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What's going on with this RAM?


marcerickson
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I sold a customer a used computer with 4GB DDR2-400 RAM - 4 x 1GB sticks. Two are high performance Corsair CM2X1024-6400C4D and the other two are ECC. I don’t think that the Corsair RAM is ECC. The motherboard is an Intel DG965MQ.

 

A week later, she complains the machine is BSODing and an error message ‘corrupted kernel’. I run memtest86+ with all four sticks installed in her machine - several passes complete without errors. I remove one of the ECC sticks and in the fifth test of the first pass, get multiple errors. OK says I, it must be one of the ECC sticks. I remove the other ECC stick, run the test overnight in her machine – no errors. Just to be safe, I switch the positions of the two sticks of Corsair RAM and run the test for a day in her machine – errors.

 

OK, it must be one of the Corsair sticks. I test the ECC RAM in my lab box, which has an Intel server board that happens to support ECC and non-ECC RAM. Four passes with the two ECC RAM sticks in one configuration, then I swap the sticks and run memtest86+ for another four passes – no errors. Hmmm. They must be OK. I go back to my customer, again apologize, and install the ECC RAM in her machine and take the Corsair RAM with me.

 

I install the Corsair RAM in the lab box and run memtest86+ overnight – it’s 6 or 8 passes. No errors. Hmmm – the bad RAM must be in slot 0 and located where the test program is held in the stick of RAM. I swap the sticks around and run memtest86+ again for at least 6 passes – no errors.

 

Now I’m scratching my head. Where’s the bad RAM – or has a cache in the processor gone bad? Were the first errors because I was mixing ECC and non-ECC RAM? If so, why did the Corsair RAM error when in my customer's machine and not in my lab computer?

 

The MB manual doesn’t say it supports ECC RAM and yet I’ve used ECC RAM on it since I bought the board and RAM new and built a system with them that became my personal desktop computer. I used it from 2007 until 2012 when I built a new box for my personal desktop and retired the Intel DG965MQ powered box. Since then, the Intel DG965MQ box was used for some CD ripping and lab duty but for the last year or so has been powered up only every three or four months for an hour or two each time until I sold it to my customer a month ago.

 

Just exactly what is going on here?

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