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A parity error is an error that results from irregular changes to data, as it is recorded when it is entered in memory. Different types of parity errors can require the retransmission of data or cause serious system errors, such as system crashes.
The source of a parity error is a parity bit or check bit. This bit is added to a byte or other piece of code to show whether the number of bits included is even or odd. If this parity bit is checked later and found to be inaccurate, it can trigger a parity error.
Experts have separated parity errors into two categories – soft parity errors and hard parity errors. Soft parity errors are often caused by electromagnetic field conditions, such as background radiation, electromagnetic interference or static discharge events. Hard errors may be caused by power surges, overheating, manufacturing defects or other causes.
Another example of parody problems in random-access memory (RAM) is rowhammer, a phenomenon where external hacking can actually change memory settings on hardware, resulting in serious system problems.
Some types of parity errors do not require extensive correction, but others can be damaging to the integrity of systems. Some types of serious parity errors may cause the corruption of data or crash the operating system or piece of hardware.