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Igor_Kavinski
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RAMDISK in BIOS

Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:29 am

 
Captain Ned
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:09 pm

Hmm, dedicate half your RAM to a pagefile instead of just letting the RAM get used. What is the obsession some have over the pagefile? Listen to Mark Russinovich and just let Windows deal with it on its own.
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Waco
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:43 pm

Literally the dumbest thing you can do with RAM. Let your OS do its job.
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Igor_Kavinski
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Sun Mar 08, 2020 4:59 pm

Waco wrote:
Literally the dumbest thing you can do with RAM. Let your OS do its job.


Aren't we letting the OS do its job by putting the pagefile on RAM disk? What else can you do if you have lots of cheap RAM eating up electricity and not being utilized?
 
Redocbew
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Sun Mar 08, 2020 6:54 pm

Sell it on eBay?
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Igor_Kavinski
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:33 pm

Redocbew wrote:
Sell it on eBay?


And want to kill yourself later when you actually NEED that much RAM and the prices double.
 
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Mon Mar 09, 2020 12:07 am

Igor_Kavinski wrote:
Waco wrote:
Literally the dumbest thing you can do with RAM. Let your OS do its job.


Aren't we letting the OS do its job by putting the pagefile on RAM disk? What else can you do if you have lots of cheap RAM eating up electricity and not being utilized?

No, I don't agree that artificially wasting RAM for a pagefile is letting the OS do its job. It's the exact opposite - you're stealing memory it could be putting to good use (for programs, I/O caching, background operations, etc) and literally wasting it on something that's designed to be used when you are out of RAM.

Modern operating systems *never* let RAM sit unused unless you're literally doing nothing with your computer. The only time they touch the pagefile is if there is real memory pressure - AKA you're using more RAM actively than you have available. Artificially limiting how much RAM you have and engaging the swapping mechanism is an absolutely great way to get terrible performance for no reason at all (and instability if you really push it - let your OS do its job and manage the page file on your SSD/HDD).

Sorry - there's just no debating this. It's a stupid, terrible, and downright useless idea.
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Mon Mar 09, 2020 4:16 am

There used to be Windows applications (Photoshop?) that didn't work properly without a pagefile, regardless of having enough RAM. Do any of applications you use behave like that?
Also, you may have a 32-bit non-server OS with 8 GB of RAM, or Windows 7 Home with 32 GB, so you can make use of BIOS-supported RAM disk.
All of these are pretty much exotic cases but not entirely impossible.
 
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Mon Mar 09, 2020 4:22 am

Igor_Kavinski wrote:
And want to kill yourself later when you actually NEED that much RAM and the prices double.

In the long term, RAM prices halve at least as often as they double.
 
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Mon Mar 09, 2020 7:06 am

The OS can manage normal RAM more efficiently than it can manage a pagefile. Using that RAM as a pagefile means data has to keep moving back and forth between regular RAM and the RAMdisk; even in RAM, it is still a lot of extra overhead to do the copying compared to just allowing the OS to manage the RAM directly.

The only conceivable way I can see using it for swap making any sense is if you are running a 32 bit OS that can't manage more than 4GB of physical RAM.
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Igor_Kavinski
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Mon Mar 09, 2020 8:19 am

The NUC supports 64 GB of RAM. Intel put engineering effort into implementing a RAMDISK in BIOS. What could be the use case? The BIOS supports loading the RAMDiSK from file. Seems to me that they are allowing for the possibility of running the entire OS installation (possibly Linux) from RAM for scenarios where the user does not want any latencies introduced by the secondary storage device during normal operation. It's possible that this is a heavily used feature inside Intel and only now they are exposing it to the world. One possibility could be benchmarking? Developers might also find it useful for snappy compilation. What else?
 
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Mon Mar 09, 2020 11:12 am

Anything that creates a lot of temporary files could also potentially benefit.

There are valid use cases for it; swap just isn't one of them.

On Linux there's actually a more flexible approach - the tmpfs file system type. Instead of carving out a reserved chunk of RAM ahead of time, it dynamically uses as much system RAM as it needs (up to a specified cap). That way, the RAMdisk only consumes exactly as much RAM as it needs, leaving the rest available for the OS to manage as it sees fit.
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roncat
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Mon Mar 09, 2020 1:21 pm

Igor_Kavinski wrote:
The NUC supports 64 GB of RAM. Intel put engineering effort into implementing a RAMDISK in BIOS. What could be the use case? The BIOS supports loading the RAMDiSK from file. Seems to me that they are allowing for the possibility of running the entire OS installation (possibly Linux) from RAM for scenarios where the user does not want any latencies introduced by the secondary storage device during normal operation. It's possible that this is a heavily used feature inside Intel and only now they are exposing it to the world. One possibility could be benchmarking? Developers might also find it useful for snappy compilation. What else?


BIOS updates or crash recovery.

Or the Russians. It's always those clever Russians.
 
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Mon Mar 09, 2020 1:26 pm

Igor_Kavinski wrote:
The NUC supports 64 GB of RAM. Intel put engineering effort into implementing a RAMDISK in BIOS. What could be the use case? The BIOS supports loading the RAMDiSK from file. Seems to me that they are allowing for the possibility of running the entire OS installation (possibly Linux) from RAM for scenarios where the user does not want any latencies introduced by the secondary storage device during normal operation. It's possible that this is a heavily used feature inside Intel and only now they are exposing it to the world. One possibility could be benchmarking? Developers might also find it useful for snappy compilation. What else?


One example I can think of would be analytics software - for example IBM's TM1 - or reporting platforms like Tableau that populate local temp files instead of reading directly from a database source. The idea is that reading from a local file is much faster, and that it doesn't create constant pressure against your database. Doing this in a ramdisk could give you a significant speed increase, even over an SSD, if you're dealing with a lot of data. Or really any software that likes to use local scratch space that is in the form of actual files.

Another possible use is for a database server, you could put the temp database in RAM and get a nice speed boost.
 
roncat
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Mon Mar 09, 2020 1:37 pm

Definitely would make writing a BIOS virus a lot easier. So there's that.

Sorry, Waco is right, this is the dumbest use of RAM ever. If it's not the dumbest, you can see the dumbest from there.
 
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Mon Mar 09, 2020 4:48 pm

cphite wrote:
Another possible use is for a database server, you could put the temp database in RAM and get a nice speed boost.

All proper databases already use free RAM for this. Making the database treat it like a disk would only make it slower.
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Igor_Kavinski
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:27 pm

Waco wrote:
cphite wrote:
Another possible use is for a database server, you could put the temp database in RAM and get a nice speed boost.

All proper databases already use free RAM for this. Making the database treat it like a disk would only make it slower.


So you think that Intel's Bios Ramdisk feature is just a gimmick with no real use?
 
Wirko
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Tue Mar 10, 2020 2:12 pm

Ah! Of course there is one more use case. You need Microsoft SQL Server plus something else on the same machine. SQL Server is endlessly hungry and will drive everything else out of RAM, but other processes can at least hope to get some swap space to be able to run.
 
Igor_Kavinski
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Tue Mar 10, 2020 2:18 pm

Wirko wrote:
Ah! Of course there is one more use case. You need Microsoft SQL Server plus something else on the same machine. SQL Server is endlessly hungry and will drive everything else out of RAM, but other processes can at least hope to get some swap space to be able to run.


I'm not too sure about that. Our sever has 128GB of RAM but SQL Server tends to just be happy with consuming around 80GB of it. Of course, it's not properly maintaned by a DBA (maintained by hapless third party developers who refuse to even create indexes because they can't guarantee that data loss won't occur. Yes, now you can imagine what kind of "experts" I have to put up with at work) so possibly a properly configured and maintained real world SQL Server has the ability to really bring a server to its knees.
 
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Re: RAMDISK in BIOS

Tue Mar 10, 2020 3:01 pm

Igor_Kavinski wrote:
So you think that Intel's Bios Ramdisk feature is just a gimmick with no real use?

If you absolutely, 100%, need to ensure something goes through a filesystem interface that's backed by RAM, sure, it has a use.

I can't think of many reasons to do that versus using that RAM more efficiently for other purposes.
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