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  • ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

    With desktop RAM quantities rising these days, is it just silly of me to wonder if I can rely exclusively on RAM for read/write of data during gameplay? That is, am I just way off base when I start to wonder if I can take the hard drive out of the picture during gameplay?

    I mean, if I can load the entire filesystem of my game (4GB-ish, for discussion's sake?) into RAM before I launch it, and I'm satisfied to later lose whatever was written to disk during gameplay, and I've got, say, 8GB of RAM, can I do.... something (ignorant here).... to load the entire game's.... everything... into RAM when it launches?

    I remember something about "ramdisk" or "ramdrive" back in the day, but I can't remember anything about it, really, and I'm certainly not aware of how much of all of that might apply in today's settings.

    Google was surprisingly mum (user error, surely) when I went to go answer this for myself.

    Thoughts?
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    Darkilla: In short, NS is pretty much really fast chess. With guns. Apophis: I haven't seen anyone say that SM's are better than non-SMs. Nordbomber: This is THE first server I've seen where either side can comeback from out of seemingly nowhere with the right teamwork. en4rcment: I have NEVER experienced the type of gameplay that I have found here. Nightly I am amazed at the personalities and gaming talent. Zephyr: Apophis is clearly a highly sophisticated self-aware AI construct that runs on a highly modified toaster oven in Wyzcrak's basement.

  • #2
    Re: ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

    There is quite a bit of RAM to store game data so a slow harddrive isn't really going to be holding anything back. If it is going to the harddrive during gaming, you'll probably experience severe stuttering as data is loaded.

    A lot of BF players have fixed stuttering problems by getting more RAM. I know I get it when I play BF2 on my laptop that has 512MB. It's not too bad but there's a lot of it when a map has just loaded.

    One more thing to consider is you need an OS that can address that much memory. It's no good using XP 32-bit when the max memory it can use is 4GB (that's including video card memory too).

    For the most part, lots of RAM is good but it also depends on how games are designed. If it's lazy loading, it'll load data only as necessary into memory. However, I think that might not be the case. They'll probably utilize as much memory as possible to minimize drive access.

    - It's who you game with.

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    • #3
      Re: ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

      First off, if you are running 32-bit Windows, the OS will only recognize a usable portion of about 3.2 GB. You won't make full use of 4 GBs of RAM due to the 32-bit limitation.

      Secondly, Windows uses part hard disk (virtual memory) and part physical memory to run some programs, so you will need your hard disk. For some games, virtual memory is explicitly used (sometimes they print it on the bottom of the box).

      With today's hardware (SATA2 drives), everything is becoming faster and more efficient. With a Core 2 Duo, 2 GB of RAM and a nice SATAII drive, your games will load significantly faster than say a P4, 1 GB of RAM, and a IDE HDD on XP.


      Refering to the "ramdisk/ramdrive"...
      I haven't heard any news about those in a while. I don't think either is used or manufactured anymore. The closest thing I know of is a PCI RAM Card produced by Gigabyte. I've seen it at the local computer stores here in Chicago and on NewEgg.
      |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
      TG World of Tanks Clan Executive Officer
      Former 9th & 13th

      Pronounciation: Eh-Cree-Oh Ah-Nay-Ess
      Still can't say it? Call me Acorn then. -.-





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      • #4
        Re: ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

        I personally think harddrives don't make much a difference in performance, even in load times. I know it's supposed to but ever since I noticed load time gains in Company Of Heros after overclocking RAM and after upgrading (still using the same old IDE harddrive), I don't really think harddrives do much these days.

        It's still good to have a fast drive though but I would only go as far as to upgrade to SATA2 drives. RAID is too expensive and the same goes for the 10,000RPM drives. Ram drives were even more expensive. I think it's the main reason it never became popular. They fixed the volatile memory problem but it just got to expensive. Plus, a lot of the cards were limited to 4GB and there's not much you can do with that.

        I don't really know what kind of performance gain comes from having everything in RAM but it still has to transfer that data to the CPU for processing. You can have a ton of RAM and still be bottlenecked by how slow it can get that data processed. It's like having a huge queue but some slow cashier working the line or the people entering the queue take a long time to reach the cashier.

        It's better to have a well rounded system, which is why I think 2GB RAM is a good amount. Any more is just running into OS memory addressing problems and the fact that games aren't really designed to take advantage of that much memory. It's an extra $100 that could be spent on the GPU or a couple of games.

        - It's who you game with.

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        • #5
          Re: ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

          Some have suggested that part of the process data be loaded into temporary storage onto NAND-based drives (in conjuction with RAM and HDD) so the data can be easily retrieve and speed up loading for programs and Windows. I'm skeptical about it.

          If you really wanted to or feel you might upgrade to a 64-bit Windows in the future, you can go ahead and get 4 GB of RAM.
          |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
          TG World of Tanks Clan Executive Officer
          Former 9th & 13th

          Pronounciation: Eh-Cree-Oh Ah-Nay-Ess
          Still can't say it? Call me Acorn then. -.-





          SSDs I Own: Kingston HyperX 3K (240 GB), Samsung 840 Pro (256 GB), Samsung 840 EVO (250 GB), Samsung 840 x 2 (120 GB), Plextor M5S (120 GB), OCZ Vertex (30 GB)

          TG Primer and Rules

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          • #6
            Re: ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

            Neither of you guys are on topic. In particular, he doesn't appear to be asking about whether more RAM will help his computer run faster. Wyzcrack was asking about RAM drives, which were popular in the 80s because floppy drives were very slow and hard drives were very expensive, and whether he can load entire games on them. The answer is there are such things as RAM drives and you can do this.

            There are two basic kinds of implementations of RAM drives. Hardware RAM drives are physical hard drives that store information on volatile memory. Newer nand based solid state drives are non-volatile and are becoming more and more popular with OEMs like Dell offering them as upgrades. However, they are very, very expensive and, I suppose, technically not RAM drives.

            Software RAM drives get your operating system to think that portion of your system RAM a hard drive partition. MS DOS had this feature, and there are ways to get Windows XP to do it too (but only for very small drives, i.e. 32MB max). You might be able to find software that does this for windows XP and can create larger RAM drives, but I'm not sure.

            The benefits of RAM drives over traditional hard drives is non-controversial. They access access data much, much faster. As for playing games off RAM drives, unless you're playing very old very small games, you'll have to go with the hardware implementation.

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            • #7
              Re: ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

              The thread topic is a bit unclear though. I'm not sure whether the discussion is primarily about RAM drives or getting enough RAM so that the paging file can be disabled.

              In any case, I still stand on my belief that it won't help out that much unless the game loads a lot of data on the fly. ArmA would be a game that I'd expect to do this and even a game like Battlefield (if there isn't enough RAM to hold a map's data). Still, a lot depends on the CPU and GPU to process the data.

              - It's who you game with.

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              • #8
                Re: ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

                My apologies for the ambiguity.
                Originally posted by sordavie View Post
                Software RAM drives get your operating system to think that portion of your system RAM a hard drive partition. ... The benefits of RAM drives over traditional hard drives is non-controversial. They access access data much, much faster. As for playing games off RAM drives, unless you're playing very old very small games, you'll have to go with the hardware implementation.
                This is what I was thinking toward. I'm building a system, and I'm considering maxing out the motherboard's memory to 8GB, which would leave me with 4GBs that (64-bit) Vista really doesn't "need" for now. I realize that money could go to something else in the box, and I could upgrade later, but let's assume, for the sake of discussion, that the RAM already exists in the system.

                So, I thought... what can I do in the meantime with all of that memory? So this thread came to mind.

                I'm content to use a hard drive during gameplay. I just think it might be nice if the game, or maybe maps, loaded in a fraction of the time they load in today. So, I was just brainstorming.

                And, ya know, then I look at Firefox, and I wonder how much of the browser's operation is disk IO, and then I wonder how much the overall experience might be faster, or quieter, if I was swapping all of that crap out to RAM instead of disk? The browser example is actually pretty appealing, given how easily I could do without most of the files that get written to disk during the app's execution.

                Just trying to think out of the box a bit about how to apply the resources of a box (that doesn't exist just yet, even).
                Steam Community? Add me. | Free Remote, Encrypted Backup

                Darkilla: In short, NS is pretty much really fast chess. With guns. Apophis: I haven't seen anyone say that SM's are better than non-SMs. Nordbomber: This is THE first server I've seen where either side can comeback from out of seemingly nowhere with the right teamwork. en4rcment: I have NEVER experienced the type of gameplay that I have found here. Nightly I am amazed at the personalities and gaming talent. Zephyr: Apophis is clearly a highly sophisticated self-aware AI construct that runs on a highly modified toaster oven in Wyzcrak's basement.

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                • #9
                  Re: ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

                  Hrm....

                  Google'd my way into Cenatek's RamDiskXP 2.0 (100RC7) product. Thought I'd give it a try using the browser as a proof of concept.

                  I installed the product's trial version. It gave me an H: drive with the 200MB of RAM I allocated (it supports up to 1GB in XP and 4GB is Vista?).

                  Onto this "RAM drive" I installed Firefox Portable, which, by default, allocates 0MB of disk for cache usage.

                  So, now, I'm writing this post using that browser.

                  It's definitely faster. It reminds me of Opera, back when I used to use that. Many pages just "appear", as though they're loaded from local disk. Surely the network is the greatest bottleneck at this point. Also, it's eeeerily quiet. I'm so trained to hear subtle disk grinding as I browse the web, and all I hear is ... nothing.

                  Neato. Now I'm particularly interested to see what this could do for game and map load times (on a larger drive).
                  Steam Community? Add me. | Free Remote, Encrypted Backup

                  Darkilla: In short, NS is pretty much really fast chess. With guns. Apophis: I haven't seen anyone say that SM's are better than non-SMs. Nordbomber: This is THE first server I've seen where either side can comeback from out of seemingly nowhere with the right teamwork. en4rcment: I have NEVER experienced the type of gameplay that I have found here. Nightly I am amazed at the personalities and gaming talent. Zephyr: Apophis is clearly a highly sophisticated self-aware AI construct that runs on a highly modified toaster oven in Wyzcrak's basement.

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                  • #10
                    Re: ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

                    Solid-state "ramdrives" are where it's at right now in the computer tech world, call them what you will... flash drives, SD cards, they're all basically non-volatile memory (how they're arranged as a "drive" is of little consequence). By non-volatile, all that means is that the RAM doesnt require POWER to maintain data on its surface. The old 80's ramdrives you speak of are simply large amounts of standard RAM organized in a matrix and a constant power source applied to maintain the data - a LOT of guys build these on their own for fun even today... they still have their application. Nonetheless, there are SO many companies jumping on this bandwagon right now that prices are dropping like bricks. I stopped trying to keep up with clearance sales of SD cards.
                    These data systems are the "holy grail" so to speak of storage. They represent (to me) the first real push towards the proverbial positronic matrix.
                    You see, in order to have a perfect representation of the human mind, you need large amounts of storage space with super fast access and high orders of compression. This type of speed is also necessary for super high detailed simulations, games, etc.
                    As of today, you can get a Laptop that runs almost exclusively on a solid-state drive. 64GB is the max right now. These drives run at least twice as fast as the fastest flywheel drive, both in read and write. I met a guy on storagereview.com that actually built his own RAM-drives, both volatile and non-volatile.
                    If you REALLY want to test your harddrive, go buy FSX and crank up the settings. There are so many complex textures, satellite maps, weather variables, etc. that this game really puts the hurting on your HDDs. Eventually, you'll get the stutter, especially at higher flight speeds as the game needs to pull data from your drive, crunch it, and spit it through your display viewer.

                    All we're really doing to compensate for data access impairment is adding RAM to CPUs, HDDs, and GPUs (increasing the "buffer" as we go). All of these components are getting bigger and more expensive when in reality they're all trying to do the same thing... which is emulate the ol' ramdisk.

                    edit: another of Vista's appeal is that supposedly it handles non-volatile RAMdrives with its "ReadyBoost" technology.

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                    • #11
                      Re: ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

                      Originally posted by Wyzcrak View Post
                      Onto this "RAM drive" I installed Firefox Portable, which, by default, allocates 0MB of disk for cache usage. ... It's definitely faster.
                      Whoa. Navigating around Google Maps (moving the map around with my mouse) with this "RAM drive" browser is crazy. I guess that's a good example of a webapp that does a lot of disk IO (and uses the network in the background to pre-fetch content I'm almost certain to want to see very soon).

                      It's like the entire map is loading from my hard drive.

                      The SD cards (and maybe some others?) likely won't have the low seek times that conventional system memory would?

                      I wonder if this "RAM drive" concept provides less return when applied to a larger project like a game? This behavior, that I'm seeing in the browser, is exactly what I want to see during map changes, for example. I want this kind of performance boost. Subtle, but noticeable, and certainly worth the technical hassle of setting it up once you've got the hardware resources in place (NOT worth the money to buy the extra RAM, I'll say -- but if you've already got it to spare......).
                      Steam Community? Add me. | Free Remote, Encrypted Backup

                      Darkilla: In short, NS is pretty much really fast chess. With guns. Apophis: I haven't seen anyone say that SM's are better than non-SMs. Nordbomber: This is THE first server I've seen where either side can comeback from out of seemingly nowhere with the right teamwork. en4rcment: I have NEVER experienced the type of gameplay that I have found here. Nightly I am amazed at the personalities and gaming talent. Zephyr: Apophis is clearly a highly sophisticated self-aware AI construct that runs on a highly modified toaster oven in Wyzcrak's basement.

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                      • #12
                        Re: ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

                        hahaha this is like the 90s, when you would go to a website just to see what it would DO! haha

                        digitalblasphemy is amazing with this.

                        Maybe I just have a slow computer. haha. Maybe this kind of speed is old news to most folks, even with the hard drive.

                        This could be great from a privacy standpoint, too. Put the ramdrive install program on your usbkey, and the portable Fx installer. Walk into internet café. Install both, properly. Browse, browse, browse. Reboot the machine when you're done (w/ no disk flushing -- an optional configuration of the RAM Drive software), and you're guaranteed to leave nothing behind on the workstation?
                        Steam Community? Add me. | Free Remote, Encrypted Backup

                        Darkilla: In short, NS is pretty much really fast chess. With guns. Apophis: I haven't seen anyone say that SM's are better than non-SMs. Nordbomber: This is THE first server I've seen where either side can comeback from out of seemingly nowhere with the right teamwork. en4rcment: I have NEVER experienced the type of gameplay that I have found here. Nightly I am amazed at the personalities and gaming talent. Zephyr: Apophis is clearly a highly sophisticated self-aware AI construct that runs on a highly modified toaster oven in Wyzcrak's basement.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

                          Gaming performance increase:
                          [media]http://www.cenatek.com/demos/RocketDrive_ReadyBoost_Game.wmv[/media]

                          Remember though, most of these cheap non-volatile systems only handle random access well. Sequential access is where the traditional HDD will shine... unless you spend ridiculous amounts of money on a TRUE Ramdisk.

                          You'd really have to write a game to specifically take advantage of the techinology. Look at it like the difference between a SCROLL and a BOOK. You can flip to a page in a book to find info.(i.e. RAM). You have to read through each entry in a scroll to get to the info. you want (i.e. sequential access... HDD).

                          When we fly through terrain in a game, typically the data for that terrain is sequentially loaded. e.g. it's located in generally the same place... at least we hope.

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                          • #14
                            Re: ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

                            Originally posted by Wyzcrak View Post
                            Onto this "RAM drive" I installed Firefox Portable, which, by default, allocates 0MB of disk for cache usage.
                            Erm... wait a second. Isn't that setting irrelevant when I'm running the app from a RAM drive? Isn't ALL cache usage, disk or "memory", hitting my RAM sticks?

                            Regardless, I like the performance of using only my system memory for caching. I'll set my main Fx installation to use 0 MB of disk for caching and see how it compares.

                            I'm now looking for a compelling reason to NOT trying this with, say, a 4GB RAM drive in Vista. I could create a junction from EA GAMES\Battlefield 2\mods\bf2 to the RAM Drive, where only the maps (or something) are copied. I wonder how quickly the map would load.

                            I wonder if I'd get PB banned. :(
                            Steam Community? Add me. | Free Remote, Encrypted Backup

                            Darkilla: In short, NS is pretty much really fast chess. With guns. Apophis: I haven't seen anyone say that SM's are better than non-SMs. Nordbomber: This is THE first server I've seen where either side can comeback from out of seemingly nowhere with the right teamwork. en4rcment: I have NEVER experienced the type of gameplay that I have found here. Nightly I am amazed at the personalities and gaming talent. Zephyr: Apophis is clearly a highly sophisticated self-aware AI construct that runs on a highly modified toaster oven in Wyzcrak's basement.

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                            • #15
                              Re: ramdisk / ramdrive and gaming?

                              Flash based SSDs typically have slower read times than the fastest mechanical hard drives (Raptors for instance). This is why some people are very disappointed when they pay $400 for a flash SSD. But this is not true of the volatile RAM based SSDs. A DDR RAM based drive should read, write, and access much much faster than a typical Flash based drive. But, the drawback would be that you would have to keep it constantly powered to retain data. For instance, http://www.hyperossystems.co.uk/.

                              On a side note to Gambit, I don't think that to model a human mind you need lots of memory. First, the brain does not work like a typical digital computer. Instead, what we'd need is a very complex artificial neural net. That's because the brain just is a neural net. In particular, it does not have a data storage place and algorithms to retrieve and send data there. If the mind just is realized by the brain, then there's no reason to think that the mind is algorithm based, which means that no digital computer will ever be able to represent a mind since they are algorithm based. So, representing a human mind isn't a matter of having lots of memory or fast CPUs. A human mind is just something completely different than a digital computer.

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