Michael55

Integrated Ram Drive

151 posts in this topic

Hi

I run a forum as a hobby for a UK company called HyperOS Systems, they have for some time marketed software that lets you have 20 odd OS's installed on a PC.

They are about to start selling a hardware IDE ram disk, the following is from their own 2004 manual.

"This is a Hard Disk made out of DRAM. It is what we call an IRDE device, an Integrated Ram Drive Electronics device.

It is simply an IDE bus followed by a DRAM controller with a large space of DRAM configured like an LBA addressed magnetic hard disk.

The Hyperdrive2 can access data around 50x faster than a hard disk can, and the first versions use an ATA66 BUS, and so can achieve sustained data transfer rates of around 55 MB per second which as faster than the fastest Hard Disks can achieve today.

They can achieve around 40MB per second through an ATA100 BUS or through a serial ATA150 BUS. This is a mechanical limitation, which is not likely to change in the near future.

The Hyperdrive2 is made non volatile by employing a separate power cable and a separate mini transformer which converts mains power to low voltage DC which is used to keep the DRAM going in the event that the power is turned off to your PC. In this way you will not lose your DATA stored on the Hyperdrive2 unless you get a power cut, or you pull the power cord out of the wall. However, the H2 also has a battery backup which lasts for 8 hours. So really it is near as damn it non volatile.

The way to use the H2 in conjunction with HyperOs is as follows. Pick a system on your HD, drag and drop it onto the H2, then run it on the H2. Your whole PC will then be operating in RAM. Everything becomes more or less instant. Then at the end of the day, if necessary you can back up the H2 to an image file on your HD, or just leave it as it is.

The next day, your PC will fire up almost instantly, since Windows and your apps are still in RAM on the H2. Remember, if you reboot your PC, or power off your PC, the H2 does not lose its data. The H2 only uses around 3Watts per GB. The advantages of the H2 over a conventional HD are as follows: 50x Faster Seek Time (100 Micoseconds). Slightly faster sustained data transfer rate 55MB per second rather than 40 – 45 MB per second.

Silent Less power hungry than a hard disk More reliable than a hard disk, (no mechanical failures such as a head crash) More shock resistant than a Hard Disk Fully destructively erasable if required (unplug the backup battery) The effect on your PC is as follows. XP will fire up almost instantly. Applications will open and close almost instantly. IO intensive apps will run several times faster.

The desktop will react almost instantly to every mouse click.

The technological contradiction of employing a 3GHz processor with 400MHz DDRAM workspace to run an operating system and its applications and data on a 7200 rpm Gramaphone "My Idea " player will be removed."

I was wondering what views you guys had re ram dives and the such, they are telling me this HyperDriveII will be very fast and costs will be lower than other such drives on the market. They also tell me as it is 100% IDE interface it can be fitted in to a raid. Size will be from 2Gb to 6Gb at first, again this is what they are telling me. To me this all sounds good and if they can keep the price low they should be on to a winner.

None of this is on there own website, the info so far made public can be found at : http://www.hyperosforum.co.uk/hosf/index.php

_________________

Regards Michael

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mmm, ram drives aren't really that fast as they say, but their i/o's per second goes up in thousands... and they are pretty expensive. i remember the price range being around $500+ per GB for an ata based device. m-systems is one of the manufacturers who makes them.

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the fastest RAM drive I ever tested was cenatek's software based ssd

that's wasn't that that fast vs my x15-36lp, IMHO

I/O was great (100,000 vs 500 :ph34r: ) but the seek and str wasn't good enough for me to warrent a change to a hardware ssd solution (which would most likely be slower)

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First, why are the making it ATA/66 instead of Serial ATA or Ultra320 SCSI? That doesn't make any sense. If you're going to shell out over ~$750 U.S. (another post on the forum suggests that the 2GB drive might cost in the range of 500 British pounds, and I can't see anyone wanting one that's less than 2GB) for one of these drives, I imagine you'd be willing to cough up a bit more for at least low-end U320 SCSI controller. It also doesn't make sense that the maximum throughput would be at ATA/66 and there's a "mechanical limitation" which slows it down with ATA/100 or S-ATA/150. I mean, it's RAM, which is connected to a memory controller, which is connected to an IDE interface- what mechanical stuff is there to slow anything down? That just sounds fishy.

Second, unless the capacities are at least in the 6GB range as you say, these don't sound like terribly compelling solutions for most people. These days, 2GB is barely enough to hold the basic Windows installation with some other standard software installed, and even 6GB isn't what I'd call an ocean of storage, especially if it costs in the realm of $1300-$1500 U.S. For certain applications, if it's as good as they say, it'd be pretty damn nice, but for the average user, that's just too expensive for not all that much benefit. True, that's cheaper than Flash-based SSD drives (by a lot, from what I can tell), but compared to magnetic hard disks, they're still pretty steep.

If you really need that kind of performance, I imagine you could do at least as well by getting a workstation with a ton of RAM and using a software RAMdrive that loads and saves the RAMdrive image when booting and shutting down. With a good UPS, data integrity there wouldn't be an issue assuming your storage system is fast enough to record the drive image before the UPS's power runs out in the event of an outage. This wouldn't be as good a solution with Xeon systems because they have to do that slow memory swapping thing to address memory beyond 4GB, but an Opteron system would be fine (at least with a 64-bit OS).

All that said, this would be an excellent solution for some workstations and servers that really need low latency and fast I/O, but I can't imagine using this kind of thing in lieu of a hard disk due to its relatively small storage capacity.

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Hi

Thanks for the feed back. :)

I will try and cover some of the points raised.

ATA 33/66/100/133 or SATA!

When I first got wind of HyperDriveII, I expected it to use an IDE ATA 133 interface and was somewhat surprised to find that they were going with ATA 33 :( . Since then they have uped it to ATA 66 which has at least doubled the IDE performance :) . I hope they go to ATA 133 very soon.

As to the size in Gb of each HyperDriveII.

HyperDriveII only needs to "hold" one computer at any one time. The system uses HyperOS 2004 to do this.

I.E. Real 120 Gb hard drive holds 22 computers, all can be Windows XP Pro or 12 XP Pro, 4 Windows 2000, 6 Windows 98, just mix and match as you like, say 3Gb each plus area for storing data, say about 54Gb. HyperDriveII is loaded from the hard drive with any one of those 22 computers. One computer could have M/S word one, another could have a game on it one computer could be used just to access the internet and so on. Several can be complete back ups of working computers.

When running everything for that "computer" will be in HyperDriveII, Windows OS, the aplication or aplications and the page file.

Plus you could spend the money on other types of storage. :rolleyes:

FYI they will be offering HyperDriveII without HyperOS 2004 for those that wish to use them just as small but very fast hard drives, say in raid systems.

Untill HyperOS Systems release a few HyperDriveII's for review and testing its all just theory as to just how good it will perform and work out in real life.

Thanks again, Michael :)

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The next day, your PC will fire up almost instantly, since Windows and your apps are still in RAM on the H2.

Modern PC's can already do that, it's called Suspend-to-RAM.

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The next day, your PC will fire up almost instantly, since Windows and your apps are still in RAM on the H2.

Modern PC's can already do that, it's called Suspend-to-RAM.

True.

And even from a cold start, PCs normally take less than 2 minutes to boot.

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You said that the STR wasn't fast enough to warrent a change? How fast is it? Here's how my ramdisk performs compared to my RAID-5 array.

Ramdisk

ATTO - 512KB Alloc.

ramdiskatto512.gif

ATTO - 4096KB Alloc.

ramdiskatto.gif

HD Tach - 512KB Alloc.

ramdiskhdtach.gif

RAID-5 Array

ATTO - 512KB Alloc.

raiddiskatto.gif

ATTO - 512KB Alloc.

raiddiskhdtach.gif

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The easy & cheap way to build a RAM drive is a full length PCI card, not ATA or SCSI.

How much sdram can 25W power? All you need is a memory controller, small BIOS, and battery backup.

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It sounds like a good solid state storage implementation. They need to get the transfer rate up to at least 80 MB/sec to be competitive with STR on the fastest SCSI disks around. At that point, the only downside would be the cost. Can you get just the 'shell' and put in your own RAM, and if so, what type does it take?

It's a compelling solution, but I don't buy the idea of having a different OS installation for every app - OS patches and updates would be a nightmare. The implication then is that you need space for all your apps installed at once, and 6 GB would seem to be a pretty tight space to fit that in, especially if you're the sort of power user that would spend over a grand on your storage system in the first place.

A RAID 0 of two 6 GB drives would cover both these bases, but the price would have to come down a long way before it'd be worth switching from a high end SCSI solution that's currently around half the price.

Still, if I had the money to spare, I'd buy it.

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Hi

They say they will be selling them without their own HyperOS 2004 software at a reduced cost. They then should be just a very fast IDE-Bootable-Drive.

The boards have the memory fixed, the idea of buying it with memory slots so you can self upgrade sound's good.

Perhaps the is a market for such a unit, an IDE interface, its own back up power and you just add your own memory as and when you can afford it.

Wonder, how much memory you can get into a CD drive size box?

But as you say it all depends on cost.

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i dunno if JUST cost or size is a factor

if you only need high str then the thing is a disaster for you, an atlas4 is faster

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It sounds like a good solid state storage implementation. They need to get the transfer rate up to at least 80 MB/sec to be competitive with STR on the fastest SCSI disks around

Yes. When they said the 55MB/s was faster than any current hard drives. I said wait a minute my cheeta 15K does 60 to 75...

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mmm, ram drives aren't really that fast as they say, but their i/o's per second goes up in thousands... and they are pretty expensive. i remember the price range being around $500+ per GB for an ata based device. m-systems is one of the manufacturers who makes them.

cenatek Rocket Drive XL (if it ever comes out) should be 64bit PCI or PCI-X

that should increase the str (in theory)

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I'm not totally sure STR is that important when talking about the benefits of a RAM drive. I'm ordering some tape drives that will outperform most SCSI drives in sequential reads/writes, but they obviously shouldn't be used for an OS.

Looking at the performance database, no drive has a sustained transfer rate over 70 MB/s. Every drive drops below 70 when looking at the end transfer rates. Only four drives make it over 50.

Nevertheless, a RAM drive will completely thrash the best disk drives in random reads/writes and at least perform near the top for sustained transfer rates. RAM drives should also provide a cleaner pattern for sustained transfer rates...not many deep lows or really high peaks.

Even though some tape drives out perform almost all single disk drives on overall throughput, they obviously can't be used for any sort of random access.

The biggest pitfall is of course the need for a secondary power source. While this is necessary, a 2 hour plus rated lithium battery in conjunction with the power source may be better.

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Actually, I would think that the biggest pitfall for a SSD is the cost compared to a mechanical HDD.

A mechanical HDD should cost somewhere between $1 and $6 per GB of storage, depending on interface, etc.

Most SATA and IDE HDDs can be had for close to $1 per GB. B)

SCSI costs several times as much, depending on capacity and various other factors. :(

SSDs measure their costs in terms of dollars per MB. :blink:

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Hi

HyperDriveII Update:

Tests on a 2Gb version, it has own power supply and backup battery and has a ATA33 interface.

Sustained transfer speed is 30.7mb/s, this speed remains constant and is not affected by the type or size of the data being moved or its location in the drive.

Access time is 0.1m/s

Time to install Windows XP from CD 11 minutes:

Next version will have ATA66 interface and should have a constant transfer rate of around 60mb/s. Two of these in a raid 0 setup should offer adequate performance.

The goal is to move to a SATA interface by mid summer.

What performance level does HyperDriveII need to reach to make it a viable alternative to standard high performance hard drives?

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Speaking for myself I don't se this device enough useful yet.

There are two different scenarios for this one:

1. BootDrive when diskless operation (w/o BOOTP)

- The minimum required storage capacity 8 GiBy

- FailProof backup power (24 hrs w/o mains)

- ATA100 or SATA150 minimum

I would buy this one below 500$ not above 1000$

2. SpeedyHDD.

- The minimum required storage capacity 4 GiBy

- ATA100 or SATA150 minimum

I may buy this one below 200$ not above 500$

In both cases the same amount of DRAMs would

cost alot more.

As you can see I don't have an urge to get one but I'm

sure there are several ppls with other demands that do.

However things can change...

BTW it's a very cool Idea' : )

/casa

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Hi

I did ask re "why not just use a PCI card" and was informed HyperDriveII is bootable.

Is that an absolute requirement for bootableness?

Isn't there a "scsi" selection in BIOS bootup menu?

Which in turn can be emulated?

/casa

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3GB isn't even enough for any of my games.

Knights of the Old Republic takes 3.5GB and Neverwinter Nights takes almost 4GB.

WarcraftIII programmers used their brains and runs everything in system RAM.

$1250 for a 3GB drive is crap, IMO.

They better come up with a larger and faster drive if I'm gonna pay that price.

You said that the STR wasn't fast enough to warrent a change? How fast is it? Here's how my ramdisk performs compared to my RAID-5 array.

I can't see the pics.

The difference between 3sec and 1sec is not worth $1000 to me.

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The usual application for devices like this is for applications that tend to be neither capacity nor STR limited, but seek-limited. To me the application that is suggested by the thread originator seems odd.

Many successful high-end SSD installations are plain old Ultra or UW SCSI. Consider high-transaction servers, etc. Many small random accesses - you'll probably never hit, or even approach, 20M or 40M total xfer rate, so the interface matters little. However, you may hit many thousands of random seeks.

These are not OS drives....

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I did ask re "why not just use a PCI card" and was informed HyperDriveII is bootable.

How hard is it to slap a boot rom on a PCI card? If a $20 promise card can do it, why not an expensive ram drive?

-Chris

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If a $20 promise card can do it, why not an expensive ram drive?

or a $10 NIC....

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