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

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Doug S

Golden Member
Feb 8, 2020
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my 2x 8/16 sandy xeon begs to differ.
It is hard to gauge by that because most Xeon boards also support more DIMMs per channel than a desktop board. The added load of those additional slots slows things down as well.

ECC calculations aren't penalty free, but they are pretty simple. At worst a memory controller might have to add an extra cycle or two of latency. There's no reason it would impact bandwidth though, as the actual data transfers can take place at the same speed. But since ECC memory is intended for people who care about reliability, you won't see the high clocked/binned "gamer grade" DRAM offered with ECC, which leads some people to think it limits bandwidth. It will stick with JEDEC speed grades only, and be conservative since reliability is paramount. No one is overclocking ECC DRAM and testing with Prime95 to see if it is stable.
 

roynany

Member
Jan 24, 2021
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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
1. will having ECC memories give me a better sound?
2. 24BIT also has sound movies?
will the memory improve the sound?
3. can ECC memory enhance an image by 12 BIT or 4: 4: 4
 

moinmoin

Diamond Member
Jun 1, 2017
4,048
6,095
136
1. will having ECC memories give me a better sound?
2. 24BIT also has sound movies?
will the memory improve the sound?
3. can ECC memory enhance an image by 12 BIT or 4: 4: 4
No, nothing sound or image related will be enhanced or improved from what you already have. Random errors can introduce random errors also in sounds and images, we can't guess in what ways those manifest since they are random. Having ECC memory prevents that from happening to begin with.
 

jamescox

Senior member
Nov 11, 2009
577
992
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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.
I guess you are lucky to have not been bitten by bad memory. I have always found it ridiculous that we have ECC just about everywhere except main memory. Saying that most people don't have it isn't an argument for not having it. The main reason we don't have it is market segmentation, not that people don't need it or want it; the average person doesn't know what it is. People generally don't like artificial market segmentation, which is why some people get a bit angry about it. Also, if you have been in the computer industry a long time, you might have gotten hit with memory errors that caused data loss. The lack of ECC in consumer systems is to force people who care and know about reliability and not losing data to pay a whole bunch extra for Xeon processors with ECC support. Most consumers don't know that their files could be damaged in system memory, but we can't have people just using any old processor as a file server; they have to pay extra for a Xeon. So the file server gets ECC, but we are fine with it getting corrupted once it is on our local machine? Does that make sense?

I had a laptop with an actual bad bit, not a random bit flip. It wasn't detected by the bios memory check. It took memtest86 to find it, so it must have required that other bits around it were set or something, I don't remember. It would cause windows to crash occasionally, but I mostly dual booted into linux. Linux never crashed, but it seemed to use it as disk cache. A single bit error in uncompressed video or audio probably isn't going to be noticed. The occasional weird character in your text file can be fixed. You probably wouldn't notice if one sub-pixel was the wrong color in an image or video. I had a bunch of compressed files though and a single bit error on a compressed file will corrupt it and often make it unreadable. Pretty much all media files are vulnerable to this since not many things store such data uncompressed. So it corrupted a huge number of my files before I knew I had a problem. I guess don't delete it off the camera until you know it made it to storage. Also, you can end up with corrupted system files that cause all manner of problems, sometimes leading to a nonfunctional system. I had several friends with flaky systems that turned out to be similar issues. Sometimes we re-seated the memory and it was fine, but none of that would have happened if it had ECC. We just would have noticed that it was getting ECC errors.

So, in my opinion, ECC should be everywhere. It is ridiculous that it isn't and the reason it isn't is market segmentation. I wouldn't recommend that people get ECC right now either, since it is artificially high priced if you actually have to buy a Xeon and a "server board". AMD kind of supports it but they don't really validate it, so most professional buyers are going to go with the professional products and pay the higher price. Consumers are left with possibly unstable systems and possibly corrupted files, but they don't really know that. I would consider getting a Ryzen Pro with ECC memory, but I am not sure those are really available. Epyc is a bit much for a home system.

As for the original question, random single bit errors should be uncommon, so ECC should not change the quality of your music or video. If you have an unstable system that might be due to questionable memory, then you shouldn't trust your files to that system. If your system is unstable or you notice a corrupted file, then you might want to start an exhaustive memory tester just in case. Hopefully, modern memory isn't as bad as it was 20 years ago. Everything goes through system memory on it's way to storage, so you can get corrupted files if you have some bad memory or are unlucky with some cosmic rays. It is often ECC protected once it gets to storage. If it is a concern on storage, then you can use file formats that do their own error detection and correction or file systems that provide it. Flash memory (SSDs) pretty much require ECC just to function, but you should still have a backup. If you are copying files from one place to another (like with backups), it is a good idea to do a sum of some kind to make sure that they actually made it without issues. Hopefully, backup software will do that for you. On linux, I often just do an md5sum.
 

Micrornd

Golden Member
Mar 2, 2013
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No one is overclocking ECC DRAM and testing with Prime95 to see if it is stable.
Just so you know, you don't speak for everyone.;)
I overclock DDR4-2400 ECC to 2933 after thoroughly vetting it for 24hrs with Prime 95. Out of 16 4gb sticks only 13 passed.
Luckily I only needed 12 for my workstation.
 
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fleshconsumed

Diamond Member
Feb 21, 2002
6,381
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Yes. Main memory should absolutely be ECC. Screw Intel for screwing everyone as they always do. I run AM4 with ECC ram in my server and desktop. Cost me arm and a leg. Really wish it was standard so that I could get higher speeds and lower prices.
 

roynany

Member
Jan 24, 2021
49
2
41
No, nothing sound or image related will be enhanced or improved from what you already have. Random errors can introduce random errors also in sounds and images, we can't guess in what ways those manifest since they are random. Having ECC memory prevents that from happening to begin with.
I read your answer and did not understand
1.
No, nothing sound or image related will be enhanced or improved from what you already have
here you are writing that will not help me for movies and music

2.
Random errors can introduce random errors also in sounds and images, we can't guess in what ways those manifest since they are random.
here you write that there are problems with RAM and image and sound

I did not understand anything
 

moinmoin

Diamond Member
Jun 1, 2017
4,048
6,095
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I read your answer and did not understand
1.

here you are writing that will not help me for movies and music

2.
here you write that there are problems with RAM and image and sound

I did not understand anything
You asked:
1. will having ECC memories give me a better sound? No
2. 24BIT also has sound movies?
will the memory improve the sound? No
3. can ECC memory enhance an image by 12 BIT or 4: 4: 4 No
ECC memory does not improve or enhance sounds or images.

ECC memory ensures that memory does not become corrupted. That corrupted memory does not corrupt sounds. That corrupted memory does not corrupt images. That corrupted memory does not corrupt files for them to become unreadable. That corrupted memory does not corrupt programs for them to crash. That corrupted memory does not corrupt operation system for it to show a blue screen. Understand?
 

dullard

Elite Member
May 21, 2001
24,196
2,411
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1. will having ECC memories give me a better sound?
2. 24BIT also has sound movies?
will the memory improve the sound?
3. can ECC memory enhance an image by 12 BIT or 4: 4: 4
Suppose you have a 10 megabyte sound file in memory. Suppose you do not have ECC memory. On average, this file will have one bit corrupted about once per year. In other words, you probably won't ever notice.

The issue is that we don't know which part will be corrupted. Thus we will not know if it is an important part. Maybe it makes the MP3 unplayable. Maybe you get a miniscule sound glitch (such as the sound level going up one bit for a fraction of a second) once per year.

Video files are much larger. If you happened to have a 3 GB video file all in memory then you would get a single bit error about once per day. But again, is it one pixel shifting one bit dimmer red for one single frame? Or is it a total corruption that prevents playing? You won't know.
 
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jamescox

Senior member
Nov 11, 2009
577
992
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Just so you know, you don't speak for everyone.;)
I overclock DDR4-2400 ECC to 2933 after thoroughly vetting it for 24hrs with Prime 95. Out of 16 4gb sticks only 13 passed.
Luckily I only needed 12 for my workstation.
If you clocked it too high, did it crash or just start throwing ECC errors?
 

Micrornd

Golden Member
Mar 2, 2013
1,231
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If you clocked it too high, did it crash or just start throwing ECC errors?
I tested all sticks individually and 1 failed with ECC errors @ 2933.
I then tested the remaining 15 sticks as a group of 12, and 2 sticks caused crashes, leaving me with 13 sticks of 2400 that would OC to 2933 and work with each other.
 

Dave2150

Senior member
Jan 20, 2015
639
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Isn't this a thing of the past once DDR5 arrives in a few months, since DDR5 has on die ECC?

DDR4 systems will be old hat and obsolete at that point and can be resigned to the garbage bin.
 

zir_blazer

Golden Member
Jun 6, 2013
1,116
362
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Isn't this a thing of the past once DDR5 arrives in a few months, since DDR5 has on die ECC?

DDR4 systems will be old hat and obsolete at that point and can be resigned to the garbage bin.
DDR5 has on-chip ECC. ECC for the memory chip itself, just like Processors Caches also have ECC, or just like storage media like a HD has extra ECC data per 512/4096 Bytes Sector. You still need a way to make sure that there aren't errors in the Bus, so is still useful between the DRAM chips and the IMC.
 
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Dave2150

Senior member
Jan 20, 2015
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You mean like . . . most Alder Lake SKUs?
Sure, DDR4 platforms in general.

It's likely the top end Alder Lake SKU's will have DDR5 compatibility, likely the same for the top end Z670/690 motherboards, assuming they're named accordingly.
 

Doug S

Golden Member
Feb 8, 2020
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DDR5 has on-chip ECC. ECC for the memory chip itself, just like Processors Caches also have ECC, or just like storage media like a HD has extra ECC data per 512/4096 Bytes Sector. You still need a way to make sure that there aren't errors in the Bus, so is still useful between the DRAM chips and the IMC.
This is true, but in most cases you'd probably use parity across the bus since double bit errors there are pretty much non-existent. There are still reasons for DIMM level ECC for high end stuff like chipkill.

The unknown for me (and maybe this is documented somewhere so if someone knows please fill me in) is what sort of reporting gets done about corrected ECC errors.

If such information is communicated across the bus to the host so you could see (assuming OS support) in your logs something like "chip 3 DIMM 2 ECC corrected error" happening more than than once a month or something you know you have a bum DIMM you'll want to replace. If the on-chip ECC takes place silently then it will just encourage DRAM vendors to use flaky parts in consumer gear and may be worse than not having ECC at all.
 

Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
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If such information is communicated across the bus to the host so you could see (assuming OS support) in your logs something like "chip 3 DIMM 2 ECC corrected error" happening more than than once a month or something you know you have a bum DIMM you'll want to replace. If the on-chip ECC takes place silently then it will just encourage DRAM vendors to use flaky parts in consumer gear and may be worse than not having ECC at all.
Undoubtedly. Most users aren't aware of what "logs" are, nor is ever going to check them.
 

Doug S

Golden Member
Feb 8, 2020
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Undoubtedly. Most users aren't aware of what "logs" are, nor is ever going to check them.
True, but you have the OS to monitor that for you and among all the crapware that comes with a new Dell/HP/etc. PC are vendor branded tools that would alert you to something like this. Maybe not on the bargain basement PCs, but on the better ones.

My mom's PC recently popped up a warning about the CPU fan not running properly, and I found that the wires were laying on the blades - must have happened when I had taken it home to upgrade her RAM, give it an SSD and put Windows 10 on it. Maybe if it had DDR5 and the OS was getting notifications about errors, it would pop up a similar warning, showing an image of the motherboard with a red arrow pointing to the suspect DIMM.
 

Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
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True, but you have the OS to monitor that for you and among all the crapware that comes with a new Dell/HP/etc. PC are vendor branded tools that would alert you to something like this. Maybe not on the bargain basement PCs, but on the better ones.
I'd be satisfied if it would work like current SMART reporting. So you get a notification that something is wrong, and can act (or not) on it.

Wouldn't be too complicated for the average user.
 

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