Off the Linux kick this week and back on the SSD trail.
SSD is solid state drives, and I love solid state drives. Rather, I love the concept of a zero latency unlimited bandwidth hard drive and SSD is about as close as I am going to get.
I have been using solid state drives (RAM drives, actually, but close enough) since about 1989 plus or minus ... ever since my first i386 machine (I used them before then, but didn't actually own one until then) when my boot files created a RAM disk (vdisk.sys or ramdisk.sys, I forget which was included in the Compaq hack of MS DOS, version 3.31 ), usually about 256 kilobytes from my incredibly expensive two megabytes of caterpillar looking DRAM chips, copied COMMAND.COM onto that ramdisk, and set the comspec to find and use it from RAM. Mind bending performance gains, two orders of magnitude faster than my floppy disk and easily a single order of magnitude faster than the ST-251-1 I eventually bought to upgrade that floppy only system.
Operating systems and applications get fatter.
System RAM now faster, and there is a lot more of it.
Hard drives get larger and faster, much faster.
CPUs get faster.
SSDs are out there today, Cenatek has one, and there are a few others. Actual Solid State Disks. And there is a pretty wide gap between a disk big enough to actually use, and one you can afford. $3,000 for a 4Gig one. $1,000 for a 1Gig one. OMFG. I have heard a few underground talks about HyperDrive III (or HyperDrive 3) being a 5.25" bay sized thing with an IDE interface and 8 slots for SDRAM of up to 2G chips each. Rumors and vaporgear right now, but I'm hearing something in the $800 range for the thing, plus the cost of memory. Going to also have a place to put a slaved hard drive and a small battery backup, and it will shadow the changes back to the drive from time to time.
Anyways, Cenatek also has a driver level RAM drive that uses system memory, costs $69 and has a 30 day free trial (30 use actually, so don't reboot too often). It has some cool new features like shadowing the virtual disk (the ramdisk) to a file on your hard drive, saving the contents to that file during system shutdown and restoring the contents during boot up, and occasionally updating that file during regular operation (you set a time frame between updates) so when your XP (did I mention I'm doing all this on my WinXP Pro machine?) crashes you don't completely lose the contents of your ramdrive.
Pretty damn cool.
I have 1.25G in this machine now, and if I find myself loving the performance gains then going to 2G (adding two 512M chips at about $100 apiece) is going to put the price of a SSD in the 1G to 1.5G range (if I leave 512M for Windows to run in) is $270 : $200 for the memory and $70 for the software.
What am I going to do with a 1.5G ramdrive ... that's the next question.
Using the 256M one I'm playing with during the limited demo, I have already moved my \Internet Temporary Files directory there and it seems to make a noticable difference. It seems a little faster but I haven't done any serious emperical testing to be sure. Of course I have copied file back and forth from hard drive to ramdisk, that hauls ass (100 megabytes per second writing to the ramdrive) but I don't do a lot of that in real life. It is too small to install any applications (read : games) onto at 256M.
1.5G doesn't give me much more than the 256M I'm currently using. Still not large enough to copy an entire virtual machine onto for making my VMware stuff run faster. Can't actually run the OS from the ramdisk, 'cause Win XP would freak out about that, and because it is a Windows driver level application. I could put a chunk of my swapfile on it, since Windows swaps shit to the swapfile no matter how much memory you actually have ... that may make a difference, if it doesn't freak out on me in the process (not sure which loads first - the ram disk drivers, or the swapfile.)
I'm open to suggestions, and ideas, and general feedback.