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Error-correcting code (ECC) memory is a type of computer data storage specifically designed to detect, correct and monitor most common kinds of interior data corruption. As data is processed, ECC memory equipped with a special algorithm constantly scans and corrects single-bit memory errors. This ensures that no erroneous or corrupt data is accidentally stored in memory. It is typically found and used in systems with high-value data such as scientific and financial computing systems.
Traditional ECC memory uses Hamming codes, while others use triple modular redundancy, which is preferred due to having faster hardware in comparison to Hamming error correction hardware. Earlier implementations of ECC memory mask correctable errors, acting as if the error never occurred, and only report non-correctable errors. Recent implementations record both correctable errors and non-correctable errors.
ECC memory utilizes parity bits in storing encrypted code. In parallel to data being written to memory, its ECC code is stored. Once data is read, the stored ECC code is compared to the ECC code generated when the data was read. If in any case there is a mismatch, it is decrypted by the parity bits to determine which bit has an error and is immediately corrected.