ECC stands for “Error Code Correcting” and refers to a specific technology that allows computers, especially servers and mainframes, to detect and correct data corruption. ECC memory is often found in high-end server systems where mission critical applications can be affected if corrupted data causes the application software to crash.
However, many desktop users are now finding out about ECC RAM because of its potential advantages in reducing system crashes and increasing stability; this article provides an overview as to how ECC works and whether you need it on your own computer. We’ll also briefly look at some popular types of ECC RAM currently available on the market.
ECC RAM (Error-Correcting Code) and non ECC RAM:
Ecc Ram & Non Ecc Ram are designed differently. If you put ECC RAM in a motherboard that does not support ECC, the memory cannot operate properly. This is also true if you change your BIOS settings from default to “non-ECC”.
In most cases, an error correcting code requires extra circuitry for complex math calculations on data transmission/storage than non-error correcting code which uses simpler mathematical methods resulting in less expensive components required to store and transmit data while performing general purpose computer tasks.
Examples of Non-ECC motherboards:
Even though it requires more sophisticated components, its ability to detect and correct errors makes it a more robust type of memory. That’s why servers, where the potential for loss of data is high due to enormous volumes and speed of transactions involved, use ECC RAM.
The most common example is hard disk drives (HDDs) that are used in desktop computers but not in laptops which often use SSDs instead. HDDs have a higher failure rate than SSDs so using ECC RAM helps prevent user from losing their important files that they have saved on the HDD peripheral device when it fails.
For this reason, if you have an older laptop with only non-ECC storage devices such as SDD or HDD, you can install ECC RAM on your laptop to keep it working better longer despite its age.
So if you’re not using a server for your computer, you can still benefit from ECC RAM and enjoy its outstanding performance especially when running programs that are very data-intensive such as photo/video editing.
Examples of Motherboards that Support ECC RAM:
Non-ECC has no additional circuitry which makes it cheaper than ECC making it more affordable to those who don’t need all the extra features of an ECC motherboard. And if you’re really not sure about the purpose and functionality of ECC, this is probably enough for your purposes and you might want to save money by going with a Non-ECC motherboard instead.
So again, if you’re not using a server for your computer, you don’t need ECC RAM. And if the motherboard does not support non-ECC it is useless to install a RAM with such feature on it. You may end up damaging your system and you won’t be getting any warranty in case something goes wrong or your system doesn’t work properly anymore.
If you want to double check whether your CPU supports ECC before buying a new motherboard, simply Google “does [your CPU] support ECC?”
Here are some examples:
- AMD CPUs that do NOT support ECC: Athlon 64 Sempron Opteron Athlon II
- AMD CPUs that DO support ECC: A6-4455M FX (proprietary) A8-3850/6500 FX (AM3+) A10-5745M/8750H FM2+ Athlon X4 860K Kaveri A4-6320 Bristol Ridge
- Intel CPUs that do NOT support ECC: Celeron i Series Atom N Series Pentium J Series Xeon E3 V5
- Intel CPUs that DO support ECC: Core i7 Extreme Edition Mobile Ivy Bridge Pentium Silver Haswell Xeon 5500/5600 Skylake Broadwell.
AMD chipsets with Radeon Graphics use system memory for frame buffer. The graphics on the motherboard are useless in this case so if you have an AMD CPU but you’re still using a non-ECC motherboard, it’s time to switch to ECC!
If your computer already has ECC RAM, then there’s no need to buy an entire new motherboard unit just because this one doesn’t support it. The only need for purchasing new RAM is if your current RAM is too slow for your computer because your OS has been using that RAM for a long period of time and it may need an upgrade.