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Data Storage Hardware

The State of Solid State Storage 481

carlmenezes writes "Pretty much every time a faster CPU is released, there are always a few that are marveled by the rate at which CPUs get faster but loathe the sluggish rate that storage evolves. Recognizing the allure of solid state storage, especially to performance-conscious enthusiast users, Gigabyte went about creating the first affordable solid state storage device, and they called it i-RAM. Would you pay $100 for a 4GB Solid State Drive that is up to 6x faster than a WD Raptor?"
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The State of Solid State Storage

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  • Let me think. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gandell ( 827178 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:51AM (#13164997)
    Would you pay $100 for a 4GB Solid State Drive that is up to 6x faster than a WD Raptor?

    Nope. I'd rather wait longer and have more capacity for less money. After all, I use Windows as my primary OS. I'm used to waiting.

    Truthfully, though, if the price came down, I'd be interested in this for a Windows install, and then install all my apps and save all my docs to an external IDE.

    • Re:Let me think. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pxtl ( 151020 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:54AM (#13165039) Homepage
      Speaking of Windows, I would only want this if the OS used it intelligently for caching, hybernation, etc. automatically. If I had to manually juggle files between the magnetic drives and the fast storage, I wouldn't bother.
    • Re:Let me think. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Enigma_Man ( 756516 )
      And this thing is only 6x faster than spinning media? That seems much slower than it ought to be, considering that it is solid-state. I suppose if that's only continuous throughput, and doesn't take latency into effect it might be okay, but still. How about 100x faster?

      • Re:Let me think. (Score:3, Informative)

        by archen ( 447353 )
        I was thinking the same thing, but keep in mind that this thing is actually acting like a SATA drive. I'm sure they're hitting the limitations of SATA, not the limitations of ram. Until they come up with a _standard_ configuration for this type of memory disk that talks as fast as the ram allows instead of following ide/scsi/sata standards, we're stuck with these speeds for compatibility reasons I'm thinking.
        • I was suprised the performance benefits were as small as they were also. SATA limitations seem a likely culprit, and I'm guessing that some low level implementation details in Windows assume high-latency block drives, which probably put an upper cap on drive performance.

          Especially since the $100 is just for the card, and considering that you have the data loss issue to worry about, I don't think it's worth the money at this point.

      • Re:Let me think. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @11:23AM (#13165432)
        As the other reply mentioned, it's an SATA drive so limited to 150MB/s (100MB/s in practice). The latency is very low, yes, but that's not the only factor. There is only so much you can do with double the bandwidth, no matter how low the latency is.

        I also wonder if the benchmarks were done with drive caches on or off. I would imagine that this drive would be faster with caches off. With what might as well be zero latency on disk accesses, the benefit of a cache is lost; reading ahead probably will only waste bandwidth reading stuff we may not need.

        I'm very disappointed that the article didn't mention SATA2 (300MB/s), which is already available in most new motherboards. With double the bandwidth it would have made a big difference. It's very likely the device doesn't support SATA2. However the Anandtech article makes NO MENTION at all of SATA2, not even to the point of saying "We'd like to see this drive with SATA2 support."
        • SATA2 is not yet provided, and it's true I was wondering about getting 300MB/s from a ram module that is quite capable of that.

          I thought that, maybe, the FPGA they use cannot reach such a performance yet, and it could come with next revision, when they produce their own package from end to end.

          I was more wondering about some tests missing using databases.

          What better test than a database, say for a small website, with few modifications to the base and the biggest problem being that hdds are a latency hel
    • I would love nothing more than if my Powerbook could have four times this much storage! The $400 would pay for itself in a couple of months...
    • by bigtallmofo ( 695287 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @11:26AM (#13165480)
      Anyone that says this isn't worth it is not very technical in my book.

      An affordable 4 GB is fantastic for this kind of thing. Use your imagination:

      1. Imagine how fast your system would be installed on a battery-backed up RAM drive.
      2. Imagine how fast your system would be with your memory swap file installed on this.
      3. Imagine how fast your database server would be with its transaction log installed on this. Hey, throw the tempdb (for SQL Server) on there as well.
      4. Many other things.

      If you're thinking of this as a standard hard drive to store your DivX movies and MP3 files, you're not thinking right. Solid state drives are miracles that can speed up systems beyond anything you would expect.
      • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @11:44AM (#13165724)
        2. Imagine how fast your system would be if you took the memory off the card and installed it on your motherboard, thus eliminating the need for a swap file.

        3. Imagine how fast your database server would be with its transaction log installed in a memory file. Hey, throw the tempdb (for SQL Server) on there as well, or since the memory is now just standard memory and won't need a special driver, you can just switch to Linux and use a real database.

      • Before you go off praising yourself for being so technically savvy, you really should RTFA. Most of these uses were addressed.

        1. In the article, system boot time went from approx. 15 seconds to approx 10 seconds. Hardly seems worth it.
        2. Specifically addressed in the article. 32-bit Windows XP Pro can only handle 4GB of RAM total (including swap file.) Why not just max out your system with 4GB of physical ram and kill the swap-file altogether? You wouldn't need to buy a $150 card and bottleneck all tha
  • I'd use Raid (Score:2, Informative)

    by ttown ( 669945 )
    Having disk in parallel will speed up your storage much cheaper. 6x faster is not significant.
    • Re:I'd use Raid (Score:5, Informative)

      by MasterC ( 70492 ) <cmlburnett@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:58AM (#13165090) Homepage
      Having disks in parallel doesn't solve the latency problem, only increases the throughput.
      • Re:I'd use Raid (Score:2, Informative)

        Erm, not really true. A good RAID array will choose the drive with the head positioned closest to the data. Now I have no idea if this is standard on RAID controllers you would find in a small server, but it is certainly common on shared storage arrays.
      • Re:I'd use Raid (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @12:50PM (#13166607)
        Having disks in parallel doesn't solve the latency problem, only increases the throughput.

        Latency comes from three sources:
        1) Head latency.
        2) Rotational latency.

        These are the two sources you have considered. Striping indeed does absolutely nothing to help there.

        You forgot the third source of latency:
        3) The-disk-is-busy-serving-another-request latency.

        Your comment would be true for a primitive OS with a single-threaded I/O method, and/or a RAID system with no command queue.

        Given that modern RAID systems are NOT primitive, I/O performance is no longer measured with rotational + head latency vs. throughput, because those measurements no longer make sense.

        There are two kinds of performance measurements for modern disk subsystems:
        1) MB/sec. (bandwidth) This is what most people think of when they think of throughput.
        2) I/O / sec. This measurement is simply the reciprocal of the head+rotational latency in the case of a SINGLE DRIVE. However, in a multi-drive setup, max I/O / sec. increases proportionally with the number of drives, up to a point (eventually you hit the limits for the RAID controller, bandwidth, whatever).

        If we measure latency a the time it takes a single drive to physically get the data given a single request, sure, mutiple drives don't help. If we measure latency as the amount of time between when the application asks for the data, and when the disk delivers it, RAID helps quite a bit, beacuse the different I/Os are distributed to multiple disk heads, each of which can contribute it's own I/O handling capacity.

  • More than $100... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:51AM (#13165008)
    The card itself goes for $150, not including any RAM. So add 4 1GB sticks of RAM and you are looking at $500+ for the whole setup. So that is about $125 per GB...ouch!
    • I was just going to say the same thing. If the $100 had included the RAM, it'd have been a huge bargain. As it is, no thanks.
      • by Jonsey ( 593310 )
        Actually, the card only addresses the RAM at 100MHz (I think that's considered PC1600, I may be wrong here though).

        That means this card uses your old chump-RAM, or very very cheap to buy RAM. It's a good deal, just in that it gives me something to do with all the PC2100 I've got laying around.
    • I read the header and thought "yes I'll order one today" - and would have even if it had been $150

      Then I read this posting, followed by reading TFA. No. Not buying that today !
  • Am I getting old? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iguana ( 8083 ) * <`moc.sysdnetxe' `ta' `pevad'> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:52AM (#13165016) Homepage Journal
    I remember seeing this sort of thing way back in the DOS days. Battery backed RAM on an ISA card. Product died out because RAM was more expensive than HD.
  • New Tech (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pcmanjon ( 735165 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:52AM (#13165022)
    Well this tech will never catch on if they can't make it affordable. Then again, it won't ever catch on if it is affordable but not worth the price.

    15,000 for a 500gb solid state drive isn't affordable
    100 for a 4gb solid state drive is affordable, but not worth the price.

    What they need to do is make the tech better, yet affordable. What makes it so expensive to competetivly price large solid state storage devices?

    On a sidenote, is anyone going to buy this drive that is 4gb and costs 100 bucks? I don't think it's much use to anyone.
    • Incredibly useful (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @11:24AM (#13165459)
      On a sidenote, is anyone going to buy this drive that is 4gb and costs 100 bucks? I don't think it's much use to anyone.

      In the era of cheap, throwaway crap, I'm pretty much by myself when I say "I want QUALITY". So yes, I'm planning on buying several of these later today to put them in my main machines in my business. they'll be running our mission-critical cash registers.
    • Re:New Tech (Score:3, Informative)

      by hackstraw ( 262471 ) *
      100 for a 4gb solid state drive is affordable, but not worth the price.

      For you maybe, but people do this every day http://www.nextag.com/serv/main/buyer/outpdir.jsp ? search=compact+flash&nxtg=67b8d_D13E150C29EFE508 [nextag.com]

      What makes it so expensive to competetivly price large solid state storage devices?

      No moving parts. No "spin up" time. No power used when idle. Ability to transfer the storage like a CD/DVD.

      On a sidenote, is anyone going to buy this drive that is 4gb and costs 100 bucks? I don't t
  • by thebdj ( 768618 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:53AM (#13165026) Journal
    $150 + (4x$90) = $510 for 4 GB of solid state storage. Definitely not worth it.
  • Nope (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Asicath ( 522428 )
    Not if its called an iRam.

    RamDrive, FlashDrive, etc. are all appropriate names, but iRam? Could the product name be any less descriptive?
    • It's not supposed to be descriptive product name.

      It's named after it's creator, Iram Wolfestrom.

      Could be, anyway. Best reason I could come up with for a stupid name like that.
  • Eh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tranquilus ( 877563 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:54AM (#13165045)
    The performance numbers Anand came up with on this are a little disappointing, in my view. It's nice, of course, to get a few seconds quicker startup of apps or level loads, but I doubt this is really worth it to most of us at this stage (aside from the coolness factor). Once capacity of these rises enough to make them capable of replacing HDs, though, they might be really nifty in the entertainment/HTPC space due to that silent operation. Basically, an interesting concept, still not quite ready for prime time, but getting a lot closer. Worth a quick read, anyway...
  • I'll take it! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by freeze128 ( 544774 )
    I have several machines around the office that are just fine, but have defective hard drives. This is because Dell ships the crappiest hard drives they can find (Quantum). The machines are NOT new and fast, but they run the applications that I need them to just fine. When a hard disk goes bad, I find it difficult to install a 40GB hard disk, when all I need is a couple of gigs. Some of these machines won't even support a hard drive > 30GB.

    A small capacity flash drive is just what I need in this applicat
  • Surely! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bin_jammin ( 684517 ) <Binjammin@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:55AM (#13165057)
    I'd consider buying it if I were building a system that needed some fast write speed... maybe video capture. Be neato if I could get a few and stripe 'em.
    • This is what I was thinking. Most of my audio and projects would fit on a 4G drive (4G would be tight for video). A drive like this would get used while I was working on the project, and then finished projects would get moved to to my online and offline storage.

  • Yes, for the OS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mindaktiviti ( 630001 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:55AM (#13165058)

    I'd love to have a super quick HD for the OS because it's accessed more frequently than, say, some old data file you haven't touched in over a year.

    Music, movies, documents, pictures - I don't think these need to be on solid state drives, because they're accessed just fine (except moving GB's of files still needs to be faster), but things like the OS and applications would seem to run a lot quicker if they would all be in ram-like storage.

  • Swap Drive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smelroy ( 40796 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:55AM (#13165059) Homepage
    If you use this to hold your swap and your main partition, I think the speed improvement would be well worth it! Then buy a 300GB drive for your MP3 collection and all the other junk that that doesn't need such access speed and you are set.
    • The reason why this product is, er, of rather limited use is because you'll get better performance if you don't put a SATA interface between your memory and the processor for no good reason. Just put your 'Swap RAM' into the motherboard. If you don't load that many apps, the spare memory will get used for cacheing all your recently used files and you get even faster load times. Initial boot isn't as fast as all the data does have to come off the disk to start with, so all you're really gaining here is a fas
    • I'd rather put that memory on the main board as conventional RAM. All current operating systems cache files in RAM before going to swap, provided it has the capacity.

      The only inhibitor is RAM slots on the main board, but a lot of current boards can take 8GB of RAM.
  • by BrK ( 39585 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:56AM (#13165060) Homepage
    Wow, this thing looks almost EXACTLY like the RAM add-in cards we stuck into ISA slots in the mid/late 80's for our zippy '286 and '386 based machines.

    Looks like they dug up an old PCB screen, added a battery backup and changed the connectors to work with modern RAM :)

    Among other things, I handle the physical hardware design spec for my companies product (the product is software which is loaded onto a hardware to make an "appliance"). I've received emails from quite a few vendors recently offering this sort of solid-state NV storage. I think this market sector is really starting to creep forward, and these might be the kinds of "disks" we see as the norm in the not-so-distant future.

    I think first off, though, these will be like caching drives - holding only the data that is most seek-time sensitive to a particular application.
    • Wow, this thing looks almost EXACTLY like the RAM add-in cards we stuck into ISA slots in the mid/late 80's for our zippy '286 and '386 based machines.

      No it is not. If you cared to RTFA, you'd see that this card is NOT using any of the PCI logic and only gets its power from it. It has a SATA connector and should be connected to a SATA controller and emulated the functionality of a normal SATA hard disk. Why? Because you don't need any new device-driver for your OS (whatever it is) to you this card if you

  • Would you pay $100 for a 4GB Solid State Drive that is up to 6x faster than a WD Raptor?

    Maybe. But I can't get it. According to the article, the i-RAM costs $150 and that only gets you the card -- you still have to populate the DIMM slots. So the price of that fast solid state drive is about $400 unless you happen to have lots of spare RAM lying around unused.

    If you happen to have some DDR 2200 DIMMs that can't be used in your current machine(s), then perhaps you can spend $150 to get some use out

  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:56AM (#13165065) Homepage Journal
    FreeBSD allows you to allocate a dynamically resizable filesystem out of swap (see: md, mfs). I'm thinking of mounting the whole thing as a super-fast swap partition - basically, as a giant L4 cache - and mounting /tmp and a few other speed-critical filesystems out of there.

    Mmmm, hyper-fast builds that don't depend on the latency of moving parts...

    • Actually I think the freebsd memory disks would be superior to this anyway. Although mounting things like /tmp as a memory disk is okay, obviously you will lose everything on reboot. Thus there are also memory systems that are backed up to disk as well. With a freebsd memory disk system you could add more space easily and allocate more or less as needed with not too much work. This thing looks like you're stuck with whatever you put in it once it's up (correct me if I'm wrong).

      Moving parts suck, but t
    • And other uses... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Just Some Guy ( 3352 )
      • A place to put your reiser/ext3/database server journals
      • /var/tmp for Gentoo users (same idea as my first FreeBSD thoughts)
      • Mailserver/newsserver spools (depending on how much you trust it)

      Yeah, I think I might have to snag a couple of these.

    • by slashdot.org ( 321932 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @12:04PM (#13165993) Homepage Journal
      FreeBSD allows you to allocate a dynamically resizable filesystem out of swap (see: md, mfs). I'm thinking of mounting the whole thing as a super-fast swap partition - basically, as a giant L4 cache - and mounting /tmp and a few other speed-critical filesystems out of there.

      Mmmm, hyper-fast builds that don't depend on the latency of moving parts...

      This doesn't make sense. I suspect that you were misled by the incorrect summary. You don't get 4GB of solid state storage for $100.-. That would actually be a really good deal. All you get is a card which has SATA on one side and RAM slots on the other side.

      So instead of buying this card you could take the $100 towards a motherboard that supports > 4GB of RAM. Then the RAM will be sitting on a bus that can actually sustain datarates WAY higher than SATA.

      Since you don't need persistent storage for cache it makes little sense to stick it on a bus that can theoretically do, what, 150 MB/s? When you can stick it on a bus which can do several GB/s.

      I don't really see the point of this card, since it will only keep the data for 16 hours if not powered. In other words, if you leave for a weekend and for some reason the power to your PC is turned off, your tough out of luck.

      Other cards that I have seen in the past that make more sense, actually have a normal drive for persistent storage. If power fails, there's enough backup power to write everything to disk. That's basically like having cache on the disk equal to the size of the disk.

      Bottom line; this is a rehash of what's been done many times before, didn't really take off then, and considering a relatively stupid implementation, probably won't take off now.
  • Swap Drive (Score:2, Funny)

    by DotDavid ( 554558 )
    Yes, I would buy one. It would make a great swap partition!
  • I would buy it in an instant...
    But what the summary should ask: Do you want to spend 500$ for the SSD-Card plus 4*1GB Dimms... and then the answer would be a clear no (thats more than a decent budget computer in total, and i would rather put the Dimms into my motherboard than into the card (if i feel the need, i can create a ramdisk at any point later, anyway, and with 6GByte/s and 100ns , not 140MByte/s and 100us like this one)
  • could be useful for a triple setup, use your ram and hd as you normally would but all the crap that windows usually sticks in the vcache and swap file could be stashed on the Solid State drive. you could then feasibly dump your ram state into it when doing a shutdown and have an instant "reboot" but as the standard HD still has everything on it if the battery backup fails then you can still do a standard boot. if you use it as a speedy ramdisk too you could build a redundancy setup on your standard HD that
  • The logo on the box says "patent pending". Good luck. Check out DKB's Battdisk for the Amiga, from 1987 or so. http://amiga.resource.cx/exp/search.pl?product=ba t tdisk [resource.cx]

    Copy Kickstart on to this, then use it to boot and you could boot an Amiga 3000 in 3-5 seconds. Wonderful device.

    [Note: DKB = Dean K. Brown's company that did some real nice, and popular, hardware for the Amiga.]

  • So I'm mostly ignorant of the details of page-swapping, but ...

    wouldn't this significantly (well, x6) enhance the performance of applications that require a lot of virtual memory?

    That seems like it might be worth it for, say, large databases or graphics rendering.

  • by El_Smack ( 267329 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @11:00AM (#13165122)
    Back in the DOS 5 and 6 days, I used to make an 8 meg ramdrive, copy the X-wing game files to that and run from there. No load times for the cut scenes or new missions, and I still had 8 meg to use for regular memory. X-wing only used 4 meg with all the options, so as long as I could get 620K free I was good to go.
  • by Coocha ( 114826 ) <coocha@EINSTEINvt.edu minus physicist> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @11:00AM (#13165124) Homepage
    Before I RTFA, I would have said YES! But it looks like it uses PCI only for power; all data transfer is done over SATA-bus, which becomes the speed bottleneck at something around 150 Mbit/sec. Since that's the case, I don't see why they made it a PCI card at all... I assume the FPGA and the DDR memory require low-voltage power not offered by a normal hard-drive-style 12V molex connector. Meh.

    It just seems to me that the card itself is very bulky, and a similarly-priced RAMdisk with greater storage and a better form-factor is just waiting to be implemented. Oh, and it's not 4GB RAMdisk for $100, b/c you have to purchase the DDR as well :/
  • $100 to have 2gb set aside for ultrafast swap and 2gb set aside to load games into SS memory.

  • The thing that makes solid-state, lightning-fast storage attractive to me is digital multitrack recording. In that world, the faster your drive the more tracks can be recorded at once. The thing is, when you're recording 18 tracks of 16/44.1 PCM, 1 gig lasts about ten seconds. The same can be said about digital video. I applaud the speed, and I probably will wind up buying one, but when the capacities get as high as standard drives are now PLUS that speed, then it'll be something I won't be able to live
    • unfortunately, this is a somewhat misplaced enthusiam. multitrack digital audio recording will indeed burn large quantities of disk, but not at the rate cited above (even adjusting for the possibility that "track" means "stereo"). 18 tracks at 2 bytes per sample at 44100 samples per second is about 1MB/sec, not 100MB/sec.

      more importantly, as others have pointed out, you can massively increase disk data rates by using RAID, which provides much better bytes/sec/<monetary-unit> and is likely to for

  • Ok, so it's faster than a disk drive. How reliable is it?

    *IF* if were 4gb of very reliable and very fast storage, then yes, it would be worth $100.
  • We already have most of that -- a ram disk. If power fails on this device, the contents are gone. The does make it a little more compatible, but why not let the system operator configure the 4gb of ram in an optimal way for their usIie -- cache v. ramdisk v. application space, etc. I have seen some ram disk/cache software that will reduce the cache space when more ram disk space is configured.
  • I've managed lots of programming staff and observe that every time a compile or other "large" process takes more than a couple of minutes with the CPU or some other critical system maxed out (i.e. can't do something else 'cause my system's too slow) the programmer will get up and go get a coffee or water or a stretch or whatever - and not get back until some time after the process has completed.

    My partner Stuart, for instance, is addicted to capucino (has a $10,000 machine of his own at home where he does

  • Surely you'd be better off investing the money in more RAM for your PC, which could then use it as a cache for whatever was actually in use at the time.
  • The i-RAM only uses SATA for data interface... if I recall, SATA is limited to about 150 MB/sec. Raptor speed is 72 MB/sec. Where is the 6x coming from?

    Other bottlenecks are sure to limit this (CPU, etc).

    Until I see a way to make this actually very useful (other than having one modern game on it to get better fps), there's no way I would buy at that price.
  • Volatility (Score:3, Interesting)

    by acb ( 2797 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @11:13AM (#13165308) Homepage
    The main problem (other than the limited capacity and price) is the volatility. It has a battery pack, though if the power is out for more than 16 hours (or less, as the battery ages), it loses its entire contents. Which is somewhat precarious.

    A better idea would have been to have a bank of Flash EEPROM built onto the card as a backup device, with loss of power triggering the automatic dumping of RAM contents to Flash, and resumption of power repopulating RAM from Flash on demand/during idle time. Given that it is now possible to fit 4Gb in a Compact Flash card, there is little excuse for not having such a backup subsystem.
  • ...if that $100 would buy me a 4G flash based IDE drive instead.

    I would use it to replace the 4G hard disk in my aging but faithful Libretto.
  • Everybody seems to be criticizing this product b/c it's expensive per GB. However ...

    1. it works with old DDR memory. You can put newer memory, but it's only gonna be clocked at 100MHz DDR (DDR-200), mostly because the SATA cable is the limiter. IOW, if you're doing an upgrade you can put your old DDR to good use.

    2. Nobody says one should make it the "only" drive. It can only get you 8GB anyway. What you can do - asymmetric pairing with a regular hdd. For instance, you could have the journal of a data-

  • From the summary it sounded like a 2.5" or 3.5" 4GB IDE drive using flash instead of an IDE emulator and battery-backed up RAM using a PCI slot for power... and no memory included!

    I'd pay $100 for 4GB of flash in a PCI or hard drive form factor, for a solid-state BSD or Linux webserver.

    I don't think I'd pay $100 for a 0GB hard drive emulator that takes up both a PCI slot AND an SATA cable, and I still have to populate with RAM, and that will lose all its data if you leave it off too long.

    Given that you can get a 2GB Compact Flash drive for $100 or 4GB for around $200 and you can hook those up to PATA with a $40 adapter, and populating this thing to 4GB will set me back more than that... I don't see the point.
  • Given that this is DRAM-based and lacks a true non-volatile storage as a backing store, I wouldn't trust this with information except to use it for scratch data.
  • I'm afraid... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oringo ( 848629 )
    It's not as cheap as $100. If the story submitter had RTFA, the card itself costs $150, and that doesn't include the cost of equipping it with 4GB RAM, which costs around $90X4=$360. The total cost comes out to be $510.
  • Yes, if you can get me an MPEG2 or MPEG4 camcorder that uses it for storage and costs well under a grand.
  • Would you pay $100 for a 4GB Solid State Drive that is up to 6x faster than a WD Raptor?"

    No, but I'd pay $100 for a 4 gig drive that is up to 6 times more reliable than a WD Raptor (or any modern hard drive with moving parts).
  • Time and time again the biggest problem we these types of products is that no one stops to figure out what they would be useful for.

    First off, this thing costs WAY too much in both terms of the card and terms of the memory to populate it. This board should cost about $50 not $150. I'm saying mainly $50 mostly for the fact that it comes with the lithium battery and charging feature.

    Secondly, it is way too small. If it were 8GB I could use it for something like backing up dvds that play hell with hard dr

  • Liquid State and Solidus State will be cloned shortly.
  • If it is properly supported it could make a nice disk cache or swapfile. But you might just get better performance for that money from more main memory.

    One possible use would be to make it faster to suspend and restore, that would be nice.
  • So it's basically a conventional DDR SDRAM to SATA hardware RAMDISK, powered from PCI but not dependent on it and battery backed for a few hours.

    At first it sounds so simple but what a brilliant idea. For years my university saved a fortune by running everything off a network boot system, using a large ramdisk as a root drive.

    This sounds like the perfect hardware solution for them, that doesn't need special drivers or software configurations or even specialist hardware, just ordinary RAM chips, a cheap a
  • I RTFA and it doesn't sound like a MS Office user on Windows XP with a nice machine needs it. I think they're going after the wrong crowd!

    1. I don't get why using SATA instead of PCI for data xfer is making it infinitely more useful. Dumb! Put another FPGA on there and watch scientific users grow.

    2. Or put base libraries and CPAN on there, with Perl on XILINX then we're cooking! How about a benchmark with compiling a big app?

    3. Obviously it would be a big win for when the network is faster than your st
  • ramdisk comments (Score:5, Informative)

    by NASAdude ( 731949 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @11:32AM (#13165547) Journal

    I submitted this as a story back on June 4. Since it was rejected (too verbose?), I posted it to my /. journal [slashdot.org]. My main question to other folks relates to how this would compare to using a regular ramdisk. The main deficiency with a ramdisk is that you'd have to reload the contents every time you reboot. Here's my article, with all its links:

    Giga-byte Technology recently came out with a DRAM-based PC card that operates as a SATA hard drive. The product, iRAM, uses power from the motherboard to keep memory active when the system is shut down. During power outages, the product uses a on-board battery to retain memory for up to 90 minutes. The iRAM card is being talked about in the news (InfoWorld [infoworld.com], itWorldCanada [itworldcanada.com], engadget [engadget.com], PCWorld [pcworld.com], multiplay forum [multiplay.co.uk]) as a means of booting Windows faster. That is, you install Windows onto the iRAM drive to take advantage of the RAM's faster read-access time. Just hope that you don't lose power for more than 90 minutes.

    Is boot time really that important, since many computers are on all the time? A ramdisk might have better uses, perhaps for caching frequently-accessed files such as databases and webservers. Or, if you insist on having faster bootup, instead of putting Windows on the iRAM disk, why not just store the hibernation file there?

    I implemented a RAM-based database for an internet tool in 1998 to alleviate the read/write load on my local hard drive. It turned out to be a simple solution for the problem. At the time, it was just a matter of using a DOS-based ramdisk driver (ramdisk.sys). On application startup, it copied the database files to the ramdisk. During operation, everything was read/written to the ramdisk, and periodic backups were made to the physical disk. There are some inherent risks, such as loss of data during a crash since data isn't immediately written to a physical hard drive, so it may not be a great solution for a mission-critical production database. The iRAM product would make this type of database even more stable, in that the risk of loss of data is much less.

    That was a while ago, so I thought I'd look into setting up a ramdisk in XP for some amusement. Follows are the results of that search. It seems that the options are relatively sparse beyond the DOS-based driver. A few freeware and commercial packages are available, though. One key factor beyond price is the size limit of ramdisk.

    Microsoft's ramdisk [microsoft.com] offerings since Win2k are limited. Included with the XP OS is a ramdisk sample driver that "provides an example of a minimal driver. Neither the driver nor the sample programs are intended for use in a production environment. Rather, they are intended for educational purposes and as a skeletal version of a driver." Installation isn't simple enough for most users to benefit.

    Alternatives include a shareware ramdisk [majorgeeks.com], AR ramdisk (archive link: http://web.archive.org/web/20041011170408/http:/ww w.arsoft-online.de/products/product.php?id=1 [archive.org]) (freeware, 2GB limit, discontinued [arsoft-online.de], available for download here [nyud.net]), a freeware (64MB limit) and shareware (2GB limit) version here [ramdisk.tk],

  • Disk evolution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JordanH ( 75307 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @11:33AM (#13165558) Homepage Journal
    Pretty much every time a faster CPU is released, there are always a few that are marveled by the rate at which CPUs get faster but loathe the sluggish rate that storage evolves.

    On the contrary, I've always been amazed at the rate of price/performance evolution in HD technology.

    Consider that in 1982 a 10 MB disk cost something on the order of $3500 while today you can reasonably expect to get an 80 GB disk for $50, that's a drive that has 8000x the storage for 1/70 the price or a price/MB improvement of roughly 420,000x. And, that doesn't take into account the dramatic improvement in reliability and speed (both access and interface) that the newer drives exhibit. Do you think CPUs have kept up with this?

    I've heard people predict the end of moving-parts mass storage for years now, but it still seems pretty distant considering the great values we're getting with HD technology.

    • Re:Disk evolution (Score:3, Informative)

      by Khelder ( 34398 )
      The improvements in capacity of disk are amazing and staggering, I agree.

      I only wish it were so for latency. Around 1980, seek times were in the neighborhood of 20ms. CPUs for personal computers were running at about 1 MHz (the Apple ][, for example), or a cycle time of 1 ms. So the computer would wait 20 cycles for a seek.

      Today seek times are around 5ms and CPU speeds are 3+ GHz, or a cycle time of about 1/3 nanoseconds. So now CPUs have to wait 15,000 cycles for a seek. Relatively speaking, disk is a lo
    • Re:Disk evolution (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cvd6262 ( 180823 )
      On the contrary, I've always been amazed at the rate of price/performance evolution in HD technology.

      If I could make a not-so-appropriate industrial comparison to the article summary:

      Pretty much every time a faster F1 engine is released, there are always a few that are marveled by the rate at which carts get faster but loathe the sluggish rate that diesel engines evolves.

      HDD and CPUs are different beasts that do different tasks, and fight different issues. It is not surprising that one can pick up spe
    • 8000x the storage for 1/70 the price or a price/MB improvement of roughly 420,000x

      Or 560,000x if calculated on a PowerPC with AccurateIntegerMath (tm) technology.

  • by panurge ( 573432 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @11:37AM (#13165606)
    Power consumption goes up when it is removed from the PCI slot, says the article. If that's so, there is a design fault somewhere - it suggests that there are floating inputs .
  • boot disk (Score:3, Informative)

    by dirvish ( 574948 ) <dirvish&foundnews,com> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @11:40AM (#13165643) Homepage Journal
    Would you pay $100 for a 4GB Solid State Drive that is up to 6x faster than a WD Raptor?

    Yeah, I would only have my OS and applications on there with everything else on a second hard drive.
  • by danharan ( 714822 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @12:23PM (#13166266) Journal
    When you already have lots of RAM and your DB indexes and temp tables are constantly being swapped, this might make sense.

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