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What's the deal with ECC memory and Ryzen?

I get the feeling (based also on the latest ZFS video by Wendell) that people would care a lot about ECC memory on the latest AMD platforms.

Based on an older article about the issue, it appears that support would be even more prevalent today. I would certainly love a new ASRock Deskmini with 4000g series AMD processor, plus ECC memory and dual M.2 nvme SSDs in some ZFS mirroring setup.

My question is, has anybody from this community attempted it? How does one go about purchasing ECC RAM for such a project, just picking up a couple of sticks at random (there is no official QVL list for ECC memory of course)? And would anybody have any input on this overall?

ECC generally works on all Ryzen Chips minus the APUs (with the exception of the pro apus), they tend to not be on the QVL since it costs time and money to do that.

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Sadly, that’s pretty much it.

Unless you’re choosing a motherboard that explicitly mentions ECC support (like the ASRock Rack server boards, or one of a couple of Asus boards), it really is pot luck. Even then, the level of error correction the completed system actually supports is… inconsistent

If you’ve seen Wendell’s latest video about ZFS, you’re likely to have seen the previous interview with Greg KH. The key takeway being “computers barely work”. Anecdotally, ECC on Ryzen very much falls into this category. Having a system successfully boot with ECC DIMMs is just the tip of the iceberg.

  • Does the system correctly detect that the DIMMs support ECC?
  • Will ECC errors/corrections be reported by the OS in a meaningful way? (Hopefully this is the case in most Linux distros by now)
  • Will a BIOS update from your motherboard vendor, which addresses a separate issue, prevent your perfectly functional ECC system from booting at all? (Thanks ASRock)

If none of this puts you off and you’re keen to go down this path, please—for the sake of anyone following after you—document your journey. Community resources like these forums are pretty much all we have to go on.

The AMD APUs (the G chips) don’t generally support ECC at all. It’s because the GPU in there has to also support ECC. I believe that you need a Pro version of the APU for ECC support.

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