For the first time in recent history, Intel is no longer disabling ECC memory support on its standard consumer processors, in this case, the 12th Generation Core ‘Alder Lake’ CPUs. However, you have to use the company’s W680 platform to access the feature.
For years, entry-level workstations had to rely on entry-level Xeon E-series processors to gain ECC support to ensure reliable operation with high memory capacities. This was somewhat a controversial limitation because those CPUs used the same silicon as Core processors. Usually, the only difference other than ECC support was the use of a workstation-grade motherboard. Apparently, this ends with Alder Lake and W680.
Intel’s W680 chipset brief clearly states that the latest Core processors support ECC, reports HardwareLuxx:
"Error Correcting Code (ECC) memory support minimizes errors and delivers a stable engineering and design platform. When paired with the right Intel Core processors, you can get support for the Intel vPro platform, which gives businesses the tools to manage and secure workstations."
Heise.de specifically inquired with the chipmaker and received confirmation:
"12th Generation Core processors support ECC when paired with W680 platforms. In fact, even enthusiast-grade Core i9-12900K gains ECC support when paired with W680." - Intel spokesperson.
Speaking of Intel’s W680, it is necessary to note that this chipset has essentially the same features as Z690, but given its workstation nature, it lacks support for overclocking. Other capabilities, such as PCIe 5.0 support from the CPU, PCIe 3.0/4.0 support from the chipset, SATA ports, Wi-Fi 6E logic, GbE, USB 3.2 Gen 2, and USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 are all there.
Enabling ECC support on Intel Core processors will somewhat democratize the entry-level workstation market as it will be easier to get CPUs with ECC memory support. Meanwhile, for Intel, it will be easier to manage its inventory as it will no longer have to test, pack, transport, and carry a dozen of Xeon-branded SKUs that are barely different from Core-badged processors. In any case, it looks like everyone wins here.