What is ECC RAM?

In a recent post about Intel Core i7 vs Xeon processors, we mentioned that one of the most appealing selling points of Xeon processors is the compatibility with ECC RAM. But what exactly is ECC RAM and who can benefit from it? Read on to learn more.

What is ECC RAM?

ECC stands for “Error Correcting Code.” It’s a specific type of memory that uses an extra module on the RAM stick itself to detect and correct internal data corruption before it leads to a catastrophic failure like a freeze or crash. See the illustration above. It maintains a memory system that’s effectively immune to single-bit errors, meaning the data that is read from each word is always the same as the data that had been written to it.

Because of the additional error-correcting module, ECC is typically more expensive than traditional or non-ECC counterparts but the value is pretty obvious.

Who Should Use ECC RAM

For most gamers and general home office users, ECC RAM will not be worth the additional expense. The occasional memory failure is a nuisance, but won’t really cost you anything. For power users in industries where data corruption is intolerable – such as scientific calculation or finance – ECC RAM is unquestionably worth the additional expense. Additionally, many media creators and CAD users will certainly understand the real-world value of ECC RAM.

As we mentioned in our i7 vs Xeon post, ECC RAM is only available in workstations powered by Intel Xeon processors. To learn more or configure one of your own, click here.

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