Thumbdrive RAM

Discussion in 'macOS' started by wizwaz3, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. wizwaz3 macrumors 6502a

    wizwaz3

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    #1
    I was just reading a little about Vista and I noticed that with Vista, there's the ability to use a USB thumbdrive as extra RAM. Is there any software out there that would allow me to do this on OS X? I've always wished I could use my jumpdrives this way. :)
     
  2. thefunkymunky macrumors 65816

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    London
    #2
    I don't think so. Why not just add another 1GB RAM to your Mac? The performance of that ReadyBoost feature in Vista ain't all its cracked up to be. Nothing compares to actually adding more physical RAM to your computer.

    Also one of the reasons for MS adding that feature is that Windows is notoriously bad at managing memory and multi-tasking. Its still the same for Vista as it was for XP.
     
  3. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #3
    It's funny that Windows users say the same about Macs managing memory. :eek:
     
  4. thefunkymunky macrumors 65816

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    #4
    Well thats Windows users for you. I'm sure you'll agree that OSX is much better at memory management and multi-tasking that Windows will every be. Well, from my experience anyway.
     
  5. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #5
    ReadyBoost being the same as RAM is a common misconception. Vista does not let you use a thumbdrive as RAM. You cannot use the space on it to run programs or anything like that.

    ReadyBoost uses the thumbdrive as a disk cache. Vista monitors what files are being used most frequently and puts a copy on the thumbdrive for significantly faster access. Macs already do this very well using main memory.

    Tests have shown that ReadyBoost can make applications start faster when you have very little RAM, but buying more real RAM has a bigger effect, and will allow the application to run faster once it's started as well.

    Apple may choose to implement something similar in 10.5 but I'd rather see them provide more RAM!
     
  6. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    #6
    I can't imagine how using flash memory over the USB2 bus is going to be anything but ridiculously slow. I'd sooner just page out to a hard drive, which is faster than a flash memory card anyway...

    It just seems gimmicky. Anyone out there who can attest to whether it actually works?
     
  7. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #7
    I think it depends on how you ask the question... like if you take an older Windows computer with 512MB of RAM and XP/SP2, and you take a G4 era Mac with 512MB and Tiger, and you try to run 10 Firefox tabs and some IM apps and a couple other things on both, on the surface, the XP/SP2 computer seems to handle the load better once everything gets started. It doesn't seem to have the issue Macs do where even relatively simple apps quickly need ~100 MB of real memory and 500 or 600 MB of virtual memory.

    On the other hand, a Mac Pro certainly seems better able to handle and benefit from 3 or 4 gigs of RAM than a Windows computer, and certainly multi-threading gets used much more heavily in OS X and so multiple cores get used more efficiently.

    I just think it's funny because this gets thrown back and forth both ways and both sides seem to think they're better.

    I like Macs overall, but I'm not so sure about the memory issue. I feel like I need a lot more memory to be happy on a Mac than I did in Windows.
     
  8. wizwaz3 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    wizwaz3

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    #8
    I just have a lot of jumpdrives and I don't use em all... I didn't know it was slow or anything. Oh well. Thanx for all the replies!
     
  9. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    #9
    Heh. Yeah, they're getting really cheap nowadays.. I picked up a 2 gigabyte flash drive from TigerDirect for $23 Cdn! Wow! :eek:

    As a file cache, I guess I can see it being useful, but I still don't see how this will improve performance. Try it yourself: Take some files and copy them from one folder on your hard drive to another. See how long it takes. Now copy those files to the USB flash drive. Notice it takes much longer. So why would I prefer to use the flash drive when I've already got a perfectly good hard drive for both file caching and virtual memory?

    I could see it being genuinely useful if I'm maxed out of RAM and my hard drive's almost full too -- being able to pop in a 2 gig flash drive might save the day. But who wants to run a system like that?
     
  10. 7on macrumors 601

    7on

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    #10
    I like to think of ReadyBoost as the /swap on Linux system moreso than ram.
     
  11. jdechko macrumors 68040

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    Jul 1, 2004
    #11
    But it's not so much as for writing as it is reading. Basically there's a prefetch type thing on Vista that takes commonly used programs/files and caches them on the USB drive in the background (you don't see the slower write being processed). But when you access the cache it's supposedly faster from the USB drive. So MS is using the read speed of the device to it's advantage. After the file is closed it gets (transparently) written back to the USB drive at the slower rate, but you don't really care cause it's out of memory and you're on to other things.

    Additionally, ReadyBoost can only use 1 drive per machine so having say, 8 2GB USB drives is pointless.

    Here's a good review of everything.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/01/31/windows-vista-superfetch-and-readyboostanalyzed/
     
  12. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #12
    Get this: You are using USB (USB 2?), a slow bus. You are using flash memory, a slow storage medium. You cannot access a slow medium over a slow bus and expect a speed improvement of any consequence.
     
  13. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

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    #13
    I agree.

    USB2 is much much much slower than physical RAM. The same reason why Virtual memory sucks too.
     
  14. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    #14
    Well, despite our skepticism, the Toms Hardware link above appears to show some performance improvements when using this feature. Their analysis cites the near-instant access speed of flash memory as being a primary advantage. Being separate from the (already thrashing) existing hard drive possibly allows some extra degree of concurrency.

    This still just doesn't seem that practical. I'd like to see a comparison between the performance increase when using a USB flash drive versus using a dedicated section of your hard drive to accomplish the same thing. I just don't see why you'd want to start plugging in a 1 gig USB stick for the exclusive use of Windows when we have 500 gig hard drives, mostly sitting empty. At the risk of anthropomorphizing, it just seems... greedy.

    Of course, the real solution is to re-architect the OS so that applications can load faster in the first place, not find Rube Goldberg-like ways to make it work.

    Putting aside my own skepticism for a moment -- how many of you out there intend to use this feature?
     
  15. janey macrumors 603

    janey

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    #15
    [​IMG]

    better maybe, but more of a hog than windows :p
     
  16. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #16
    Flash memory has a finite number of writes that it can take before the gates in the chips break down. This varies with the type of chips used. It is fine for occasional writes (like taking pictures with a camera) but not for thousands of small writes per hour that an OS would do to a cache.
     

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