Various benchmarks have shown that using RAMDisk results in up to 525% faster game load times, substantially improving the gaming experience. Used in conjunction with AMD memory products, gaming enthusiasts can gain distinct advantages when competing against their fellow gamers. Commenting on the launch of the AMD Radeontm RAMDisk product in early fourth quarter, Roman Kyrychynskyi, Product Director at AMD said, "With the importance that memory plays in the overall PC experience, eliminating bottlenecks is crucial for avid PC gamers. Our collaboration with Dataram looks to provide the answer with an enhanced storage solution that reduces possible performance plateaus and provide a superior PC gaming experience".
Yeah, those are the sticky parts of it. Ramdrives are basically just big caches in main memory that apps can pull from instead of going all the way back to the disk. It won't do you any good unless the data has already been loaded from disk into memory, so if there's not also some kind of prefetching routine, then that cuts down the usefulness of the whole deal quite a bit.
If you're running a database server, or editing HD video, or something along those lines where the machine is frequently reading gigabytes of data from the disk and writing it back again, then it can make sense to have another tier inbetween disk and main memory. A typical PC spends much more of it's time handling random access where it's reading or writing a few bytes here and there. A common trick is to delay writes to disk and hold them in a buffer until they start to pile up, then a bunch of writes get done all at once. It helps to hide the latency of the disk, since the machine has to wait for I/O only once per batch. Not having to go to the disk at all would still be faster, but I wouldn't expect a night and day kind of difference.
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The opinions expressed above do not represent those of Advanced Micro Devices or any of their affiliates.
If I were going to do it, I'd use the open file handles of the currently running game to figure out what to put on the drive. If the game keeps its data in a lot of small files, that won't help initial load of any given area much, but if it uses small number of large pak files (as most games do nowadays), there could be significant benefits to copying that file to a RAM drive.
To be effective, of course, the RAM drive will need to be at least as large as the most-used data file for the game, and preferably large enough to hold pretty much all of the game's data files.
If that's how it ends up working, there's some pretty good potential for huge performance gains.
You know the way I see it, with the costs of SSDs dropping daily it seems, as well as the high capacity Seagate MomentusXT hybrid drives with 8GB or more of Flash space that have a great algorithm according to the benchmarks, going through the hassle of a RAMdisk isn't worth it. Sure having it all in RAM with GB/s access times vs MB/s is nice, but IMO, why not invest in a big beefy drive like an OCZ Vertex 4 256GB for around $200? Plus as Mime said, the data still has to be mirrored from the hard disk to the RAM disk itself, so think of some of these games that are multiple GB in size with all the textures and whatnot, in the same time that it takes to mirror that game over, you'd have to play the game 50 times to make up the few seconds you save each time in load times, and if you use a SSD, you might not ever catchup on that time.
Not to mention that a RAM stick is like the power train of a car. You know it will go wrong, and it's an easy fix under warranty (of which RAM is lifetime of course), but between the time it breaks and time it gets fixed, it can be a big pain in the butt. Especially if you're the OP and in 2012 only using 4GB RAM.
SSD's are definitely fast, but not remotely cost effective for their capacity. I have 6TB of data storage on my computer. Even just for my currently installed games (I don't uninstall games when I don't play them for a while), I'd need over 800GB of storage. Not practical with SSD's.
You're missing the point about the idea of dynamically populating the RAM disk with active files. I have no idea if this is what AMD has in mind, but that's how I'd do it if I were a graphics card company putting my brand on a piece of RAM drive software.
So you start playing a game (which AMD's driver will know because of its API activity), that game opens a bunch of data files, probably consisting of a small number of package files containing various graphics and sound resources. Those files can be idle-copied to the RAM drive, and the game's file system API's hooked so that future I/O requests go to the RAM drive for the portions of the file that are there.
When you launch another game, the same thing happens, and by clearly least recently used data, the RAM drive just holds what's going to help the most at any given time.
It would be similar in concept to Intel's SRT, but specific to games and using a RAM drive rather than an SSD drive. Again, if I were the one calling the shots.