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Is it possible to use Xeon E5450 with 8GB (preferably 16GB) DIMMs of DDR3 Registered Buffered ECC RAM?

I checked Intel's Spec page for Xeon E5450

and Wikipedia

None explicitly mention ECC (specifically DDR3 ECC) with regard to Harpertown Xeon. However the information paragraph does mention that the Seaburg chipset supports up to 128GB of RAM. Which would necessitate 64 2GB DDR2 DIMMs, and I can't imagine any motherboard with 64 DIMM slots on it, so I can only imagine that would be DDR3....

When I look at the Wikipedia page of Xeon Chipsets (oddly the page doesn't contain the string "DDR3" or "DDR4" anywhere on the whole page). It does mention that Seaburg chipset is FB (which I assume means Fully Buffered?) DDR2. Intel's 5400 Memory controller chipset specsheet confirms that Seaburg is DDR2.

You might be thinking "CASE CLOSED, E5450 clearly doesn't support DDR3"... But that does not explain how I have successfully tested these CPU's with DDR3 RAM

I have run Xeon E5450 CPUs successfully with:

  • Various Desktop DDR2 motherboards (With 775 socket modified to accept 771)

    (Accepts 2x DDR2 DIMMS, max 4GB RAM combined, lame)

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  • An Intel Desktop DDR3 motherboard (With 775 socket modified to accept 771)

    (Accepts 2x DDR3 DIMMs limited to 4GB per DIMM by BIOS, max 8GB combined, lame)

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Why do I care?

The performance of these CPUs is obviously weak. However I have 5x Xeon E5450 CPUs and if I can get suitable DDR3 ECC motherboards for them cheaply, I can probably put them to good use in workloads that are not CPU intensive. For example: fileserver (need lots of RAM for cache), webserver, mailserver, DNS server, etc.

The reason the idea interests me is to minimize the cost of building my first redundant cluster of servers.

Aliexpress lists cheap DDR3 Socket 771/775 motherboards for $20-50.

If I can't run a decent amount of DDR3 ECC RAM with these CPU's I'll just recycle them.

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Desktop 775 boards that support DDR3 do not support ECC Intel generally does not allow ECC on their desktop (775) segmented chipsets. The Socket 775 Chipsets that I've looked at that support DDR3 are 82P43 and 82P45.

Max RAM is severely limited on P45

(for what it's worth, when searching newegg for 775 boards, 16GB is the max RAM of the boards they sell)

Aliexpress offers an overpriced Asus P43 board advertising DDR3 x4 for a max of 16GB

Only server boards support ECC for Socket 771 As far as I can tell, I would not be interested in running these CPUs on a server board. The server boards would likely be heavily used, very old (likely unreliable), likely lack SATA and whatever other features I'd want. (NewEgg lists Dual Socket 771 boards with max RAM capacities of 32GB and 64GB respectively)

Clearly there is a discreprancy Intel and Wikipedia says max 8GB DDR3, whereas others claim 16GB is possible. But I don't actually care as 16GB isn't worth the hassle of the old platform for me.

Lost interest In case there is any doubt, I've completely lost interest in this idea entirely due to lack of ability to run a decent board at a reasonable price with a decent amount of DDR3 ECC RAM.

Disadvantages of 771/775

  • Low CPU performance & efficiency
  • Lack of Gigabit LAN on most boards
  • Lack of USB3 on probably all boards
  • Max RAM severely limited to 4/8/16GB max for desktop
  • No ECC RAM possible with desktop boards
  • Server boards undesirable and even more power hungry
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