Intel Enables ECC Memory on Consumer Alder Lake CPUs

Intel
(Image credit: Intel)

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.  

(Image credit: Intel)

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.

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • -Fran-
    What a joke... This wouldn't be an issue/topic if they never started segmenting the market in the first place...

    "Abuse me daddy", much?

    Regards.
    Reply
  • wifiburger
    -Fran- said:
    What a joke... This wouldn't be an issue/topic if they never started segmenting the market in the first place...

    "Abuse me daddy", much?

    Regards.
    lol, what are you complaining about ?

    get the mobo/ chipset if you need ECC and be done with it

    What's the alternative ? AMD ?
    AMD side is wild wild west:
    which mobo supports ECC ? hint they all run the same chipset, same bios but some you don' t get ECC
    which chipset is supported for my next cpu ?
    do I get full or beta support ?
    is the vendor still putting out bios updates ?
    fTPM agesa bug you say ? well you better have a supported chipset to get the fix
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    wifiburger said:
    lol, what are you complaining about ?

    get the mobo/ chipset if you need ECC and be done with it

    What's the alternative ? AMD ?
    AMD side is wild wild west:
    which mobo supports ECC ? hint they all run the same chipset, same bios but some you don' t get ECC
    which chipset is supported for my next cpu ?
    do I get full or beta support ?
    is the vendor still putting out bios updates ?
    fTPM agesa bug you say ? well you better have a supported chipset to get the fix
    Er... AMD motherboards using AM4 do support ECC, just FYI. The motherboard vendor just needs to enable it. This was like a super important feature that came with Zen1 motherboards back then and was kept all the way to Zen3. I hope they do keep the ECC support with AM5.

    EDIT: Here you go:
    https://rog.asus.com/forum/showthread.php?112750-List-Asus-Motherboards-that-Support-ECC-Mode-with-Ryzen-(ECC-Enabled)
    Regards.
    Reply
  • bambinone
    Will it support RDIMMs and LRDIMMs, or only UDIMMs?
    Reply
  • heickel.ramadhan
    -Fran- said:
    Er... AMD motherboards using AM4 do support ECC, just FYI. The motherboard vendor just needs to enable it. This was like a super important feature that came with Zen1 motherboards back then and was kept all the way to Zen3. I hope they do keep the ECC support with AM5.

    EDIT: Here you go:
    https://rog.asus.com/forum/showthread.php?112750-List-Asus-Motherboards-that-Support-ECC-Mode-with-Ryzen-(ECC-Enabled)
    Regards.
    at the end of the day, a mobo without ECC support will not have ECC and u will need diffrent mobo for ECC support

    nothing much changes from buyer perspective, in fact segmenting 1 chipset specially for ECC mean, all board named after that chipset is guaranteed have ECC support
    Reply
  • Co BIY
    Important questions are how much is a motherboard with this chipset, are they available yet and is any ECC DDR5 memory available.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    heickel.ramadhan said:
    at the end of the day, a mobo without ECC support will not have ECC and u will need diffrent mobo for ECC support

    nothing much changes from buyer perspective, in fact segmenting 1 chipset specially for ECC mean, all board named after that chipset is guaranteed have ECC support
    That is not the point. AMD is not forcing OEMs or AIBs to not support ECC in their boards. It is up to them. Intel does tell them what to do and punishes motherboard makers if they bypass anything they tell them not to do. There's plenty of examples of this, so I won't give you any myself, but I do have fond memories of the P45 chipset shenanigans.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • sjcoker1
    The specs on Intel's site states Intel W680 Chipset supports overclocking. From what I've read elsewhere, overclocking is supported with I9-12900k and W680 chipset.
    Reply