Memory type? (ECC vs non-ECC)

Jared Hodge jared_hodge at
Fri Aug 17 12:24:37 PDT 2001

	Ok, first with what ECC is.  Error Correction Circuitry.  How will this
affect performance?  As far as speed, they run about the same (ECC may
even be a little slower).  The issue is reliability.  We had a few
rounds of E-mails on how often errors occur in non-ECC memory chips a
few months ago (and it's affected by climate, altitude, EMI radiation,
solar flares, someone breaking wind near the machines, bla, bla, bla). 
Anyway, I don't think you want us to launch that conversation again, but
the thing is that with a single machine, non-ECC is typically fine
(except for mission critical servers, etc.) since the time between
errors is so great.  The problem is that with a cluster, you have so
many memory chips that the time between failures (of any one of them) is
significantly less.  I guess the question is how big is the cluster and
how much do you lose if you have to restart?  We've got an 8 node
cluster, 4 GB RAM total that seems to work fine without ECC.  We're
getting a larger cluster with 24 GB RAM total and going with ECC.  The
larger the cluster, the more you need ECC.  Also, if you're running
problems that take many days to complete, go with ECC.  If you're
running checkpoints, or individual problems only take a few hours, you
can go with non-ECC.  Hope this helps.


Dan Kirkpatrick wrote:
> We're finalizing our specs for our next beowulf cluster... and I had a
> question...
> ECC or non-ECC memory?  Motherboard "supports" ECC memory mode... although
> non-ecc memory is cheaper so we can get more...
> How does this realistically affect performance?
> comments?
> Thanks
> =======================================================
> Dan Kirkpatrick                   dkirk at
> Computer Systems Manager
> Department of Physics
> Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
>    Fax:(315) 443-9103
> =======================================================
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Jared Hodge
Institute for Advanced Technology
The University of Texas at Austin
3925 W. Braker Lane, Suite 400
Austin, Texas 78759

Phone: 512-232-4460
Fax: 512-471-9096
Email: Jared_Hodge at

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