What to Do with a Terabyte of RAM

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2008-03-21 Print this article Print

It may not be long before PCs come with a terabyte of memory.

OK, so we're not there yet. Well, none of us who isn't running supercomputers or one heck of a cluster is there yet, anyway. But as RAM continues to drop in price, I can see the day coming.

Come the day we get a terabyte of RAM in our systems, we'll find a need for it. After all, recall that great prophet Bill Gates who swore 640K of memory would be all we'd need. Real-time high-definition video editing anyone?

That day, by the way, isn't as far away as you might think. Violin Scalable Memory will be happy to sell you a terabyte-capable memory device to attach to your server, the Violin 1010 Memory Appliance. OK, so it would cost you a few-well more than a few-hundred thousand dollars. Still, you can see it coming.

But while I can dream up applications that could use a terabyte of RAM, that leaves aside the wee technical problem of how you access that much memory. Daniel Phillips, a Linux developer, has an idea: the ramback virtual device.

In the LKML (Linux Kernel Mailing List), Phillips describes the ramback as a "virtual device with the ability to back a ramdisk by a real disk, obtaining the performance level of a ramdisk but with the data durability of a hard disk. To work this magic, ramback needs a little help from a UPS [uninterruptible power supply]. In a typical test, ramback reduced a 25 second file operation to under one second including sync."

Read the full story on Linux-Watch.

I'm editor-at-large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. That's a fancy title that means I write about whatever topic strikes my fancy or needs written about across the Ziff Davis Enterprise family of publications. You'll find most of my stories in Linux-Watch, DesktopLinux and eWEEK. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, I worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects.

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