What is ECC RAM?

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What is ECC RAM?
ECC RAM stands for “Error-correcting code – random access memory” or simply ECC memory. It is a type of computer data storage system that features error-correction capabilities. ECC RAM is typically used in computer servers and in financial computing where error-detection is very important to protect computer data.

Memory chips with ECC are able to detect and/or correct common errors at the time of storage and transport of data. It is typical of servers that some errors occur during the whole duration of its operation. Most, if not all, servers run on a 24-hour and 7-days-a-week basis and so errors on the chips are expected to crop up. And if this is the case, RAM or memory chips with ECC would greatly help. As many computer users know, errors pointing to the computer’s memory may eventually lead to crashing of particular application. With ECC in place, some of these errors are detected and corrected immediately.

Computer memory errors are classified into two types. The first type is called hard errors and is secondary to actual fabrication defects on the chips themselves. These types of errors cannot be corrected even if there is ECC. The second type of errors is called soft errors and these are mostly due to disturbances in the electrical or power supply. It is in these types of errors that the ECC in memory chips may give their benefit and support.

Errors that can be corrected by ECC on memory chips are of the “single-bit” variety. These are common errors encountered as a particular computer runs. Errors that are larger than 1 bit are considered “large” errors and may not be detected/corrected by ECC. If large bits of errors occur, computer applications may still crash. Most ECC memory chips use the Triple Modular Redundancy or Hamming Code methods in addressing single-bit errors. This means that the errors are managed by the ECC itself rather than the conventional route of having the data source resend the data in its original form.

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