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Bring on the DRAM
The ANS-9010 arrives empty, so you have to provide your own memory. Today we'll be testing the drive loaded with 16GB of DDR2-800 memory courtesy of OCZ. DDR2-800 is cheap and plentiful these days, and it's often less expensive than slower speed grades that should still provide more than enough bandwidth for a RAM disk. These Gold Series modules can be found in two-DIMM, 4GB kits for as little as $44 online, pegging the cost of 16GB at well under $200. Thanks to OCZ for providing these modules for testing.

Our testing methods
We've assembled motley crew of competitors to line up against the ANS-9010 today. In addition to the fastest mechanical desktop drives from Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate, and Western Digital, we've thrown in a few flash-based SSDs from Intel and Samsung. And since the i-RAM started this whole business of inexpensive hardware RAM disks, we've included it, as well.

To keep the graphs on the following pages easier to read, we've color-coded the bars by manufacturer. The ANS-9010 appears in bright red, and we've tested it in single-drive and RAID 0 configs. In RAID mode, we relied on the RAID feature built into our test system's Intel south bridge.

All tests were run three times, and their results were averaged, using the following test system.

Processor Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.4GHz
System bus 800MHz (200MHz quad-pumped)
Motherboard Asus P5WD2 Premium
Bios revision 0422
North bridge Intel 955X MCH
South bridge Intel ICH7R
Chipset drivers Chipset
Memory size 1GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Micron DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz
CAS latency (CL) 3
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 3
RAS precharge (tRP) 3
Cycle time (tRAS) 8
Audio codec ALC882D
Graphics Radeon X700 Pro 256MB with CATALYST 5.7 drivers
Hard drives Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1TB
Seagate Barracuda ES.2 1TB
Samsung SpinPoint F1 1TB
Hitachi Deskstar E7K1000 1TB
Western Digital VelociRaptor 300GB
Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB
Western Digital RE3 1TB
Western Digital Caviar SE16 640GB
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB
Samsung FlashSSD 64GB
Intel X25-M 80GB
Intel X25-E Extreme 32GB
Gigabyte i-RAM with 4GB DDR400 SDRAM
ACard ANS-9010 with 16GB DDR2-800 SDRAM
OS Windows XP Professional
OS updates Service Pack 2

Thanks to NCIX for getting us the Deskstar 7K1000 and SpinPoint F1.

Our test system was powered by an OCZ PowerStream power supply unit.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems' Windows desktop was set at 1280x1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.