Understanding DDR3 Write Leveling and Read Leveling

Understanding DDR3 Write Leveling and Read Leveling

DDR3 Write and Read Leveling is to allow some mechanism for the memory controller to adjust internal DQS to compensate for unbalanced loading on the board for write and read operations. This will not compensate on a per bit basis, only on a byte or DQS basis.

DDR3 Write Leveling
With DDR3 the memory signals can be allowed to driven to each bank of memory or DIMM on a fly-by basis. This allows for easier routing on the board and single termination. Below, you can see that the CMD/ADDR/CLK drive every memory device. Whereas, the DQ/DQM/DQS drive “each” memory device. This means the CMD/ADDR/CLK are more heavily loaded than the DQ/DQM/DQS but the actual delay is due to the board routing delays and thus the signals arrive later at the destination device. See below for the rough timing diagram.



To compensate for this mismatched loading on the write cycle, the memory controller outputs a special command to the DDR3 memory devices to put it into a special write leveling state. See below for MR1 register definition and write leveling bit.


Basically, the DQS will be used to repeatedly delayed in small increments by the memory controller and sample the CLK until the rising edge of CLK is detected. During this protocol, each set of DQ (8 bits) is output with a “0” until the rising edge is detected by the DQS at which time the DQ will be output with a “1”. The memory controller will detect these “1” on the DQ bus and then knows the correct DQS compensation to align the DQS and CLK on the write path. Once all DQS have been adjusted, these compensation values will be stored for each DQS for future usage. Then the memory controller sends another MRS command to exit the write level mode.

DDR3 Read Leveling

As DDR3 Write Leveling manages the DQS/DQ on write data, the DDR3 Read Leveling manages the DQS/DQ on read data. DDR3 Read Leveling is to compensate the imbalanced loading on the read path. First the memory controller puts the DDR3 memory devices into a special mode by writing to the MR3 register MPR bit. See MR3 defintion below for details of the MR3 register. This puts the DDR3 memory devices into the read leveling mode which outputs a stream of “01010101” in a burst length of 8 bits with a regular memory read command. Imagine this as a read training sequence. The diagram below shows the MPR bypassing the memory array to output the known data stream onto the DQ bus. Since the memory controller knows that data stream is consistently outputting on the DQ bus, it will adjust the internal DQS delay mechanisms on the read data path to create a proper window of the best capture window for the DQ using DQS. Once these internal compensations are created for each DQS, the values will be stored for future usage. And MR3 is set back to normal DDR3 operational mode.






3 Responses to “Understanding DDR3 Write Leveling and Read Leveling”

  1. Lino Says:

    Very clear descriptions!

  2. al wilkinson Says:

    you have this all wrong the write leveling is due to the delay in the fly by topology not the additional loading of the signals.

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