Benchmark Analysis and Our Conclusion
Benchmark Analysis: Looking back at the benchmarks, its obvious that the Gigabyte i-RAM is fast. There's really no comparison in many tests, except for the buffered/burst reads which are more of a gauge of the performance of a hard drive's cache and interface than anything else. A PCMark05 score of 33067 is simply unheard of with standard hard drives, and almost seems to good to be true. Of course, synthetic benchmarks don't always tell the whole story. By looking at the real-world performance results, however, we see that there are actually some measurable benefits for using the i-RAM as a Windows or game installation drive.
Gigabyte made some lofty promises with the i-RAM, and they seem to have made good on just about all of them. Installation of the card is a simple process, as it is recognized just like any other standard drive and doesn't require any special drivers or other software. There's also a backup battery that can preserve data for up to 15 hours, even if the card has been removed from the system. This feature should help alleviate some worries that user's will lose data during a power outage, or when shutting a machine down for the night. And most importantly, the i-RAM's performance made everyday single drives look pale in comparison, and it typically bettered our RAID 0 setup in everything but burst reads as well.
There are some major drawbacks to the i-RAM, however. The current version has only 4 DIMM slots, and can only support up to 1GB per slot of ordinary DDR RAM, and the RAM cannot have any heatspreaders. While it's possible that users might have some RAM lying around, it's doubtful that they would be large 1GB modules, so potential customers will likely have to purchase a few DIMMs as well. Power-users that have already spent $1000+ on SLI setups will probably have no issue throwing down an additional $375 or so to get their hands on a fast solid-state device like the i-RAM, but the price of the drive itself (~$140), with some RAM, combined with the i-RAM's relatively small capacity will surely limit this product's appeal. Still, it's great to see Gigabyte moving in a new direction, and we hope they introduce a larger capacity version of the i-RAM in the future. Our final grade: an 8.5 on the HotHardware Heat Meter.
|•_Fastest single drive. Period.
•_Backup battery saves data
•_Powered by PCI slot
•_No moving parts = quiet use
|•_4GB limit on RAM
•_DIMM slots are too close together