Gigabyte's RAM drive card w/battery backup...

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

Copper
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 587
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:43 am

Post by Copper » Mon Mar 13, 2006 11:09 am

As of the time of this post, eWiz has them on sale for $119 with free shipping. Compare that to Newegg at $139 + $6 for shipping.

I just missed the sale. I paid $122 + shipping at eWiz on Friday. :x

elec999
Posts: 273
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:54 pm

Post by elec999 » Mon Mar 13, 2006 12:25 pm

How to these "feel" speed, windows boot uptime. benchmarks.
Thanks

Copper
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 587
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:43 am

Post by Copper » Mon Mar 13, 2006 1:48 pm

Plenty of info here, including benchmark:

http://forums.silentpcreview.com/viewtopic.php?t=28629

I'll have impressions on two iRAM's in RAID0 next week.

Schlotkins
Posts: 278
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 5:30 am

Post by Schlotkins » Mon Mar 13, 2006 7:19 pm

What does the 3v vs 5v do for you? Is that for server boards or pci-x slots or something?

Cheers,
Chris

arrikhan
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 3:51 am
Location: Australia

Post by arrikhan » Mon Mar 13, 2006 8:35 pm

Schlotkins wrote:What does the 3v vs 5v do for you? Is that for server boards or pci-x slots or something?

Cheers,
Chris
My understanding is the one voltage supports MAC, and the other Intel based platforms (PCI).

Arrikhan

PizPump
Posts: 25
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2005 5:57 pm

Post by PizPump » Thu Mar 16, 2006 1:51 pm

Copper wrote:A feature of the i-RAM that I like is its unfussy nature. I have a mix of DDR 266 and 400 that run at different timings and the card doesn't mind in the least.
That's freakin' awesome! Ram compatibility was my main (well, my only) concern.

Going to order one now.

:D

Copper
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 587
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:43 am

Post by Copper » Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:27 pm

PizPump wrote:
Copper wrote:A feature of the i-RAM that I like is its unfussy nature. I have a mix of DDR 266 and 400 that run at different timings and the card doesn't mind in the least.
That's freakin' awesome! Ram compatibility was my main (well, my only) concern.

Going to order one now.

:D
No heat spreaders!!!! The DIMMs will be too thick to slide in the slots. I tried it.

ewiz still hs them on special for $118 & free shipping.

hmsrolst
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 426
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Location: Arlington, VA USA

Post by hmsrolst » Sat Mar 18, 2006 4:54 am

I wouldn't think that RAM latency would make much of a difference here, so it wouldn't make sense to invest in more expensive RAM. What do others think?

Copper
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 587
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:43 am

Post by Copper » Sat Mar 18, 2006 6:13 am

hmsrolst wrote:I wouldn't think that RAM latency would make much of a difference here, so it wouldn't make sense to invest in more expensive RAM. What do others think?
I bought the least expensive 1GB DIMMs I could find. :D My guess, and it is a guess, is that low timing RAM would be wasted money in the i-RAM.

Copper
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 587
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:43 am

Post by Copper » Sat Mar 18, 2006 6:39 am

I got the second i-RAM installed, but no luck with RAID0. Both i-RAMs work fine when setup as independent disks, but Windows throws up a BSOD during install when they are setup in RAID0 on my ICH5R chipset.

The BSOD appears immeditely after setup loads the initial hardware drivers, and just before the partition setup and install location begins. I downloaded the latest RAID driver from Intel to use during the "F6" portion of Windows install, but no luck. The BSOD still occurs.

I'm going to email Gigabyte to see if they have tested the i-RAM in RAID.

hmsrolst
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 426
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Location: Arlington, VA USA

Post by hmsrolst » Sat Mar 18, 2006 7:28 am

My Windows Folder is 3.7MB. There look to be a lot of unistall files at the beginning. Are they and can they just be deleted? What else do people do to reduce the size?

Copper
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 587
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:43 am

Post by Copper » Sat Mar 18, 2006 9:55 am

Those files are update "uninstall" files. If you delete them you can no longer uninstall the associated updates.

C:\windows\software distribution\download will contain huge files, also from "Windows Update," that can all be deleted.

Right click on the "My Computer" icon on your desktop and select "properties" from the submenu. Select the "system restore" tab in the "system properties" window. Either disable system restore altogether or limit the disk space system restore is allowed to use. This wont make your windows folder smaller but will reduce the amount of space used on the c drive.

hmsrolst
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 426
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Location: Arlington, VA USA

Post by hmsrolst » Sat Mar 18, 2006 10:37 am

thanks

hmsrolst
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 426
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Location: Arlington, VA USA

Post by hmsrolst » Sat Mar 18, 2006 10:51 am

Copper wrote: C:\windows\software distribution\download will contain huge files, also from "Windows Update," that can all be deleted.
My C:\windows\software distribution\download is only 682KB. However, C:\Windows\Downloaded Installations is 26.5MB, including 4 MS Anti-spyware files with msi extensions. Anybody know what the latter are doing and if they're necessary?

Sorry for the double post.

Eunos
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 378
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 3:29 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by Eunos » Mon Mar 20, 2006 9:15 pm

I have a question for owners (still waiting on mine). Assuming you have your OS on it and have not used up all 4 slots, what happens if you then increase capacity by adding an extra RAM chip? Does the O/S recognise the extra capacity right away, or do you have to reformat and start again?

arrikhan
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 3:51 am
Location: Australia

Post by arrikhan » Tue Mar 21, 2006 12:22 am

Eunos wrote:I have a question for owners (still waiting on mine). Assuming you have your OS on it and have not used up all 4 slots, what happens if you then increase capacity by adding an extra RAM chip? Does the O/S recognise the extra capacity right away, or do you have to reformat and start again?
Greate question !

I assume it would be like Dynamic Disks under Windows where you could 'grow' your disk and Windows could handle it. It all depends on the OS but a more experienced Windows person should confirm it for Windows.

I might chase it up with some people at work for both Linux and Windows :)

I'm planning on installing 2 x 1 GB modules hoping to contain mythtv frontend within that, but deliberately leaving room if I need it for more.

What OS are you planning on running?


Arrikhan

Copper
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 587
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:43 am

Post by Copper » Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:57 am

If you add or remove a DIMM all data is lost, including partition info.

hmsrolst
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 426
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Location: Arlington, VA USA

Post by hmsrolst » Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:50 pm

I'm trying to decide between getting the current I-RAM and waiting for the SATA-II version. Wouldn't the SATA-II version result in a much more responsive system, since the bottleneck is the SATA controller, so the I-RAM based on SATA-II should be able to take full advantage of the twice as high transfer rate? Or is this too simple-minded (which would not be surprising to me)?

Copper
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 587
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:43 am

Post by Copper » Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:28 pm

It makes sense to me. My board doesn't have SATA2 so it wasn't an issue for me. If it did, it would be a hard decision. Well, not really. I had to have one!! :D

Eunos
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 378
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 3:29 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by Eunos » Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:28 pm

Cheers for the info Copper, looks like I'll be getting the all memory I need beforehand.

arrikhan, I'm looking at running XP which currently is just over 1 gb for me. Plus maybe 500 mbs worth of programs, and any extra space will be for virtual memory and so on. I've bought a load of memory off Ebay for about A$85 per gig stick and am looking at 3.5 gbs total in the unit.

I was going to wait for the SATA II version, but from what I gathered, to add SATA II on (if your motherboard lacks it) you need a PCI express card. Also, SATA II does not equal 3 gb/s as people think. Also, I-ram II is already overdue and now the original has suddenly become readily available. I won't be surprised if it takes 6 months for i-ram II to hit the market.

arrikhan
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 3:51 am
Location: Australia

Post by arrikhan » Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:08 pm

Eunos wrote: arrikhan, I'm looking at running XP which currently is just over 1 gb for me. Plus maybe 500 mbs worth of programs, and any extra space will be for virtual memory and so on. I've bought a load of memory off Ebay for about A$85 per gig stick and am looking at 3.5 gbs total in the unit.
Nice.. what brand name did you get? I'm off to ebay to do the same I think :)
Eunos wrote: I was going to wait for the SATA II version, but from what I gathered, to add SATA II on (if your motherboard lacks it) you need a PCI express card. Also, SATA II does not equal 3 gb/s as people think. Also, I-ram II is already overdue and now the original has suddenly become readily available. I won't be surprised if it takes 6 months for i-ram II to hit the market.
I've come to the same assumption. I only need to look at the benefit over a real HD and I'm sold.

Arrikhan

Eunos
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 378
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 3:29 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by Eunos » Wed Mar 22, 2006 3:45 am

Yep, the main leap was i-ram, from there it's just a matter of them refining the concept.

About the RAM, I bought from this guy. It is generic I think, but for about A$85 each shipped it's hard to complain. An extra US$5-10 would buy a brand name. Just watch for the usual traps like pricey postage, 2 x 512 chips claiming to be 1 x 1 gb etc.

Copper
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 587
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:43 am

Post by Copper » Wed Mar 22, 2006 7:47 am

I have a couple more heads-ups for anyone getting an i-RAM.

The card is very thick with the DIMMs installed. It does fit into one slot though. Don't overclock your FSB unless you have an AGP/PCI lock in your BIOS. The SATA controller is very sensitive to clock speed (100mhz). An error results in all data lost on the i-RAM. Keep your computer on, but in sleep mode frequently. The i-RAM's battery does not get charged when the computer is off. The standby voltage it receives when the computer is shutdown apparently only refreshes the memory chips so data isn't lost. What happens is the battery can end up with very little charge in it. I had killed the power to my board for a few minutes to do some fiddling and low and behold, when I started back up, there was no data in the i-RAM. In contrast, with the battery fully charged, I've had the i-RAM completely removed from the board for a couple hours with no problem.

hmsrolst
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 426
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Location: Arlington, VA USA

Post by hmsrolst » Wed Mar 22, 2006 8:24 am

I decided not to wait to get the SATA-II version. Although the RAM on ebay is a bit cheaper, I decided to go with ZipZoomFly that has Corsair Value Select for $65 shipped. I figured it's not only name brand, but given its wider compatability, it would be easier to sell if/when the time comes.

lenny
Patron of SPCR
Posts: 1642
Joined: Wed May 28, 2003 10:50 am
Location: Somewhere out there

Post by lenny » Wed Mar 22, 2006 12:52 pm

Copper wrote:The i-RAM's battery does not get charged when the computer is off. The standby voltage it receives when the computer is shutdown apparently only refreshes the memory chips so data isn't lost.
This is great info, thanks!

Linus
Posts: 184
Joined: Fri May 21, 2004 12:47 pm

Post by Linus » Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:07 pm

Those using the i-RAM may want to check out nLite, a program you can use to create a custom WinXP installation CD without a lot of the junk you don't need - and it's legal freeware! I've read of users getting their XP installation under 500MB, although I'm sure that involves some sacrifices (inability to run certain programs unless their prerequisites are installed, etc). More info on their web site. Nice way to make the most of that fast ramdrive though!

PizPump
Posts: 25
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2005 5:57 pm

Post by PizPump » Thu Apr 06, 2006 6:17 pm

I know they're fairly spendy, but has anyone tried the 2gb RAM sticks with the I-Ram?

Could get you up to 8gb if they work...

highlandsun
Posts: 139
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 2:04 am
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Post by highlandsun » Thu Apr 06, 2006 9:26 pm

I haven't seen any 2GB sticks that aren't ECC/registered. The iRAM specs says it only works with unbuffered DIMMs. If you've got some lying around it's worth trying, but I wouldn't spend the money on an unknown like that.

erikt
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 49
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2005 9:53 am
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Post by erikt » Fri Apr 07, 2006 5:37 am

PizPump wrote:I know they're fairly spendy, but has anyone tried the 2gb RAM sticks with the I-Ram?

Could get you up to 8gb if they work...
Gigabyte states that the I-Ram only supports up to 4Gb. You have to wait
for I-Ram 2 for 8Gb.
erikt

Eunos
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 378
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 3:29 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by Eunos » Fri Apr 07, 2006 5:03 pm

I finally got my I-RAM functional today and can add a few more impressions for the thread. Mine was a Revision 1.3 complete with 3.5 gigs worth of generic PC3200 RAM, all shipped from the US. The extra .5 gb was a 512 chip that I wanted to use since it was lying around, though with Windows displaying only 2.99 gigs total, I suspect the 512 was not recognised at all.

Installation
Installing Windows was not much faster than normal since the frequently-accessed optical drive (a HP DVD640i Lightscribe in this case) is the weakest link in the performance chain. Nonetheless, the actual effort required to set it up is minimal - no different to a regular SATA hard drive.

Windows Performance
Of course, the big question was how well it would perform, and the answers proved very surprising - I daresay disappointing. Even aside from the fact that my add-on PCI SATA controller had its own start-up screen that added 5-10 seconds to each boot-up, I could not tell any significant difference in the time taken to load Windows! The usual XP start-up screen was displayed for about 10-15 seconds, as it always has. Similarly, shut-down times were more or less as sluggish as usual. All silent of course, but the same can largely be said of the insulated, single-platter 2.5" WD Scorpio 40 gig that I normally use.

It is worth adding that mine is a very minimalist system, and includes a semi-professional sound card. The latter may be the reason start-up is not more instantaneous. In trying to explain the uninspiring performance, I am also suspecting that this Windows install has a tendency to hang now and then, at which point hard drive speed is not an issue at all. The fresh installation of Windows proved to be unstable, with Explorer locking up indefinitely more often than normal. I am assuming 3rd party driver issues are to blame rather than the I-RAM itself, which is such a beautifully simple device.

Other applications
But just when there might be hope for the I-RAM yet, I realised that the typically slow-opening programs such as Adobe Audition multitrack audio software are not getting any faster. These typically involve manipulating huge temp files that the I-RAM simply would not have the space to store, therefore its performance is unable to be utilised where it would really make a difference. By contrast, defragmenting the I-RAM is an amazing sight and takes only seconds - a task which ironically is unnecessary anyway. A scandisk including surface scan is similarly breathtaking in taking seconds rather than minutes, even factoring in the small size of the drive to start with.

That small size proved more than a little annoying when some sort of virtual memory file impolitely filled up about half the drive with a massive temp file. All attempts to remove it failed, including disabling the Windows page file altogether. Windows Explorer only recognises little over 1 gbs worth of files on the drive, yet properties for the drive show about 2.5 gbs are taken up. Regardless of the cause, the moral of the story is that one doesn't have to go out of one's way to be getting low disk space error messages reminiscent of the Windows 95 days when regular 3.5" hard drives were often under 1 gb in capacity.

Summary
When all is said and done, the I-RAM is truly in a class of its own when it comes to manipulating small amounts of data; easy to use and install. The concept of a drive without moving parts, long life, high efficiency, zero noise and superb speed is surely one with a big future. However, in its current form, the I-RAM's blazing performance is rarely if ever usable because such small amounts of data wouldn't take that much longer for a conventional hard drive to manipulate. The difference will only be truly vast when an I-RAM-type device approaches the capacity of traditional drives.

Add everyday realities like Windows hanging and there is little real-world benefit to the I-RAM. I'll definitely have an eye out for future incarnations of the concept. However, combined with the question marks over the limited battery back-up life and the gob-smacking priciness of the package, (I've spent over $500 on this set-up alone) you can see why I am thinking of cutting my losses and selling the I-RAM on for someone else...

Post Reply