vlad

RAM for Intel 975X - Kingston/Crucial/Corsair/OCZ ?

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Hi,

I'm planning on getting 2G of ECC RAM for an Intel 975X motherboard. All the above-mentioned manufacturers claim to have compatible RAM (at comparable prices). Any thoughts on quality/reliability/etc?

Thanks :) !

Vlad

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Any thoughts on quality/reliability/etc?

They're all pretty much the same. For server quality ram, Admins usually just call their vendor and order whatever SKU they're directed to. If your literature is pointing you to these three brands, then the only thing that you have to worry about are price and performance. Lower $ vs. lower timings should be your only dilemma.

Thank you for your time,

Frank Russo

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Why bother with ECC RAM if your motherboard can live happily with standard modules? Your RAM will just be slower and almost certainly won't be any more reliable. If reliability is paramount, get yourself a server-oriented chipset. Otherwise, don't bother with ECC.

My returns are nil with Kingston modules (that's on many hundred modules). I've only had one bad Corsair stick and it was a "value" PC3200 stick. Their higher-end stuff, never had a problem with. I've had incompatibilty issues with OCZ Gold modules (voltage related), but none with their Platinum series. I never tried their Server series, but when I need server RAM, I turn to Kingston : slow timings, but garantied reliability. Expensive though. Kingston RAM often seems overpriced.

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Why bother with ECC RAM if your motherboard can live happily with standard modules? Your RAM will just be slower and almost certainly won't be any more reliable. If reliability is paramount, get yourself a server-oriented chipset. Otherwise, don't bother with ECC.

Hmmm, that's interesting. Why do you say that it won't be any more reliable? What's the point of ECC, if not reliability (i.e., add 8 more bits to the regular 64 so that you can catch transient bit flips). Are you trying to say that not using a server chipset will make the system less reliable anyway, independently of what memory I use?

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I remember having read a paper comparing the time before a conventional RAM module will produce an error and the time before an ECC module will too. The conclusion was that conventional RAM error ratio was already so high that for desktop use, it wasn't worth it to spend more for ECC RAM. A server reading/writing constantly to its RAM and which must not BSOD and reboot is a different story (even though the edge of ECC might still be questionable since non-ECC RAM error ratio is already excellent).

Bottom line is : ECC RAM is for paranoids or systems that simply can't fail, otherwise, it's a waste.

Server chipsets almost always require ECC RAM. They are designed from the ground up with reliability in mind, not features and/or performances. Maintream/enthusiast chipsets are mainly designed with performance and features first and reliability second because anyway, an average SOHO box shouldn't run a company server and doesn't need to run 24x7 365.25 days a year without rebooting.

If you want something fast and don't mind rebooting once every six months (pessimistic), forget the server chipset and ECC RAM trip. And if you can't tolerate the bi-annual hardware-caused crash, then go for a server chipset first since it'll be your weakess link reliability-wise, well before the ECC-ness of your RAM.

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I remember having read a paper comparing the time before a conventional RAM module will produce an error and the time before an ECC module will too. The conclusion was that conventional RAM error ratio was already so high that for desktop use, it wasn't worth it to spend more for ECC RAM. A server reading/writing constantly to its RAM and which must not BSOD and reboot is a different story (even though the edge of ECC might still be questionable since non-ECC RAM error ratio is already excellent).

I've actually heard different stories (I don't have a reference handy, but I remember reading something along these lines last year, in an architecture class). For a continuously-running server, actual bit flips happen once every couple of days. Keep in mind that, as feature sizes get smaller, the chance for alpha particles to flip a bit gets higher and higher. That's why NASA won't use a 65 nm chip for its space missions. Not to mention the fact that Microsoft is encouraging people to use ECC in the future.

BTW, desktops access the memory system, too. It's true that server workloads tend to have poorer cache behavior then desktop ones (thus require more memory bandwidth), but that doesn't mean that desktops don't access the main memory frequently.

And yes, I am a bit paranoid :)

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BTW, desktops access the memory system, too.

No, really? Damn! I thought the RAM was there for aesthetic purpose.

My point is the bit-flipping will also occur within the chipset anyway. As for Microsoft's recommendations, well, no comments needed. They can't even get their softwares right, so their opinion on hardware...

That said (written, in fact), you are perfectly entitled to buy ECC RAM if you feel it is what's right for you. What will you do on that system?

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No, really? Damn! I thought the RAM was there for aesthetic purpose.

My point is the bit-flipping will also occur within the chipset anyway. As for Microsoft's recommendations, well, no comments needed. They can't even get their softwares right, so their opinion on hardware...

Leaving sarcasm aside, well, if you had a CPU intensive task that barely used the hdd (there's many examples), you could say that the HDD isn't really accessed. My point was that it's not the case for memory.

As for reliability - I *believe* that the chance of transient errors in the RAM is actually higher than in the chipset (they are quite different in terms of how they are built, btw, different technology process, etc). I'll try to do some literature digging, see if that's really the case.

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Why bother with ECC RAM if your motherboard can live happily with standard modules? Your RAM will just be slower and almost certainly won't be any more reliable. If reliability is paramount, get yourself a server-oriented chipset. Otherwise, don't bother with ECC. [...]

ECC RAM is not inherently slower. It's the buffered RAM typical to server setups that, in desktop -variety tasks particularly, is slower. That the buffered server RAM is nearly always ECC is the big reason for the misconception.

That's not to say there's no truth at all in your assertion. Since there's no such thing as "enthusiast ECC RAM" right now, you won't see Mushkin et al marketing hand-picked ECC DDR2 with ultra-tight timings guaranteed for 30% over SPD settings, overvoltage, etc. So yes, you can buy non-ECC that is faster than ECC. My issue with this is that practically speaking, the benefits gained by throwing lots of money at hand-picked RAM are very small, and the cash is generally better spent on a faster CPU or motherboard. Of course, "practical" and "OC" have nothing to do with each other...

I see no reason to require a server oriented chipset for ECC RAM either. A server chipset is for someone who wants hot swappable memory, multiple PCI bridges and specialized memory hubs for higher peripheral and network bandwidth, needs to use server task -oriented CPUs, etc. But at the desktop level ECC can still keep you from losing hours, days or even weeks of work (if like many folks your backup habits need attention) when you hit the Save button in the likes of Adobe Premiere and you end up unlucky enough to hit that random bad bit. In that respect I consider ECC money very well spent and for a planned January or February workstation refresh, I myself intend to employ ECC on an D975XBX2. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean the bits and bytes aren't out to get you!

By the way, I have a bad stick of Kingston DDR here that I have not yet gotten around to returning. It happens. Now this generalization may not be fair, but I'm betting that Kingston RAM customers aren't the type of folks who run MEMTEST for a week, or who would even think to associate occasional unexplained system crashes to bad RAM. But that's just my opinion; I could be wrong!

-Brad

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I'm planning on getting 2G of ECC RAM for an Intel 975X motherboard. All the above-mentioned manufacturers claim to have compatible RAM (at comparable prices). Any thoughts on quality/reliability/etc?

I didn't notice Corsair or OCZ selling any ECC DDR2 RAM last time I looked.

I did notice that Kingston's ECC DDR2 was a LOT cheaper than Crucial, at least in the bigger sticks I was looking for (I want 8GB). Two weeks ago CT2KIT25672AA667 was $1336 and you could get KVR667D2E5K2/4G for $852.

I doubt there's much difference between the two. The link for specs on the Kingston part is broken on their web site. Crucial doesn't even publish any detailed specs on theirs.

-Brad

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but I'm betting that Kingston RAM customers aren't the type of folks who run MEMTEST for a week
You'd be surprised how many OEMs specify Kingston.

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but I'm betting that Kingston RAM customers aren't the type of folks who run MEMTEST for a week
You'd be surprised how many OEMs specify Kingston.

No, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.

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