- Articles & News
- For IT Pros
- Your Opinion
2005 was the year of the RAM drive. Gigabyte and a smaller company called HyperOS released their storage products, which were both meant to replace the conventional hard drive with blazing fast SDRAM. Both provided an exciting look to the future of performance storage products, as they blow away any other hard drive. Gigabyte's i-RAM was the faster solution, thanks to its SATA/150 interface, while the HyperDrive III was limited to UltraATA/100, but supported more memory. HyperOS wants to adjust the ranking with its fourth generation HyperDrive, which offers both SATA/150 and UltraATA/133 interfaces. HyperOS even calls its HyperDrive 4 the fastest internal hard disk in the world.
Memory is typically divided into volatile and permanent storage: your system memory or random access memory (RAM) is volatile, as the DRAM transistor states are lost when the power is gone, so any data stored goes as well. Flash memory, optical storage and hard drives, together with variations such as magneto-optical drives (MO) are considered non-volatile or permanent storage, because they preserve their contents even when they're shut down. It is possible to convert volatile DRAM from its original use and turn it into a semi-permanent storage device. All you need is appropriate core logic and an energy source to feed power continuously; the result is referred to as a solid state disk.
While Flash memory is increasingly used for solid state disk products, it does have its downsides. It can compete with DRAM when it comes to read performance, and it excels conventional hard drives at random read operations. But its write latency still is horribly long - Flash SSDs still abandon the random write benchmark field to quick conventional hard drives. In this light, DRAM cells not only allow for quicker write performance, they often provide a lower cost per stored bit as well.
Bitmicro has been addressing the solid state market with various products during the last several years; most of them are designed for professional use. The two other products I've referred to, namely Gigabyte's i-RAM and the HyperDrive III by HyperOS Systems, target the upper mainstream, as well as professional users. The Gigabyte solution is powered by a PCI expansion slot and a buffer battery to maintain the memory contents of the four DDR1 memory modules for up to 16 hours. HyperOS puts its product into a 5.25" form factor, and hence supports eight memory modules for up to 16 GB of storage. The power supply, which consists of a small backup battery and an external PSU, doesn't protect against long power outages. Again, Bitmicro has been the one to offer solid state drives with permanent backup storage included.
The HyperDrive 4 now comes with a combination of both Serial ATA/150 and UltraATA/133, eight instead of six memory sockets, a more powerful backup battery, and optional backup storage by means of a 2.5" UltraATA drive.