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Thread: more .. faster .. better .. just what we all need! :th3:

  1. #1
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    more .. faster .. better .. just what we all need! :th3:

    Intel and Micron Produce Breakthrough Memory Technology

    better memory technology:

    For those totally disinterested in the guts of technology(on how it works) .. this sounds like seriously good stuff.

    Basically: RAM is fast, but totally unsuited for long term and large storage solutions.
    RAM can't hold it's data bits without external power, but the reason that the RAM type of memory technology is good is that it is very quick .. which is why it's used for RAM.

    If you had to use your spinning mechanical HDD as your RAM storage type, your computer would be glacially slow(no matter how fast your CPU was).

    SSD's are currently quite fast and retrieving data .. immensely much faster than the old spinning mechanical drives, and if your data is held on these SSD type drives you can get to this data much faster than you would if you still used mechanical drives.
    But SSD's are expensive. from memory about 6x more expensive than the traditional larger capacity spinning HDDs.

    So for long term storage of lots of data, you generally use spinning HDDs. A 1Tb SSD(which would be awesome because they're fast as lightning) generally costs between $600-$1K.
    A 2Tb -3Tb mechanical hdd(which is still quite quick, but about 1/10th the speed of an SSD woudl cost about $100(or just over).

    SSD's are also less durable. While for most of us normal folks, the write cycles may not ever affect us in any way .. they do have a finite life span. They can only be written to x number of times, before each memory cell begins to die.
    A well known website recently did a long term durability test, and for all intents and purposes us normal users may never ever hit this limit in our normal use.
    SSDs have a degree of intelligence set within themselves to manage this issue.

    This new memory type overcomes most of the issues of SSD technology as we currently know it.

    1. it's supposed to be cheaper than the current memory technology used for SSDs
    2. it's supposed to be more durable as well
    3. it's also even faster than current SSD memory tech too, and as fast as RAM technology.
    4. it's non volatile, so if it's also used for RAM storage too(ie. to replace the memory type currently used for RAM), then theoretically, your computer's boot up time in the future will be instant.
    That is, if your current computer takes 30-60sec(or more) to boot up, using a non volatile memory type(one that retains it's data even after external power is removed) .. then your computer even tho it's turned off, will restart in the last known state it was turned off at.
    The entire operating system and all the data on the computer can reside in ram instead of a 'hard drive', and hence any operation would be instantaneous.


    ..... **warning! lots of raving beyond this point** ....


    I still remember doing all the reading up for which drive was the best for me to acquire to replace an always filling up drive for all my photo storage needs.
    I'm always conscious of not over spending on stuff I don't want to spend money on(but have too!) .. and remember having filled my first 250G drive in 2006!
    My second in 2008 .. and getting worried that I was quickly running out of drives.
    A 1Tb drive when they first came out was simply 'amazing' ... but at $600, when a 250G drive was still only about $80 .. was ummm .... was a bit maddening!
    It was still half the cost to get 1Tb via 4x 250G drives than it was to get a single 1Tb drive.

    But then I got my first 1Tb drive not long after that, and I remember the breakthrough point was when they came in under $100 for the first time.
    It was a psychological point more than anything else, that now 1Tb made even more sense than ever before.

    So I bought 3 of them.
    After much reading up on which model to get, I asked for a particular model of a specific brand(because of the speed of the device).
    I still remember the difference that the drives made to my PC on first installing the very first of these 1Tb drives.
    It wasn't the extra space, but simply the much quicker data transfer times that the new drives could manage.

    Back then, as still now, I used Nikon's Capture NX2(and Capture NX before that), but for a long time up to using these 1Tb drives, I remember a 25Mb D300 raw file would take anywhere between 5 sec and maybe 10-15.. maybe even 20sec to load itself onto the screen, for me to edit.
    I never thought anything of it .. ever. It just seemed normal.
    So when I first loaded my first image using the new 1Tb drive as the storage for the raw files, it was literally jaw dropping to see it loaded near instantaneously. That is less than 1 second.
    I checked, double checked and simply due to curiosity I did tests for ages and a day after than just to figure out what and why.
    I formatted drives in specific formats(cluster sizes and all that stuff), and while some tweaks and fiddling helped by a couple of megabytes per second here and there .. only the newer technology of the 1Tb drive could explain the 3-4x increase in Mb/s transfer rates I was seeing.
    For the curious, on the old(but not very old tech back then) 250G drives I was seeing 15-25Mb/s transfer rates using various testing methods(as well as the good old copy/paste workflow)
    With the 1Tb drives tho .. 75-80 was an absolute minimum, and 100-110Mb/s was usual too.

    So the speed of having a 25Mb raw file, which was actually an 70-80-ish Megabyte tiff file, being loaded into CaptureNX2 made sense.
    It used to take somewhere between 3-4sec just get the data of the raw file to the RAM to then get crunched by the CPU into a set of colours for the screen to finally render.
    Now, it takes less than a sec to get the vital data off the HDD, so the RAM can send it quickly off to the CPU, for the much less capable graphics chip to turn into more of those colours on my screen.
    The hurdle was always the old slow HDD's way back then.

    FWIW: I'm still using(probably abusing!) those same poor old 3 1Tb HDD's today ... many countless Tb's later, and all three are still going strong.
    Strangely I also still have the same 4 250G drives I purchased even earlier(in 2005 or '06 or so) .. and still use two of them for non vital but still important data storage purposes(but non photographic related stuff).

    Data storage is long overdue for a massive injection of new and much improved technology, so this news(to me) is like .. about bloody time!
    I just hope that it's what they make it out to be .. more importantly cheap!.
    I don't care too much if it's not quite 1000x times faster than current SSD technology(NAND) flash memory.

    SSD's are still quite fast enough, and even if it is 1000x faster, the actual motherboard(and chip technology) probably wouldn't make full use of that speed anyhow.
    Just as long as it's cheaper .. close to 1/2 to 1/3 cheaper than current SSD prices would be good.
    I still refuse to purchase SSD drives for my desktop PC .. simply due to the price factor.
    I have them for my tablet and my kids laptops tho .. they make much better sense in those situations .. but to save 20 seconds for Win7 to boot up .. and a few more here and there various programs .. nah! not worth it.
    The 'vital data' still all resides on those same 1Tb drives from years ago(and a few more new ones) anyhow.


    Into the future, now that Canon has reignited the 'Mp war', the speed(and cost!) of storage is definitely going to become a concern for the keen digital photographer. So the speed of high quality and affordable storage is going to become an issue.
    Something that startled me only a few days ago.
    I have a D800E, and an average raw file is in the order of 75-85Mb unedited. Add some mild editing(WB shadow/highlight recovery in ViewNX2) .. and maybe 95-ish Mb)
    Add some tweaking in CNX2 and more like 100Mb. That's close to the top end of the size scale.

    Canon's 5Dsr raw files will be more like 100Mb straight from camera .. at 14bits and if no compression is applied.
    That's not startling in any way in itself, but in my usual never ending search for more info, I stumbled on the Pentax K3II.
    A seemingly innocuous camera .. in effect a slight evolution of an already well known camera.
    What was startling about this K3II, was the potential size of it's raw files(and a possible glimpse of an impending future to come too).

    The K3 has a pixel shift feature, like the one on the new Olympus .. only I think better in many ways.(not important for this discussion).
    non pixel shifted, the raw files are 32Mb or so.
    The pixel shifted raw files are a monstrous 120M tho .. clearly about 4x larger, which makes perfectly good sense, as each pixel has 4x the data of a non shifted raw image.
    As each manufacturer has the desire to outdo each other in terms of features and marketing blurb, I think it's only natural for manufacturers to maintain a momentum for just such a feature type to further improve potential IQ.
    So for example, if Nikon were to take up this new feature type with a D800, at 80-90Mp already for a raw file, at 4x that, we're now closing on nearly 400Mb for a raw file.
    If you like to work with tiff files for some reason .. figure on just a touch over double that in 16bit mode, so we're now at close on 700-800Gb for a single raw file.

    I'm sure you probably see why quick, cheap and totally dependable data storage, into the future is something I'm always interested in reading up on.

    As it stands for me at the moment, I'm still OK in terms of not needing any new hardware for a couple of years.
    I'm currently at 1.5Tb on a 2Tb drive for my daily archive storage(the daily online version) .. with an offline 3Tb drive as my secondary backup device.

    The last time I transferred that 1 point something Terabyte lot of images to a new drive, it took about 4 hours on one of those fast 100Mb/s HDDs.
    Prior to that transferring from one of the old slow 250G drives took 9 hours just for the 250G of data, even tho the 1Tb drive was more than quick enough, the weakest link in the chain was the slow 25oG drive which could only operate at 15 or so Mb/s .. for 9 hours. And I had to do 2 of them.

    The 4 hours of copying from a fast HDD to an even faster HDD was a pleasure by comparison!


    ..... Oh! did I mention that faster cheaper and more durable HDDs are going to be important in our future?
    (sorry for the rant. I did originally intend to post just the info about the news, but then wanted also to offer a perspective from a obsessive/compulsive's point of view as to why this could be important news)
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


  2. #2
    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    Non volatile memory has been available for a long time, Arthur, at least for the non-price-constrained consumer. I remember, vaguely, that I used to be a technical specialist in the area of storage (actually a manager, but also a Principal Engineer), and this doesn't surprise me in the slightest. It would be great if everything was solid state, but disks are going to be cheaper and bigger for the foreseeable future. Maybe quantum storage will eventually take over, but that's dreaming.

  3. #3
    Drifter, Racer and Picture Taker
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    I'm all for faster and cheaper memory.

    I have found that the cables you use can also make quite a difference in download speed too.
    All my photos are taken with recycled pixels.
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom, is knowing not to serve it in a fruit salad.

  4. #4
    A royal pain in the bum!
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    arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Axford View Post
    Non volatile memory has been available for a long time....
    for the purpose of using it as RAM?

    if so, I didn't know this and it was probably for the types of systems us mere consumers will never experience first hand anyhow.

    I know you can get a type of memory that's called NVRAM, but (AFAIK) it's uses are as flash memory(the type used in USB drives and memory cards) .. not very fast .. hence useless as RAM.
    Further to this, it's life is limited in terms of capacity to write too it. Again for RAM based applications, less than ideal as your RAM modules would wear out every other week(or so).

  5. #5
    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    Cray (you remember Cray supercomputers?) had an option for nonvolatile memory which was RAM. It cost a few million extra, but if price wasn't a constraint then why not? I remember using EPROM chips (Erasable Programable Read Only Memory) in 1978 to store program code on. I think they were about $100 for 4k. Now it's about $100 for 16gb of RAM.

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