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Testing Participants

Samsung SSDs: 32GB and 64GB

We got two SSDs from Samsung designed in the 2.5” HDD form-factor.

  

The MCAQE32G5APP-0XA model has a storage capacity of 32 gigabytes and a UDMA66 interface.

  

The MCBQE64GBMPP-03A has a capacity of 64GB and a SATA interface.

As you can see, the design is very simple. There is a PCB inside a plastic (the first model) or aluminum (the second model) case. The PCB carries memory and controller chips. While the maximum capacity of HDDs is limited by the areal density and the amount of platters in the case (not more than five platters), the limiting factors for these devices are the capacity and the size of the memory chips. For example, the 32GB MCAQE32G5APP-0XA drive uses sixteen 16Gb chips (four can be seen in the photo and the remaining twelve populate the reverse side of the PCB).

SSDs are identified by the OS as an ordinary hard disk, provoking no problems with installation.

Gigabyte i-RAM

This is an even more unconventional storage device than SSDs. It was introduced quite a while ago, but it’s in this review that we want to compare it with other storage types.

  

  

The point of i-RAM is simple and obvious from its appearance. The PCB with a PCI connector has four slots for DDR memory modules. So, this device uses DDR SDRAM, which is far faster than HDDs or flash memory, for storing data. SDRAM is volatile, and there is a 1.7Ah battery on the PCB to ensure data integrity when the PC is shut down. When working, the i-RAM is powered by the PCI bus. The manufacturer claims the battery can last for 16 hours but we wouldn’t recommend you to check this out practically because all data will be lost as soon as the battery is depleted. If you are planning on storing valuable data on your i-RAM, we recommend you to equip your PC with an uninterruptible power supply. An UPS can keep a computer up and running for long in idle mode.

The i-RAM uses SATA as the external interface.

Now we have to mention the downsides of this interesting device. First, it only supports DDR SDRAM which is currently more expensive than DDR2. Gigabyte has promised to introduce a new i-RAM with DDR2 modules, but it is still only a promise so far. There are four memory slots meaning that the maximum available capacity is 4 gigabytes. The speed of memory is unimportant because the slowest SDRAM is going to be far faster than the SATA interface. By the way, the i-RAM supports the first version of the SATA protocol with a bandwidth of 150MB/s. That’s sad because SATA II might improve bandwidth and performance twofold! The memory slots are placed at an angle, and the i-RAM blocks the neighboring PCI slot when installed into the PC.

 
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