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ECC Memory

ECC Memory stands for Error-correcting code memory. ECC memory is a type of computer data storage that can detect and correct the more common kinds of internal data corruption. ECC memory is used in most computers where data corruption cannot be tolerated under any circumstances, such as for scientific or financial computing and as servers.ECC memory is widely used in workstation and server computers.

ECC memory maintains a memory system effectively free from single-bit errors: the data read from each word is always the same as the data that had been written to it, even if a single bit actually stored, or more in some cases, has been flipped to the wrong state. Some non-ECC memory with parity support allows errors to be detected, but not corrected; otherwise errors that may occur are not detected.

ECC memory system is a memory system that tests for and corrects errors automatically, very often without the operating system being aware of it, let alone the user. As data are written into memory, ECC circuitry generates checksums from the binary sequences in the bytes and stores them in an additional seven bits of memory for 32-bit data paths or eight bits for 64-bit paths. When data are retrieved from memory, the checksum is recomputed to determine if any of the data bits have been corrupted. Such systems can typically detect and automatically correct errors of one bit per word and can detect, but not correct, errors greater than one bit.

ECC Memory modules are predominantly used in servers rather than in client computers. Since servers typically contain several Gigabytes of RAM and are in operation 24 hours a day, the likelihood of errors cropping up in their memory chips is comparatively high and hence they require ECC Memory modules.

Memory errors that are not corrected immediately can eventually crash a computer. This again has more relevance to a server than a client computer in an office or home environment. When a client crashes, it normally does not affect other computers even when it is connected to a network, but when a server crashes it brings the entire network down with it. Hence ECC memory modules are mandatory for servers but optional for clients unless they are used for mission critical applications.


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