The Gigabyte i-RAM is a very innovative product and kudos go out to Gigabyte for taking the jump and doing something different - it gained a lot of attention at the Computex trade show in Taiwan and it made us just as interested. The performance on i-RAM is extremely limited by the SATA connectivity, providing a maximum of 150MB/s - basically i-RAM maxes out the SATA specification. Moving to SATA-II should double the speed without any troubles but we would again be limited by the connectivity but 300MB/s is better than 150MB/s, considering you don't need to RAID 0 two or more regular hard drives to hit this speed.
i-RAM proved good as a boot drive for Windows, we saw decent decreases in boot times and Windows was generally more responsive with i-RAM virtually zero latency times. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to perform extensive testing having our swap file placed on i-RAM which Gigabyte claim will help improve things but to notice the best performance increases, you're going to want to have many of your most used applications on the device itself - fairly clearly though, you're not going to get too far with only 4GB.
We have been told that i-RAM is going to be priced at roughly $150 USD which isn't too bad but it's the addition of the memory that makes it quite expensive. Starting at a little under $100 USD for a cheap stick of 1GB DDR-400 memory, you are looking at $550 USD for a 4GB setup which is enough to install Windows and some applications. With games getting so big these days, you won't get very far in that department.
From an end-user prospective, i-RAM is a good product but you can get more for less with a RAID 0 system setup. We have been told that the initial product run will consist of only 1000 units. If the production sells out quickly we would assume that Gigabyte will produce more but if it doesn't kick off there could only be one thousand ever made which would be quite cool to say you owned one.
Although, this product will likely prove more popular in the industry and business sectors where these segments require a performance boost for particular I/O intensive applications that need to access data as quickly as possible and i-RAM pretty much offers exactly this at a much better price than most other solutions. There would be literally hundreds of possible scenarios where i-RAM would come in handy for businesses where super quick access of data is critical. Sure, the 4GB i-RAM cannot replace a HDD which these days comes in sizes up to 500GB but on the same hand it wasn't Gigabyte's aim to replace a regular hard drive.
i-RAM should be on shop shelves by December according to Gigabyte, just in time to add to your Christmas stocking or business budget report.
Makes full use of SATA (150MB/s)
16 hour battery backup
Useful for certain scenarios
Good enterprise solution
Very fast storage
Easy to install
Affordable compared to other solid state storage options
Only 4GB of storage (Windows XP and two or three current games)
Limited by SATA technology (SATA-II controller would have been better)
Expensive by the time memory is added vs. RAID 0 setup
Rating - 7.5 out of 10
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