Microsoft to "encourage" use of ECC memory for Vista


Chicago (IL) - Microsoft confirmed to TG Daily that it will "encourage" system builders to use Error Checking and Correction (ECC) memory modules for Vista computers - rather than the standard DDR devices common in desktop and notebook computers today. Currently, ECC is mainly used in servers and workstations and will not be a Vista requirement, but the technology may increase the stability of the OS.

Microsoft's next-generation Windows has still a few months and pre-releases to go before we will have a good idea what benefits and drawbacks the operating system will offer to users. But details trickling out of Redmond, already suggest that the transition from XP to Vista won't be as easy as from Me or 2000 to XP. Users intending to upgrade have to learn about VDDM (Vista Display Driver Model) drivers, make sure that there is enough CPU and GPU horsepower to run the software and be convinced that a wave of digital rights management (DRM) features isn't as scary in everyday use as on paper.

We are certain that we will learn about more surprises as the months pass by and perhaps experience a Windows 95 upgrade deja-vu. Just now we heard from Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, analyst that Microsoft will make ECC memory a "soft-requirement" for Windows Vista. "Soft" means that system builders won't have to use the technology to achieve a "Vista ready" level, but Microsoft certainly may recommend to its partners to avoid the mainstream memory that is used in virtually all desktop and notebook computers today.

"We've made a number of changes and improvements to the way Windows Vista diagnoses and manages memory that we think will lead to a better overall customer experience," Michael Burk, PR Manager for Microsoft's Windows team, told TG Daily. "In addition, we think that ECC would help bring added stability to system memory, and so we are encouraging our partners to consider incorporating ECC into their future product plans," he said.

ECC devices integrate circuitry that can test and modify data as it passes through the memory. Unlike standard memory, the technology is able to detect and correct single-bit errors. This feature is especially valuable in server and workstation environments - and this is where ECC is used today in most cases. With single-bit memory errors being capable of shutting down a server that needs to be in operation around the clock, ECC is the obvious choice.