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Iconoclast
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've searched high and low for freeware or open source RAM drive programs, but in general all the free one were either very incomplete and required heavy manual editing/compiling of files, extensive use of the command line, or had arbitrary limits on drive size that made them useless.

I was willing to pay for a full featured program, but many of these had arbitrary OS restrictions, and since I'm using server OS, I would have had to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to get something like SuperSpeed's RamDisk 11. I was about to purchase Dataram's RAMDisk (and it does have compelling features for the price), when I stumbled upon ImDisk (http://www.ltr-data.se/opencode.html/#ImDisk).

ImDisk is a virtual disk driver with the ability to create and copy images to system memory. It has a signed 64-bit driver and no practical limit on disk size. It's easy to install (a bit harder to remove) and extremely lightweight.

I've been using ImDisk and a variety of images I've created to really put to use the 24GiB of RAM I've got in my primary system. I have images for my games, which all but eliminates streaming pauses and significantly reduces load times. I run my smaller virtual machines from RAM disk images, making response virtually instantaneous. Basically, anything that is disk limited that I can fit into about 20-22GiB I can vastly speed up by dumping into a RAM drive.

Disks can be created and mounted on the fly, and formated as you would any other disk. You can back them up to image files and mount them later, with their contents intact.

The biggest downside is that you have to do everything manually. The program is not hard to use, but it's not automated in any way. Still, for the price of zero, I'm pretty damn impressed.

This is the interface:
imdisk_interface.png


And here is a bench of the disk I put Crysis on:
ImDisk_bench.png


As you can see it's more than an order of magnitude faster than good SSD; access times are also in the nanoseconds.
 

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Iconoclast
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by kremtok;14496586
Looks very promising. How long does it take to mount / unmount an image from your hard disk? We can't play Crysis all the time, and it looks like this can't be used to install a primary OS, so I'd imagine you spend a bit of time swapping virtual disks.
Depends on the speed of the disk you are copying the image to/from. It's pretty much a straight function of your drive's sequential read/write speed.

At 250MiB/s either of my RAID 0 arrays can load a 12GiB image in under a minute, and most games in under 30 seconds.

I usually make my images as small as practical, have multiple ones mounted, and swap them as little as possible.
 

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Hmmm... +60 seconds to load Crysis - and a fairly manual procedure. Handy if you have specific things that need to be fast, though.

Downloaded/archived, for when I get more memory.
smile.gif


Have you looked into FancyCache? It's in beta right now. It's a block level cache, so repeat reads and writes get cached to RAM. Try it out and run some benchmarks. I don't have enough RAM to give it a fair shake, but with a 16GB cache I'm sure it'd be awesome.
biggrin.gif


http://www.romexsoftware.com/en-us/fancy-cache/
http://www.romexsoftware.com/en-us/fancy-cache/help.html
 

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Iconoclast
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yeah, ImDisk is pretty basic. Still, I'm getting quite a bit of use out of it.

FancyCache looks superficially similar to what Windows already does by, but I see there are extensive customization options. It might be worth a look, but I would prefer a free/open program.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blameless;14501868
FancyCache looks superficially similar to what Windows already does by, but I see there are extensive customization options. It might be worth a look, but I would prefer a free/open program.
Not even close.

It's a block level cache, rather than file caching... they each have their own merits, and they can work side by side if your usage requires it.

Without FancyCache unzipping Sun Javadocs takes about 40 seconds. With it, it takes ~4 seconds. Even an SSD can't touch that. Writes are suddenly the speed of RAM. I can pause/save huge VMs in seconds flat, then it slowly drains to drive/array in the background.

asssdv16401339530fancyc.png

crystaldiskmarkv30150mb.png

hdtuneproahcirandomacce.png
 

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Iconoclast
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Very interesting.

What's CPU utilization like, especially during large writes? How is disk I/O managed as things are moved to the drives? Any slowdowns?

I've noticed that Window's cache (or maybe Intel's write back cache is responsible) will let me save or write large files much faster than my drives are actually capable of, but that there is a noticeable slow down until things are actually finished writing to the disk.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blameless;14507752
What's CPU utilization like, especially during large writes?
Couldn't say. With 3000MB/sec write speeds, I can't tell you what's good or bad.
tongue.gif
It seems to nearly max out one core when benching in CrystalDiskMark.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blameless;14507752
How is disk I/O managed as things are moved to the drives? Any slowdowns?
Depends. You can tweak it to have whatever behaviour you want. On one drive I use a short but large write buffer for FRAPS recording. It lets me grab close to a minute of footage at 2048x1152 on a lowly WD Green, but it tries to dump it to disk as fast as possible.
biggrin.gif


On my OS drive I use "write averaging", which apparently leaves gaps between writes for reads to take place. It continually adapts based on the average access time. Even when huge copies are taking place, my web browser and stuff remain fairly responsive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blameless;14507752
I've noticed that Window's cache (or maybe Intel's write back cache is responsible) will let me save or write large files much faster than my drives are actually capable of, but that there is a noticeable slow down until things are actually finished writing to the disk.
Definitely write-back cache.

This does the same thing. After unzipping Sun Javadocs in 4 seconds rather than 40 seconds, the drive is slow for a good 15-20 seconds afterwards. (presumably it's writing tons of small files to the drive)

For some tasks the difference is enormous.
 

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I'm using the Superspeed RAMDisk program, and it's pretty good.

I've got one stick of PNY Optima 1333MHz Ram in my system temporarily and I'm getting the speeds below. I wonder what this would be like if I had a Dual Channel kit..
ramdisk.png

Doing these tests uses 20-30% of my 2600K At 4.0GHz.

Damn I forgot to add the picture... one sec.

I wish there were 8GB RAM Modules out, my motherboard supports 32GB but I was only able to find 4x4 kits at a decent price. That'll limit me to a 10GB RAMDisk when I get Windows 7 which is just enough to load some PC Games on, nothing like World of Warcraft though.
 

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Iconoclast
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

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Here's a benchmark comparison of different software from a couple of years ago.

http://www.raymond.cc/blog/archives/2009/12/08/12-ram-disk-software-benchmarked-for-fastest-read-and-write-speed/

I'm using the latest Dataram RAMDisk at the moment, but I may switch to ImDisk because of its 4K performance.

2vXjk.png


Looking at the following thread with the screenshots of other people's benchmarks, it looks like the latest version of ImDisk is by far the fastest with 4K reads and writes.

http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?267096-RAMdisk-scores
 

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Iconoclast
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snakecharmed;14601417
Looking at the following thread with the screenshots of other people's benchmarks, it looks like the latest version of ImDisk is by far the fastest with 4K reads and writes.

http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?267096-RAMdisk-scores
Yeah, I've noticed this with my own scores.

Even my first gen i5 in my laptop gives 4k scores similar to much faster systems with different programs.

Still need more information on the test setups; I don't see many people stating file system or cluster size.

I normally use exFAT with a 32k cluster size on my RAM disks. NTFS has too much overhead, while FAT32 is limiting to 4GiB file size.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blameless;14599100
Pretty impressive speeds.

Not sure how much of that is due to Super Speed's driver and how much is a result of Sandy Bridges memory controller.

There are 8GiB unbuffered DIMMs available, but they are quite expensive.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820211564
I looked forever for something like that. Those ADATA modules seem to pop in and out of the search results by the hour, so I figured they may have been mislabeled or something. If I had the cash, I'd so purchase two sets of those.
Imagine this setup?
4GB for OS / Programs
28GB RAMDisk - Load Games or whatever directly onto it and never see another long loading screen!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blameless;14604024
Yeah, I've noticed this with my own scores.

Even my first gen i5 in my laptop gives 4k scores similar to much faster systems with different programs.

Still need more information on the test setups; I don't see many people stating file system or cluster size.

I normally use exFAT with a 32k cluster size on my RAM disks. NTFS has too much overhead, while FAT32 is limiting to 4GiB file size.
Dataram RAMDisk (at least the free version) only supports FAT16 and FAT32. I assume that my cluster size is the 4KB default for a 4GB FAT32 volume.
 

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Premium Member
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow11377;14606682
I looked forever for something like that. Those ADATA modules seem to pop in and out of the search results by the hour, so I figured they may have been mislabeled or something. If I had the cash, I'd so purchase two sets of those.
Imagine this setup?
4GB for OS / Programs
28GB RAMDisk - Load Games or whatever directly onto it and never see another long loading screen!
If you're going to spend $800 on RAM and use it as storage, just spend $800 on an SSD and get about 240-360GB of 1GB/sec goodness.

There's practically no difference between a super fast SSD or RAM when it comes to most game loadtimes. Your CPU still has to decompress textures/models/etc. With a 800MB/sec+ storage medium, your CPU is going to be the bottleneck in loading. (well, until next decade
tongue.gif
- these things change every few generations when there's a technological leap)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kramy;14612609
If you're going to spend $800 on RAM and use it as storage, just spend $800 on an SSD and get about 240-360GB of 1GB/sec goodness.

There's practically no difference between a super fast SSD or RAM when it comes to most game loadtimes. Your CPU still has to decompress textures/models/etc. With a 800MB/sec+ storage medium, your CPU is going to be the bottleneck in loading. (well, until next decade
tongue.gif
- these things change every few generations when there's a technological leap)
Perhaps, but the reason I want a RAMDisk to run games off of is that it is Optional. One short load (HDD-RAMDisk) then the HDD Bottleneck while gaming is gone until I wipe it or reboot. When I'm done I can disable the RAMDisk and reap the benefits of 32GB RAM for everything else.

Also, I've got a lifetime warranty on my RAM so if they ever go bad I can get it replaced for the shipping cost. I've not seen an SSD with that offer yet!

I've got no intentions of purchasing the RAM for $800, instead I'll pick some up when it becomes more reasonably priced.
 

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very entertaining program.. makes me wish i had 30Gb of ram, not 8

Ramdisk.jpg


gonna load a game on it tomorrow, and play around
 
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