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StamatisX

RAMDisk and computer performance

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A very nice way to boost your computer's performance is by installing an SSD. Even though SSDs are way faster than HDDs, still NANDs used on SSDs and the SATA 2/3 protocol cannot be compared to the speed of a DDR3 RAM.

A solution to this gap is a RAMDisk. With current chipset architectures that allow even laptops to have up to 32GB of RAM, someone who can afford it and wants the maximum performance for the money s/he paid should seriously consider a solution like that.

I was thinking of a scenario with the soon to be released Alienware M18x, that supports up to 32GB of RAM.

Keep 8GB for the OS and dedicate the rest 24GB to the RAMDisk. Inside that space you can allocate the pagefile, assign all the temp files, caches like that used by the web browser (that instead of being written on the disk would now be written much more faster on your RAM) and install programs that you use the most and you need them to run as fast as possible.

You won't have to worry about the wear and tear of your SSD, since at the end of the day all the data will be written in a serial manner to your SSD, you will utilize your RAM in a more efficient way since most of the times it remains unused, the pagefile will remain on your SSD instead of the slower SSD/HDD and will reduce the wear of it.

You can even install an OS in there using VM. That OS would literally fly.

Cons are the cost and the limited size of RAM, plus you need a 64bit version of windows to be able to utilize more than 3GB of RAM, it will as prolong the shut down times since it will have to write everything to your SSD at the end of the day.

So what do you think about it? Do you have any other ideas about maximizing your computer's performance?

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Have you already worked with a system which used this setup? I'm really curious about whether you can actually fell the difference or not. I heard about this idea a couple of times and I think it's really interesting. However there are also people saying it isn't really worth all the effort because you don't gain enough performance... I'd love to hear from someone who uses this whether it really (noticeably) boosts the system.

BTW, did you check the prices of the 8GB RAM sticks? :D

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Yeah kinda pricy I know, but if it can really increase the performance that much, it might be worth it, unfortunately I only have 4GB of RAM and I need pretty much all of it, but if I had 8 I would dedicate half of it and install programs in it to see the difference.

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Yeah, I only have 4GB myself, otherwise I would have tried it already a while ago. I'm really curious whether it works fine.

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It should work better than fine, ie, let's say you have Linux and installed using vmware on the ramdisk, compiling the kernel would me blazing fast, so would be the whole OS.

Think about it, you would run an entire OS on your RAM...

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Yes, when running a VM on the RAMdisk it will be incredibly fast... I agree. But I'm wondering whether having the pagefile on the RAMdisk really makes a big difference.

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About the pagefile, I usually keep it off, unless I plan to play a game like Metro 2033, for some reason if I don't have a pagefile larger than 4GB the game crashes with an error about low memory, while my RAM still has 2GB free. So keeping the pagefile in RAM (given that we have plenty, like the scenario described on my first post) will prevent the wear and tear of an SSD or makes things a lot faster if we have an HDD.

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All the concept checks out, I tried it actually with my system when it worked I used a 1gb size ram disk to give it a try. It did improve speed to the temp files a lot. I didn't try a page file and as people start to have more ram by default config this should be a good solution for all the uses you posted Stam. There is another thing, you have an option if not using sensitive data to be saved like a pagefile, instead your using it for browser temp files and cookies, if you don't have the ramdisk save it's contents at shutdown you have a automatic way to delete your history and temp files. So a ramdisk can provide better security. Those who bench could keep the executable in a ramdisk and tests with a lot of reads and writes. If I had 32Gb I would do very similar to what you suggested Stam. Your pagefile is basically like a second version of your ram... It contains everything you may need but isn't work putting in your ram yet(according to windows) and if those files when needed were accessed faster then you would see speed improvement in everything. There is a option to clear pagefile every shutdown (in windows) if you pair that with don't save ram disk contents at shutdown, you won't lose more crucial ssd disk space and will see the benefit of a page file on ramdisk. SSD operations per second is shadowed by ram's max operations per second. We need to see some benches of systems with their temp files and page files on ramdisk versus systems without. Then we need to see the program aspect of things like install Vantage or 3DMark2011 and see it's performance versus normal install on SSD and platter disk drives.

Stam, I found the same thing some programs cannot have no page file and I found a 1-2gb minimum or I would have similar errors. That's when I decided the pagefile was crucial and integral. I get better bench scores with 8gb page file with 8gb of ram...

Edited by mw86

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Pagefiles are needed for 32bit game executables with poor memory management.

The developers have 2 options when it comes to 32bit games:

1: Fit everything into 2GB and manage it properly, using time and effort (or 3Gb if the user has the /3gb environment variable, but thats not reliable)

2: IDGAF it and code poorly, lazily, and quickly and rely on the page file for memory overflow.

I bet you can fucking guess what they choose?

So if you have a 64bit machine with 9999999gb memory, that game exe can only use 2gb. So the devs throw all their extra crap into the pagefile.

If you have your pagefile switched off and the devs do this you will get the "close programs memory too low" error, which is actually bullshit if you check out your task manager. Its windows responding to one program hitting its pitiful 2gb limit.

If it is a 64bit app, you wont have this problem with your pagefile switched off.

So, the best solution if you have more than 8gb ram, is to have a 4gb ramdisk with a 4gb pagefile on it, set size. Then your 32 bit apps will be more than happy. Also, use the /3gb switch on startup for a bit of extra legroom.

-Ash

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Great post Ash. So when I got bluescreen errors or program crashes with the page file off its because a program or game exceeded it's 2gb memory limit. Cool If I get 8gb - 32 GB of ram I'll throw my pagefile on a ramdisk @ 4gb size.

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so been using my pagefile in a 4gb ramdisk for maybe a week... the OS is what I notice a difference in... seems like moving through windows os interface in this config is much snappier. any suggestions on a test to see real world benefits guys?

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bump guys any thoughts i went to 1gb ramdisk with 1gb swap files to see if better... shutdown and start up speed improved since ramdisk backup at shutdown has less to save....

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As long as you don't see any weird behavior with programs, like sudden crashes or BSOD then you can leave it like that. It means that what you use doesn't require anything more than that.

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Sweet thanks Stamatis... This on standard hard drive still.... I will use this on SSD no doubt. As I will be raiding mine although it disables trim. Raid says do not place page file on raid partition... So I won't I'll place in ramdisk.

plus saves ssd from many writes... This way only write from page file will be at each shutdown then as ramdisk backup. Need help though sometimes I see total page file size is larger then I had set and is currently set in system properties. I am reading max from hwinfos latest version. Mumak added its reading to sensors window which is so cool mumak!

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