again, the ganged mode would not be efficient for running multi-thread applications. It is because of the dependency between the channels. Thus, the controller would be able to process the complete information as per defined logic, and not define the application into small tasks or components. 

The response time would be higher than when used in unganged mode. 

Unganged Mode for Multi-Thread Applications

Unganged mode would be stable for multi-thread applications. Due to the independence in the channels, the sequencing for the processing becomes easy. Added to the reasons for efficiency include:

  • Proper resource allocation to prevent deadlock between different threads in case of multiple processes.
  • Thread synchronization for interacting with one static object at a time. 

Therefore, unganged mode again stands as a winner when it comes to multi-thread applications. 

Which Mode Is Better for Gaming?

Gaming is defined predominantly based on the ability to load the frames faster and prevent any lagging in between the missions. Out of the large number of factors that decide upon the performance of gaming, this BIOS setting is also equally important.

Ganged Mode for Gaming

In many systems, the ganged mode is the default BIOS setting. The users also feel comfortable in using it for simple and single-threaded applications (where they need not worry much about the response time). 

Similarly, if your game is using a single thread during the execution, then it would be suitable for running in ganged mode. However, before running any game, please check the manufacturer’s manual for further details. 

In extreme cases, if the number of processors is lesser than threads to be utilized, the execution would be disturbed. In simple terms, performance would be skewed. 

Unganged Mode for Gaming

Unlike ganged mode, Unganged mode has multiple threads to spare for the parallel activities. Due to channel independence, it would be easy to run multi-thread games. And the performance would be equally sleek.

It can be correlated to DDR3 unganged mode. Here, care needs to be given to maintaining the balance between parallelism and target processors to be utilized for performance gains. 

For example, if the physical processors are lesser than the threads to be utilized, your performance would go down the drains and you would not find parallelism in tasks. Thus, be extra careful about this. 

Which Mode Is Better for AMD Processors?

When it comes to considering AMD processors, you would be more interested to learn about the impact on high-performance activities, like gaming, designing, multiple applications, etc. Thus, there would be differences when it comes to selecting ganged or unganged mode for the AMD processors. 

Ganged Mode for AMD Processors

With ganged mode, you would find the following performance results on AMD processors:

  • With a single channel running at a higher frequency, the memory bandwidth would also be greater. So, as a gamer, you would be able to hit the higher clock speeds easily and witness some improvement in the performance. 
  • As both of the RAM channels are dependent, it acts as a single-channel configuration and the memory throughput is limited by the slowest RAM module.
  • The level of complexity would be lesser. 

Unganged Mode for AMD Processors

Under unganged mode, you would find the given results for AMD processors:

  • Even though the memory bandwidth would be independent for each of the RAM sticks, if your integrated graphics share a memory with the CPU, then you can utilize the maximum bandwidth possible. 
  • As it follows a multi-channel memory configuration, the communication with the controller would be equally strong.
  • The arrangement of RAM modules in their respective slots is important for unlocking the dual-channel mode. CPU-Z can show the best possible performance with the right combination of RAM and its dedicated slot. 

Which Mode Is Better for Intel Processors?

When it comes to Intel processors, you can play along with different memory modes based on the available modules- Single channel, dual channel, triple channel, quad-channel, and Flex mode. Thus, when you go for utilizing DDR3 RAM- be it ganged or unganged with Intel processors, you need to weigh down the options basis the performance. 

Ganged Mode for Intel Processors

When it comes to the ganged mode, you would find the memory distribution in either of the given modes:

  • Asymmetric mode, where only a single DIMM is used or multiple are used with unequal memory capacities. 
  • Single-channel with one DIMM
  • Single-channel with three DIMMs. 

Thus, under the ganged mode, you would find similar levels of performance in single-threaded applications, simple games, multi-surfing. In the case of multiple DIMMs, Intel has offered the flexibility of arranging them properly for establishing the dual-channel mode. 

Unganged Mode for Intel Processors

With unganged mode, you can go for either of the memory channel combinations:

  • Dual-channel or interleaved mode, where multiple DIMMs of the same memory capacities are used.
  • Dual-channel with two DIMMs.
  • Dual-channel with three DIMMs.
  • Dual-channel with four DIMMs. 
  • Triple-channel.
  • Quad-channel. 
  • Flex mode.

In unganged for Intel processors, you can achieve unmatched performance in multi-threaded applications, high-end games, prioritization of tasks, and greater bandwidth. All you need to do is ensure the following:

  • Same memory size in all DIMMs.
  • Proper configuration as per the dedicated slot.
  • Same speed and timing.
  • Required DIMM configuration for operating in dual and single-channel modes simultaneously (applicable only for Quad and Flex modes). 

Refer to a similar article for more clarity- Can you use 3 sticks of RAM?

Ganged Vs Unganged: Which One Should You Rely More On?

After all of the discussion, we would like to sum it up by saying that the selection of ganged vs unganged mode is highly dependent upon your activity and usage pattern. The following test cases would sum up everything:

  • If you have a simple usage pattern and rely on simple single-threaded applications, then ganged mode would be a good choice. The response times would not be significant for your system performance, and even you need not worry about complex troubleshooting.
  • If you are into hardcore gaming, then unganged mode would be a better choice. You would gain faster loading times, parallel activities divided in logical sequences amongst the channels, GPU that can be connected with the processor for customizable bandwidth. 
  • If you run majorly multi-thread applications, then also unganged mode would be a better alternative.  

FAQs 

1. What does Unganged mode mean?

Unganged mode means that the RAM channels work independently of each other. The tasks can be divided amongst them for optimal response time. 

2. What is Unganged mode DDR3?

It refers to the default mode in some of the systems. As per it, the system performs discrete memory operations at once that are not related to each other. For example, 2 64-bit sticks would act parallel under an unganged mode of the 128-bit bus. 

3. Is ganged memory the default BIOS mode?

Yes, ganged mode is the default BIOS setting and is considered ideal for single-threaded applications. 

Final Words 

The final words suggest that ganged and unganged memory modes affect the performance of your system in multiple methods. Based on your usage pattern, you can decide on switching between them.

In some cases, they can also help in overclocking the system to the required extent. Read a similar topic for more details- Can you overclock i3 6100? Therefore, you need to be adequately informed for deciding on the timing for the switch. Also, feel free to refer to our website for more similar content- How long to run prime95, does overclocking GPU increase fps, and many more. Till then, happy reading and take care!