Print 27 comment(s) - last by azander.. on Aug 10 at 9:40 AM

SPD-Z lets OCZ memory owners reprogram the SPD chip

OCZ Technology this week opened up a public beta test of its SPD-Z utility. The SPD-Z utility allows users to reprogram the SPD chip on OCZ memory modules. The SPD chip on memory modules contains information of the module’s capabilities, such as speed and latencies.

Corsair and NVIDIA previously expanded the SPD specification with its Enhanced Performance Profiles, or EPP. The EPP specification allowed users to write their custom memory settings to the SPD chip of EPP compatible modules, with a proper EPP supporting motherboard. However, JEDEC did not ratify or endorse the EPP specification and support for the specification was limited to high end NVIDIA chipset based motherboards.

OCZ’s SPD-Z allows users to reprogram the SPD of any OCZ memory module, as long as the utility can identify the module as an OCZ part. OCZ will provide the files necessary to reprogram the SPD from its repository in the OCZ forums. OCZ plans to provide a variety of SPD files in the upcoming weeks, with new SPDs to enhance performance and/or compatibility.

The SPD-Z utility is GUI based and compatible with Windows only. The SPD-Z utility identifies OCZ memory modules by the part number and points the user to the appropriate SPD repository. OCZ recommends users not run the utility unless their system is 100% stable.

Unlike the EPP specification, the SPD-Z utility will work with any motherboard.  Using the SPD-Z tool will not void the warranty of OCZ memory modules.

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By johnsonx on 8/7/2007 2:53:07 PM , Rating: 5
Can someone elighten me as to why you'd want to reprogram the SPD? If you're enthusiast enough to have such RAM (would it be safe to assume that OCZ ValueRAM won't be programmable?), and have the knowledge to both want to and be able to reprogram the SPD values, wouldn't you have your mainboard set for manual memory timings and have all your timings set in the BIOS? What do you really gain by reprogramming the SPD? The SPD values are safe fall back values; if you push the SPD settings too far, you may end up with unusable RAM.

Now I've had some crap ram in a crap board with limited timing adjustments that I've wished for the ability to reprogram the SPD a little, but that's not what we're talking about here...

RE: why?
By jkresh on 8/7/2007 3:20:20 PM , Rating: 2
While its true that if you set stuff to high you can cause a problem, if you know that you are stable at certain settings then by changing the spd you don't have to redo it every time you update the bios or clear your cmos.

RE: why?
By Xenoterranos on 8/7/2007 4:17:29 PM , Rating: 2
I would assume jkresh is correct. It seems like if you could program the ram with you're own stable SPD, then you could set the memory at what you want and then go on to tweak the FSB (for example) and not have to worry about changing the ram settings again if you de-stabilize the FSB and have to reset the BIOS.

Holy run-on sentence batman!

RE: why?
By Captain Orgazmo on 8/7/2007 8:35:01 PM , Rating: 3
Changing default timings is all fine and dandy, but without the ability to change default memory voltage on the motherboard, what use is it? For example, I am running 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 at 4-3-4-8 @ 2.1 volts on a P35 chipset (not OCZ, however my previous build had OCZ DDR Gold Gamer Extreme or some such memory - excellent stuff). The dimm voltage defaults to 1.8 volts on POST failure or cmos reset. So even if I were able to set SPD from CL5 to the recommended 4-3-4-8 on the memory, I wouldn't as the computer will not POST at those timings at 1.8V, and there would be no way to get into bios to change voltage.

RE: why?
By Polynikes on 8/7/2007 10:36:11 PM , Rating: 2
That's a good point. I wonder how many people will overlook this and have "dead" RAM. I'm really surprised OCZ is allowing this utility to NOT void the warranty.

RE: why?
By OCZJess on 8/8/2007 6:35:17 PM , Rating: 2
Hey Guys,

Thanks for the continued input and concerns...

Please don't think of this tool as being similar to an EPP (Enhanced Performance Profiles/nForce 590/680 MCPs) SPD which does include specific voltage settings to boot at overclocked speeds and timings for optimal performance. Our "SPD-Z" SPDs include specs that are not visible/changeable in the BIOS such as setup and hold times, skew, etc. The SPDs are created and tested on the corresponding motherboard models and will only produce a better interface between the memory and motherboard. It's about tailoring the SPD for your particular motherboard to get unparalleled stability and compatibly.


RE: why?
By jebo on 8/8/2007 11:47:30 AM , Rating: 2
Great point

RE: why?
By v1001 on 8/9/2007 11:42:47 PM , Rating: 2
I was curious also. Thanks.

RE: why?
By azander on 8/7/2007 5:28:44 PM , Rating: 5
Hi Johnsonx,

Thanks for your comments. First let me identify myself as an employee here at OCZ.

You are absolutely correct, the SPD tool is best used to further tweak parts, and is designed for enthusiasts. This may not be a tool for the casual user, but enthusiasts are always looking to get the most out of their products and we wanted to give more options and control to those interested in continually pushing the performance benchmarks. The ability to change or update the SPD based on your unique requirements is simply an added value.

The SPD-Z tool allows customers the ability to both tweak performance, and possibly even improve stability. If improvements are made to the SPD, or a particular platform changes or evolves, now there is an ability on the customer s side to address the change. For those seeking more management over their products the SPD-Z allows them to go ahead and update what was normally not accessible, without fear of voiding their warranty.

RE: why?
By InternetGeek on 8/7/2007 8:48:57 PM , Rating: 2
I got some questions:

- Can you update the SPD of OCZ's SODIMMs?
- Does it run on Windows, including Vista?
- What happens if the settings prevent post?

RE: why?
By OCZJess on 8/8/2007 6:53:44 PM , Rating: 2
Hi InternetGeek,

- Can you update the SPD of OCZ's SODIMMs?
Yes, this will definitely be in the works.

- Does it run on Windows, including Vista?
Yes, it runs XP/Vista (32-bit only right now)

- What happens if the settings prevent post?
The new SPD will be fully tested before release; however there is always some risk in "flashing" just as there is when flashing the motherboard BIOS. But with hundreds of SPD flashes, OCZ support staff has not run into this issue.

RE: why?
By Chillin1248 on 8/7/2007 11:15:51 PM , Rating: 2
Always a pleasure to hear from you Mr. Mei.

I, and I believe many others, appreciate the work and products that OCZ has given to the enthusiast market. Dedication to the customers is further shown by having the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of OCZ making rounds on enthusiast/techology forums and giving advice as well as taking notes and adding them to their product.


RE: why?
By azander on 8/10/2007 9:36:04 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks Chillin, always a pleasure. I'm actually on the road currently, but I make sure to make time no matter where I am to come and listen, learn, and respond to the customer. There is no better time spent, and DT provides a very good forum for the cross dialogue.

RE: why?
By Comdrpopnfresh on 8/7/2007 11:27:25 PM , Rating: 2
I rated to as worth reading. Although I disagree with what I assume to be your opinion. The computer industry is now comprised of what I would consider three types of people:
1. People who see an ad in USA Today and buy a DELL or HP that is a "deal"
2. The people who buy production computers, but know what to ask for, or those who know components and are comfortable building their own, but not tweaking in bios or even doing say pencil-volt-mods.
3. People like us who will seep every bit of speed out of what we have to the extend of the compromise we are willing to make for sound, heat, and expense.

Your rhetorical question first off lets me know you fit into category three- because I was thinking "why bother, you can just restart the computer and enter bios, because if this program makes the computer freeze, you'd have to restart anyhow".

But people in crowd two- which I'd say is growing the fastest in the computer economy doesn't want to open the case and tweak, or get a new cooler, or overclock except in ntune possibly and maybe in atitool. They think that tweaks made in a GUI are safer than those in text-displayed bios, so they are being catered towards by companies- here is where this software also steps in. I would like it if it worked on all brands, because if you are looking for a stable OC and know what your memory can handle, you can tweak it to see instant changes without restarting 20 times.

RE: why?
By johnsonx on 8/9/2007 2:06:41 PM , Rating: 2
Having read the comments, particularly from the OCZ people here, I can see that I and others somewhat misunderstand the operation of this tool.

I *thought* this tool simply let you manually re-program the SPD to whatever values you in your infinite enthusiast wisdom wanted to. This appears to be incorrect, or at least is not the primary purpose of the tool.

What this DOES do is allow you to download and program a custom SPD profile created by OCZ engineers, engineered for your specific mainboard, perhaps even your specific CPU model (in the case of AMD, this may be mandatory). This is awesome, and completely invalidates my original 'Why?' question. Why is obvious. You can buy a high quality OCZ DIMM pair with it's necessarily generic SPD programming, and then program a custom engineered profile for your board and CPU. No more trial and error to get advertised speeds, no more guessing as to which BIOS setting equals which memory spec, etc.

Very awesome OCZ. Well done.

OCZ is committed to overclocking!
By wingless on 8/7/2007 2:36:16 PM , Rating: 2
OCZ is truly committed to overclockers. I've built performance systems in the past for my friends with OCZ and I will have nothing but OCZ for my next build. They are committed enough to give me confidence in their ram's ability. Also the PC Power and Cooling PSU's make their entire product lineup worth having in your box.

RE: OCZ is committed to overclocking!
By azander on 8/7/2007 5:34:13 PM , Rating: 2
Hi Wingless,

Thank you very much for your kind words, and we appreciate both your business and your support. Nothing makes me happier than hearing from a customer. Good or bad I appreciate the feedback, and it helps us better tailor our offerings. We are absolutely committed to overclocking. (heck, our name came from "overclockerz") The SDP-Z tool was created because so many enthusiasts wrote in, or talked to us at shows, asking for a way to update their SPD’s to continually match up with the new motherboards as they are introduced. Thanks again.

RE: OCZ is committed to overclocking!
By dude on 8/8/2007 11:29:26 PM , Rating: 2
Somehow, people seem to have not heard of the old OCZ, or erased it from their memory.

Google a little (might be hard nowadays with old stuff pushed back) but do a resellratings search, and check it out. Yes, I understand the new OCZ is different now, but I wonder how many have been burned so far? Have OCZ tried to do anything for their old customers that has (many times) received the wrong product or defective products?

By azander on 8/10/2007 9:40:31 AM , Rating: 2
Hi Dude, I've been with the comapny now for 4 years, and I can attest that in this time we have made product quality and customer service the priority. But even going back further, no matter when a customer bought a product they can still contact our forum or phone support staff and we will do what we can to help, support, and we are committed to make sure our customer's experience with OCZ and our solutions is a good one.

Has anyone gotten this to work?
By Aquila76 on 8/7/2007 7:13:56 PM , Rating: 2
I tried this out and it fails for me. When I tried to access the on-line repository, I get a 'Not found (http 404)' error box.

At least it made a back up of the SPD info. Always handy to have I guess.

RE: Has anyone gotten this to work?
By OCZJess on 8/7/2007 8:45:35 PM , Rating: 3
Hi Aquila76,

I am an employee at OCZ and wanted to let you know more about the error you are receiving...

This is occurring because the OCZ memory kit you have does not have an uploaded SPD file yet. The tool is actually part number specific and only certain OCZ parts have an enhanced SPD on the "SPD-Z" repository right now.

New SPDs will be added every week and community involvement and discussion is highly encouraged on the forums so OCZ can provide the best level of compatibility and service.

I hope this answers your question and glad we could help back up your SPD ;)

By Aquila76 on 8/8/2007 11:00:39 PM , Rating: 2
That makes sense. I thought that maybe since this a 'new' app the server wasn't up yet. Maybe a change to the message (something like: Detected module not present in database) might be a little less vague to the end user.

Is there a place to check which modules (I have OCZ4001024ELPE) are supported? I poked around the forums a bit and couldn't find it. Granted, I spent all of about 3 minutes before deciding that maybe sleep was more important than squeezing the last ounce of speed from my system.

Might the SPD-Z utility get hacked?
By bupkus on 8/7/2007 3:54:27 PM , Rating: 3
I've seen posts where people have needed to not use the SPD to get stable use. Infact, I have a matched pair of modules that needed just that. If I were building for a client and didn't even give him a modest overclock, I would still be worried with such memory if somehow the bios was disrupted.
Lets face it, we've all had to deal with clients who can't handle any change or problems. I sure don't want to make a house call to re-establish custom bios settings.

I don't say the SPD-Z utility is vital to my use, but I'd like to see it hacked to where it can be applied to other brand name modules as well.

By PrinceGaz on 8/8/2007 11:13:30 AM , Rating: 2
It'll probably be trivial to remove the check for anyone used to fixing similar bugs in other software (such as removing CD checks in games where all the data is already installed on the hard-drive). Whether or not any of them will bother is another matter, though it's not impossible that CORE or some other group that often cracks this type of stuff might have a go. I certainly won't be as I don't have a suitable nVidia mobo and enhanced memory modules to test it on.

Once again....
By Rocket321 on 8/7/2007 2:29:39 PM , Rating: 1
OCZ sets itself apart as the overclocking memory.

I think this is a great idea and hope other manufacturer's follow up with similar tools.

RE: Once again....
By drebo on 8/7/07, Rating: -1
RE: Once again....
By mindless1 on 8/7/2007 5:10:07 PM , Rating: 2
You write that it's incapable of working at stock speeds, but then that people get sick of having to reset CUSTOM timings. Which is it? If their timings were custom and had to be reset because those custom settings didn't work right, is it any surprise that the modules had been pre-programmed to something else instead?

It was a fluke. Common sense dictates that if your particular motherboard is not compatible with the SPD programmed settings of a module, having that module replaced with another of the same won't get you anywhere.

Typically the way to discriminate this is whether errors are always produced in the same locations and only those locations without change, or of course to manually change the timings or other parameters like voltage/etc to effect some change.

I don't see this utility as being very important, more of a marketing PR move for enthusiasts, but every now and then you do come across situations where tools the Average Joe doesn't need, do come in handy.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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