Gigabyte I-RAM Storage Device - HotHardware

Gigabyte I-RAM Storage Device

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Although performance has been greatly enhanced over the last few years through the use of faster spindle speeds, larger caches, and newer interfaces, hard drives still tend to be a bottleneck in a typical PC. Mechanical devices, by their very nature, require time to seek the data requested, read it, and then transfer that information back to system memory. Also, while SATA technology has increased transfer rates from the paltry 33MB/s of the original ATA spec to a healthy 300MB/s on the latest SATA-II controllers, there's still room for improvement, although the drives themselves will still struggle to saturate the bandwidth on this interface.

One idea, although hardly new, is to create a solid-state drive with no moving parts whatsoever.  Past attempts, such as Cenatek's RocketDrive, have been very costly and as a result have not found much acceptance in the retail market.  The optimal result is to achieve the right price vs. capacity ratio; a drive large enough to install files or applications to that won't cost much more than the rest of the system's individual components.  What we've received from Gigabyte may just fulfill those requirements.  The i-RAM, or GC-RAMDISK as it is officially known, is a single PCI card that has support for up to 4GB of memory, using nothing more than standard DDR DIMMS, regardless of their respective speeds.  Recognized as an ordinary drive by the system, it's a simple, straightforward approach at increased drive performance.  Let's find out if this drive is "i"-RAM tough, or just a sheep in wolves's clothing.

Gigabyte's i-RAM GC-RAMDISK
Specifications & Features
Power Interface
- PCI 2.2 mechanical compliant slot


Data Transfer Interface
- One onboard SATA connector supports 1.5GB/s data transfer rate


Memory Interface
- 4 DIMM slots
- Supports Unbuffered / Non-ECC DDR 200/266/333/400MHz
- Total Capacity: 4GB (4x 1GB modules)

- Memory Height: up to 4.2mm

Backup Battery
- One 1600mAh lithium battery


Form Factor
- 22.0 x 10.4cm


System Requirements
- One available PCI 2.2 compliant slot
- One available SATA 1.5Gb/s compliant connector
- Motherboards based on the following chipsets:
Intel: ICH6 / ICH6R / ICH7/ ICH7R
VIA: 8237R
SiS: 964 / 965L
NVIDIA: NF4 SLI / NF4 4X / NF4 SLI Intel Edition
ULi: M1689




Gigabyte I-RAM

(front)

 


Gigabyte I-RAM
(back)

 

 










The Bundle:

There's nothing fancy about the I-RAM's package contents, but with a new product such as the I-RAM that doesn't have much competition or require many accessories, that can be somewhat expected.  The manual is actually larger than you might think considering installation consists of nothing more than installing DIMMs onto the i-RAM, and then sliding the card into an available PCI slot and connecting a cable.  The manual quickly covers additional topics, such as Data Loss Prevention including the use of Gigabyte's proprietary backup tool.  The Driver CD covers one scenario: installation onto one of NVIDIA's chipsets, although these drivers come standard with every nForce based motherboard.  Typical installations do not require any drivers at all, as the i-RAM is immediately recognized as a standard hard drive in the BIOS and in Windows.  The last item in the box is a short SATA cable that has a unique bend in one connector, which works perfectly with the vertical connector in the upper corner of the i-RAM.

 

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