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Data Storage Hardware

Gigabyte Solid-State Storage Reviewed 71

EconolineCrush writes "The Tech Report has a review of Gigabyte's i-RAM, a relatively affordable solid-state storage device that uses plain old DDR memory modules and plugs into a standard motherboard PCI slot and Serial ATA port. Performance is generally excellent and occasionally jaw-dropping, but the i-RAM's appeal is ultimately curbed by its slower Serial ATA interface and limited capacity. Still, it's an interesting solution for anyone looking for faster I/O, and since it behaves like a normal hard drive without the need for drivers or software, it should work with just about any operating system."
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Gigabyte Solid-State Storage Reviewed

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  • Why use ATA at all? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:49AM (#14558047) Journal
    And if it's plugged into a PCI slot why pray tell does it need Serial ATA?
    Why not use the PCI bus and look like a very fast ATA controller?
    Std PCI has over 1 gig bandwith.
  • by Godeke ( 32895 ) * on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:57AM (#14558149)
    An interesting idea, but the limited size (4GB) makes me wonder what the target market would be. More to the point, where would this solution be better than 4GB of RAM available to the platform? Yes, this thing has battery backup and sips power when the machine is off, so it acts somewhat like a drive, but I would have my doubts about trusting it with anything mission critical.

    The performance tests show it did a great job as a high performance drive for simultanious requests for data on a web server, for example. But they didn't compare it to using the same 4GB onboard the server, which would be far more interesting... since the data is being "read" over a Serial ATA (which is puzzling since they are plugged into the bus), I can't imagine it being faster than using the memory to cache the data traditionally. The other examples, such as operating system boot time show that the operating system isn't read bound as much as one would think on boot.

    I'm sure there are some specialist uses for this that will make sense, but I suspect most of them would be better served with 4GB of RAM disk or cache.

  • Swapping/Caching (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Twillerror ( 536681 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:58AM (#14558164) Homepage Journal
    This sounds like a perfect candidate for a swap partion, especially on Windows. Windows swap is a huge performance hog. I turn it off if the machine has 2 gigs+ of memory. Windows tends to swap memory not based on the lack of it, but the lack of access. So if you let a program sit in the background over night and then switch to it your HD goes crazy.

    With swap being on this you'd still get transfer rate problems, but access rates should be extremely higher. Especially when the "drive" is fragmented. A defrag program would run pretty fast on one of these as well.

    It is to bad that OSs don't have support for these types of devices yet. I'd rather use it as an actual drive cache and not bother my main RAM. If the OS loaded a file up it could place it on the RAM drive and read and write to it.

    Related, most of my servers at work have 128 or 256 meg SCSI RAID cards. I wish that technique would make it into the retail market.

  • by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @12:03PM (#14558224) Journal
    You would need drivers for a storage device on PCIe. If you just made this look like a PCI host controller it would boot fine (natively and without drivers). What do you think that PCI card that comes with your UDMA133 hard drive is for? Adding second drives? no. It is so if your mainboard only supports UDMA66/100 you can boot from the faster PCI card instead. This would be no different. As long as you're tying up the slot and are using a friggen Spartan 3 FPGA you might as well make use of the things PCI controller.

    As a later poster stated this is good for you to connect to your RAID controller, but I see issues with that as well (namely four of these and you may not have any more PCI slots available).

    I'd like to see a stand-alone unit that fits a 3.5 inch bay and has a pair of power connectors, one for connecting to standard system power, the other to connect to an optional PCI card that gives you the trickle power you need to keep the memory alive when the system is off.

    I personally would love to use a couple of these in a stripe set as a video scratch disk.

APL hackers do it in the quad.