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Xeon/ ECC for Home Desktop

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December 11, 2009 9:53:20 PM

GDDR5 has ECC, other key components have error correction, so why are we still in large part using non-ECC ram. I know non-Xeon processors are incompatible with ECC, but AMD chips have been compatible for years (as long as there's Motherboard support). Conventional wisdom says it's too slow for gaming, but memory bandwidth has exploded lately and I doubt there would be a significant effect. I've been thinking of building something like the following:

Motherboard: ASUS P7P55 WS SuperComputer with NF200 LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard


CPU: Intel Xeon X3450 Lynnfield 2.66GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Server Processor Model BX80605X3450


RAM: 2x2 GB Compatible ECC Un-Buffered RAM

I've been giving this a lot of thought (probably too much). But does this setup seem sound to you guys and girls? I'm a bit of a stability/integrity freak, I admit.

On a related note, do you think ECC will be become standard someday; perhaps when quad data rate memory appears? Or maybe when 24 GB of RAM is typical? For some reason, I'm very curious about this technology.

More about : xeon ecc home desktop

December 11, 2009 10:50:54 PM

Firstly your premise is incorrect. ECC memory is entirely based on motherboard support (i5/i7 may have changed this). To validate this claim I can point you to HP models based on non-Xeon processors that use ECC (all XW models from 4200 to 4600, there was no 4500 I can recall).

Here's my thought on it in general:
Xeon processors give you equivalent performance to consumer models of the same design. So the premium paid for a Xeon is not worth the cost unless one of two conditions is met:
1) You need multiple processors
2) You need to be able to tell your boss you did everything right and not have the vendor blame a purchasing decision for a meltdown on a critical server/PC.

As far as ECC it may become more prevalent or general memory will improve. Error rates are bound to increase as you increase the total amount of memory in each PC, on the other hand how critical is an error in most people's PC's? If a PC crashes once every three months due to a memory error is it worth the extra initial cost (and as people buy more and laptops the battery drain) and cost of greater power consumption? My guess is in most cases no.
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a c 80 } Memory
December 11, 2009 11:06:45 PM

Core i5 and i7 processors don't support ECC memory, but Xeon processors do. The X3450 is basically the same as an i7-920, but it also provides ECC memory support.

philologos, if you can afford ECC memory and stability is very important, then go for it. All servers use ECC memory because, unlike gaming systems, stability is very important.
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December 11, 2009 11:09:26 PM

Remember, the memory controller for Nehalem-based processors and all available AMD processors resides on the CPU itself. It is true that the motherboard must also support the memory; that's why I choose the ASUS WS motherboard, which has ECC support and Xeon support.

1) While the Xeon X3450 is clocked the same as an i5-750, it has hyper-threading support which the latter lacks. Its price falls in between the i5 and the i7-860. So it is actually a very good value especially if overclocked.

1) You absolutely do NOT need two processors for a Xeon system. Some server motherboards have two sockets, but you don't even have to populate both. I don't want a server motherboard, but one of ASUS Workstation boards, which is designed for massive PCIe expandability (thanks to a NF200 chip) for SLI, Crossfire, Tesla, RAID, or whatever strikes your fancy.

I still like my idea. Perhaps I just have to be a little different. What performance penalty is there anyway for ECC?
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December 11, 2009 11:18:05 PM

GhislainG said:
Core i5 and i7 processors don't support ECC memory, but Xeon processors do. The X3450 is basically the same as an i7-920, but it also provides ECC memory support.

philologos, if you can afford ECC memory and stability is very important, then go for it. All servers use ECC memory because, unlike gaming systems, stability is very important.


Who says stability isn't very important on a gaming system? :na: 

And I never know what uses I might come up for this computer. I am a pianist and might want to do some digital recording. I want to learn a computer language (well, I know some BASIC, but does that even count?). Maybe even video/photo editing. I've thought about making textures and mods for the Elder Scrolls games.

Oh, and the X3450 is actually comparable to the i5-750 not the i7-920, except that it has hyper-threading unlike the i5.
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a c 80 } Memory
December 12, 2009 12:47:23 AM

Gamers usually want maximum performance and that's why they often overclock the CPU and memory. If you are a gamer, did you read this review on Tom's? http://www.tomshardware.com/picturestory/516-asus-p7p55... You can find this note on page 3: "according to Asus, this board is strictly for workstation-based applications."
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December 12, 2009 1:15:02 AM

GhislainG said:
Gamers usually want maximum performance and that's why they often overclock the CPU and memory. If you are a gamer, did you read this review on Tom's? http://www.tomshardware.com/picturestory/516-asus-p7p55... You can find this note on page 3: "according to Asus, this board is strictly for workstation-based applications."


Thanks for bringing back that review to my attention. It has given me some things to consider. However, I don't put much stock in Asus saying this board is "strictly for workstation-based applications." I really resent the way companies categorize their products into mainstream and enterprise headings. The lack of two dedicated x16 PCIe 2.0 slots is a little puzzling, but not a deal breaker.

To be honest, what I really want is the ASUS P6T7 WS Supercomputer "Ultimate Gamer". What I find strange is that, while both boards are part of the "Workstation Supercomputer" series the P6T7 is also an "Ultimate Gamer." I want to see a new generation of 1366 processors before I consider going that route, hopefully they're bring a large reduction in TDP. And, yes, this is out of my price range: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117180

I'm not buying anything for some time, so I have time to see what unfolds. Be it wise or foolish, I really do have my heart set on server memory. (Unbuffered, of course)
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December 13, 2009 1:36:10 AM

ecc compatible is the MCH chip, cpu could care less, altho it may have to be asked to work a bit more.

My first was a p2 350 in a bizarre mobo with a unique 440bx variant, ECC capable.
The machine I am in now is an 875pbz, prescott cpu, also ECC capable, and it show up synonymous with a server 75** chipset.

intel does not need xeon for ECC, it is the memory controller hub, you can install non-ecc in alot of intels stuff, even though it can be ECC, that needs ram for correction to function. non-ecc memory still works, but only with detection not correction.

ECC is great for workstation.
I am non-ecc ram in ecc chipset, and do get detection, I do not need different at this time, but can if I want to...
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