DDRdrive hits the ground running with its PCI-E RAM-based SSD

Today, previously unknown DDRdrive LLC released its flagship product, the DDRdrive X1. We burned through the weekend to provide a first peek on release day. Read on to see how the X1 fares against the ioDrive 160 and an Intel X25-M.
Today, previously unknown DDRdrive LLC released its flagship product, the DDRdrive X1. We burned through the weekend to provide a first peek on release day. Read on to see how the X1 fares against the ioDrive 160 and an Intel X25-M.Intro

Last week I got an email about a new product launch.  We get many of these types of mails here at PC Perspective, but this one caught my eye and snagged my attention.  It was about a RAM-based SSD.  My mind immediately flashed back to the I-RAM.  I remembered how insanely cool the concept was, as well as all of the pitfalls associated with being on the bleeding edge.  The I-RAM used auxiliary 3.3V power from the motherboard to keep the RAM alive even with the system shut down, and a battery backup on-board, but if your power went out for a few hours the battery would deplete, and so would whatever was on it.  I’m not thrilled about any of my data being *that* volatile.  This held especially true for those who had their OS installed on it.  I thought back to what I perceived as the two huge things missing from the I-RAM:
  • Connect to the system via PCI instead of SATA
  • Some way to backup the RAM and restore it later
I returned to reality and replied to the email, asking for more info.  A few emails later I saw this:

DDRdrive hits the ground running - PCI-E RAM-based SSD - Storage  1

One has only to look at this picture to realize DDRdrive LLC has answered at least one of the two weaknesses noted above, as PCI-Express takes the place of SATA.  There is actually more to the DDRdrive X1 than meets the eye.  The designer of this card had one thing in mind:  IOPS performance.  Under that heatsink is a custom FPGA multi-channel memory controller.  To accomodate the increased traces required for the task, a custom PCB with more layers than some motherboards is used.

DDRdrive hits the ground running - PCI-E RAM-based SSD - Storage  2

Under the CNC machined heatsink we see the FPGA controller next to a pair of SLC flash chips.  This flash memory enables the DDRdrive to backup and restore from non-volatile storage.

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