ECC Memory is short for Error-Correcting Code Memory. It is a computer memory device that utilizes special circuitry to check the accuracy of data as it passes in and out of the memory. It has the capacity to run error correction on its own instead of going back and requesting the data source to resend the original data. It can correct single bit errors taking place in the data. Multi-bit errors are not common, therefore they don’t pose much of a threat to the memory systems.
What is a Memory Error
The number of memory errors that occur are proportional to the duration a computer’s operation and the amount of Random Access Memory available.
Memory errors can either be hard or soft. Hard errors occur because of fabrication defects in the memory chip. Once they appear, these defects can never be fixed. In contrast, soft errors are primarily caused by electrical disturbances.
If memory errors are not corrected right away, these can eventually lead to the crash of a computer system.
An ECC Memory chip uses Forward Error Correction (FEC) codes, such as Triple Modular Redundancy and Hamming Code, to detect and correct errors. The codes are initiated during the transmission or storage of data.
ECC Memory is more relevant when used in a server or in a mission critical system, as compared to a client computer utilized at home or in the office. Memory errors are not very common on a computer system, and they usually appear depending on the amount of RAM.
ECC memory is considered a must for any serious server application, because servers operate 24 hours a day. They also contain a few Gigabytes of memory and deal with massive amounts of important data. Because of these factors, the likelihood of memory errors turning up on the memory chips is rather high.
When a client computer crashes, it usually doesn’t involve other computers even if it is linked to a network. However, when a server crashes, it brings the entire network down with it.
ECC memory is mandatory for servers, but only optional for clients except for those performing mission critical applications.
One disadvantage of using ECC memory is that when the ECC check starts, the RAM check takes a very long time. It is several times slower than regular memory checking during POST (Power-On Self-Test).
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