Author Topic: Gigabyte i-RAM  (Read 2228 times)

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Offline Sachitha

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Gigabyte i-RAM
« on: September 14, 2005, 05:55:54 PM »
Gigabyte went about creating the first affordable solid state storage device, and they called it i-RAM. By utilizing conventional DDR memory modules, Gigabyte's i-RAM is a lot cheaper to implement than more conventional solid state devices. Gigabyte sells you the card, and it's up to you to populate it with memory - a definite plus for those of us who happen to have a lot of older memory laying around, especially after next year's transition to DDR2 for AMD platforms. The backup issue is solved by the use of a battery pack that is charged by your system on the fly, although there is no disk backup available for the i-RAM.

Armed with a 64-bit memory controller and DDR200 memory, the i-RAM should be capable of transferring data at up to 1.6GB/s to the Xilinx chip; however, the actual transfer rate to your system is bottlenecked by the SATA bus. The i-RAM currently implements the SATA150 spec, giving it a maximum transfer rate of 150MB/s.

With SATA as the only data interface, Gigabyte made the i-RAM infinitely more useful than software based RAM drives because to the OS and the rest of your system, the i-RAM appears to be no different than a regular hard drive. You can install an OS, applications or games on it, you can boot from it and you can interact with it just like you would any other hard drive. The difference is that it is going to be a lot faster and also a lot smaller than a conventional hard drive.

The size limitations are pretty obvious, but the performance benefits really come from the nature of DRAM as a storage medium vs. magnetic hard disks. We have long known that modern day hard disks can attain fairly high sequential transfer rates of upwards of 60MB/s. However, as soon as the data stops being sequential and is more random in nature, performance can drop to as little as 1MB/s. The reason for the significant drop in performance is the simple fact that repositioning the read/write heads on a hard disk takes time as does searching for the correct location on a platter to position them. The mechanical elements of hard disks are what make them slow, and it is exactly those limitations that are removed with the i-RAM. Access time goes from milliseconds (1 x 10-3) down to nanoseconds (1 x 10-9), and transfer rate doesn't vary, so it should be more consistent.

Since it acts as a regular hard drive, theoretically, you can also arrange a couple of the i-RAM cards together in RAID if you have a SATA RAID controller. The biggest benefit to a pair of i-RAM cards in RAID 0 isn't necessarily performance, but now you can get 2x the capacity of a single card. We are working on getting another i-RAM card in house to perform some RAID 0 tests. However, Gigabyte has informed us that presently, there are stability issues with running two i-RAM cards in RAID 0, so we wouldn't recommend pursuing that avenue until we know for sure that all bugs are worked out.

Pure I/O Performance Comparison (Results in IO ops/second Higher is Better)

IPEAK Business Winstone 2004

Gigabyte i-RAM (4GB) 4347.8
Western Digital Raptor (74GB) 1754.4

IPEAK Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2004

Gigabyte i-RAM (4GB) 735.3

Western Digital Raptor (74GB) 467.3

Offline mlᶮ$dǧ

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Re: Gigabyte i-RAM
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2005, 02:09:25 AM »
cool ..   shit the they refresh condensers using that battary ..   cool.....
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