Tuesday, January 5th 2021

Linus Torvalds Calls Out Intel for ECC Memory Market Stagnation

Linus Torvalds, the inventor of the Linux kernel and version-control system called git, has posted another one of his famous rants, addressing his views about the lack of ECC memory in consumer devices. Mr. Torvalds has posted his views on the Linux kernel mailing list, where he usually comments about the development of the kernel. The ECC or Error Correcting Code memory is a special kind of DRAM that fixes the problems that occur inside the memory itself, where a bit can get corrupted and change the data stored, thus offering false results. ECC aims to fix those mistakes by implementing a system that fixes these small errors and avoids bigger problems. According to Mr. Torvalds, it is a technology that we need to be implemented everywhere, not just server space like Intel imagines.
Linus Torvalds
Intel has been instrumental in killing the whole ECC industry with it's horribly bad market segmentation... Intel has been detrimental to the whole industry and to users because of their bad and misguided policies wrt ECC. Seriously...The arguments against ECC were always complete and utter garbage... Now even the memory manufacturers are starting do do ECC internally because they finally owned up to the fact that they absolutely have to. And the memory manufacturers claim it's because of economics and lower power. And they are lying bastards - let me once again point to row-hammer about how those problems have existed for several generations already, but these f***** happily sold broken hardware to consumers and claimed it was an "attack", when it always was "we're cutting corners".
He continues more about it stating the following:
The "modern DRAM is so reliable that it doesn't need ECC" was always a bedtime story for children that had been dropped on their heads a bit too many times. Yes, I'm pissed off about it. You can find me complaining about this literally for decades now. I don't want to say "I was right". I want this fixed, and I want ECC. And AMD did it. Intel didn't.
Source: Phoronix
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54 Comments on Linus Torvalds Calls Out Intel for ECC Memory Market Stagnation

#1
ixi
Go Linus, show those bastards that single man fek them up! ECC for everyone, woohoo!

Why is telnet protocol still a thing if you can use ssh...
Posted on Reply
#2
Bytales
So im not the only one who thinks in the same exact manner. Its simply stupidly stupid to have a computer with memory that hasnt ECC in this day and age. And intel were always "idiotic fulz" and "stupid morons" and all they ever did was hamper the evolution of technology. From the stupid ECC segmentation, to giving away only 0.5% perforamcne gains per generation.
In a star trek like world, where technological evolution is paramount, the stupidity of intel, they would implode into oblivion and cease to exist.
I dont see an Entity like Intel making cpus for spaceships, but rather an Entity like AMD. And thats saying a lot.

Therefore I congratulate AMD for being exactly the opposite. They have always done their very best. I dont believe they ever gimped performance just to make more money. In fact they displayed the exact opposite behavior (holding as much as it is possible to a new cpu socket for instance.) (which is essentially what intel always has done, and offer inferior shiet for huge amounts of money just because its intel), When they could, they brought stellar improvements withs ZEN 3. Now intel essentially faqed in the ass while caught with pants down, finally decided its time to bring cpus to market with "double digit IPC procentual improvements". Its not like they couldnt do it before, they just didnt want to. So because of them, technology evolution suffered.

Same story with ECC here.
That is why i own a first gen 32 core epic and a zen 3 5950x. Seeing a 16core cpu having the same multicore performance of a 32 core cpu, while having close to double the single core performance - only 2 generations away, is a testament to the dedication and commitment to progress AMD shows.

We, the plebs, need to fine INTEL, by not ever buying their stupid CPUs. They deserve to go out of business, if you ask me. And they deserve to go down into history, as an example of how stuff was stupidly on purpose gimped down for the sake of money, which is another stupidity created by man to enslave fellow man. Our childrens children will have a hard time believing the horror stories that are reality today.

AMD is technology for the future as it was meant to be, freeing mankind,
Intel is technology for the dark ages, meant to enslave mankind.
Posted on Reply
#3
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
ixi
Why is telnet protocol still a thing if you can use ssh...
It's simple for local stuff, but yeah.
Posted on Reply
#4
londiste
Doesn't DDR5 have ECC?

Btw, AMD does not officially support ECC on desktop either. What they do better is that they are not preventing its use.
Posted on Reply
#5
Vya Domus
The intention is OK but the reasoning is dumb, row hammer is basically unusable as a real exploit because you need to know exactly where your target memory is, which realistically you wont. So I'm not blaming manufacturers for not caring about stuff like that.
londiste
Btw, AMD does not officially support ECC on desktop either.
I am not sure what that means, ECC needs CPU and board support and that's it. That being said AMD has ECC enabled CPUs for desktops and as far as I know all boards support ECC as well.
Posted on Reply
#6
londiste
Vya Domus
I am not sure what that means, ECC needs CPU and board support and that's it. That being said AMD has ECC enabled CPUs for desktops and as far as I know all boards support ECC as well.
There is a difference between supported and working. If something happens to not work, AMD and motherboard manufacturer can and will tell you to turn off ECC or not use ECC RAM to fix the issue.
Posted on Reply
#8
londiste
Oh, cool. AMD actually has added official support to PRO models.
Posted on Reply
#9
Tomorrow
londiste
There is a difference between supported and working. If something happens to not work, AMD and motherboard manufacturer can and will tell you to turn off ECC or not use ECC RAM to fix the issue.
Is one not the requirement for the other?

Support already assumes things are working.
It could be be the other way around where it's working but not supported (like PCIe 4.0 on B450 boards).
Posted on Reply
#10
Wirko
londiste
Doesn't DDR5 have ECC?
Kind of. From what I can gather and understand, there are 8 additional bits of ECC memory for each 32 bits of user memory, and they are used to detect flipped bits. Not sure if this is mandatory or optional. This is how manufacturers counter the increase in bit errors due to process shrinking, and Linus' words "because they finally owned up to the fact that they absolutely have to" refer to just that.

ECC on the memory bus, however, is NOT mandatory even in DDR5, so system without it will not be able to detect errors that occur when the data is moving.
Posted on Reply
#11
londiste
Tomorrow
It could be be the other way around where it's working but not supported (like PCIe 4.0 on B450 boards).
Or non-PRO Ryzens and ECC...
Posted on Reply
#12
Xajel
I remember one tech writer/youtube mentioned that with AMD supports ECC on consumer platforms, he hoped for the memory makers to introduce faster ECC enabled RAM. He noted that all ECC memory are designed mainly for servers, so they're strictly clocked to follow JEDEC standards, but this is not required on consumer platforms, so makers can have non-registered ECC modules that are faster exclusively for the consumer market.

Maybe, Memory makers are afraid that releasing such RAM will make them compete against their own ECC server RAM's as ECC RAM's are usually expensive and more profitable for them, making consumer ECC RAM will compete with their own server ECC RAM as consumer ECC RAM could match the server ECC RAM in clocks/voltages for much lower cost.
Posted on Reply
#13
tygrus
I probably see a Bit flip 5 times per year based on system freeze/crash in my PC with 16GB left on 24/7.
Posted on Reply
#14
Kenjiro
It isn't so simple. In ancient days of C-64 i've designed and created 256 KB RAM extension which changes DRAM refresh to hardware instead of VIC steering (in bottom half of cycle) and needed to know internals. Without extension (original C-64) it was possible to overload VIC which stop sending regular refresh signals and after few seconds to minutes you could find invalid values in RAM. Even historically DRAM attacks was possible.
Main problem is that ECC overclocking is almost impossible and this is a serious problem because using most of currently 'home' modules with frequencies more than some (set by CPU manufacturer) MHz is overclocking.
In todays DRAMs there is fight between maximum performance and maximum stability, first higher means second lower and vice-versa.
Posted on Reply
#15
TheUn4seen
Bytales
So im not the only one who thinks in the same exact manner. Its simply stupidly stupid to have a computer with memory that hasnt ECC in this day and age. And intel were always "idiotic fulz" and "stupid morons" and all they ever did was hamper the evolution of technology. From the stupid ECC segmentation, to giving away only 0.5% perforamcne gains per generation.
In a star trek like world, where technological evolution is paramount, the stupidity of intel, they would implode into oblivion and cease to exist.
I dont see an Entity like Intel making cpus for spaceships, but rather an Entity like AMD. And thats saying a lot.

Therefore I congratulate AMD for being exactly the opposite. They have always done their very best. I dont believe they ever gimped performance just to make more money. In fact they displayed the exact opposite behavior (holding as much as it is possible to a new cpu socket for instance.) (which is essentially what intel always has done, and offer inferior shiet for huge amounts of money just because its intel), When they could, they brought stellar improvements withs ZEN 3. Now intel essentially faqed in the ass while caught with pants down, finally decided its time to bring cpus to market with "double digit IPC procentual improvements". Its not like they couldnt do it before, they just didnt want to. So because of them, technology evolution suffered.

Same story with ECC here.
That is why i own a first gen 32 core epic and a zen 3 5950x. Seeing a 16core cpu having the same multicore performance of a 32 core cpu, while having close to double the single core performance - only 2 generations away, is a testament to the dedication and commitment to progress AMD shows.

We, the plebs, need to fine INTEL, by not ever buying their stupid CPUs. They deserve to go out of business, if you ask me. And they deserve to go down into history, as an example of how stuff was stupidly on purpose gimped down for the sake of money, which is another stupidity created by man to enslave fellow man. Our childrens children will have a hard time believing the horror stories that are reality today.

AMD is technology for the future as it was meant to be, freeing mankind,
Intel is technology for the dark ages, meant to enslave mankind.
This rant, as opposed to mr. Torwad's, has no substance and no point. Intel and AMD are just corporations and they would happily kidnap you and your family to harvest your organs if there was a long term gain in it. If you think AMD is "the good guy" and "pushing innovation" it only means their PR campaign is better. As a consumer I will buy whatever is better on the day I want to buy it, and this kind of fanboy bullshit only hurts the brand you love so much. Corporations are, by definition, pro-income, not pro-consumer. A consumer is, to put it simply, just a means of getting the income

As for ECC, well, it will be more important due to increased density. Until now, I wouldn't say it's that essential for consumers, very few of them do things requiring absolute stability on their home devices. Personally I'm fine with a game or a browser crashing once in a while due to memory errors as a cost of a few percent more performance and a few dollars less spent on memory. For important work you use big boy hardware.
Posted on Reply
#16
Bytales
TheUn4seen
This rant, as opposed to mr. Torwad's, has no substance and no point. Intel and AMD are just corporations and they would happily kidnap you and your family to harvest your organs if there was a long term gain in it. If you think AMD is "the good guy" and "pushing innovation" it only means their PR campaign is better. As a consumer I will buy whatever is better on the day I want to buy it, and this kind of fanboy bullshit only hurts the brand you love so much. Corporations are, by definition, pro-income, not pro-consumer. A consumer is, to put it simply, just a means of getting the income

As for ECC, well, it will be more important due to increased density. Until now, I wouldn't say it's that essential for consumers, very few of them do things requiring absolute stability on their home devices. Personally I'm fine with a game or a browser crashing once in a while due to memory errors as a cost of a few percent more performance and a few dollars less spent on memory. For important work you use big boy hardware.
Still, observing the situation from afar, it is clear Intel gimped performance on purpose only to milk more money- and used strategies to maximies profit shamesly, and it is clear AMD took the more "economical" aproach, not bombarding consumers with ways to milk them of their money, (see the intel socket history as oposed to amd socket history), and giving the most performance they were able to deliver.
And this goes to the ECC part of the situation as well...

I guess you see that too, its not that i a "AMD fanboy", but its that im an "anti money" funboy, and everything done to gimp technology for the sake of money sickens me. If it werent for money, we would have been to the edges of the universe and back, literally, by now. Where we are is, allegedly, not even beyond the earths own satelite. (if you ignore those that say we are allready on mars)...

This is my RANT. Instead of having prosperity for everyone, we are all slaves to the fkn system ! No wonder the existance of extraterestrial societies is kept secret. If humanity were to observe how these societies are constructed and being ran, wed cringe ourselves to death !
Posted on Reply
#17
TheUn4seen
Bytales
Still, observing the situation from afar, it is clear Intel gimped performance on purpose only to milk more money- and used strategies to maximies profit shamesly, and it is clear AMD took the more "economical" aproach, not bombarding consumers with ways to milk them of their money, (see the intel socket history as oposed to amd socket history), and giving the most performance they were able to deliver.
And this goes to the ECC part of the situation as well...

I guess you see that too, its not that i a "AMD fanboy", but its that im an "anti money" funboy, and everything done to gimp technology for the sake of money sickens me. If it werent for money, we would have been to the edges of the universe and back, literally, by now. Where we are is, allegedly, not even beyond the earths own satelite. (if you ignore those that say we are allready on mars)...

This is my RANT. Instead of having prosperity for everyone, we are all slaves to the fkn system ! No wonder the existance of extraterestrial societies is kept secret. If humanity were to observe how these societies are constructed and being ran, wed cringe ourselves to death !
If it wasn't for money we would still live in hunter-gatherer tribes, organized economy was actually the motivation behind a lot, if not most, of civilization's progress. Money, as a universal trade unit, was and still is essential to the process. It's not a good system, but it's the best we can do for now. Until someone brings a piece of gold the size of Australia from space, at which point half of the economy will be obliterated and things will change. Not necessarily for the better, but changes will be inevitable.
Posted on Reply
#18
noname00
Bytales
Still, observing the situation from afar, it is clear Intel gimped performance on purpose only to milk more money- and used strategies to maximies profit shamesly, and it is clear AMD took the more "economical" aproach, not bombarding consumers with ways to milk them of their money, (see the intel socket history as oposed to amd socket history), and giving the most performance they were able to deliver.
And this goes to the ECC part of the situation as well...

I guess you see that too, its not that i a "AMD fanboy", but its that im an "anti money" funboy, and everything done to gimp technology for the sake of money sickens me. If it werent for money, we would have been to the edges of the universe and back, literally, by now. Where we are is, allegedly, not even beyond the earths own satelite. (if you ignore those that say we are allready on mars)...

This is my RANT. Instead of having prosperity for everyone, we are all slaves to the fkn system ! No wonder the existance of extraterestrial societies is kept secret. If humanity were to observe how these societies are constructed and being ran, wed cringe ourselves to death !
You definitely forget the Soket 939 Athlon X2 launch price, and how the price fell after the Core 2 Duo launch. AMD has increase the prices whenever it could. first time it did it with the original Athlon 64 and Athlon X2, and since Core 2 Duo was launched AMD could not keep those huge price and dropped them under half. Look at the price evolution of the 6c/12t Ryzen CPUs, and how they started to creep up, because they can.

Also - AMD produced Athlon X2/X3 and Phenom II processors with disabled cores, fanboys did their work enabling the cores "look, everyone can do it", and many bought those CPUs expecting to pay for an X2 or X3 and receive an X4. I tested 3 of those CPUs, none worked for me, because those cpus were not from the first batch.

After that there were the "8 core" AMD FX CPUs, which were falsely advertised 4 cores with SMT - www.amdcpusettlement.com/

Please stop with "AMD is the good guy" and "Intel is the spawn o Satan", as TheUn4seen said they're both corporations that want to make money. being a fanboy is simply moronic.
Posted on Reply
#19
fynxer
TheUn4seen
This rant, as opposed to mr. Torwad's, has no substance and no point. Intel and AMD are just corporations and they would happily kidnap you and your family to harvest your organs if there was a long term gain in it. If you think AMD is "the good guy" and "pushing innovation" it only means their PR campaign is better. As a consumer I will buy whatever is better on the day I want to buy it, and this kind of fanboy bullshit only hurts the brand you love so much. Corporations are, by definition, pro-income, not pro-consumer. A consumer is, to put it simply, just a means of getting the income

As for ECC, well, it will be more important due to increased density. Until now, I wouldn't say it's that essential for consumers, very few of them do things requiring absolute stability on their home devices. Personally I'm fine with a game or a browser crashing once in a while due to memory errors as a cost of a few percent more performance and a few dollars less spent on memory. For important work you use big boy hardware.
If you want crashes to save a few buck then well buy shitty hardware with non ecc, it is a free world.

All other people 99.99999% don't want computers that f**k up their life's and may want to invest few extra buck to have a stable computer that don't waste the little time you have on this earth with blue screens, CTD and DirectX errors.

It is stupidity not to want to make computers better and more stable.

Also for AMD not beeing the good guy and pushing new tech, where would we be today if Ryzen with shitloads of cores never was introduced. We would still be sitting with Intel quad cores dreaming of a many core future.

Intel is so stupid that they do not recognize that even without competition innovation is a must to get people to want to buy new hardware. Intel instead strangled innovation for years when they had no competition from AMD and almost destroyed their own PC market. AMD actually saved Intel from their own stupidity.
Posted on Reply
#20
ityrant
Low EQ:bastards f*****:rockout:
High EQ:And AMD did it. Intel didn't.:(
But who doesn't like f*****?bravo linus:roll:
Posted on Reply
#21
TheUn4seen
fynxer
If you want crashes to save a few buck then well buy shitty hardware with non ecc, it is a free world.

All other people 99.99999% don't want computers that f**k up their life's and may want to invest few extra buck to have a stable computer that don't waste the little time you have on this earth with blue screens, CTD and DirectX errors.

It is stupidity not to want to make computers better and more stable.

Also for AMD not beeing the good guy and pushing new tech, where would we be today if Ryzen with shitloads of cores never was introduced. We would still be sitting with Intel quad cores dreaming of a many core future.

Intel is so stupid that they do not recognize that even without competition innovation is a must to get people to want to buy new hardware. Intel instead strangled innovation for years when they had no competition from AMD and almost destroyed their own PC market. AMD actually saved Intel from their own stupidity.
Just curious - how often do you have crashes caused by memory errors? I have a computer at home working 24/7 for a few years (current uptime is around 7 months) and I don't actually remember ever having it crash. Quite honestly I used the term "once in a while" loosely, in the past years I had exactly one crash caused by a memory error which wasn't caused by an unstable overclock. Not something I consider a problem. In fact, my cat caused a lot more problems with computers than that.
Competition is important, no one is disputing that. AMD are not the "good guys", it's just a corporation which wants your money, and they will do exactly the same shit Intel does as soon as they can. Hell, they already did bend the truth to sell crap and lied to investors. Intel is in it for the money, AMD is in it for the money, you live for the money, as I do. Thinking that one corporation is better than the other is just delusional.
Posted on Reply
#22
Xuper
And the memory manufacturers claim it's because of economics and lower power. And they are lying bastards - let me once again point to row-hammer about how those problems have existed for several generations already, but these f*ckers happily sold broken hardware to consumers and claimed it was an "attack", when it always was "we're cutting corners".
whoa.Hammer attack !
Posted on Reply
#23
TechLurker
I'm all for getting ECC mainstream. There's no real point not to now. Moreso since DDR5 and on will require it to some extent.

Minimum JEDEC speed budget ECC would be perfect for the "computer illiterate", helping to avoid the rare freak accident that causes some elderly person to have a memory-based BSOD or suddenly shut down their streaming app because of a memory error (still won't save them from other errors, but it reduces the chances of memory-based ones from ever happening, short of RAM failure). Memory makers can also market "Gaming ECC", which feature high stable clocks and ECC, capitalizing on some irrational and uninformed gamer fears about the risks of their games potentially locking up and needing to shut down or restart, especially in more competitive games (but also for already buggy games, like Bethesda games). Charge a bit more for them compared to non-ECC "Gamer RAM", as it's all factory OC'd from the start (guaranteed ECC up to that timing and speed). Then you'd just have regular ECC memory, taken from the server market, but pushed to prosumers who use HEDT for work, and where every bit of time saved is money made.
Posted on Reply
#24
trparky
TheUn4seen
As for ECC, well, it will be more important due to increased density. Until now, I wouldn't say it's that essential for consumers, very few of them do things requiring absolute stability on their home devices. Personally I'm fine with a game or a browser crashing once in a while due to memory errors as a cost of a few percent more performance and a few dollars less spent on memory. For important work you use big boy hardware.
That may be possible symptom of memory corruption while in System RAM but I'm thinking of another possible symptom too. Taking into account that we're storing more and more data on our systems the chances of a memory corruption could cause data to be read in and written back out to primary storage (HDD or SSD) and have it be corrupted once it's there.
Posted on Reply
#25
efikkan
I'm all for making ECC more widespread, especially any "workstation" build should seriously consider ECC. (I cringe whenever I hear people put overclocked memory in their "workstations")
But it's not like every chip will be able to pass the strict ECC validation that Xeons go through, so it's not like Intel and AMD can realistically offer it on every consumer CPU.
Xajel
I remember one tech writer/youtube mentioned that with AMD supports ECC on consumer platforms, he hoped for the memory makers to introduce faster ECC enabled RAM. He noted that all ECC memory are designed mainly for servers, so they're strictly clocked to follow JEDEC standards, but this is not required on consumer platforms, so makers can have non-registered ECC modules that are faster exclusively for the consumer market.
To my knowledge, only Threadripper supports ECC (of AMD's "consumer" CPUs). Some motherboards can enable it on AM4 CPUs, but it's pointless when the CPUs are not validated for ECC. I don't know if Threadripper's ECC support and validation is on par with Xeon or not, because ECC is not just about having it, it matters what kind of parity, checks and corrections the hardware is capable of.

ECC memory goes up to 3200 MHz, which is the fastest DDR4 JEDEC supports and is the fastest speed supported by any current CPU. Going beyond that would be pointless (for now), since you will have to sacrifice system stability and long-term reliability. Xeons are designed to handle load 24/7 for years, not just five minute bursts of benchmarking like most enthusiasts do, if you give the controller more voltage it will become unreliable much quicker if you run it with sustained loads.
trparky
That may be possible symptom of memory corruption while in System RAM but I'm thinking of another possible symptom too. Taking into account that we're storing more and more data on our systems the chances of a memory corruption could cause data to be read in and written back out to primary storage (HDD or SSD) and have it be corrupted once it's there.
There is actually a fairly low chance of a single error to cause applications or the OS to crash, most memory errors will only cause data corruption. This is why ECC is often a "requirement" for file servers, it's more about data integrity than uptime.
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