ECC RAM on router necessary?



  • Hi,

    I have been reading more in building a router.
    Do you think a router should actually equip ECC RAM?

    It is a 24/7 device that is critical for a network. Its failure could lead to the shutdown of the functionality of the whole network…..would it be necessary to actually build one with ECC RAM?
    Provided that the network's reliability is a concern.

    I have heard that nowadays RAM has been very reliable, with DDR3 you don't need to worry for a single stick 4GB for the chance of getting errors.
    Consistently seldom can I spot people blaming failure or BSOD actually due to RAM.

    Please let me know if my worry is unnecessary. Thanks.



  • I've seen scenarios where ECC was able to prevent a bad stick of RAM from actually creating stability problems, without ECC it would have been crashing. In that scenario it at least buys you some time to replace the bad part. As far as general use where there isn't a hardware problem, I'm not sure ECC buys you much. If you need a high availability firewall setup, it's much more important to use a pair of redundant firewalls than whether you have ECC RAM or not.



  • @cmb:

    I've seen scenarios where ECC was able to prevent a bad stick of RAM from actually creating stability problems, without ECC it would have been crashing. In that scenario it at least buys you some time to replace the bad part. As far as general use where there isn't a hardware problem, I'm not sure ECC buys you much. If you need a high availability firewall setup, it's much more important to use a pair of redundant firewalls than whether you have ECC RAM or not.

    I see, actually I just want to know, maybe from the experience from users here,
    if a router for general purpose without ECC would really suffer from crushes due to a lack of ECC RAM, or any built with ECC did show an obvious advantage, in order to justify if there is such a need.


  • Netgate Administrator

    The only time I've ever had problems with RAM it was with really cheap unbranded stuff. That was when RAM was expensive.
    These days RAM is cheap so just buy branded memory from a known source and you almost certainly won't have any trouble.

    Steve



  • @stephenw10:

    The only time I've ever had problems with RAM it was with really cheap unbranded stuff. That was when RAM was expensive.
    These days RAM is cheap so just buy branded memory from a known source and you almost certainly won't have any trouble.

    Steve

    Agreed, just need some proof with members here ;D
    For me, I have ECC only on my workstation server, while not on my gaming rig/router/notebook…...none of them actually did suffer from RAM, at least not for once I am aware.
    Probably with the increase in density, like a DDR3 8GB stick, ECC is considerable.



  • @stephenw10:

    just buy branded memory from a known source and you almost certainly won't have any trouble.

    My son bought his computer components from a local, well established computer shop. Corsair brand DDR2 RAM if I recall correctly. Windows 7 64 bit would unpredictably freeze. Memtest86+ showed errors. A Corsair brand DDR2 2GB notebook stick apparently worked OK in my netbook for a while but after a considerable uptime the OS would crash or hang. Memtest86+ showed single bit errors at a number of different high locations.



  • @wallabybob:

    @stephenw10:

    just buy branded memory from a known source and you almost certainly won't have any trouble.

    My son bought his computer components from a local, well established computer shop. Corsair brand DDR2 RAM if I recall correctly. Windows 7 64 bit would unpredictably freeze. Memtest86+ showed errors. A Corsair brand DDR2 2GB notebook stick apparently worked OK in my netbook for a while but after a considerable uptime the OS would crash or hang. Memtest86+ showed single bit errors at a number of different high locations.

    Personally won't consider Corsair as a real good brand…..it just relabels everything with their names, without much techniques to deliver quality products.
    Also, I have been hearing many compatibility issues with Corsair's RAM.
    I will only consider brands in the field, like Crucial, Kingston and Samsung for RAMs.



  • @nexusN:

    I have heard that nowadays RAM has been very reliable, with DDR3 you don't need to worry for a single stick 4GB for the chance of getting errors.
    Consistently seldom can I spot people blaming failure or BSOD actually due to RAM.

    RAM still fails, especially in 24/7 boxes and any system in a warm environment or without adequate ventilation.

    I wouldn't put non-ECC memory in any server.  In fact, I've got some boxes (like my phone system) that run configured with a spare row (systems have 3x 2GB sticks of Registered ECC, system presents 4GB total and runs similar to RAID 5 across the RAM).


  • Netgate Administrator

    I guess it depends how critical your machine is, how much will it cost to have it go down.
    I've yet to experience RAM that 'went bad'. Whenever I have found bad RAM it has either been new and never worked or had errors at a very high address point such that it only caused a problem when the system was struggling for resources. Probably just luck.
    Redundant RAM sounds interesting.
    I expect this machine will now fail!  ::)

    Steve



  • @stephenw10:

    I expect this machine will now fail!  ::)

    Excellent, you've taken your first steps towards reducing your exposure to unexpected outages.

    My process goes something like the following:

    • Assume everything will fail at the absolutely worst possible time.

    • Determine what the worst possible time is for a failure for each service.

    • Determine how all the systems that affect a given service can possibly fail.

    • Determine what, if anything, I can do about the potential failure points.

    • For any potential failure I can't avoid, create a plan of action and documentation for what I will do when it happens.


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