Gigabyte i-RAM PCI & 5.25" RAM based storage

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Wanted to share these kits I bought as a pack a long time ago for cheap (thanks to an awesome Amazon user). Years later I'm going to finally be using them in a build very soon; either on my ASRock Z77 Pro4 (with 3 PCI slots) or Z77 Extreme3 (two PCI slots). I'll post test results and the build as well when finished. It's mainly just for fun rather than absolute practicality. At the time of their release they had a lot of negative comments because of the limitations. But I still find them quite interesting. There have been various other products over time, some even PCIe based, with DDR3 but costing a couple thousand even now. I feel like aside from virtual RAM drives, Optane drives are fairly close to doing the job now in terms of latency/performance/endurance benefits; not exact but close enough. I also have the rare 5.25" variant (which I had no idea was actually released, got lucky).


I'm also looking to see if anyone has some old school DDR1 (400/500) Crucial Ballistic Tracer's (with the LEDs). I've been posting all over trying to find some. I'd love to see if they'd actually fit. I love blinkenlights. I know it would be ridiculous but stuff like that makes me happy.

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Yup, no doubt. I wish this would have taken off more, even if still niche. Gigabyte did a really amazing job with it actually. The boards are well done. Even the battery section is better than many enterprise products, like the LSI RAID controllers. I wish a DDR2 version with SATA2 and a larger DIMM GB allowance would have come out. I think it would've been perfect.

Apache Pass (3D Xpoint DIMMs) will take it to a whole other level as well. I'll try to do a test later to see how the Gigabyte i-RAMs (even RAID0'd) compare to even a basic x2 PCIe M.2 Optane drive; might still be worthwhile in terms of latency but definitely in terms of endurance.
 

Red Falcon

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I remember these like it was yesterday - great find.
The only downside to them is they cap out at either 4GB or 8GB of DDR1, and are completely limited by SATA-I @ 150MB/s read or write; even the PCI model uses the SATA-I cable for the actual data transfer, and SATA-II did not exist when these were released.

I did have an older AM2 system many years ago with a SATA-II SSD, but the motherboard only had SATA-I; let me tell you, the bottleneck was actually quite noticeable, and I don't think it is going to be any different with these.
Really not trying to knock them at all, and for their time, outside of RAMdisks (when 4GB of DDR1 RAM was $800+) they were top-end.

Even if you RAID0 them, at least for sequential transfers, it will be literally 150MB/s for each unit, so four of them in RAID 0 would cap out at 600MB/s write or read; random access will be superb on them, though, and that will be interesting to see in comparison to modern storage options.
I do remember around 2005 or 2006, there was a second generation of these i-RAM disks that supported up to 8GB of DDR2, but again, sadly it only supported SATA-I, even though SATA-II already existed at that point, so I'm not sure what the reasoning was to continue on with SATA-I at that point.

Please remember, though, that if the BBU on them isn't working, that if an image of them isn't made, all of the data will be lost once the power is off.
Hope they work well, and it will be neat to see the results, good luck! :)
 
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Red Falcon

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Yeah that person is basing it off of the Amazon price, which I've seen up for 2 years now. I have no idea where they came up with that number even on Amazon. Ridiculous. I guessing they think there is some company out there that heavily relied on them and would want a replacement (and willing to spend $$$ for it). If you look at the sold prices on eBay, some were even below $100. I got all mine for $100-ish total I think while ago, luckily. If I could get $4K for them, I'd put up all 9 of my devices! =O


I'm trying to think what would be a really good use for these Gigabyte drives, where the endurance and latency would be useful, even with low throughput. I have 3 boards right now with PCI slots.


The DDR2 one you're thinking of I think was this one: https://www.amazon.com/ACARD-ANS-9010-Dynamic-Module-including/dp/B001NDX6FE

Here's a true PCIe + DDR3 version: https://www.all1.com.tw/en/CDD101Storage Turbo.html

Review: http://www.thessdreview.com/our-rev...ve-101-ramdisk-review-500k-iops-ddr3-storage/

I could only find them for like $15K at one point. Nuts.

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Red Falcon

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It's interesting that the DDR2 model is stated as having SATA-II, which if true, would definitely have helped it, but still, outside of a scratch disk, there wasn't a lot that could be done with 8GB of disk storage, even in the mid-2000s.
Now there is a neat find - I was not aware of the DDR3 model, and while the RAID5 microSD backup feature is nice, it is still limited to the PCI-E 1.0 4x transfer rate, which would be around ~1GB/s.

Even the review states that it doesn't get much above 600MB/s read/write, which sadly isn't much better than most SATA-III based SSDs, though it does win in IOPS.
Most M.2 solutions would still beat it in nearly everything other than IOPS, and by that point, if that many IOPS are needed, it is just time for a dedicated RAMdisk using system RAM with a backup script or software.

For their eras, though, these were all top-end solutions, and were quite coveted.
Nice job finding these all again!
 
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It's funny how much better even the Optane M.2 16GB would be for a similar purpose or anything else really. Totally understood all the negative comments.

I wouldn't have bothered myself if I wasn't a hardware enthusiast and just liked things for the sake of trying them, etc rather than 100% utility. Right now aside from putting together the rig with them. I want to get even more superfluous by having LED RAM attached (I haven't been able to get any of the Crucial/Corsair kits to see if it works though). I just love blinkenlights. =P


I messaged the seller on ebay and said it would be amazing if he did sell it for $4K but it's even the most recent sellings were under $30. I just checked my Amazon account and I bought my first one for $30 back in 2014. =P


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Currently the box I'm building is going to be my router. Maybe the drives can be used for pfsense Squid, or cache for something else, or temp download place for torrents. Not sure yet.
 
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MickeyBailey

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Yup, no doubt. I wish this would have taken off more, even if still niche. Gigabyte did a really amazing job with it actually. The boards are well done. Even the battery section is better than many enterprise products, like the LSI RAID controllers. I wish a DDR2 version with SATA2 and a larger DIMM GB allowance would have come out. I think it would've been perfect.

Apache Pass (3D Xpoint DIMMs) will take it to a whole other level as well. I'll try to do a test later to see how the Gigabyte i-RAMs (even RAID0'd) compare to even a basic x2 PCIe M.2 Optane drive; might still be worthwhile in terms of latency but definitely in terms of endurance.
While 3DXP endurance may be a problem when used as main memory, in a storage device it may as well be considered infinite. I’m sure there may be some niche workloads that would kill a drive in 5 years but I can’t think of them and such a system would probably be replaced in that time anyway.
 

Red Falcon

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It's funny how much better even the Optane M.2 16GB would be for a similar purpose or anything else really. Totally understood all the negative comments.

I wouldn't have bothered myself if I wasn't a hardware enthusiast and just liked things for the sake of trying them, etc rather than 100% utility. Right now aside from putting together the rig with them. I want to get even more superfluous by having LED RAM attached (I haven't been able to get any of the Crucial/Corsair kits to see if it works though). I just love blinkenlights. =P


I messaged the seller on ebay and said it would be amazing if he did sell it for $4K but it's even the most recent sellings were under $30. I just checked my Amazon account and I bought my first one for $30 back in 2014. =P
Oh no, I totally get it, and retro/legacy computing of any era is completely like that, but the point isn't performance, the point is to have fun and share the lost knowledge with others!
Getting each of those for just $30/unit was a really good deal, and even I would jump on a deal like that.

I agree, putting those all into a single system with LED RAM from the mid-2000s would look great, and that actually would be a lot of fun to see, especially in one of those clear acrylic cases that were super popular at LAN parties in the early to mid-2000s - those were good times.

Currently the box I'm building is going to be my router. Maybe the drives can be used for pfsense Squid, or cache for something else, or temp download place for torrents. Not sure yet.
That's actually a really good idea, and when I moved from a HDD to a SSD, the performance really improved on pfSense, and that is an area where latency and IOPS are much more important than sequential transfers, which these would totally kill at doing. (y)
 

SetoAgain

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Beware the Li-Ion Battery. They will swell and deform enough to bend/break the PCB and battery housing. They are also expensive as all f*ck. I have a pair or the I-rams, and used to run them in a raid configuration as a "bigger" ram drive. I then used it as my temp folder. Made things quite snappy, but the down side was the instability when the on board batteries began to fail. Then the replacement cost for new batteries were quite daunting at the time.
 

daglesj

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I pulled one from an old box a year or so ago.

In the trash it went. Not worth the bother.
 

Red Falcon

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Beware the Li-Ion Battery. They will swell and deform enough to bend/break the PCB and battery housing. They are also expensive as all f*ck. I have a pair or the I-rams, and used to run them in a raid configuration as a "bigger" ram drive. I then used it as my temp folder. Made things quite snappy, but the down side was the instability when the on board batteries began to fail. Then the replacement cost for new batteries were quite daunting at the time.
If the system running said i-RAM drives has a dedicated UPS itself, and the system is either never powered off or an image of the contents on said drives is backed up upon shutdown, then there really is little need for the BBUs on the PCBs.
Unless of course removing them causes the i-RAM drives to not function without them due to programming/firmware restrictions.
 
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I pulled one from an old box a year or so ago.

In the trash it went. Not worth the bother.
Shame because people are buying them on eBay, often for $100 and it's a unique piece of PC hardware and nothing like it (PCB & layout wise) will probably ever exist again, consumer wise.

Interesting enough the original price in 2005/2006 was around $150.

Beware the Li-Ion Battery. Then the replacement cost for new batteries were quite daunting at the time.
Yeah I noticed one had a bulge. It's weird how they're still expensive on ebay; like who's still even buying them enough to warrant the cost? Well, I managed to haggle on new ones just in case and have 4 extra now for like $20.

Unless of course removing them causes the i-RAM drives to not function without them due to programming/firmware restrictions.
I'll check this out soon. I doubt they need the battery to work; hope not! I just got busy with school and work, so haven't built my rig yet with them to even test.


Read an interesting comment on the Newegg reviews that I have to try also:

A rather odd work around, avoiding the ecc reg limitation by installing a unbufferd non ecc module in the first dimm. if a user were to install in the first dimm a unbufferd 1GB dimm, and then 2GB dimms in the last three dimms, that could be a max of 7GB per i-ram. I only have one 2GB module, and I dont think I can afford to further test such a feat. --- Gunilla D.
 
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daglesj

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Shame because people are buying them on eBay, often for $100 and it's a unique piece of PC hardware and nothing like it (PCB & layout wise) will probably ever exist again, consumer wise.

Interesting enough the original price in 2005/2006 was around $150.


:

Not worth the bother of selling such stuff on Ebay anymore. Too many scammers and cheats. Old junk goes in the landfill.
 
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I don't understand the logic. Throwing it away is absolutely 0, selling it is potentially 0. Then there's also people on HardForum and other enthusiasts boards that are willing to buy it and have histories you can search. Ugh. I'm glad some people are archiving older gear and/or still appreciate it. I'd never just throw electronics into a landfill anyway. I'd want them to get recycled at least. You're just polluting then. But okay.
 

Zedicus

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I don't understand the logic. Throwing it away is absolutely 0, selling it is potentially 0. Then there's also people on HardForum and other enthusiasts boards that are willing to buy it and have histories you can search. Ugh. I'm glad some people are archiving older gear and/or still appreciate it. I'd never just throw electronics into a landfill anyway. I'd want them to get recycled at least. You're just polluting then. But okay.
i think i still have one of these in my parts bin. pm me if you want it. it would go great with a oldskool rig like that.
https://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/728/ocz_ddr_booster_your_aid_for_real_ram_overclocking/index2.html
 

daglesj

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I don't understand the logic. Throwing it away is absolutely 0, selling it is potentially 0. Then there's also people on HardForum and other enthusiasts boards that are willing to buy it and have histories you can search. Ugh. I'm glad some people are archiving older gear and/or still appreciate it. I'd never just throw electronics into a landfill anyway. I'd want them to get recycled at least. You're just polluting then. But okay.
Some of us are not pack rats plus have more need for kit that has real world performance benefit than obsolete tech cul-de-sacs.

Sometimes junk is just...junk!
 
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Yeah but you can give it away or sell it to someone that does appreciate it.

i think i still have one of these in my parts bin. pm me if you want it. it would go great with a oldskool rig like that.
l
That's really interesting!
 
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