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RAM considerations for running RAM disks—does RAM type/config make a difference?

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Max0r

Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Location
Chicago Burbs
Been out of the PC game for several years. Now that I'm back and soon to put together a new PC, my head is spinning. There may be some abject naivete displayed here, for which I apologize. ;)

What my question boils down to is for the purpose of running games/apps (edit: and page file) on a RAM disk to bring load/transition/caching/swap times (obviously initial RAM disk load will be limited by the persistent storage from which it draws) to the absolute bare minimum... will things like number of channels, RAM bandwidth, dual vs quad channel, which new type of DDR, overall tier of RAM performance in terms of frequencies/timings, actually make a perceivable difference?

As an example I saw an article showing a scenario in which the simple raw bandwidth difference between running a setup on dual or quad channel resulted in 27 GB/s or 49 GB/s respectively. It made almost no difference in a number of real world game/app tests. However, for the purposes of a RAM disk, it might make things feel snappier, perhaps, though the difference might be felt in fractions of a second. Nonetheless, tiny differences like that can add up over time, as small waits can contribute to frustration factor. Additionally, there's no telling just how big an occasional memory using session might be, and if there are many gigabytes of things going on, such a difference may more likely be felt.

One of my primary goals this time around is to have a setup with a large amount of RAM that can be used as a RAM disk for everything I'm doing on the PC that doesn't need to be perma-stored in real time. I may be running multiple games, browser windows, and various other pieces of software at the same time. I'll use SSD's perhaps in raid, to permanently store stuff that will be loaded to RAM disk, as well as things that need real time persistent storage updates. I'm also considering using an HDD as a persistent storage cache that the RAM disk dumps or streams to (using RAM disk software to manage that, gotta find the right software), since I probably won't need high performance for such persistent data writes so there's no need to wear down the SSD for that (though I can always set up an SSD cache as well if more performance is needed).

There seem to be some programs out there to streamline the process of using RAM disks, which include functionality like automatically loading certain things to the RAM disk, and updating permanent storage according to certain timing and caching parameters. I'll be exploring that as well.
 
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EarthDog

Gulper Nozzle Co-Owner
Joined
Dec 15, 2008
Location
Buckeyes!
I honestly wouldn't bother. The level of effort to setup a ramdisk vs what it yields, isn't worth it (to me). I'd rather simplify and grab a fast m.2 PCIe NVMe based SSD and call it a day.

SSD writes havent been an issues for generations. :)

I don't understand why we are layering on complexity to your build... seems it isn't needed?
 

Kenrou

Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2014
I honestly wouldn't bother. The level of effort to setup a ramdisk vs what it yields, isn't worth it (to me). I'd rather simplify and grab a fast m.2 PCIe NVMe based SSD and call it a day.

This. Short of getting software that will actively cache stuff into RAM and force it to stay there (you would need 32gb+ for this to work properly) you won't really "feel" almost any difference from anything better then a decent SSD unless you do video editing for a living, plus on a 850 evo for example every game loads in seconds anyway.
 
OP
Max0r

Max0r

Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Location
Chicago Burbs
Ultimately I see enough potential here that at the very least it is worth testing for various applications. What would be nice is if anyone who's done this before has some real-world and benchmark results and experience with different factors affecting RAM disk performance, and resulting application/game performance. (and thus, relative priority of various platform/CPU/RAM specs)

I have since learned that game loads seem to be, in most cases, limited by single-thread CPU performance, which pretty much screws us all in terms of achieving "the dream" instant load times. It seems even a nice 3+ GB/s SSD doesn't really help vs a 500 MB/s SSD for many games. Very sad.

Seems like the multi gigabyte per second PCIe SSDs have good bang/buck compared to the 2.5" though. Might be the go-to SSD regardless of whether or not I go big-RAM.

I definitely don't mind a little added complexity if it means potentially vastly superior performance, even if only for specific scenarios, if those scenarios are habitual for me. I can see with further research that RAM drives and even higher performance SSDs do nothing in some cases. A RAM drive is definitely not a panacea. I definitely will be doing some video editing in the future, and given how frustrating of a process it is to begin with, I certainly wouldn't want more frustration from lack of RAM drive.

I am definitely a weirdo who likes to try to maximize certain things if it has enough personal payoff, but ultimately this project may or may not be green-lighted based on RAM/platform cost and motherboard specific RAM slot specifications. I wouldn't regret spending extra on RAM, but I may only be willing to spend up to $200-300 extra for this idea at most, which may not be enough.
 

knoober

Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2015
What would be nice is if anyone who's done this before has some real-world and benchmark results and experience [/QUOTE ]

I run a 4gb ramdisk that saves itself on shutdown and boots itself at startup. Makes no difference in startup time but shutdowns are horribly slow. Even with 4gb I don't have to be super selective about what I put on it. Ive put pretty much everything I intend to on it and still only used a little more than 2gb. GIMP and my AV are first things installed (takes 13 minute virus scans down to about 5 iirc... Much quicker is the point). Web browser temp/cache benefit from faster disc space as well. I went ahead and put some of the slower to load benchmarks like Heavan and Valley on there as well, but Im not seeing any reap benefit there. Still takes all day to load [emoji14]

If you want to see any benchmarks let me know (as long as they are free that is) and Ill do my best to get them posted in a reasonable amount of time.


[QUOTE ]
I am definitely a weirdo who likes to try to maximize certain things if it has enough personal payoff, but ultimately this project may or may not be green-lighted based on RAM/platform cost and motherboard specific RAM slot specifications. I wouldn't regret spending extra on RAM, but I may only be willing to spend up to $200-300 extra for this idea at most, which may not be enough.

I got ram when it was cheap a few years back. 3x16gb kits ddr3 for around $65/kit. That has given me the wiggle room to always have a ram disk, and I like it. If my modules were more expensive though, I would have put the money into a larger capacity SSD. Hope that helps answer a question or 2 for ya :)
 

Alaric

New Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2011
Location
Satan's Colon, US
+1 what's been said. Gaming? Web surfing? Get a Sammy 850 EVO and enjoy. You can RAID a couple PCIe SSDs, or go all out and use a hardware RAID card and really rip. And it won't mean squat anywhere but benching. If you have the coin, Khajiit has wares, but the payoff is rapidly diminishing returns. My $.02 :D