Those dissatisfied with the performance of mechanical storage solutions can tap solid-state storage devices that substitute silicon for spinning platters. Such devices shed the mechanical shackles that limit hard drive performance, but they've hardly been affordable options for most users. Then Gigabyte unveiled the i-RAM, a $150 solid state-storage device that plugs directly into a motherboard's Serial ATA port, accommodates up to four run-of-the-mill DDR SDRAM modules, and behaves like a normal hard drive without the need for additional drivers or software.
Gigabyte first demoed the i-RAM at Computex last summer, and cards have finally made their way to the North American market. One has also made its way to our labs, where it's been packed with high-density DIMMs and run through our usual suite of storage tests. Read on for more on how the i-RAM works, what its limitations are, and how its performance compares with a collection of single hard drives and multi-disk arrays.