Affordable solid-state storage becomes a reality

Gigabyte has taken the first step in bringing speedy solid-state storage to the mainstream market through the launch of its i-RAM RAMDISK PCI card.

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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  October 7, 2005

Gigabyte has taken the first step in bringing speedy solid-state storage to the mainstream market through the launch of its i-RAM RAMDISK PCI card. Originally showcased at Computex in Taiwan earlier this year, i-RAM is essentially a PCI card (a PCI Express version is also in the works), which when used with separately purchased standard DDR memory can simulate a fully-fledged hard disk drive. Out of the box, the PCI card features four DDR DIMM sockets, which can hold up to 4GB of DDR 400 memory in total. Slower DDR266 and DDR333 memory is also supported though performance will slow accordingly depending on the speed of the modules being used. As DDR memory is volatile and data loss occurs the second power is cut, Gigabyte has fitted the PCI card with a rechargeable battery pack. Charging takes six hours in all and the firm claims that in the absence of any power the battery will keep data safe on the drive’s memory for up to 16 hours. The card operates independent of drivers and thanks to a clever bridge chip Gigabyte says reckons the i-RAM disk will show up as a standard Serial ATA hard drive in a PC’s BIOS, operating system, applications and games. Compared with disk based storage media - which makes use of moving parts - solid state media is considerably faster, as it is completely free from mechanical parts. As a result it’s also usually more reliable. Unfortunately, solid-state media has traditionally been very expensive, with even 2GB drives costing upwards of $1,000. With the i-RAM’s expected retail price of $70 and the cost of 4GB of DDR400 now standing under $500, Gigabyte’s solution could well prove attractive to the region’s power users.

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