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Hardcore Hardware: We stuffed this PC with 128GB of cutting-edge DDR4 RAM

Gordon Mah Ung | June 24, 2015
Humans like to celebrate barriers being broken. The speed of sound. The first 1GHz processor, or 1TB hard drive.

Once I updated the board to the latest BIOS, all went as expected without any hitches. The OS I used on our PC was Windows 8.1 Enterprise. If you still don't believe I got the bottom-feeder Core i7-5820K to work with 128GB of RAM, here's proof.

Uhh, now what?

I'll admit, I was giddy firing up a PC with 128GB of RAM in it, but once I was booted I experienced a "now what" moment of doubt. Few people need more than 16GB of RAM, and some can even get by with 8. Outside of the 1-percenters who may need 64GB of RAM for extreme photoshop, virtualization or multi-tasking, it's just not needed. 

To make use of this glorious amount of hardware, I settled on creating one massive RAM disk. RAM disks use your system's RAM to simulate a  storage "disk." They've been around for years but typically are far smaller due to the constraints of memory. Not everyone needs a RAM disk, but if you need access to temporary storage that puts even the most powerful SSDs to shame, a RAM disk is the way to do it.

I fired up Softperfect RAM disk and dialed in a 100GB RAM disk. Here's what's so great about the RAM I had: Even with a 100GB RAM disk, I had 28GB or so of memory left to work with.

To find out just how fast this RAM disk could be, I ran Crystal Disk Mark. As you can see, the performance puts any SSD to shame. The mighty Intel 750-series SSD, for example, has a sequential read speed of maybe 2.7GBps. The RAM disk was hitting 8.7GBps.

RAM disks have one pretty big downside: if there's a sudden power outage or serious BSOD, kiss goodbye anything you had in the RAM disk that wasn't previously saved. It's gone baby, gone.

It's obvious I'm reaching for use cases for this much RAM, but there are people out there who legitimately need this capacity. It's just not for 99 percent of us. What this really is about, though, is finally breaking through the 64GB barrier. 

Yes, 128GB of system RAM seems silly, but if you dial back the clock, people used to say that about 16MB of RAM and 1GB of RAM. One day, I can say with confidence, we'll look back and laugh how silly we were to be in awe of 128GB of RAM--when we're all running 1TB and counting.


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