Do you find transferring files to and from your hard disk is a little time-consuming? Well, Gigabyte has launched a device called i-RAM, a hard disk storage alternative, which is based on fast DDR SDRAM chips rather than slow-but-stable flash memory chips. With data stored on memory chip, it is truly much faster than saving data onto rotating hard disk medium. Unfortunately, there are disadvantages to using i-RAM; that is, Gigabyte acknowledged that the product is not suitable for systems that are turned off permanently for long periods of time, and secondly, not useful for anyone who demands more than 4 GB of storage space capacity.
Basically, i-RAM is a PCI card, containing 4 DIMM slots to hold 266/333/400MHz DDR (Double Data Rate) SDRAM, up to a maximum capacity of 4 GB. The PC will recognise the device as a 1.5 Gbps Serial ATA drive, instead of additional memory modules. The device connects to the PC via a SATA cable and its board contains a Xilinx Spartan Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chip that converts Serial ATA instructions into memory read and write requests, and vice versa.
To keep the volatile data intact, the card has a 1700mAh rechargeable battery to sustain the PCI board’s memory data when the host system is switched off. The battery is capable to last for 10 to 16 hours when the machine is turned off, beyond which the data will be reseted.
According to Gigabyte, they claimed that storing Windows XP on the i-RAM rather than on the hard disk would speed up the booting process by 13 time faster, than one that it took to boot from a 7200rpm SATA hard drive.
Lastly, i-RAM also allows users to install additional physical hard disk drive, henceforth, the systems’ storage capacity is not limited. With the correct motherboard, i-RAM can also be RAID compatible. I would certainly recommend this device to anyone who has its system turned on practically almost 24 hours a day. In addition, I find that i-RAM is useful if treated as a SWAP file, when the system has to swap temporary file to the hard-disk, this will become very useful indeed.
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** Image displays the layout of the circuit board.
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