At Computex, Gigabyte presented a RAM-based harddisk that offers more than 60x the performance of a regular harddisk. From the article on PCWorld:
Giga-byte's IRam is a PC add-in card with four DDR DRAM (double data rate dynamic RAM memory) slots that's designed to be used as a PC drive. Because the IRam uses DRAM rather than a hard disk to store information, data can be retrieved from the drive up to 60 times faster than is possible with a hard drive, according to Giga-byte, which showed the board at the Computex exhibition in Taipei this week.
The IRam was originally designed for video and editing applications where users require fast access to very large files, but the company soon realized that the IRam had other potential applications, says Tim Handley, a marketing account manager at the company.
The device is estimated to be about $60 without the DDR DRAM (which would mean about $450 for a 4 GB drive?). Hmmm... a little expensive, but for an avid overclocker, it might worth its money. Especially when you significantly reduce the boot time.
The most interesting aspect was their approach for data persistence. What you do when the power goes out?
Unlike DRAM-based main memory, the IRam card doesn't lose data when the PC is switched off, says Thomas Chang, a product manager at Giga-byte. As long as the PC is plugged into a socket, a very small amount of current continues to run through some parts of the system, including the PCI slots. This provides enough power to make sure that no data is lost, he says.
If the PC is unplugged, the IRam has an on-board battery for emergency power that can last up to 12 hours, he says.
This contrasts somewhat with another approach that I've noted before, where you use flash memory that doesn't require power all the time.
And, if you ask me, I think that the demarcation line between RAM-based vs. spindle-based storage devices will become more and more blurry in the near future...