Return of the RAM disk...

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by D*I*S_Frontman, Jul 1, 2003.

  1. D*I*S_Frontman macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2002
    Lombard, IL
    I am wondering if the new G5 technology and other related advancements in processor/mobo design will bring this back in vogue again.

    It seems to me that in a "real world" work environment (esp. DV editing) the speed and productivity bottleneck is now in the area of storage. We are still using spinning platters with magnetic media and scratching to that stuff constantly takes time. While other storage technologies are still under development to replace the venerable HD (which is the computing world's equivalent to the cassette tape--old tech with Methuselah-like staying power), I am wondering if huge RAM disks might again be the answer.

    According to Apple's own G5 hype, the processor could theoretically address 4 TERABYTES of physical RAM. Seeing that writing to RAM is currently about 40x faster than writing to HDs, it would seem that loading an entire DV project into RAM to work on it and only using the HD for periodic back-ups (every 5-10 minutes or so, in the background) might be a way to get the most out of the proc/mobo. That would also save on HD life--heck, you'd only be using it during start-up and momentary back-ups.

    Yes, you will all probably laugh at the cost of 4 TB RAM, but in a few years that may not be unheard of. RAM is all about the R&D anyway--they're just silicon wafers, after all! And I am not suggesting the theoretical limit anyway--just something like 50 GB or so. That would be plenty for a RAM disk application. And RAM speeds would ensure no "dropped frames" during video imports!

    I have heard of PCI based solutions, but those don't run as fast as system RAM, do they?

    Anyway, you all can blast away now.
  2. Fender2112 macrumors 65816


    Aug 11, 2002
    Charlotte, NC
    I was reading a thread on this topic yesterday. I forget where. There is a company making a PCI RAM disk that could use up to 4 GB of ram. They gave some specs as to speed and such, but didn't mean much to me. What I did pick up on was that a PCI ram disk is static, meaning it will retain data once the power is turned off. On the other hand, a ram disk using system ram is volitile, meaning that the stored data is lost once the power is turned off.
  3. Pete_Hoover macrumors regular

    Apr 29, 2003
    Isn't RAM sleared whenever you shut down your computer?
  4. D*I*S_Frontman thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2002
    Lombard, IL
    System RAM

    Yeah, system RAM usually goes away at shutdown, but memory requires very little juice to stick around--a Li-ion battery on the mobo could keep it alive. Drum machines have tiny batteries that keep stuff in memory for years at a time.
  5. ibookin' macrumors 65816


    Jul 7, 2002
    Los Angeles, CA
    One of the ways a RAM disk works is that the contents are written to the hard disk when the computer is shut down, then restored to the RAM disk when the computer is booted.
  6. benixau macrumors 65816


    Oct 9, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    A PCI Ram Disk is different.

    They have RAM chips on a board that is in a PCI slot. They also have a pwoer brick for the wall.
    They use the power to maintain that memory just like a real HDD. Some use batteries on board for safety.
    Basically, most of the time RAM is moving so fast that you don't even notice it - imagine a HDD like that.

    A PCI-X version is under development (because of the G5 none the less) and will be about 2-4x faster. It will also use faster chips.

    Just think - add 1GB of HDD space that runs as fast as RAM for $165. Sounds juicy.
  7. arogge macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2002
    Using RAM for a disk is really nice. I don't know why Apple dropped support for it in OS X. Having a RAM disk even on the "slow" EDO RAM modules made things so fast that the CPU couldn't process the data fast enough. The RAM disk in OS 9 was great, and it's one of the only features that keeps me from deleting OS 9. I've been told that OS X doesn't need a RAM disk, and that RAM disks are dangerous because you can lose your data. Well, I'd rather have that option. If I could just have a 16 MB RAM disk, I'd be happy. I'm tired of spinning up my hard disk just to read or write a small amount of data every few minutes. I have a system configured to use a RAM disk for an Internet browser cache; this lets the hard disk shut down and there is no hard disk activity until the end of the browser session, resulting in less heat and less noise. On OS X, the browser is constantly waking up the hard disk. Is there a good solution to getting the RAM disk back into OS X yet?

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