AMD Radeon RAMDisk Now Allows Background Updating and Loading With Saved Disk Images

Subject: Storage | May 10, 2013 - 12:48 PM |
Tagged: ramdisk, ram drive, ram, radeon ramdisk, amd

In light of AMD’s latest memory release and Radeon RAMDisk push, I decided to take a look at the latest version 4.1.0 of the RAMDisk software to see what had changed since the last time I tested it out. Improved installation and logging along with a couple of new features are all part of the new RAMDisk software.

AMD Memory.jpg

AMD has simplified the installer since the previous version to the point that only a few clicks are necessary to get setup. Although you can jump into the advanced settings and change the installation path, the default options are basically just to accept the ToS and click next. Other GUI tweaks include a new Logging tab that scans the last 1,000 entries in the Windows Event Log and shows only those related to the RAM Drive.

AMD RAMDisk Background Update.jpg

The biggest change is the addition of new options in the load/save tab. Because of the nature of RAM, the RAMDisk created by the software is not persistent across reboots. However, you can save the disk image to a file on persistent storage (a hard drive, SSD, et al). Then, you can save the RAM Drive and its contents to a file and reload that disk after a restart.

The paid version of Radeon RAMDisk takes this a step further by allowing background updating of the RAMDisk data. With the Load in Background option, the RAMDisk will be immediately available to the operating system after a restart. The software will automatically start transferring data from the image stored on the hard drive to the portion of RAM set aside for the RAM disk instead of making the user wait fro the entire disk to be recreated before it can be accessed. Any data requested that has not yet been transferred to the RAM disk will be transparently pulled from the hard drive image.

AMD RAMDisk System Log.jpg

Further, AMD offers up a background update option that will run in the background and continuously write RAMDisk changes to the *.img file stored on the hard drive. This eliminates the need to wait for the entire RAMDisk to be written to disk before shutting down the computer or stopping the RAM Drive. Considering the wait times to read and write data from/to the hard drive is one of the major limitations of RAM drives, this is a really useful feature that certainly adds some incentive to springing for the paid version.

The free version doesn’t get background updating, but it does still have the AutoSave feature that will write data out to the image file periodically which will help prevent data loss due to power failure or kernel panic.

AMD RAMDisk File Copy.jpg

Heh, the SSD is pegged but the RAMDisk utilization peaked at 4% when copying a 1.51GB Kerbal Space Program (with a few mods installed) folder from an Intel X25-M to a 4GB RAMDisk ;).

In my brief testing yesterday, I had some trouble getting the software to create a FAT32 formatted disk, where it kept changing to unformatted before creating the disk. Eventually I opted to format the drive myself using Windows’ Disk Management utility. Aside from that hiccup, I think the new version is worth updating to if you have not already--especially if you have the paid version (so that you can get the background data transfer features).

For specific details on exactly what has changed, an AMD-provided change log is below:

Feature Highlights of AMD Radeon™ RAMDisk release 4.1

  • Updated GUI improvements .NET
  • Updated installer package – Fewer clicks required to install
  • Improved GUI event logging
  • Improved management of options when setting Load/Save

Performance Highlights of AMD Radeon™ RAMDisk release 4.1

  • Performance gains on AMD Radeon™ RAMDisk 32GB and 64GB
  • Vastly improved load and save mechanics allowing for background update and background loading of the RAMDisk.  Reduces wait times for load and save.  “Background Update” and “Load in Background” enabled (registered users only)
  • Faster PC startup and shutdown while RAMDisk is enabled.
  • Improved IO performance on multi-processors and multi-core systems
    • Evenly distributed load among the CPUs.  Allows for more system efficiency.

AMD Unveils New Gamer Memory: MOAR RAMDISK!

Subject: Memory | May 7, 2013 - 09:01 PM |
Tagged: radeon ramdisk, radeon, memory, amd, 4GB, 2133, 1.65v

 

AMD makes memory!  Ok, they likely contract out memory.  Then they brand it!  Then they throw in some software to make RAMDisks out of all that memory that you are not using.  Let us face it; AMD is not particularly doing anything new here with memory.  It is very much a commodity market that is completely saturated with quality parts from multiple manufacturers.

So why is AMD doing it?  Well, I guess part of it is simply brand recognition and potentially another source of income to help pad the bottom line.  They will not sell these parts for a loss, and they will have buyers with the diehard AMD fans.  Tim covered the previous release of AMD memory pretty well, and he looked at the performance results of the free RAMDisk software that AMD bundled with the DIMMs.  It does exactly what it is supposed to, but of course it takes portions of memory away.  When dealing with upwards of 16 GB of memory for a desktop computer, sacrificing half of that is really not that big a deal unless heavy duty image and video editing are required.

amd_mem_01.jpg

*Tombraider not included with Radeon Memory.  Radeon RAMDisk instead!

Today AMD is announcing a new memory product and a new bundled version of the RAMDisk software.  The top end SKU is now the AMD Radeon RG2133 DDR-3 modules.  It comes in a package of up to 4 x 4GB DIMMS and carries a CAS latency of 10 with the voltage at a reasonable 1.65v.  These modules are programmed with both the Intel based XMP and the AMD based AMP (MP stands for Memory Profiles… if that wasn’t entirely obvious).  The modules themselves are reasonable in terms of size (they will fit in any board, even with larger heatsinks on the CPU).  AMD claims that they are all high quality parts, which again is not entirely surprising since I do not know of anyone who advertises that their DIMMS feature only the most mediocre memory modules available.

amd_mem_02.jpg

Faster memory is faster, water is wet, and Ken still needs a girlfriend.

AMD goes on to claim that faster memory does improve overall system performance.  Furthermore AMD has revealed that UV light is in fact a cancer causing agent, Cocoa Puffs will turn any milk brown, and passing gas in church will rarely be commented upon (unless it is truly rank or you start calling yourself “Legion”).  Many graphs were presented that essentially showed an overclocked APU with this memory will outperform a non-overclocked APU with DDR-3 1600 units.  Truly eye opening, to say the least.

amd_mem_03.jpg

How much RAMDisk can any one man take?  AMD wants to know!

The one big piece of the pie that we have yet to talk about is the enhanced version of Radeon RAMDisk (is Farva naming these things?).  This particular version can carve out up to 64 GB of memory for a RAMDisk!  I can tell you this now, me and my 8 GB of installed memory will get a LOT of mileage out of this one!  I can only imagine the product meeting.  “Hey, I’ve got a great idea!  We can give them up to 64 GB of RAMDisk!”  While another person replies, “How do you propose getting people above 64 GB, much less 32 GB of memory on a consumer level product…?”  After much hand wringing and mumbling someone comes up with, “I know!  They can span it across two motherboards!  That way they have to buy an extra motherboard AND a CPU!  Think of our attach rate!”  And there was much rejoicing.

amd_mem_04.jpg

Inconceivable!!!

So yes, more memory that goes faster is better.  Radeon RAMDisk is not just a comic superhero, it can improve overall system performance.  Combine the two and we have AMD Radeon Memory RG2133 with 64 GB of RAMDisk.  Considering that the top SKU will feature 4 x 4GB DIMMS, a user only needs to buy four kits and four motherboards and processors to get a 64GB RAMDisk.  Better throw in another CPU and motherboard so a user can at least have 16GB of memory available as, you know, memory.

Update and Clarification

Perhaps my tone was a bit too sarcastic, but I just am not seeing the value here.  Apparently (and I was not given this info before hand) the 4 x 4 GB kits with the 64 GB RAMDisk will retail at $155.  Taking a quick look at Newegg I see that a user can buy quite a few different 2 x 8 GB 2133 kits anywhere from $139 to $145 with similar or better latencies/voltages.  Around $155 users will get better latencies and voltages down to 1.5v.  For 4 x 4GB kits we again see prices start at the $139 mark, but there are a significant number of other kits with again better voltages and latencies from $144 through $155.

Users can also get the free version of the Radeon RAMDisk that will utilize up to 4GB of space.  There are multiple other software kits for not a whole lot of money (less than $10) that will provide you up to 16 GB of RAMDisk.  I just find the whole kit to be comparable to what is currently out there.  Offering a 64 GB RAMDisk for use with 16 GB of total system memory just seems to be really silly.  The only way that could possibly be interesting would be if you could allocate 8 GB of that onto RAM and the other 56 GB onto a fast SSD.  I do not believe that to be the case with this software, but I would love to be proved wrong.

Source: AMD

AMD caches in on fast boot times with downloadable RAMDisks

Subject: Storage | December 12, 2012 - 11:50 AM |
Tagged: radeon, cache, radeon ramdisk

We've heard mentions of AMD's downloadable RAMDisk software which will portion off a part of your system RAM to act as a cache drive to give you all the benefits of an SSD cache drive without the costs.  There are three levels, two free levels which will give you 4GB if you do not have Radeon branded memory and 6GB if you do.  For $18.99 you can get the Xtreme version which will allow you up to 64GB on any type of RAM and will get rid of the upgrade now pop up which you will see on the free versions.  This software should work with any modern CPU from AMD or Intel which is a great move on AMDs part to help make this software popular.  Hardware Canucks checked the boot time with a Super Anti-Spyware scan that is launched during boot which slowed the RAMDisk down a bit however the launch time of CS5 was significantly faster than even an SSD.  Check it out here, or just download it from here.

AMD_Radeon_RAMDisk_Xtreme_RDx.jpg

"With memory prices on the decline and Intel's RST caching offering a great solution for budget conscious buyers, AMD is reviving the idea of memory-based application acceleration. Called Radeon RAMDisk, it promises to reduce load times to mere seconds on even the most basic of systems."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

AMD Launches Radeon RAMDisk, Free 6GB Disks With AMD Memory

Subject: Storage | October 10, 2012 - 06:30 PM |
Tagged: ram disk, radeon ramdisk, radeon memory, amd memory, amd

AMD launched a new Radeon branded memory product today called the Radeon RAMDisk. Despite the rather unoriginal name, it is a piece of software that will allow you to use a portion of your system RAM as a hard drive-like storage device where you can install programs. AMD has partnered with Dataram to develop the software.

The AMD Radeon RAMDisk will create drives up to 64GB in size, and is designed to be used with AMD's own Radeon-branded DDR3 modules (though other manufacturer's RAM will work as well). The RAM disk offers up almost-instantaeous access times and impressive read and write speeds for your applications and virtual machines.

Radeon RAMDisk.jpg

According to AMD, the Radeon RAMDisk can reach read speeds as high as 25,600 MB/s with DDR3 1600 RAM and up to 1700% faster game loading times than a traditional mechanical hard drive. It further supports the Windows operating system (Vista and above), and has a minimum system requirement of 4GB of system RAM.

The software costs $18.99 at time of writing for the full version.

The best part about this announcement though is the release of a freeware version of the Radeon RAMDisk that can create disks up to 6GB with AMD-branded RAM or 4GB with RAM from any other manufacturer! While that is fairly limiting in that you are not really going to be able to put much ont there (and installing games is almost out of the question entirely) you can still do a lot with a 4GB RAM disk by installing Office, photo editors, virtual machines (like Peppermint Linux), and other heavily used programs to speed up the important stuff.

You can acess the full press release on the Radeon RAMDisk website.

Download links:

If you have been with the site for at least the year that I’ve been writing here, you will know that I’m a huge fan of RAM disks. So, naturally, when I was passed the press release I just had to try it out.

While the extent of the performance increase is going to vary from program to program, the drive itself is extremely fast. When copying a .iso file to the Radeon RAMDisk, it was limited by my SSD's read speed, for example.

File Transfer To RAMDisk limited by SSD.jpg

The RAM Disk was set up om my main desktop which has basic specifications as follows:

  • Intel Core i7 -860 CPU
  • 8GB (4 x 2GB) G.Skill DDR3 at 1333 MHz and 9-9-9-24 CAS timings
  • Gigabyte P55-UD3R Motherboard
  • 4096 MB Radeon RAMDisk
  • 80GB Intel X25-M G2 SSD
  • 2TB Samsung Spinpoint hard drive
  • Windows 8 RTM

In addition to the file copy tests, I also used the HDTune benchmark to measure transfer speeds. Needless to say, RAM blows solid state NAND out of the water in speed (though it does cost more and is volatile storage).

graph (1).jpg

In fact, it pulled such impressive numbers from HDTune that it skewed the chart a lot. Those little blips underneath it are from my Intel X25-M G2 80GB SSD and my 2TB Samsung Spinpoint mechanical hard drive. 

graph.jpg

HDTune also reports access times and burst speeds. The RAM disk had a 0.0 ms access time, the SSD has a 0.1 ms access time, and the mechanical hard drive brought up the rear with a 13.9 ms access time. Interestingly, the Samsung hard drive actually beat the SSD in burst speed. The RAM disk crush both of the other drives by a significant margin, however with a burst speed of 5,155 MB/s.

Over the years, I have used a RAMDisk for hosting photo editors as as using the drive for media I was currently working on. It worked well at the time, but the free software was not exactly what I would call stable. However, the AMD software is a mere 6.2 MB download that installs quickly and is easy to configure. The UI is spartan (and resembles Windows Classic), but it gets the job done and has yet to crash on me after trying to break it today (heh). It does not feel "janky" at all, and I have to give AMD and Dataram props for that.

Below are screenshots of the Radeon RAMDisk interface. You can create new disks as well as loading saved ones.

Yes, RAM being faster than hard drive storage is not new information, but I did find it surprising just how much faster it was, even compared to my SSD. Heck, even compared to a DDR2 based RAM disk, it was fast. It really puts into perspective why the hard drive is the slowest aspect of modern computers, and why things can slow to a crawl when the CPU has to reach out past the internal cache and system RAM to the hard drive to fetch data. If you are running a system with a lot of 'extra' RAM, I encourage you to take AMD's new Radeon RAMDisk software for a test drive. It's time to give those DDR3 DIMMs a workout!

Do you use RAM disks to speed up your favorite applications?

Source: AMD