non-ecc

  • Intel C200 Series Chipset Quirks

    Compatibility can be a bear. Especially when you are just scrapping together server and desktop parts and trying to get a good deal while also getting good performance. Many people are drawn in by cheaper ECC memory or Xeon processor that are cheaper than their desktop counterparts. This is a very interesting option for people looking just to set up a home lab or a high-performance gaming rig. As of writing, the 8 Core E5-2670 can be had for around $70. There aren't even any options with 8 cores on the desktop side under $500 dollars, let alone $100. The biggest hurdle though is if it will work in your motherboard. If you would like a general guide showing which desktop chipset might have a chance of running a Xeon processor or vice versa you can check out my General Motherboard Compatibility Guide, but in this article, I am going to focus on some bizarre quirks with Intel's C200 series of motherboards.

    The first thing I am going to talk about is what has changed. It used to be that the memory controller was a component on the motherboard inside of the chipset, but in recent years, starting with Nehalem, the first generation with the i7 naming scheme, moved the memory controller onto the processor itself. Previously you used to have to look at the chipset of the  motherboard to see if it could handle a certain memory capacity or speed and when they moved the memory controller onto the processor you would think that then you would have to look at the processor's compatibility with the memory. This is true, but there is a catch. You still need to look at the motherboard's chipset because it still plays a part in compatibility. The most major thing to note is that while the C200 series chipsets all have desktop equivalents that seem like they should be the same, they are actually slightly different in the memory category. As you would expect they support ECC memory. Since the chipset is only designed for workstations and not servers they use Unbuffered ECC memory(If you are confused about memory type then check out my post on memory compatibility) instead of Registered ECC memory.

    Generally, people think that in order to run ECC memory you need a Xeon processor, but things get confusing when you have HP releasing products like their Proliant MicroServer which comes with a Celeron a C200 Series Chipset and Unbufffered ECC memory.

    Proliant MicroServer

    So what gives? How is it that they put a Celeron with ECC memory? Well, It turns out that Intel left the ECC functionality on on their lower end parts like the Celerons, Pentiums and i3's for some unknown reason. This is interesting because it allows OEM's to make really cheap server systems because they do not have to use the more expensive Xeon processors. The downfall of this is that it make it very confusing to upgrade. You are capped at best with an i3. That is probably plenty fine for many tasks but you need to be aware that if you put an i5 or i7 in it isn't going to work.

    One thing you might be thinking now is, Hey, the memory controller is on the i5 and i7 now so if I put those in there then I just need to use non-ECC memory. Unfortunately, as I said earlier, the compatibility is still linked to the chipset in some way so even though your i5 or i7 you want to put in there can support non-ECC memory, the C200 series chipsets cannot.

    ...Or can it? There is one exception to this rule. It seems that Intel has added non-ECC support to any C200 series chipset ending in 6. e.g. c206, c216, c226. This is quite peculiar because it seems like all of the chipsets are mostly the same, give or take a couple I/O options and PCIe lanes. What this means though is that if you have a C2X6 series chipset then you can use an i5 or i7, but since they do not have ECC support you will need to switch over to non-ECC memory. Theis makes the  C206, C216, C226 chipset motherboards turn out to be some of the most versatile motherboards that have ever been released. Check out all of the possible CPU's that you can use for a C206 based motherboard like the Asus P8B WS . You can use Celerons, Pentiums, i3's, i5's, i7's and Xeon E3's From both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge generations given that you have the correct memory for your processor. You could start with a system featuring a measly Celeron with ECC memory and then decide you want more Compute power and switch to an i7 with non-ECC memory and then if you determine that you need the ECC memory again you can switch over to a Xeon for the high computing power and ECC memory.

    The C200 series is definitely confusing, but I believe that it is a very good deal either way because the variants ending in 6 have immense compatibility potential while the non-6 variants give great value and leave the possibility of Xeon upgrades down the road. You just have to remember that the chipset as well as the processor both must support the kind of memory that you are looking to run.

  • General Motherboard Compatibility Guide

    Here is a chart I have created that will function as a quick cheat sheet for people to look through and determine processors that may be compatible with their motherboard based on which chipset it uses. Just click on your motherboard's chipset and it will drop down with the associated Code Name, which processors are potentially supported and which type of memory it uses.  Note that this is not an absolute guarantee that a certain processor will be compatible. There are simply too many variations to guarantee compatibility for anything but it is a good place to start. Please check your manufacturer's website to confirm any compatibility issues if you are uncertain. If you find any errors or think I should add anything to the chart you can leave a comment below or email me at [email protected] I will be looking to add more individualized looks at each chipset in the near future.

    H81

    Code Name

    Lynx Point

    Processors Supported

    Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Haswell WS(E3-1200 V3) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR3

    B85

    Code Name

    Lynx Point

    Processors Supported

    Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Haswell WS(E3-1200 V3) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR3

    Q85

    Code Name

    Lynx Point

    Processors Supported

    Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Haswell WS(E3-1200 V3) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR3

    Q87

    Code Name

    Lynx Point

    Processors Supported

    Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Haswell WS(E3-1200 V3) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR3

    H87

    Code Name

    Lynx Point

    Processors Supported

    Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Haswell WS(E3-1200 V3) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR3

    Z87

    Code Name

    Lynx Point

    Processors Supported

    Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Haswell WS(E3-1200 V3) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR3

    Z97

    Code Name

    Wildcat Point

    Processors Supported

    Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Broadwell, Haswell WS(E3-1200 V3) and Broadwell WS(E3-1200 V4) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard DDR3

    H97

    Code Name

    Wildcat Point

    Processors Supported

    Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Broadwell, Haswell WS(E3-1200 V3) and Broadwell WS(E3-1200 V4) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard DDR3

    X58

    Code Name

    Tylersburg

    Processors Supported

    Bloomfield, Gulftown and Westmere-EP Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR3

    X79

    Code Name

    Patsburg

    Processors Supported

    Sandy Bridge E, Ivy Bridge E, Sandy Bridge EP(E5-2600) and Ivy Bridge EP(E5-2600 V2) may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR3

    X99

    Code Name

    Wellsburg

    Processors Supported

    Haswell E, Broadwell, Haswell-EP(E5-2600 v3) and Broadwell-EP(E5-2600 v4) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR4

    H110

    Code Name

    Sunrise Point

    Processors Supported

    Skylake, Skylake WS(E3-1200 v5) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR4

    B150

    Code Name

    Sunrise Point

    Processors Supported

    Skylake, Skylake WS(E3-1200 v5) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR4

    Q150

    Code Name

    Sunrise Point

    Processors Supported

    Skylake, Skylake WS(E3-1200 v5) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR4

    H170

    Code Name

    Sunrise Point

    Processors Supported

    Skylake, Skylake WS(E3-1200 v5) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR4

    Q170

    Code Name

    Sunrise Point

    Processors Supported

    Skylake, Skylake WS(E3-1200 v5) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR4

    Z170

    Code Name

    Sunrise Point

    Processors Supported

    Skylake, Skylake WS(E3-1200 v5) Xeons may be supported

    Memory Standard

    DDR4

    C232

    Code Name

    Sunrise Point

    Processors Supported

    Skylake WS(E3-1200 v5) Xeons, may support Desktop Skylake (i3, celeron, pentium)

    Memory Standard

    DDR4

    C236

    Code Name

    Sunrise Point

    Processors Supported

    Skylake WS(E3-1200 v5) Xeons, may support Desktop Skylake (i7, i5,i3, celeron, pentium)

    Memory Standard

    DDR4

    C202

    Code Name

    Cougar Point

    Processors Supported

    Sandy Bridge EP(E3-1200) and Ivy Bridge EP(E3-1200 V2)  Xeons, may support Desktop Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge (i3, pentium, celeron)

    Memory Standard

    DDR3

    C204

    Code Name

    Cougar Point

    Processors Supported

    Sandy Bridge EP(E3-1200) and Ivy Bridge EP(E3-1200 V2)  Xeons, may support Desktop Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge (i3, pentium, celeron)

    Memory Standard

    DDR3

    C206

    Code Name

    Cougar Point

    Processors Supported

    Sandy Bridge EP(E3-1200) and Ivy Bridge EP(E3-1200 V2)  Xeons, may support Desktop Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge (i7, i5, i3, pentium, celeron)

    Memory Standard

    DDR3 ECC UDIMMs and Non-ECC DIMMs

    C602

    Code Name

    Patsburg

    Processors Supported

    Ivy Bridge EP and Sandy Bridge EP Xeons (E5-24XX compatible with LGA1356 motherboards) May work with Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge I7's

    Memory Standard

    DDR3 ECC LRDIMMs, RDIMMs, UDIMMs and Non-ECC DIMMs

    C602J

    Code Name

    Patsburg

    Processors Supported

    Ivy Bridge EP and Sandy Bridge EP Xeons (E5-24XX compatible with LGA1356 motherboards) May work with Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge I7's

    Memory Standard

    DDR3 ECC LRDIMMs, RDIMMs, UDIMMs and Non-ECC DIMMs, DDR4*

    C604

    Code Name

    Patsburg

    Processors Supported

    Ivy Bridge EP and Sandy Bridge EP Xeons (E5-24XX compatible with LGA1356 motherboards) May work with Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge I7's

    Memory Standard

    DDR3 ECC LRDIMMs, RDIMMs, UDIMMs and Non-ECC DIMMs

    C606

    Code Name

    Patsburg

    Processors Supported

    Ivy Bridge EP and Sandy Bridge EP Xeons (E5-24XX compatible with LGA1356 motherboards) May work with Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge I7's

    Memory Standard

    DDR3 ECC LRDIMMs, RDIMMs, UDIMMs and Non-ECC DIMMs

    C608

    Code Name

    Patsburg

    Processors Supported

    Ivy Bridge EP and Sandy Bridge EP Xeons (E5-24XX compatible with LGA1356 motherboards) May work with Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge I7's

    Memory Standard

    DDR3 ECC LRDIMMs, RDIMMs, UDIMMs and Non-ECC DIMMs

    C216

    Code Name

    Panther Point

    Processors Supported

    Sandy Bridge EP(E3-1200) and Ivy Bridge EP(E3-1200 V2)  Xeons, may support Desktop Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge (i7, i5, i3, pentium, celeron)

    Memory Standard

    DDR3 ECC UDIMMs and Non-ECC DIMMs

    C222

    Code Name

    Lynx Point

    Processors Supported

    Haswell WS(E3-1200 V3) and Broadwell WS(E3-1200 V4), Broadwell or Skylake i3, Pentium, Celerons may be compatible

    Memory Standard

    DDR3 ECC UDIMMs

    C224

    Code Name

    Lynx Point

    Processors Supported

    Haswell WS(E3-1200 V3) and Broadwell WS(E3-1200 V4), Broadwell or Skylake i3, Pentium, Celerons may be compatible

    Memory Standard

    DDR3 ECC UDIMMs

    C226

    Code Name

    Lynx Point

    Processors Supported

    Haswell WS(E3-1200 V3) and Broadwell WS(E3-1200 V4), Broadwell or Skylake i3/i5/i7, Pentium, Celerons may be compatible

    Memory Standard

    DDR3 ECC UDIMMs and Non-ECC DIMMs

    C612

    Code Name

    Wellsburg

    Processors Supported

    Haswell-EP(E5-1600 v3, E5-2600 V3, E5-4600 V3) and Broadwell-EP(E5-1600 V4, E5-2600 V4, E5-4800 V4)  Desktop Haswell and Broadwell may be possible in single socket configuration

    Memory Standard

    DDR4

  • General Memory (RAM) Compatibility Guide

    What to look at to make sure Memory will be compatible

    Memory has a bad rep for sketchy compatibility and random quirks, but in recent years it has actually become very simple because there haven't been many major changes. In this guide, I will explain to you what the various types are, what the various numbers on your memory sticks mean and what will likely be compatible with your system.

    ECC Non-ECC FB-DIMM SO-DIMM RDIMM LRDIMM DDR3 DDR4 DDR2

    There are a ton of acronyms and names for all of the different kinds of memory so I am going to spend a little bit of time educating you on the different types and then show you that most likely if you are reading this guide that it is very simple and there isn't really anything you can get wrong.

    The first distinction is what kind of system are you putting the memory in?

    Memory Types (SO-DIMM DIMM) Not to scale. SO-DIMMs are roughly 2.75" long and DIMMs are roughly 5.25" long

    If it is a laptop then almost 100% chance it is the SO-DIMM form factor. These are smaller sticks designed to fit in the smaller body of a laptop. They are roughly half the size of a desktop stick of RAM so they are easy to differentiate.

    If it is a desktop then it will almost always be the standard DIMM form factor.  In some cases of very small form factor systems, you may see an SO-DIMM used, but rule of thumb is that desktops use the DIMM form factor.

    So now that you know about the sizes of memory I can tell you about the types of memory. There is DDR, DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4 all available in both laptop (SO-DIMM) and desktop (DIMM) varieties.  This sounds like a lot of different combinations and possibilities, but, in reality, unless you are reading this before I wrote it then you will likely only need to consider DDR3 and DDR4. To start off with some basic party knowledge to impress your friends, DDR stands for double data rate and DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4 are just the second, third and fourth generations of this technology. Each generation has come around and obsoleted the previous generation and since we have now progressed to DDR4, DDR and DDR2 systems are basically extinct. If you find that your system has these in them, it is probably time to buy a new system entirely instead of upgrading the RAM.

    Now that you know about the various generations of RAM I can explain what this means for you when you are purchasing memory. The first thing to clear up is that none of the generations are compatible with each other. Some motherboards have both DDR2 and DDR3 sockets or DDR3 and DDR4, but even in this case, you will not be able to run both kinds at the same time.  All of the different versions of DDR have different pin layouts so there is no possibility of putting an incompatible type in the wrong socket.

    ddr ddr2 ddr3

    This is true of both desktop and laptop modules

    So the most important thing when you are looking for memory is making sure you are purchasing the generation that matches your system. Currently, the majority of systems are DDR3 systems but if you purchased a system in the last 2 years there is a good chance that it uses DDR4 because that has become the new standard. You can easily find this by looking up the part number of the memory you already have by looking up the memory part number that you have pulled by using our custom tool or using CPU-Z and going to the memory tab and it will tell you what type you have.

    Size (Capacity)

    This is likely the first thing you thought of when you thought of memory. I won't write too much on this because this is something most people already understand. Capacity is simply the amount of information that the stick can store. People generally are already aware how much RAM they have in there system and this is probably why they are considering upgrading. If you open up your task manager and find that the amount of memory being used is almost at 100% of the memory installed you should probably upgrade. Memory comes in all different capacities so you should find an option that comes in a capacity that you think will meet your needs while also being within your budget. One thing I will note about compatibility and sizes is that typically systems will not work with three different sizes of sticks in the same system. So if you have four slots and have 2 4GB sticks and one 8GB stick then it might not be possible to put in a 2GB or 16GB stick.

    Task Manager Task Manager memory utilization

    ECC or Non-ECC

    The one thing that most commonly catches people off guard (even season system builders) is ECC memory. ECC memory is memory used for servers and workstations. It stands for error correcting code.  This is memory that, as the name states, corrects errors if they come up. This is very useful for servers and workstations that need to be up 100% of the time or run long simulations without errors, but for a typical desktop, it is excessive because you can simply restart a system that is acting up or close and reopen a program that might be acting funny.

    If you are reading this guide then you likely do not need and cannot use ECC memory. This is one of the most common mistakes I have seen because counterintuitively these sticks often sell for even below non-ECC prices after they have been out for a while because once a system is retired from a business setting they will likely be sold off and the systems that use these often have many more RAM slots than a typical system and when a business is selling off these it is likely that many other businesses are as well and do not have a need for more because they have moved onto something better. This means they flood the market and prices end up low. If you are not using a system that is designated a workstation or server and has a Xeon or Opteron then you should grab non-ECC memory, sometimes called SDRAM. Now that I have forewarned everyone who might make that mistake, I can explain the types of ECC memory.  There are 4 major types and they are all just variations of the same thing.

    The first to get out of the way is FB-DIMMs. FB stands for fully buffered. These have basically been phased out since DDR2 so you will not likely encounter these any time soon even if you are using a system that requires ECC memory. These have a different pin layout than even standard DDR2 so they will only fit in sockets that allow FB-DIMMs.

    The next type is UDIMM. The U in UDIMM stands for unregistered. This is typically in lower end systems that do not need massive amounts of RAM because UDIMMs limit you to 2 per channel (If you look at the motherboard and see different colored slots, each color is a different channel). This means that they are less commonly used in servers and more often used in Workstations that simply need more reliable options than non-ECC memory but don't need to be able to handle a terabyte of memory. If there is any memory type that will work in a desktop it would be a UDIMM. Some desktops will be able to function just fine with UDIMMs, but they will turn off the error correcting functions so it is still generally better to just go for the non-ECC SDRAM options. On these memory sticks you will likely see the U or E suffix after the speed like on a stick that says 10600U or 10600E.

    1TB Memory A server with four processor sockets and 1TB of memory

    The final two types of memory are RDIMM and LRDIMM. These stand for registered and load reduced registered memory. Registered, as explained a little bit in the UDIMM explanation is memory that has error correcting functions but also has the ability to be configured with more than two sticks per channel. This is primarily used in high capacity servers that have many slots for RAM.

    LRDIMMs are more or less the same thing but are optimized slightly differently so that they can operate at higher frequencies or utilize higher capacity configurations. For example, some systems may max out at 1TB of RDIMMs, but may be able to utilize 2TB of LRDIMMs or they may max out at 1600Mhz in a quad channel configuration with RDIMMs, but may be able to go up to 1866Mhz or 2133Mhz with LRDIMMs.

    If you are using a system like this then I highly recommend visiting the manufacturer's site and checking for the most recent documentation to see what these different stipulations are because for each system it is a little different.

    Frequencies and Timings

    Now that we have talked about the form factors, generations and Types we can move on to the frequencies and timings. Frequency, simply put, is the number of times that a memory stick refreshes the information it is storing. This is the 1600Mhz you might see or the 10600 on the stick. Timings are the number of refreshes that the memory module requires to perform a certain task you will typically see this as 8-8-8-10 or on the memory stick

    4GB DDR3

    The fortunate thing about both of these things is that there are standards put out by a group JEDEC so most memory sticks will be the same combination of frequencies and timings. The other thing fortunate thing about memory is that they are all able to run at multiple speeds. This means that if you already have 1333Mhz sticks then they will work with a new set of 1600Mhz sticks that you purchased, but the 1600Mhz will be run at the slower speed of 1333Mhz. This means that if you already have RAM in your system and you are looking to just add new sticks it is likely best to get sticks that are the same speed as what you have unless you can get the faster sticks for cheaper.

    Overall I would not worry about frequencies and timings that much other than trying to match with what you have. There have been various benchmarks that have shown mixed results after a certain speed whether there is even any difference at all. Many systems and motherboards do not even officially support the higher speeds and to run them at the RAMs advertised frequency might actually be considered overclocking so it will run at the standard 1600Mhz by default unless you do a little bit of work configuring it in the BIOS.

    Height

    This is something super simple but also very often overlooked. Sometimes RAM features tall heatsinks or heat spreaders to dissipate the heat produced by the memory sticks and this will hit something in the case or get blocked by the processor's heatsink. It is important to check the inside of your system and find the dimensions of the memory before you purchase it because you might end up with sticks that physically do not fit.

    Tall heat spreaders Tall heat spreaders

    There are plenty of variations of each module of RAM though and it is very unlikely you will be unable to find sticks that do not fit in your system. They also make low profile sticks that are significantly shorter if you do have a system that does not seem to have proper space. These are typically more expensive though so I would recommend going for regular height sticks first.

    Summary

    When looking for memory the first thing you should determine is what form factor of memory your system uses. Either SODIMM if  it is a laptop or  DIMM if it is a desktop. Then you need to determine what generation of memory it is. You can check this by looking up the documentation of your system or using our custom tool and looking up the part numbers of your current memory or using CPU-Z to tell you. Most likely it is DDR3 or DDR4 at this point. Next, you should determine whether you need ECC or non-ECC memory. By default, everyone should choose non-ECC unless you know that the system you are upgrading is a workstation or server. If you are in the minority and need ECC memory you should choose between UDIMMs, RDIMMs and LRDIMMs based on your use. This is a complex decision to make but, basically, UDIMMs should be for workstations that don't need massive amounts of RAM, RDIMMs for those who need a bit more and LRDIMMs who need the absolute maximum capacity and speed possible. After that, you should determine what frequency and timing you have and try to match that or find the cheapest option that exceeds your current sticks. Then finally you should make sure that the memory will physically fit in your system and has proper clearance. If you follow all of these steps you should have no issues with incompatibility.

     

     

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