System RAM is pretty inexpensive these days. Dual-channel kits routinely serve up 8GB for as little as $40, making it easy for just about anyone to load their system full of RAM. 16GB configs aren’t all that unreasonable when one considers the cost—and the fact that the extra memory can be put to use in a RAM disk. It seems AMD wants a piece of that action, because it’s partnered with Dataram to offer a Radeon-branded version of that company’s RAMDisk software.
This venture might seem like an odd fit for AMD, but keep in mind the chipmaker started selling Radeon-branded memory modules last year. Fortunately, the Radeon RAMDisk software isn’t limited to folks with AMD memory. Anyone can use the free trial to transform as much as 4GB of system memory into something Windows sees as a standard hard drive. Folks with Radeon modules will be able to push that limit to 6GB. Upgrading to Radeon RAMDisk Xtreme, which costs $19, allows for RAM disk capacities up to 64GB regardless of whose name is on the DIMMs.
Reserving a slice of system memory to act as data storage has some appeal. RAM disks are much faster than NAND-based solid-state drives, and there are no limitations on how much data can be written. However, DRAM’s volatile nature requires a steady stream of power to keep data stored. A simple reboot will wipe the memory, which is why the Dataram software includes an automated imaging system that saves the contents of the RAM disk to traditional storage. The imaging system can be configured to create backups at regular intervals and every time the machine is shut down.
Even at today’s low prices, RAM still runs about $5/GB—many times more than modern solid-state drives. Given the cost and associated limitations, I suspect most consumers will stick with SSDs for their uber-fast storage needs. It’s nice to have an inexpensive solution for people with workloads that can actually take advantage of the extra performance a RAM disk can provide, though. You can download the Radeon RAMDisk software right here.