Oh joy, oh joy! One of the more interesting piece of news I've the storage industry lately (not counting yet-to-come miracle technologies) is from [www.gigabyte.com] the next step (it's really more like a giant leap) in digital storage.
Anandtech have done a little review on Gigabyte's i-Ram, and I remain absolutely thrilled.. i-Ra isn't in itself very revolutionary, but more like a sign of things to come.
iRam is at its current version a PCI-card with 4 RAM-slots free to plug in whatever you want of ram. The exacts of this is not important, what is, is that once booted, the storage capacity of the ram will be detected as an unformatted harddrive by the BIOS. It will be free to install exactly what you want, and will for all practical purposes behave exactly like one. Except it's blindingly fast. It's so fast it should max your PCI bus, continuously, and handle multiple multiple requests well due to NO MOVING PARTS, larger than electron-size). And silent.
In short it will be just as RAM is, it just works, and usually finishes it's tasks before you notices it has even started. It will be a lot slower than regular ram, since the PCI bus is the limiting factor, and the units produced this far, have had non-optimized chip layouts.
The main feature, is that the built-in battery, will keep the iRam powered and retain data, even if the unit is unplugged for up to 16 hours (more than enough to be useful). So
The current size/price ratio is horrible, and the maximum capacity is way too small for REAL fun, but consider this; a stationary PC with fanless powersupply, extra large CPU heatsink and fanless graphics card. Add in one iRam with 4 Gb capacity for OS and temporary caching of files for playback, and use a Gigabit NIC to fetch files for playback. What you'll be left with is a mediacenter PC that makes LESS noise than your refrigerator, or even the home stereo at max volume, and nothing playing.
The only way to tell if it's on, is to check the LED's, or observe infrared heat emission. It's sooo sweet I can't even begin to explain all the nuances of GOOD this means. But if this gets some time to become more usable, and the price/capacity ratios come down, and the performance of all 'silent' components are ok, then home mediacentre solutions with solid state clients and media content servers (sooner or later super-broadband providers' serverparks can do this job), will become really popular combo.