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Solid state drives....Review from THG

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December 6, 2005 10:38:51 AM

Why can't gigabyte build an I-ram that can hold 8-16dimms? Why can't they build it using an SCSI interface that supports upto 360MB/sec? or some other interface like PCIe 16x to get 3.2GB sec?

It just boggles my mind that companies keep doing this.....It would be like trying to send a firehose through a straw. Yeah you garentee you max out the throughput of the straw...but a firehose would be overkill for that.


If we can have PCIe RAID controllers why couldn't Gigabyte make one of these for PCIe 16x and then you could load any level in BF2 in under a second.....you could have a crazy fast editing machine.

Atleast they should try something new....and not try to cram something that is CLEALRY overkill into a small hole.
December 6, 2005 1:19:33 PM

I totally agree with that statment. Why is it, we can buy Athlon 64 motherboards with all the lastest features for $68 from New Egg such as the CHAINTECH VNF4/Ultra Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra ATX and we can not buy a card or drive to put memory in for $50.00? Look at all the R&D and production quality that is needed to build one of these motherboards. Yet for these SSD with RAM, it just needs a small PCB and controller chip to make them work. Something is definitely wrong here guys. I believe the manufactures do not want to make these the way we want because it is a cheap and high performance alternative to upgrading motherboards.

Think about it. What would happen if I took a PCI-e card or a basic PCI SATA RAID card and two of these devices with a couple of hundred bucks in RAM and dropped it in my older workstation. It would give it a boast so insanely I would not have to spend all the extra money to upgrade the board for another 2-3 yrs. That is what I believe is the case, why these huge motherboard manufacturs such as ASUS, ABIT, DFI, Gigabyte ECS and others won't do it. It would cost them nothing to produce an excellent and inexpensive product, but it would rip hole so wide in their mainstream sales it would sink the Titanic.

Any thoughts? Agree or disagree. :D 

Lastly I wish Tomshardware would put the heat to the industry for this as well as all the hardware jounalists, instead of beating around the bush. How about some hardcore investigative reporting done on this and put an industry magnifine glass to expose why we as customers are actually getting screwed on performance when there is truly now a cheap way to double or triple ones computer performance for pennies.
December 6, 2005 1:58:57 PM

If we all had the option for solid state drives.....lets say a 10GB for $500 (VERY reasonable cost considering ram prices)....and lets all pretend we would spend $500 for 10GB.....the motherboard people are the LAST to lose money.

First people, consumers.....everyone else is safe. Its so exspensive you would still need huge drives for storage. I am getting my HDD collection up to 750GB this afternoon when the UPS people visit.

Mobo makers make HELLA money because Intel, AMD, Nvidia, and ATI can't make up their F*CKING minds about what they want and wat they can do with current tech. How much money have the mobo makers made in the last 10years while HDD's have changed almost NIL! Yeah speeds, and size have increased but the interface is still there.....two IDE channels on just about every mobo i see. HDD's dont cause change....nobody upgrades there whole computer for a HDD.....but many computers worldwide changed he day AGP came out, and many more for PCIe, and even more when new sockets come out.


I jus want to see what they could do speedwise on a PCIe 16x bus with 10GB of RAM...I just wonder if they could saturate 3.2GB/sec...would windows load in under a second?

I think part of the reason they dont do it is because there is no real reason for it. Maybe to put your scratch disk for PS, or something....but who really needs 3.2GB sec? It would be super sweet to load up in a game online and be there for like 15seconds before anyone else....lol
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December 6, 2005 4:37:32 PM

Allrighty then, here goes my rebuttal.

In regards to 10 Gb proposal you are partially correct because of minor costs right now, but in 6 months to a year the 2 gig sticks will be at $100 just like the 1 Gig Registered sticks at New Egg. So today we can get for the $500 is 4 Gb of Ram and the hypothetical card we are talking about for $50. So we take that and intall that in a two-three year old system which is the average around the globe such as an Pentium 4 2.0 gig or Athlon XP 2000with 512 RAM and a 120 Gb Hard Drive. Change the Swap file, Windows IE cache and plugin locations, MS Office cache locations and any other programs to use that 4 Gbs. I will gurantee you that you will feel like you are on a system that is running todays hardware with exception of gaming, because that is heavily graphic CPU dependent and System CPU dependent. So for $500 instead of $1000.00 to $1500.00 I have extended the life of my office PC by another 2-3yrs for the Windows 2000/XP O/S.

The reason I chose not use Windows Vista is the requirments have not yet been set in stone. I would be willing to bet you though you could install Vista on it and it would still be very fast because of that SDD in place.

Now as for real world experience, Cenatech has had this tech availiable for about 4 yrs now called the Rocket Drive, problem is they charge $1700.00 for 2 GB and $3000.00 for 4 GB. I have woked with this hardware for testing on web caching servers for quick boosts and on the side with workstations for grins. So if you actually do that to an older workstation like I stated above it does deliver 2-3x the performance in Windows and daily office use. Which is precisely where this tech would make a killing. http://www.cenatek.com/

The problem is it would kill the rest of the hardware industry's life cycle of products. I apologize for just stating just mainboard MFs. It would be Intel, NVidia, AMD and everybody in between that would be hurt because they could not push the technology as fast because of this. Nobody would upgrade for several years. Sure the Joe gamer would upgrade and the video phile, but do you really think that market is what really sustains the industry? It is not, it is the OEM and builder's like DELL, HP, Compaq and E-machines who sell to the sub 1000 market of the average consumer and corporate consumers.

Why do think Microsoft and the hard drive MFs are scrabbling to build a hybred drive with this technolgy in it? Anyware from 512MB to 128GB SDD built in with a controller to swap off to the Hardisk section that has 500GB+ all in one drive enclosure. Yes to improve Windows, but it is also to prevent sombody from doing this and to control the industry life cycle. Do you honestly think they will build an interface that is faster than SATA 2 speeds with this? That is what their first gen spec is based upon which if your thinking 3Gb is enough band width, it is not because that translates in into 378MB thruput. IE: 3096 / 8 =387-27=360 MB Adjusting that for 7% overhead leaves you 360MBs availiable. DDR 400MHz RAM last I checked has 6.4 GigaByte throughput. PCI-e like you stated would be the way to go with it having 4 GB throughput, but the industry does not have a standard drive interface to address those speeds. As if that is not enough, did you know that the Pentium 4 2.0 GHz CPU throuput or instructions it can handle is in excess of 30 GB per sec, max bus speed of 400MHz quad pumped 100 is 6.4GB though. It can be easily seen that these processors are constantly waiting hungarily on data process most of the time with exception of Games and Server Apps. Now are you understanding now where I am coming from then?

Lastly, I do agree it would be awesome if this tech were here for the games but it can really revolutionize the corp and biz sector like no one could imagine. I say that because I have seen it personally. My boss when I should him this he was amazed and wanted it for all the workstations as an upgrade. Then he asked about the price and said "My goodness, we would better off replacing the whole system."

Zerstorer
December 11, 2005 11:05:01 PM

Quote:
Why can't gigabyte build an I-ram that can hold 8-16dimms? Why can't they build it using an SCSI interface that supports upto 360MB/sec? or some other interface like PCIe 16x to get 3.2GB sec?

It just boggles my mind that companies keep doing this.....It would be like trying to send a firehose through a straw. Yeah you garentee you max out the throughput of the straw...but a firehose would be overkill for that.


If we can have PCIe RAID controllers why couldn't Gigabyte make one of these for PCIe 16x and then you could load any level in BF2 in under a second.....you could have a crazy fast editing machine.

Atleast they should try something new....and not try to cram something that is CLEALRY overkill into a small hole.


I think that you have to consider one thing first. Size. These RAM drives are large and would most likely take up 2 PCI-e slots. DRAM height is twice the height of a normal PCI card. Try fitting something like that into an SLI or Crossfire mobo. Of course, they could just angle the DRAM slots like they do in blade servers, but then you wouldn't have room for more than 4 DIMM slots.

Then there's the issue of a controller chip that translates the DRAM to a logical hard drive on a PCI-e bus. Xilinx doesn't make anything like that. So you can't blame gigabyte for that. Gigabyte doesn't make chips.

I think a 5.25 solution is the best. The only other thing I can think of is creating a PCI-e card w/ a high speed link to a 5.25 RAM drive. Does that make sense?

-mpjesse
December 16, 2005 2:52:07 AM

There's actually enough room for 16 DIMM's on a 5.25" box. There would need to be a few concessions made:

1.) The controller chips would have to be mounted on the bottom of the card to make the drive "short" enough for most systems. The problem is that DIMM pins go THROUGH the board, so they might need to use two boards? Otherwise the card would stick out so far from the back of the drive that it might interfere with power supply fitment!
2.) Powering the drive with the system off, without using a PCI slot to receive standby power is easy: Just use an ATX splitter cable and output the standy line.
December 16, 2005 2:54:24 AM

I just thought of an easy solution: Use two board and a proprietary link. Make the first board PCI-Express x1 and use standby power there. Put all the controller chips on the PCI-Express card. Then run a proprietary data cable from there to the 5.25" device.
December 21, 2005 3:23:20 PM

The best is always the enemy of the good...

But, does anyone know if either i-RAM or Hperdrive-III is OS dependent? Can I use them with FreeBSD/Linux/MacOS? An ordinary drive is compatible across operating systems, there shouldn't be any reason an SSD drive is OS dependent, however on the Giga-byte web site they have a driver download for i-RAM, which worries me.

Daniel Feenberg
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