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

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: DDRdrive LLC
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DDRdrive hits the ground running with its PCI-E RAM-based SSD

Today, previously unknown DDRdrive LLC released its flagship product, the DDRdrive X1. We burned through the weekend to provide a first peek on release day. Read on to see how the X1 fares against the ioDrive 160 and an Intel X25-M.Intro

Last week I got an email about a new product launch.  We get many of these types of mails here at PC Perspective, but this one caught my eye and snagged my attention.  It was about a RAM-based SSD.  My mind immediately flashed back to the I-RAM.  I remembered how insanely cool the concept was, as well as all of the pitfalls associated with being on the bleeding edge.  The I-RAM used auxiliary 3.3V power from the motherboard to keep the RAM alive even with the system shut down, and a battery backup on-board, but if your power went out for a few hours the battery would deplete, and so would whatever was on it.  I'm not thrilled about any of my data being *that* volatile.  This held especially true for those who had their OS installed on it.  I thought back to what I perceived as the two huge things missing from the I-RAM:

  • Connect to the system via PCI instead of SATA

  • Some way to backup the RAM and restore it later

I returned to reality and replied to the email, asking for more info.  A few emails later I saw this:


One has only to look at this picture to realize DDRdrive LLC has answered at least one of the two weaknesses noted above, as PCI-Express takes the place of SATA.  There is actually more to the DDRdrive X1 than meets the eye.  The designer of this card had one thing in mind:  IOPS performance.  Under that heatsink is a custom FPGA multi-channel memory controller.  To accomodate the increased traces required for the task, a custom PCB with more layers than some motherboards is used.



Under the CNC machined heatsink we see the FPGA controller next to a pair of SLC flash chips.  This flash memory enables the DDRdrive to backup and restore from non-volatile storage.
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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