Can Gigabyte's i-RAM Replace Existing Hard Drives?


i-RAM is fine and dandy, but how would the performance look if twice the SATA bandwidth were available? We tried this out by simply using two i-RAM cards in the RAID 0. The access time scarcely changed at all - it doesn't go much quicker in this order of magnitude, after all. The transfer rate, however, climbed even higher and easily surpassed the magical 200 MB/s mark.

But in practice, creating a RAID 0 on two solid state drives such as the i-RAM is to be recommended even less compared to regular hard disks. It's true we cannot maintain that bit errors creep in more often today on memory chips than on hard disks, but nonetheless we're dealing here with a comparably rare product that with different configurations and under different demands is far less tested than good old hard disks. As is usual for RAID 0, the entire memory area is lost if an individual drive breaks down for whatever reason, and so caution is the key.

The Price

Now that a couple disadvantages are apparent, we come to the most important question: How much is it going to set you back? Gigabyte is talking about $150 dollars or thereabouts for the i-RAM card. In addition, though, you still have to get DDR memory. Less than 2 GB in our opinion is not worth the trouble nowadays. 4 GB is more appropriate for installing Windows.

That adds up to around $160 for four 512 MB DIMMs (2 GB) or $360 for four gigabyte modules. Let's not worry about speed and latency periods at this point.

That results in an investment amount of around $300 for equipment with 2 GB or just under $500 with 4 GB of memory. For that you can currently get around five hard disks at 250 GB, so 1.25 teraBytes of memory location, three drives in the area of 300 GB or two hard disks in the 400 GB range - the choice is yours.

The very fast solid state data carrier works absolutely silently, making RAM-disk solutions (random access memory areas are made into memory drives including drive letters) look ungainly while offering a better price-performance ratio.

The latter are mostly sold to solvent business customers who are willing to pay the extra charge for the added performance. To our knowledge, there is currently no comparable product available for $500.