RAM disk: how does it work and what is it for?

While everyone considers solid state drives to be the fastest storage with modern technology, this is actually not the case as RAM is much faster than any other. SSD, although it is true that we are talking about volatile memory, which will lose data when we turn off the computer. There are indeed more disadvantages to RAM drives than advantages, but we’re going to explain what they are and what they contribute before diving into that.

RAM disk

What is a RAM disk?

The first thing you should know is that Do not confuse a RAM disk with a RAM disk … RAM disks are hardware devices that allow you to plug RAM modules into sockets, usually PCI-Express, in order to use them as storage devices, and the point is, with a RAM disk, you can create RAM disks, but these are different things.

RAMDrive

A RAM Disk is a virtual drive that can be created by software using RAM. Basically, you are telling the operating system to reserve some of the RAM for use as storage so that it can read and write to it as if it were a hard drive or SSD. RAM can be 10x faster than SSD, so that should provide excellent performance, right?

Decades ago, computers had almost no storage space, and the idea of ​​having a dedicated hard drive was almost a dream. The first consumer hard drives were introduced in 1980, had 5MB capacities and in those days cost about $ 1,500 (before that, most of the data was stored on floppy disks). In addition to being so small, hard drives were extremely slow compared to what we have today, so in an effort to improve speed and load games and programs faster, RAM drives were invented to get around this speed limitation.

What are the advantages and disadvantages? Is it worth it for gaming?

In a sense, a RAM Disk is a type of solid state drive as it has no mechanical parts, but as we said earlier, it has a much faster speed than an SSD. A RAM module, running at 2666 MT / s (Mega Transfers Per Second), is equivalent to 21.328 to 21.33 MB / s (Megabytes per second), or roughly 7 GB / s. By comparison, the fastest SSDs on the market run at XNUMX GB / s, so of course the immeasurable performance is the main advantage.

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Rendimiento RAM Disk

However, this does not mean that games and programs will load immediately, since reading files from storage device is only part of the task of loading a game. This is why most SSDs cut boot times in half at best, and we’ve already seen that while an NVMe SSD is ten times faster than a SATA 3 SSD, it doesn’t actually cut boot times too much. All the processing of what the files contain actually creates a huge bottleneck

On the other hand, as you know, RAM is volatile, which means that even if you can save files on a RAM disk, at the moment of a computer shutdown or power failure, you will lose everything (there are ways to reset the contents of a RAM disk to a regular hard disk when you shutdown your computer, but it also slows down startup and shutdown slightly). This also means that if you want to avoid RAM being volatile memory, it will dramatically reduce your PC’s startup and shutdown times.

RAMDisk

Another reason why using these types of tools is problematic is that many consumer-grade motherboards only support up to 64GB of total capacity (let’s not talk about Triple-A games that take up over 100GB, they literally won’t fit in one of these discs); If you need to leave at least 8-16 GB for your normal activities, the capacity you can allocate for a RAM disk will decrease significantly and it would be absurd to invest in a very expensive 128 GB RAM kit, for example when you have solid state drives. SATA 3 1 TB for less than € 100.

While the theoretical speed offered by this type of “disk” may seem tempting, the reality is that, due to the potential for data loss, increased startup and shutdown times, and the monetary costs they have, it isn’t worth it. for a gaming PC, this is not even worth considering. They had a reason a couple of decades ago, but not today.

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A utility that a RAM disk could have could be additional cache memory for the operating system, but for now it is with RAM “separate” from the regular system, that is, using a RAM disk. Otherwise it wouldn’t make sense either, because Windows already uses your system RAM as cache.

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