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Question Intel CPUs Don’t Support ECC Memory: How Bad For A/V Quality?

chane

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Apr 18, 2010
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This discussion may only serve to reveal my less than complete knowledge of A/V digital signal processing rather than raise questions which audibly or not impact signal quality. However, the concerns raised stem from here. https://www.google.com/amp/s/arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/01/linus-torvalds-blames-intel-for-lack-of-ecc-ram-in-consumer-pcs/?amp=1

The report initially describes and quotes Mr. Torvalds’ contempt for Intel’s refusal to support error correcting ECC memory which apparently impacts his interest with server hardware, computational computing and other non-home theater related tasks. But later discussed are claims, though unspecified, where consumers-presumably home users-can also suffer from non-ECC memory generated errors.

Thus, if the lack of ECC memory would leave the computer audiophile vulnerable to errors, however infrequent, in what form would they be? Would they manifest as permanent audible “clicks” during the re-digitizing of music in 24 bit audio and/or when downloaded from stores like https://www.hdtracks.com/ ? Has anyone experienced this? If not perhaps because such errors may be even more noticeable and more frequently occurring from much more common be still respectably sounding 16 bit audio?

OTOH, would such errors be more noticeable if downloading or playing 1080p or especially 4K video, though both requiring far more digital bandwidth (e.g. bit depth?) than even 24 bit audio? However, the ears are likely more sensitive than the eyes to digital audio errors.

In any case, do AMD brand Ryzen CPUs and motherboards support ECC memory?

And which if any other motherboard brands do also?

But if so would such consumer desktop systems tend to create more heat induced fan noise than desktops with comparable Intel CPUs and motherboards performing the same kinds of work loads, such as 1080p video editing-and full length movie playbacks via https://jriver.com/overview.html ?
 
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damian101

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I don't think clicks caused by a single flipped bit in the memory are audible as they essentially produce a frequency outside of the hearing spectrum. That's only true for uncompressed PCM audio though. With compressed data it's a different thing, as a single flipped bit affects a whole block of data, affecting more than just a single sample.

All Ryzen CPUs support (unbuffered) ECC memory, but not all motherboards support ECC. You can expect memory ECC to work correctly on all ASRock and Asus motherboards as far as I know. On motherboards without proper ECC support the memory will still work but error correction will be disabled. Not all motherboards with ECC support can report uncorrectable errors to the operating system, but that's not available on consumer operating systems anyway, and also has an extremely low chance of occurring.
ECC shouldn't have much of a performance impact. Overclocking capabilities might be more limited due to increased load on the memory controller. The increase in power consumption should be negligible.

I mostly use ECC memory in my device for years, even my main laptop has ECC memory in it. I'm more afraid of silent bit rot though, which is why all my important data is stored on Btrfs filesystems. On Windows only ReFS stores data checksums and can therefore protect against bit rot.
 

aigomorla

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Intel doesn't support ECC... LuLz.. what propaganda is this?
Consumer do not need ECC.
IF you need ECC you obviously know to build a Xeon from intel and a workstation.
But i3's support ECC, so its not ALL consumer Intel's.
Also, audiophiles..... if 12,000 dollar amps are nothing, then a 4000 dollar xeon workstation is pocket change.


Any one of those CPU's paired with a Supermicro X11 / X10 will easily handle ECC, and the higher end xeons even tag Registered.
I do not know why ur blowing things out of context.
 
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zir_blazer

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Consumer do not need ECC.
That's a bold claim. And everytime I hear it, I always remember famous supercomputer designer Seymour Cray words...

Parity is for farmers
On why he left memory error-detecting code out of the CDC 6600.
...3 years later followed by a...

I learned that a lot of farmers buy computers.
After he did include error-detecting code on the CDC 7600
Regular consumers have no way to know whenever they have been affected by memory corruption that could have been corrected by ECC. Is not like you can diagnose such irreproducible random occurrences. If the memory corruption caused a BSOD because it flipped a critical Bit of the running OS Kernel or a Driver, they would simply reset the computer like on any other BSOD and call it a day. It is the most dangerous if it corrupts a buffer before it gets written to disk cause it would be permanently stored with a flipped Bit unless catched by any other form of Software checksums.
 

aigomorla

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If you need ECC buy a Xeon.
If you need a low powered system with ECC, you again get a Xeon or an i3.

You do not just go off buy a i9-9900k+ which has the words gamer + overclocking spamed on almost every advertisement along with it, and get ECC.
No you buy the flashy blingy gamer RGB ram, which i am sure 0 ram which has ECC is RGB.
Im fairly confident when i say given the choice 90% of the populace who buys an i9 will pick 4200mhz RGB ram over 3200mhz unregistered ECC ram.
Why? because ECC overclocks like dookie honestly, meaning its almost non existant because you do not overclock ECC ram and risk what your trying to fix to begin with which is memory corruption.

Honestly, linus is overblowing things by ranting consumer intels do not support ECC, when the fact is if you want ECC, or need it, then you get a Xeon period.
And chances are if you do not even know what ECC is you don't really need it.

Its like buying a smart car and cursing its not a real benz.
If you want the benz you buy a benz, not a smart car.

That's a bold claim.
in all my years building PC, which is a lot, i have not needed ECC on my main/gamer/office machines.
The only machines i absolutely need ECC on is my real servers.
I have a 256gb FreeNAS server which is loaded with ECC Reg. Why? because unregistered ECC is not good enough for me. (scarcasm).
No but seriously, its because im running dual cpu's on a full bloated enterprise class board which only accepts ECC REG. ram.

But hey what do i know? ive only been building pc's since the original 486DX days, and today, id rather have those blingy 4200mhz non ECC ram which overclock like crazy, over slower ram on my main system regardless of it being Ryzen or an Intel.

Regular consumers have no way to know whenever they have been affected by memory corruption that could have been corrected by ECC. Is not like you can diagnose such irreproducible random occurrences. If the memory corruption caused a BSOD because it flipped a critical Bit of the running OS Kernel or a Driver, they would simply reset the computer like on any other BSOD and call it a day. It is the most dangerous if it corrupts a buffer before it gets written to disk cause it would be permanently stored with a flipped Bit unless catched by any other form of Software checksums.
This is beyond the scope of regular consumers.
If your running in to those errors from the getgo, its called you have faulty ram which requires RMA.
Again, if data integrity is absolutely important, you get a workstation which is loaded with ECC. You do not go off and buy a gamer / overclocking class CPU which most i7 and i9's are and expect it to operate at enterprise class levels.
Again your asking for that mercedes when you bought a smart car.
Yes they are made by the same maker, but they are completely different in setting.
 
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zir_blazer

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You do not just go off buy a i9-9900k+ which has the words gamer + overclocking spamed on almost every advertisement along with it, and get ECC.
No you buy the flashy blingy gamer RGB ram, which i am sure 0 ram which has ECC is RGB.
Im fairly confident when i say given the choice 90% of the populace who buys an i9 will pick 4200mhz RGB ram over 3200mhz unregistered ECC ram.
Why? because ECC overclocks like dookie honestly, meaning its almost non existant because you do not overclock ECC ram and risk what your trying to fix to begin with which is memory corruption.
Blame how Hardware manufacturers marketing deparments pushes the market around. I recall that I used to rant about that there was a stupid amount of things with RGB on them, and that you couldn't purchase anything above mid range without seeing the damned words GAMER OVERCLOCKING ENTHUSIAST RGB pastered all over the place, completely killing the sober high end Motherboards of old. When I purchased my current Xeon E3 and Supermicro X10SAT 7 years ago, one of the reasons was to avoid all that garbage (The main one was proper VT-d support because I wanted to do PCI Passthrough, which was bleeding edge back then and only properly supported by Server brands). So if you don't want RGB yet still want high end Hardware, you have to go out of your way by purchasing something Workstation class. Otherwise, you will end purchasing RGB anyways cause avoiding it takes far more effort to not buy it if you're going into high end consumer.
If manufacturers decided to shove up into people's throats ECC RAM support in the same way than they shove us all the RGB crap and similar stuff, chances are that the market would buy it simply because that is what is most common and widely available. Which is certainly not the case now.

Also, ironically, I believe that ECC RAM should be very good overclockers. Workstation and Server grade Hardware historically is binned higher than regular consumer, so they're likely to reach higher clocks. As a plus, with proper ECC support you should be getting error reporting via some OS interface (In Linux you have EDAC), so you can actually know if your overclock is stable or not without encountering memory corruption or crashes.


Honestly, linus is overblowing things by ranting consumer intels do not support ECC, when the fact is if you want ECC, or need it, then you get a Xeon period.
And chances are if you do not even know what ECC is you don't really need it.
Don't you see a problem there? People can't make an educated choice about whenever they would prefer to get a platform with ECC or not because they don't even know what it is. And even if they knew, they have to go out of their way to get a platform that supports it, which non-paranoid users may not do.



in all my years building PC, which is a lot, i have not needed ECC on my main/gamer/office machines.
The only machines i absolutely need ECC on is my real servers.
My point is that is hard to measure whenever you NEED ECC or not cause you would need to put the blame of a specific memory corruption or Windows BSOD into something that having ECC could have saved you from. We know from Google that random Bit flips are more common than was thought:

3.1 Errors per machine Table 1 (top) presents high-level statistics on the frequency of correctable errors and uncorrectable errors per machine per year of operation, broken down by the type of hardware platform. Blank lines indicate lack of sufficient data. Our first observation is that memory errors are not rare events. About a third of all machines in the fleet experience at least one memory error per year
While correctable errors typically do not have an immediate impact on a machine, uncorrectable errors usually result in a machine shutdown. Table 1 shows, that while uncorrectable errors are less common than correctable errors, they do happen at a significant rate. Across the entire fleet, 1.3% of machines are affected by uncorrectable errors per year, with some platforms seeing as many as 2-4% affected.
Suppose the following example: Some guy is a competitive MOBA player. While playing a ranked match, a random Bit flip happens just on a critical code section of the League of Legends client, causing a crash. ECC could have saved him in such situation, but... what is the likelihood than that happens? And if it already happened, do the user knows than a specific crash was caused due to a spontaneous Bit flip? The grace of ECC is saving you from random occurences. And, from a pure cost perspective, it is just an extra RAM chip that should add a 12.5% cost in RAM for the same capacity if it wasn't sold as a premium Server-only feature.
 

VirtualLarry

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Consumer do not need ECC.
I see that you've drank the Intel flavor-aide.

Anmyways, way back in the 386/486 days, we HAD ECC on the desktop. 9-bit wide SIMMs, aka Parity. Then came 64-bit wide memory, and you could use 72-bit wide memory DIMMs for ECC.

But Intel worked hard, industry-wide, to TAKE THAT AWAY FROM CONSUMERS. And convince them that ECC "wasn't needed".

Tell my friend that, that had failing/faulty RAM, that corrupted his 10-year-old Windows install during a Windows Upgrade, and now his Windows Update doesn't work anymore, nor can he even download a WIN10 USB stick using MCT, because it uses WU in the background.

Oh, wait, friend is on a Ryzen AM4 X370 board. So maybe we can't blame Intel COMPLETELY for this, but it will take a while for AMD to change things back to making ECC a default option that consumers go for, after Intel has trained them for years that it's not necessary, and most memory kits are binned for speed, and don't include ECC.

Edit: BTW, does anyone know if ECC would have prevented ROWHAMMER attacks, on Intel quad-core Skylake platforms?

Edit: If ECC is so UN-important, then why do GPUs use it?
 
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aigomorla

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So your telling me larry you would a system with ECC over overclockable ram even on a Ryzen for a consumer?
And that lower clocked ECC is more beneficial then higher clocked overclocking ram is on both platforms?

When was the last time you built a system for a consumer with ECC ram that didn't have a specialized need?
 

VirtualLarry

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So your telling me larry you would a system with ECC over overclockable ram even on a Ryzen for a consumer?
And that lower clocked ECC is more beneficial then higher clocked overclocking ram is on both platforms?
Yes, and Yes.

I value my compute experience, and I want it to be as reliable as possible. What good is "Going faster", if it's going to be unstable.

You're basically promoting unstable overclocks (the RAM equivalent - running overclocked RAM without ECC).

If cars can have ABS brakes and seat-belts as standard equipment, then surely, consumer desktop PCs can have ECC as standard equipment too, to "prevent crashes". The "added weight" of the equipment shouldn't "slow things down" too much.

Edit: To add, they do have JEDEC DDR4-3200 RAM now. Making ECC sticks out of that, wouldn't cost that much more performance than just overclocked 2400 or 2666 sticks running at 3600 and extended voltages.
 
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VirtualLarry

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When was the last time you built a system for a consumer with ECC ram that didn't have a specialized need?
When was the last time that you used a "bulk storage device" WITHOUT integrated ECC? Not likely. Why? Because ECC is a FUNDAMENTAL COMPONENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE AND COMPUTER SYSTEMS THAT ARE "PROPERLY" DESIGNED AND BUILT.

Intel has been feeding people horses*** for so long, that they've even grown to like the taste of it.

Edit: To add, "powerful" ECC algorithms, are the ONLY REASON that we even HAVE TLC and QLC SSDs that operate properly.

This line of thinking, that ECC is "specialized" somehow, instead of a fundamental bedrock principle of computing systems, is purely FUD designed to prop up Intel's profit margins through product differentiation and crippling, AT THE EXPENSE OF LITERALLY MILLIONS OF PEOPLE'S PCs experiencing random crashes.

You know how people blame Bill Gates every time Windows crashes? Maybe they should be blaming Intel instead.
 
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moinmoin

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For systems that should just work ECC should be default, which should include all consumer products for everyman (don't really care about the Gamer audience in that regard). Why would you knowingly leave open a source of unforced errors in hardware that neither the user nor the programmer can prevent?
 
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John Carmack

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Sep 10, 2016
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If you need ECC buy a Xeon.
If you need a low powered system with ECC, you again get a Xeon or an i3.

You do not just go off buy a i9-9900k+ which has the words gamer + overclocking spamed on almost every advertisement along with it, and get ECC.
No you buy the flashy blingy gamer RGB ram, which i am sure 0 ram which has ECC is RGB.
Im fairly confident when i say given the choice 90% of the populace who buys an i9 will pick 4200mhz RGB ram over 3200mhz unregistered ECC ram.
Why? because ECC overclocks like dookie honestly, meaning its almost non existant because you do not overclock ECC ram and risk what your trying to fix to begin with which is memory corruption.

Honestly, linus is overblowing things by ranting consumer intels do not support ECC, when the fact is if you want ECC, or need it, then you get a Xeon period.
And chances are if you do not even know what ECC is you don't really need it.

Its like buying a smart car and cursing its not a real benz.
If you want the benz you buy a benz, not a smart car.



in all my years building PC, which is a lot, i have not needed ECC on my main/gamer/office machines.
The only machines i absolutely need ECC on is my real servers.
I have a 256gb FreeNAS server which is loaded with ECC Reg. Why? because unregistered ECC is not good enough for me. (scarcasm).
No but seriously, its because im running dual cpu's on a full bloated enterprise class board which only accepts ECC REG. ram.

But hey what do i know? ive only been building pc's since the original 486DX days, and today, id rather have those blingy 4200mhz non ECC ram which overclock like crazy, over slower ram on my main system regardless of it being Ryzen or an Intel.



This is beyond the scope of regular consumers.
If your running in to those errors from the getgo, its called you have faulty ram which requires RMA.
Again, if data integrity is absolutely important, you get a workstation which is loaded with ECC. You do not go off and buy a gamer / overclocking class CPU which most i7 and i9's are and expect it to operate at enterprise class levels.
Again your asking for that mercedes when you bought a smart car.
Yes they are made by the same maker, but they are completely different in setting.
ECC RAM should be standard, period. It's funny how all of these little bits and pieces of the computer system have baked in ECC but the one portion of the system which holds all of your data at one point or another doesn't get it by default and yet it's held up as being reasonable and acceptable.
 

John Carmack

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So your telling me larry you would a system with ECC over overclockable ram even on a Ryzen for a consumer?
And that lower clocked ECC is more beneficial then higher clocked overclocking ram is on both platforms?

When was the last time you built a system for a consumer with ECC ram that didn't have a specialized need?
Consumers don't need 4200Mhz RAM.
 

Asterox

Senior member
May 15, 2012
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Intel doesn't support ECC... LuLz.. what propaganda is this?
Consumer do not need ECC.
IF you need ECC you obviously know to build a Xeon from intel and a workstation.
But i3's support ECC, so its not ALL consumer Intel's.
Also, audiophiles..... if 12,000 dollar amps are nothing, then a 4000 dollar xeon workstation is pocket change.


Any one of those CPU's paired with a Supermicro X11 / X10 will easily handle ECC, and the higher end xeons even tag Registered.
I do not know why ur blowing things out of context.
Linus disagrees with you, or by logic ECC is very welcome for any average consumer.


"The root cause, according to Torvalds, was entirely about Intel's "misguided and arse-backward policy of 'consumers don't need ECC,' which made the market for ECC memory go away."
 
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aigomorla

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hen was the last time that you used a "bulk storage device"
Sigh... this is a specialized system.
Your not understanding what i mean about consumer.

If ECC was that important, dell / hp / acer would of dropped it on all old systems they had.

You know what i give up.
I really wonder how many of you guys are currently on a system running ECC with WINDOWS 10 typing on this subforum.

I for one can say AGAIN, with the 10 computers i have running currently only 3 of them have ECC for reasons that they are servers.
And 99% of the time when someone asks for RAM advice i will point to them non ECC ram even if there system could handle it unless they are asking for server parts.

Sigh.... whatever, that is my closing comment.
This thread feels a bit hypocritical, and also a bit too propaganda like. If you need ECC go ahead get ECC, expect to have lower performance on your shiny Ryzen, as even the QVL for ECC ram on a ryzen board is VERY LIMITED.

I again wonder how many Ryzen systems out there even are currently running ECC again.

Otherwise the next time u get that shiney RGB overclockable ram, expect to see me in your subconscious grinning at you going i told you so.
 
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Mopetar

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At the time Intel made a lot of those statements it was probably true, because the earlier versions of Windows were so goddamn unstable that you could crash your system hundreds of times due to that shoddy code base before you could expect to have an error in RAM cause any problems.

It's like adding sturdier seatbelts to a Pinto. Sure it seems safer, but it isn't really addressing any real concerns that consumers should have. I can see why Linus would have a different perspective though on account of not selling any Pintos at his dealership.

Not offering the option is stupid though. If I don't think I need ECC or want the OCRGB RAM instead then I can make that decision for myself. Intel should just be happy to accommodate my decision whatever it might be. All it costs them is not disabling the functionality.
 

MalVeauX

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Dec 19, 2008
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I'm truly confused.

A lot of this is behaving like there are not options. You absolutely can build a system with ECC and you can absolutely build a system without ECC and the "consumer" grade concept is nonsense, just as enterprise grade essentially is at this level. A gamer will buy a $1k video card and use non-ECC memory. Someone who needs ECC memory will buy $1k memory/CPU/motherboard that does that and likely doesn't play video games. Make any comparison or analogy you want. If you want ECC, its there. If you don't care about it, then you are not forced to buy it either and can spend your money on what you want.

From a theory standpoint, why not include good tech up front? ECC costs performance compromise in other areas. It's not a free lunch.

Can ECC come back to the consumer (read: affordable? budget? outright cheap?) level hardware? Why is the word consumer even used? Just all it cheap if you want it cheap. These days, consumers on websites like this are not after cheap, they're after good or best. Does the average nettop user need ECC? Everyone needs ECC if you put enough worry in their data integrity.

My server is XEON and has ECC. It's why I got the platform, for the ECC specifically. No other reason. Because its a server. My other systems don't use ECC. Could they benefit? Maybe, yes. If ECC was avilable, would I have build with ECC on all my systems? Yes. But it's not available on all systems (and I get this may be the argument) but again it comes at a price, speed.

Very best,
 

gdansk

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Feb 8, 2011
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They should make it mandatory for the kernel developers' sake. Debugging traces only to find out it involves impossibilities seems like a nightmare. Consumers wanting cheaper and flawed memory be damned. I'm only slightly joking.
 
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nosurprises

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Jan 4, 2021
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I'm truly confused.

A lot of this is behaving like there are not options. You absolutely can build a system with ECC and you can absolutely build a system without ECC and the "consumer" grade concept is nonsense, just as enterprise grade essentially is at this level. A gamer will buy a $1k video card and use non-ECC memory. Someone who needs ECC memory will buy $1k memory/CPU/motherboard that does that and likely doesn't play video games. Make any comparison or analogy you want. If you want ECC, its there. If you don't care about it, then you are not forced to buy it either and can spend your money on what you want.
If ECC RAM is more widespread, then the ECC RAM will be less expensive with higher speeds. I could justify having ECC being 10% more expensive and 10% slower, but it's little harder to justify ECC being 30% slower and 30% more expensive.
 

zir_blazer

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ECC RAM isn't "slower", that is just a myth. In benchmarks, standard UDIMM non-ECC vs UDIMM ECC at same clocks and Timmings perform roughly the same (1% slower at most). If you can feel that you computer is 1% slower without benchmarking it... You're lying. RDIMM ECC is also around the same, it used to be 2-4% slower or so. So enabling ECC if you have such modules is almost free.
If anything, it just happens than manufacturers stick to the boring JEDEC standards for ECC modules, no one implements XMP profiles or bins them higher. That is because you're not expected to overclock on Server platforms, so no reason to validate a 4200 MHz ECC module when your Xeon may not be able to clock them higher than the stock max 2666-2933 or whatever the current cap is. But there is nothing stopping a memory manufacturer binning high grade DRAM chips and making a ECC module that could clock that high, since there is no magic there, only another DRAM chip. But who is going to use those? This is not a technical limitation, is a market one.
 

DrMrLordX

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Apr 27, 2000
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But there is nothing stopping a memory manufacturer binning high grade DRAM chips and making a ECC module that could clock that high, since there is no magic there, only another DRAM chip. But who is going to use those?
Various Threadripper owners might like such memory.
 

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