Linus Torvalds On The Importance Of ECC RAM, Calls Out Intel's "Bad Policies" Over ECC

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 3 January 2021 at 03:48 PM EST. 231 Comments
There's nothing quite like some fun holiday-weekend reading as a fiery mailing list post by Linus Torvalds. The Linux creator is out with one of his classical messages, which this time is arguing over the importance of ECC memory and his opinion on how Intel's "bad policies" and market segmentation have made ECC memory less widespread.

Linus argues that error-correcting code (ECC) memory "absolutely matters" but that "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*ckers happily sold broken hardware to consumers and claimed it was an "attack", when it always was "we're cutting corners"."

Torvalds went on his lengthy post to say, "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."

His comments commended AMD for their more broadly supporting ECC RAM even on consumer desktop hardware while Intel's market segmentation stifled ECC RAM adoption.

These statements come just months after Torvalds was also blasting Intel over AVX-512. It was also in 2020 that Torvalds switched to a Threadripper workstation after 15+ years of using Intel CPUs on his primary system.
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