i-RAM's Limitations

Since your data is stored on a volatile medium with the i-RAM, a loss of power could mean that everything stored on the card would be erased with no hopes for recovery.  While a lot of users may keep their computers on 24/7, there are always occasional power outages that would spell certain doom for i-RAM owners. In order to combat this possibility, Gigabyte outfitted the i-RAM with its own rechargeable battery pack. 

The battery pack takes 6 hours to charge completely and charges using the 3.3V power lines on its PCI connector.  With a full charge, the i-RAM is supposed to be able to keep the i-RAM's data safe for up to 16 hours.   Luckily, in most situations, the i-RAM will simply keep itself powered from the PCI slot.  As long as your power supply is still plugged in and turned on, regardless of whether or not your system is running, shut down or in standby mode, the i-RAM will still be powered by the 3.3V line feeding it from the PCI slot. 

There are only three conditions where the i-RAM runs off of battery power:
1) When the i-RAM is unplugged from the PCI slot;
2) When the power cable is unplugged from your power supply (or the power supply is disconnected from your motherboard; and
3) When the power button on your power supply is turned off.
For whatever reason, unplugging the i-RAM from the PCI slot causes its power consumption to go up considerably, and will actually drain its battery a lot quicker than the specified 16 hours.  We originally did this to test how long the i-RAM would last on battery power, but then were later told by Gigabyte not to do this because it puts the i-RAM in a state of accelerated battery consumption.

For the most part, the i-RAM will always be powered.  Your data is only at risk if you have a long-term power outage or you physically remove the i-RAM card. 

If you run out of battery power, you will lose all data and the i-RAM will stop appearing as a drive letter in Windows as soon as you power it back up.  You'll have to re-create the partition data and copy/install all of your files and programs over again. 

The card features four LEDs that indicate its status: PHY_READY, HD_LED, Full and Charging. 

The PHY_READY indicator simply lets you know if the Xilinx FPGA and the card are working properly.  The HD_LED is an activity indicator that is illuminated whenever you access the i-RAM.  The Full indicator turns green when the battery is fully charged, and the Charging indicator is lit amber when the battery is charging.  When the i-RAM is running on battery power, none of the LEDs are illuminated.  It would be nice if there was some way of knowing how much battery power is remaining on the i-RAM, for those rare situations where the i-RAM isn't being charged.  We have asked Gigabyte for some sort of battery life indicator in a future version of the i-RAM.

We All Scream for i-RAM Using the i-RAM
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  • RobRedman - Saturday, October 07, 2006 - link

    I must have 50 sticks of unused PC100 and PC133 SDRAM.
    Something like this for old RAM would be a value, (for me).
    Does anyone know of an adapter that would take, lets say, 10 sticks of SDRAM and give me an IDE or USB connector?
    Reply
  • ITLisa - Saturday, October 01, 2005 - link

    I spent a little time looking for this and not even the manufacturer lists it on their site
    Reply
  • mtownshend - Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - link

    It was on Gigabytes site as I looked today and the past month while making the descion to get it.

    There's been a lag while retailers get rid of the v.1.2 and Gigabyte sends out the v1.3 cards.

    I just got one of the new ones and will use it to run my FTP server application. I have 14 or 16 drives connected (6TB) to the server and previous reviews by others have pointed to the performance increse from the FTP app. searching and retaining the disk locations.

    since I just got it I am not %100 on the reality, and the real benifit will be realized by the client seeking a file from the server. Using it for MS SQL Server is also a great idea. Other than that I haven't heard any real world uses, I mean users might be able to load Doom faster, but this device seems to be a bit expensive for most.

    Also this card is bigger in area than most video cards, so if your box is crammed w/ wires or liquid pumps and resivours. The logistics of getting say 2 video cards and the RamDisk in a midsized case are pretty obsurd. Plus you need a fan or 2 in there to swirl around the heat generated by 3 heat monger cards) ...There goes more money in a bigger case.

    For the general user, I would go with the new Raptor (the clear one) if you want to compromise speed, size and cost on a rational level.

    Peace all
    Reply
  • lrohrer - Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - link

    The simplelist and best use of the i-ram is to store the "Temp DB" for SQL Server. MS SQL Server constanly writes to this database in most larger installations. It is temporary and by definitions does need to exist after reboot. (Alas SQL Server does not/CAN NOT keep this database in RAM) So on reboot a script will need to verify that it is still formatted and the appropriate file system/ files exist -- copied from the hard disk. SQL Serve is fussy about hardware so it masquerading as a disk is perfect.

    In an hour on google I can't find someone to sell it to my boss to try it out. sigh.

    My prediction is a 5-10% boost to overall throughput on a SQL server installation with lots of "temp DB" activilty -- well worth the cost of the ram chips.
    Reply
  • brandonbates - Friday, August 05, 2005 - link

    I've been keeping an eye on ram disks for a little while now, but other than software they are just too expensive. The earlier post that had links to them (both flash and DRAM based disks) was the same stuff that I found. More recently I had been relieved by the availability of 64bit Systems and OSes with more slots/address space for ram and thus bigger ram disks. But it still really burned me that someoune couldn't make something really cheap that didn't rely on a big fat motherboard (which still has only so many slots, but admittedly faster).
    This qualifies. The second I heard about this while reading computex stuff I said to myself: Self, this thing only takes power from the PCI bus, therefore it would be a trivial thing to buy some PCI slots (like 8) and wire them for power, then raid or jbod these together and get one heck of database drive at a fraction of the cost of other solutions, and scaleable at that (I can start out with 2 or 3).
    I also think it would be a nice (and easy) thing for them to put it in a 3.5" form factor with both molex and/or 3.3v standby loopthrough (through a pci dummy card or something). And yes 8 slots would be much more saleable, understanding that the mem controller may not support that (though some sort of bank switch would work since you have time to wait for the SATA or SATA2 bus, 3.5 form factor would get difficult with 8 slots though).
    The situation that got me looking at this stuff is I have a mysql database (tested others as well) that has to do a table scan each time I do a query since it is a '%something%' query (loading web logs and running user demanded reports on them) The database is at around 4 gigs already (about 6 months worth, including 0.5GB packed indexes) and the report takes about two minutes (2 15k drives in RAID 1, not bad) But I still have to run it at night and make a summary table. (maybe a database with multithreaded partitions or grid would do it, but how much does that cost???!?) Anyway, my 2 cents (sorry for the long post). I'd really, really like to know what benchmarks say the latency for this thing is.
    Reply
  • Zar0n - Tuesday, August 02, 2005 - link

    For a mass product gigabyte needs to add.

    8 dimm slots
    SATA2

    Let's hope they do it fast...
    Reply
  • ybbor - Friday, July 29, 2005 - link

    What would happen if you stored a SQL database on the drive... wonder what it would do for database proformance benchmarks.

    you would probably back up to HD every night, or cluster with db on HD for data integrety
    Reply
  • Chadder007 - Friday, July 29, 2005 - link

    They should have went with a SATA II capable interface instead of regular SATA since it has much more capable bandwidth sitting there waiting to be used. Also the 4 gig of mem only hurts it a tad too. Reply
  • optiguy - Friday, July 29, 2005 - link

    Now just as a thought to scary uses for the i-RAM. Law enforcement will hate these things. Peadophiles will have instant access to wiping there files without a trace, terrorist won't have to worry about the good guys being able to track their files. Reply
  • mindless1 - Friday, July 29, 2005 - link

    Nope, pedos have a compulsive urge to collect stuff, 4GB wouldn't even come close. Besides, if the pedo was thinking that far in advance, there are plenty of already-existent technologies far more secure. When the cops come busting down someone's door, do you think they'll saw something like "freeze, don't move, unless you prefer to go over to your computer and wipe data!" ? Then again, general ignorance about the need to keep the evidence battery charged could be an issue. Reply

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