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DDRdrive hits the ground running - PCI-E RAM-based SSD

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: DDRdrive LLC
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Test Methodology and System Setup

Test Methodology



We needed something to compete with the IOPS craziness that was about to occur.  Luckily we had something on loan from the folks at Solidata and DV Nation.

Fusion-io ioDrive 160.  Yummy.


We will cover the ioDrive more in-depth in a future review.  For now, realize the ioDrive has a sort of turbo mode, where you can opt to increase random access performance at the expense of available capacity.  We tested with both 100% and 50% capacity settings (as will be seen in the benchmarks).

For the DDRdrive to perform as well as it does with only one lane of PCI-Express, it must employ extremely low latency tech.  There are as few components as possible between the PCI bus and the RAM, and those parts are as speed optimized as possible.   With such a fast turnaround time, we found that unleashing the true potential of the DDRdrive required moving to a board without a beefy video card.  Newer video cards like the Geforce GTX series tend to assume they own the PCI-E bus, meaning other devices have to repeatedly arbitrate to communicate with the CPU.  The added latency of waiting for a hefty video card to release the bus adds up, leading to an unnecessary bottleneck at extremely high IOPS. 
Given the target market for the X1 is the enterprise sector, it is not unreasonable to assume these units would be put to use in displayless server environments.

We switched to an ASUS P5Q-EM workstation board for testing the DDRdrive X1.

Test System Setup

DDRdrive Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core2 DUO E8600
Motherboard Asus P5Q-EM

Memory 4GB Kingston DDR2-800
Hard Drive WD Caviar SE 80GB

Sound Card On-board 8-channel

Video Card Intel GMA
Power Supply Corsair 620HX
DirectX Version DX9.0c
Operating System Windows XP SP3

May 2, 2013 | 11:18 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

specs aren't much better than a gigabyte i-ram except this device currently costs almost $2000, the i-ram cost $150 at release and currently ranges from $100-$150.

i-ram doesn't get near the same iops but it has the same storage capacity. and gets 130mbs read/write so price wise i-ram is alittle more realisitc.

hardware ramdrives could be huge if companies actually put some effort into making an affordable current device. They always make it too soon or too late, and not very well.

better off buying a nand flash ssd for $99 and just replacing it every few years. Will be cheaper and faster in read/write/iops.

August 9, 2013 | 06:55 AM - Posted by Stoat (not verified)

This isn't a competitor for SSD or the iRam. It's a non-volatile ramdisk and has a very specialised use.

This device runs squarely up against STEC's 8Gb ZeusRAM devices - and eats them for lunch because it's not tied to a SATA/SAS bus AND because it's about 1/3 the price.

As for usage: This is an ideal device for ZFS ZIL - only a few GB is needed and the faster you can commit it to the ZIL, the faster a server can signal "ready" back to the client on write requests.

As TFA said, this device is intended for Enterprise usage. I'd extend that and say anywhere a high end NAS is required, this is a good fit within that NAS.

I'd prefer to see PCIe x4 though, however it's probably fast enough for the purposes at hand. :)

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