RamSAN Storage Unit Delivers High Performance

RamSAN Storage Unit Delivers High Performance

Henry Baltazar

Texas Memory Systems Inc.’s RamSan-220 solid-state unit provides a powerful storage punch for IT managers in performance-sensitive environments.

Although the price of storage systems in general has come down (on a price-to-capacity ratio), the solid-state disk market is still a sector that companies on tight budgets should probably avoid.

These budget constraints are an unfortunate fact of life for many organizations, but for companies that can afford its high initial cost, the RamSan-220 delivers extremely high performance. Using SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) as its primary storage, the RamSan-220 can smoke just about any conventional hard-drive-based storage unit.

In eWEEK Labs’ tests using Intel Corp.’s Iometer testing tool, which benchmarks file transfer performance, the RamSan-220 delivered 195MB-per-second throughput when running a sequential read test with a 512KB request size—enough to saturate a 2G-bps Fibre Channel storage link. More impressive was the RamSan-220’s ability to pump out more than 39,000 I/O operations per second (running a sequential read test with a 512-byte request size).

We probably could have squeezed even more performance out of the RamSan-220 by running more initiators because we used only one of the four available ports.

Two Ways to Store

The RamSan-220 has two modes of operation. The first, called DataSynch Mode, keeps hard drives offline and carries out read and write transactions only in memory. In a power outage, the Fibre Channel interfaces are disabled, and data is flushed to disk. DataSynch is the faster of the two modes, but data could be lost if anything happens to the unit.

The second mode of operation, called Triple-Mirror mode, mirrors data to the two on-board disks and to memory. Read transactions are still extremely fast because they are handled in memory, but write transactions are slowed because of the disk mirroring process. Triple-Mirror mode is best for applications that are highly sensitive to data integrity or for applications where read-only data is cached.

The RamSan-220’s management utilities are basic—most important configuration tasks are done via Telnet. A Web Management interface is available, but we found it was really useful only for checking for failed hardware components.

The RamSan-220 features four Fibre Channel ports: two 1G-bps ports and two 2G-bps ports to provide multiple connections.

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar is at henry_baltazar@ziffdavis.com.

Executive Summary: RamSan-220















Texas Memory Systems’ RamSan-220 delivers blazing performance in a small 2U (3.5-inch) rack-mountable package. The RamSan-220 is best when used in performance-sensitive applications such as database caching and indexing.


With a starting price of $45,000 for an 8GB unit, the RamSan-220 has a high acquisition cost that will probably scare off most buyers. Everyday management of the RamSan-220 should be relatively easy because there are no critical moving parts that could break and lead to substantial downtime.

(+) High performance; easy to deploy.

(-) Management could be easier; high acquisition costs.

EVALUATION SHORT LISTImperial Technology Inc.’s SANacceleratorwww.texmemsys.com

Copyright © 2003 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Storage Supersite.