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  • SharkyForums.Com - Print: Solid-state hard drive idea FAST

    Solid-state hard drive idea FAST
    By blk-sabbath-fan January 11, 2001, 08:41 AM

    I was eating lunch with some buds one day and I had an idea which will not be too useful till memory is even cheaper than it is today. Think of this a "hard drive" which whould have to be a 5.25" bay that connects through normal ata33-100 but would resemble a cdrom case more than a hard drive which has a openening top, inside would be a main board attached to the hd case that would include about 10 sdram dimm sockets and would accept ohhh say pc-133 memory. It would have to contain a battery backup of some kind since standard memory is volitile meaning it erases itself when power is cut off. You could buy say 512mg dimm's when you got the money obveously when ram gets a lot cheaper and "upgrade the hard drive like you would a system's memory, the controller would have to allow the memory to permenantly "or at least till u erase it" store a file instead of temporarily storing it like the ram is designed today. If they made a solid state hard drive like that with 10 sockets you could get up to 5Gb of pure solidstate power which would be hella fast. Tell me what you think.

    By Grizzly January 11, 2001, 09:50 AM

    The only problem I see with that is memory addressing. Saaaay....you have all 10 slots filled up with 512MB DIMM's. And you want to "upgrade" that harddrive to something more substantial....ssaay 1024MB DIMMs. How do you know which module contains which data?
    At some point you're going to need to ditch some DIMM's for an upgrade...and there's no way of knowing which DIMM's have what.
    One could write a C++ program that would record the addressing of all the "harddrive" space anytime new data was added to the harddrive, but the system resource overhead for that would be crippling I would imagine.

    By blackice January 11, 2001, 10:44 AM

    Actually since the access time is so small, could there be some kind of SPID or BIOS that would direct the traffic, not letting you fill that last stick untill you added another. Kind of a redundancy factor?

    By Galen_of_Edgewood January 11, 2001, 12:03 PM

    quote:Originally posted by blackice:
    Actually since the access time is so small, could there be some kind of SPID or BIOS that would direct the traffic, not letting you fill that last stick untill you added another. Kind of a redundancy factor?

    Well, how often would you replace the RAM? Not often, I'd suppose. Why not have a Firewire connection from the RAM Drive to a large HD to back up the data? That way, you back up the data, shut down the RD, upgrade the memory, bring the RD back up, and copy everything back over?

    It would be slow (if you think that 400 Mbits/sec is slow!), but it wouldn't have to happen too often, so it would be a good and cheap workaround w/o having to do some serious programming.

    Personally, I'd say use something faster than just PC133, like PC-2100 or more, but that's a whole new ball game, huh?

    [EDIT] Never mind, I just remembered that PC-133's bandwith is in the 1.08 Gb/s range. Don't need the 2.1 GB/s + bandwith of PC-2100. Ignore that. [/EDIT]

    I think that the transfer rate would be the killer, since we know that that would be the bottleneck right there. Perhaps something to the effect of a Gigabit RJ-45 connection internally. I think that might reduce the bottle neck, not to mention cause much less restriction of air flow.

    Sorry, my mind is just ramblin' right now.

    By ua549 January 11, 2001, 12:29 PM

    Yep, good idea - 15 years after I had my first solid state disk look alike on a mainframe.

    Your challenge is to not reinvent the unit, but to make it more cost effective. There are server type units on the market now with SCSI and FC interfaces. They are used primarily for database indexes and other high performance file operations. Pricing starts at 5 figures and goes up and up and up.

    By James January 11, 2001, 12:41 PM

    Or you could just follow Quantums Idea for storage of data.
    http://www.dirtcheapdrives.com/tech/quantum/scsi/specs/ru5320g-yf_spec.shtml

    It uses a small format hard drive to back everything up in case of power failure, RAM failure, etc.

    And, it's only 28,000 dollars!

    By Marsolin January 11, 2001, 01:11 PM

    quote:Originally posted by Grizzly:
    The only problem I see with that is memory addressing. Saaaay....you have all 10 slots filled up with 512MB DIMM's. And you want to "upgrade" that harddrive to something more substantial....ssaay 1024MB DIMMs. How do you know which module contains which data?
    At some point you're going to need to ditch some DIMM's for an upgrade...and there's no way of knowing which DIMM's have what.
    One could write a C++ program that would record the addressing of all the "harddrive" space anytime new data was added to the harddrive, but the system resource overhead for that would be crippling I would imagine.

    It sounds like swapping DIMMs would necessitate a formatting-like excerise where all data needs to be backed up and redone. You would also have to consider hot swap capability. Standard memory technology doesn't allow it, but one way to work around that would be using software to control the power to each slot individually.

    If you were adding a DIMM to and empty slot you could install it and tell the program that new memory has been added. It would read the SPD and initialize it properly.

    To remove a DIMM you could tell the software and it could check to see if there is room to "defrag" that data to the other present DIMMs. If so, it would notify you when complete and turn off power to that module.

    By Galen_of_Edgewood January 11, 2001, 01:13 PM

    quote:Originally posted by ua549:
    Yep, good idea - 15 years after I had my first solid state disk look alike on a mainframe.

    Your challenge is to not reinvent the unit, but to make it more cost effective. There are server type units on the market now with SCSI and FC interfaces. They are used primarily for database indexes and other high performance file operations. Pricing starts at 5 figures and goes up and up and up.

    Well, one of the pluses of this particular idea of his is the fact that it is fairly easily upgradeable, at a relatively low cost.

    Just out of curiosity, what have you seen in the solid-state look-alike arena of servers? It might let us stop reinventing the wheel and finally put some tubless rims on this thing.

    By blk-sabbath-fan January 11, 2001, 01:28 PM

    i've been thinking a bit more bout' it and i believe there should be a external power cord plugging into the front of the drive so you can shut down the comp. without losing memory for power outages you could have a UPS and/or keep the backup battery inside the case, you would also want to image the memory hard drive to a traditional hd in case of a extended power outage. as far as data transfer externally out of the drive AMD is developing a new technology that will replace IDE called LDT "lightning data transfer" which is very fast, now i'll just have to wait till i go for computer engineering next year so i can start designing the controller circuit

    By James January 11, 2001, 02:40 PM

    quote:Originally posted by blk-sabbath-fan:
    i've been thinking a bit more bout' it and i believe there should be a external power cord plugging into the front of the drive so you can shut down the comp. without losing memory for power outages you could have a UPS and/or keep the backup battery inside the case, you would also want to image the memory hard drive to a traditional hd in case of a extended power outage. as far as data transfer externally out of the drive AMD is developing a new technology that will replace IDE called LDT "lightning data transfer" which is very fast, now i'll just have to wait till i go for computer engineering next year so i can start designing the controller circuit

    Blk-sabbath-fan, check my post. You are basically stealing your ideas from Quantum. The DIMMS is a novel idea, but it is still volatile storage. The only kind of memory (that is currently not even available) that can access like SDRAM but store data like flash memory is mDRAM. magnetic DRAM. it accesses at SDRAM speeds, but stores information magnetically, like a hdd.

    As far as having a power cord for the front of the drive, it is not worth it. if you are going to use an UPS, use it for the whole system. If you are planning on turning the system off, the data must simply be stored in a non-volatile storage medium, a hdd or something similar. The only problem with storing the data in a hdd is the time at power restoration necessary to reload all of the data from the hdd to the RAMDisk.

    Don't stop coming up with ideas. Just double check and see what others have already done.

    "...to stand on the shoulders of giants and take the next step..."

    By blk-sabbath-fan January 11, 2001, 04:43 PM

    james personally I just looked up the specs of the quantum drive and did not steal the ideas from quantum, I had heard of solidstate hd's but never seen specs or and actual drive. No i did'nt know about sdram not being able to store data for extended times and that you had to have the magnetic ram, second i'm doing this just for fun i plan on sketching my design just for fun, so to review no i'm not ripping of quantem, no i'm not marketing it, and i'll stress again i was just bring this discussion up for fun even though i had no idea the quantum existed

    By ua549 January 11, 2001, 06:01 PM

    quote:Originally posted by Galen_of_Edgewood:
    Well, one of the pluses of this particular idea of his is the fact that it is fairly easily upgradeable, at a relatively low cost.

    Just out of curiosity, what have you seen in the solid-state look-alike arena of servers? It might let us stop reinventing the wheel and finally put some tubless rims on this thing.

    Some of the products I was familiar with are no longer made because of the demise of mainframe products such as Sperry 1100 & 2200 and Unisys A-Series & V-Series however there are still several mini-computer (AS400, HP9000, etc.) models still available. It seems that rotating storage is doing quite well when it is matched the multi-gigabyte cache controllers used for database storage systems, i.e, greater than 10TBytes. I used SSD to store database indexes, before the days of relational DBs.

    There are hundreds of solid state disk products in the marketplace. Most of the current products are either flash eeprom or dram based. BitMicro has many products to meet a variety of needs from SCSI to IDE lookalike units from 1 gig up to 36 gig. The flash units need no backup power, etc.

    Here are some links to products - http://www.bitmicro.com/ediskline.htm (Flash Products) http://www.bitmicro.com/ediskcacheline.htm (Dram Products)

    This one, Alpine, looks like SCSI II and fits in a 19" rack with internal disk and battery backup. http://www.dynamicsolutions.com/Pages/Products/SSD/Default.asp
    http://www.dra-international.com/SSD%20Open.htm
    http://www.dra-international.com/SSD%20White%20Paper.htm

    Here is a FAQ site, but like most, the material is quite dated. http://www.silicondisk.com/SSD_tech_faq.html

    By James January 11, 2001, 06:47 PM

    quote:Originally posted by blk-sabbath-fan:
    james personally I just looked up the specs of the quantum drive and did not steal the ideas from quantum, I had heard of solidstate hd's but never seen specs or and actual drive. No i did'nt know about sdram not being able to store data for extended times and that you had to have the magnetic ram, second i'm doing this just for fun i plan on sketching my design just for fun, so to review no i'm not ripping of quantem, no i'm not marketing it, and i'll stress again i was just bring this discussion up for fun even though i had no idea the quantum existed

    No offense taken, and I am sure that you weren't going to rip off Quantum. I am sorry if I sounded like the copyright police, I meant to sound encouraging. Check out the tech specs on the Quantum (not just the basic specs) as well as the info that ua549 posted.

    Try to flesh out your idea of usind DIMMs instead of breadboards of SDRAM (like the Quantum). It is an interesting and unique outlook on solid state storage. How many (and at what angle) DIMM Slots could you fit into a standard 5.25" Drive bay? You originally stated 10, but I think you could fit more in if they mounted at an angle. To keep it cool you could use the excess space on either side of the DIMMs (assuming they mount parallel to the front of the drive) for cooling fans.

    Question: The quantum uses a Hard drive to back up the data in the SS storage. Does it use a technique similar to RAID 1? In other words does it (internally) mirror the drive(s)?


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