Solid State Drives

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Tricky
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Solid State Drives

Postby Tricky » Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:23 am

I was thinking of getting a pair of [url='http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-state_drive']SSDs[/url]for my next rig in addition to one normal HDD, so I was just wondering if anyone here had any working experience with them, ran into unique issues, learned something good, etc. Anything worth sharing really. It's an interesting subject that's becoming increasingly relevant to us gamers.

I still don't have any hands-on experience, but I found a few interesting things about them so far (aside from the obvious that they are completely silent & bloody fast). Most of them are lifetime / endurance increasing tips.

  • The serious wear related issues they had a couple years back (the 'bits' on these discs lose a tiny bit of charge every time they are rewritten) have all been resolved. How you use them still affects their lifespan, but it is already generally accepted to be as long as a regular HDD's, if not longer (it would still depend a lot on the price class of the SSD in question). It's still wise to keep a 'normal' HDD drive around for programs that do a lot continuous of writing to the disc's surface (not usually games, but likely download managers, torrents and other programs that continuously download, such as Spotify and general browser cache).
  • For this same reason, you may want to relocate the Windows Pagefile to a normal disc. Also if you like to hibernate your Windows sessions a lot, it would be a good idea to relocate the space it uses for that to a different disc too. (MAJOR edit: Doing the opposite by putting your pagefile on an SSD file will severely speed up Windows, so maybe you want this if you trust the durability of your SSD enough. In fact, I believe Windows ReadyBoost will automatically ask you to do this whenever you connect a Flash or SSD drive.)
  • The standard Windows NTFS filesystem is too cumbersome for SSD drives. SSD's should instead be formatted [url='http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exfat']exFAT[/url], to further reduce wear from unnecessary writes. However..
  • Sadly Windows cannot boot from exFAT yet. Another reason to keep a regular hard drive around, just for the time being. Some Linux distros can boot from it, but they may still have general issues with exFAT (seeing as how exFAT is primarly a Microsoft product). Linux may have come up with something better anyhow.
  • I have heard of hacks that will let Windows boot from exFAT. Unfortunately I have no links to these as I question their legality. Use them at your own risk.
  • Getting several smaller SSD drives may in some cases be better than getting one, big drive. The reason for this lies in the architecture of the disc itself. Large and small SSD's occupy the same physical space (to fit in your motherboard) and hold the same amount of electrical charge to keep all the bits and bytes in place. It also means that there is less charge per bit available on larger, higher density drives. Less charge will ultimately evaporate faster during writes.
  • Don't buy low-budget SSD drives. They are just as fast or sightly faster than the best 'normal' hard disc drives, but much more expensive. Unless the noise factor is an absolute seller for you, the cost-benefit ratio of low-budget SSD drives just doesn't work out.
  • To older and simpler motherboards an SSD drive will likely be the fastest component. In such cases, every time it tries to read or write it would need to wait for the rest of the system to catch up. Even if you notice a speed increase, getting an SSD drive may ultimately not be cost effective enough.
  • New SSD's should all have this but just in case you aren't sure, look for drives with [url='http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRIM']TRIM[/url] support to further increase SSD endurance.

    Edits:
    12-17-2012: Extended 2nd point about pagefiles.
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KendoBento
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Postby KendoBento » Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:22 am

This is a late response, don't know if you got around to buying one or not (I took a look at Black Friday, I admit), but I'm thinking about it now; I've always had IDE 133 as my boot devices, and right now I'm using a Green (5400 rpm I think) as a boot device, until I can otherwise secure something more modern/better in general... but even this green drive is so much faster than the old IDE drives...

Anyway, only really commenting to say that your post is pretty comprehensive... when I was shopping for motherboards a few months ago, I was somewhat confused over the new chipsets in relation to SSD's. Apparently, some offer SATA ports designed only for single, smaller SSDs (~40gig or less) for booting for some reason... I went with a z77, since Zxx, Hxx, and Pxx (I think there's at least one more, Rxx maybe) didn't seem to have any major differences that would bother me in the foreseeable future...

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Postby Tricky » Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:43 am

Not sure what that is about. It may simply be designed to always utilize ReadyBoost.

I haven't gotten around to buying one yet because I wanted to experiment with a RAM drive around the holidays. I will probably buy one in the new year.
[INDENT][SIZE="1"][font="Courier New"]'..[color="White"]t[/color]olerance w[color="White"]h[/color]en fog rolls in clouds unfold your selfless wings fe[color="White"]a[/color]thers [color="White"]t[/color]hat float from arabesque pillows I sold to be consumed by the [color="White"]s[/color]now white cold if only the plaster could hold withstand the flam[url="http://bit.ly/foT0XQ"]e[/url] then this fountain torch [color="White"]w[/color]ould know no shame and be outstripped only by the sun that burns with the glory and [color="White"]h[/color]onor of [color="White"]y[/color]our..'[/font][/size][/INDENT]

Scottg
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Postby Scottg » Tue Dec 18, 2012 3:02 pm

I've been researching a "final" solution for awhile now - which includes SSD's.

These are the items I've learned (at this time - late 2012):

1. Do NOT use it on any standard RAID setup (..0 through 11). Even with Intel's recent correction for RAID "0" and the various "garbage clean-up" protocols of the drive itself. The ONLY time it should be used in a RAID is as a prefetch/cache drive on an array. (Intel's standard protocol limits this to 64GB, but you can use a larger drive and just allocate 64GB to that task and use the remaining space for something else. In fact, in view of wear and tear with "garbage clean-up" it's likely *better* to have a larger drive. Other RAID cards have similar protocols for SSD caching. There are also software solutions as well for this task with SSDs.) Software can be a bit different as well.. (like Widows on RAID 1), but it's still generally a bad idea. Consider *other* back up solutions instead - usually of the "discreet interval" variety that only back-up at certain times (..like every 5 minutes or so).

2. ONLY use an SSD on a system with good power management from power loss, "brown-outs", or "spikes". This generally means only use an SSD on system with a decent UPS that includes a good surge "protector" (..OR on a laptop - and if plugged into the wall with a good surge protector).

3. Plan on ONLY using up to 75% of the drive's space. If you need more capacity than that - then look for a larger drive, or multiple drives. (..and if multiple drives, again only up to 75% of each.) This has to do with wear and tear on the drive in relation to garbage clean-up - even with the newer drives with much better garbage clean-up. As long as the drive isn't a "dud" (or doesn't experience some sort of physical or electrical shock during your use), that 75% limit protocol should make the drive last longer than the rest of your computer - far exceeding most mechanical hard drives. WARNING: that 75% should be "free", so if it has an OS on it like Windows make sure that the extra 25% isn't being used by its caching or back-up programs. (Note: if you don't particularly care about extended longevity of the drive, AND you have a newer drive with good garbage clean-up, then you can disregard this 75% recommendation.)

4. Select a drive from a manufacturer with good customer reviews (..Newegg's comments section is particularly useful for this), Samsung and Plextor seem good. ANY drive can fail within the first month or so - so make sure you lower your odds by going with a better manufacturer. Make sure you "back-up" the drive during that time just in case you have a "dud". Also, look at the reseller's AND manufacturer's replacement policy - make sure you can get a replacement in a timely manner with as little cost and hassle as possible.

5. If possible (almost) always get a newer version drive from the manufacturer (..Samsung's latest revision is however a bit slower than their previous - but it might have better garbage collection). CHECK your motherboard's Sata connections. Usually the newer drives will have Sata 3 connections. (Tip: narrow your search to ONLY drives with Sata 3 connectors.) Those will still work with Sata 2, BUT you will end up with less than half the performance if connecting to a Sata 2 connection. (..Even newer Motherboards usually have only a few dedicated Sata 3 connections - often only 2 of 6.)

6. If you want a marginally faster (in actual use) drive - pick an identical drive (all else equal) with double (or more) capacity. (..essentially the on-drive chip controller acts as RAID "0" solution to speed things up which is why the larger drives are faster.) Once you have narrowed your search to Sata 3 drives, start looking at performance characteristics like Reads and Writes (both max sequential and random 4k). Once you have a few you are interested in - do a web search on each of those specific drives looking for thorough reviews.

7. If can't spend much but you just want the speed of an SSD (and can meet some requirements), but still want to use your standard Hard Disk - then consider a caching SSD. Currently there are 2 technologies available (that don't use a RAID controller card): Intel SRT and Dataplex Cache. Intel has greater hardware and software limitations, Dataplex has fewer limitations (do a search for more info). The largest caching volume (a true 64 gig) is via Crucial's Synapse 128 GB drive. It uses 64 gig for caching and the remaining 64 gig for garbage clean-up (..so it has better longevity with only 50% use). The main limitation of any caching drive is file "use". For a game you will need to play it several times for the the cache to "build-up" in the caching SSD. Once it's "built-up" the cache for that game - performance will almost equal a game as if it were only on an SSD.

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Postby Tricky » Tue Dec 18, 2012 3:29 pm

Great addition, Scottg. :)

Generally, it should be noted that this is a relatively young 'field' of hardware, still at a stage where the technological advances are being developed at a very fast rate. Interesting developments regarding caching and R/W performance happen all the time. Waiting as little as a couple of months may buy you a significant advantage.
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Scottg
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Postby Scottg » Tue Dec 18, 2012 3:42 pm

The solution I'm still working on includes SSD's but it's overall design for gaming is rather *different*:

I personally find that within about 10 games or so - I'm a "serial monogamist" gamer. I go from one game to the next and rarely come back to that previous game. That allows for some interesting solutions in an overall computer design.

I still want access to those previously played-games, but I don't need INSTANT access to them.

With some of the better Drive-shifting (backup) programs that are available you can "archive" those games to a cheap large hard disk, and if at some later time you want to play it again - transfer the game back to that faster SSD.

Better still, perhaps you want it more "mobile" and you don't want a bunch of hard disks in a big chunky computer? You *could* have a large RAID server to accommodate this, but a much cheaper solution is a single slot "swap" drive bay or even just an add-on HDD docking station. Plus, you don't need it always "on" like a RAID server, nor do you really need redundancy as a result (..it's not wearing-out over time or subject to voltage spikes/drops because it's only "plugged-in" when you need to write that game or the rare retrieval). You could just go with a large disk add-on like from Lacie, but for a number of reasons that's less than ideal. For one it's often a more costly alternative. For another this isn't something you want plugged in all the time. I'll be using one of these:
[url='http://www.neo2tech.com/product-na321u+_t3527VI.html']http://www.neo2tech.com/product-na321u _t3527VI.html[/url]

..and a cheap little HDD protector/case for each drive.

From there you just need to ask yourself how many games you want at any one time and then figure out the space you'll need for that and any OS you'll be using - it's probably less than 500 gb, and perhaps less than 256 gb.

Ex. OS + non-games (1 - 128 gig SSD), games on a semi-permanent basis (2 - 128 gig SSD's).

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Postby Scottg » Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:16 pm

Tricky wrote:
I haven't gotten around to buying one yet because I wanted to experiment with a RAM drive around the holidays. I will probably buy one in the new year.



That's something similar to what I'm planning. ;)

It's just a matter of taking that "archiving" idea one step further.

i.e. HDD>SSD>RAM.


Basically it's all about removing "bottlenecks" in a computer system for gaming. The push for improved frame rates in gaming is the most obvious (better video card), with a previous push in CPU performance gains (which doesn't really mean much anymore).

Still, there is a lot of room for further improvement beyond that.

Extraneous programs abound in a modern system - all at least periodically coming into action and "stuttering" the overall system - particularly the disk portion. Frankly it's bad enough that the GAME you are playing has to do some accessing and "swapping", almost everything else should be "shut-off" at the very least - and if possible, not even loaded at all.

Just think about the virtual colonoscopy that an antivirus program does to your computer. You can't ever truly shut it off - once it's loaded that's it until you have unloaded it (and even then it's probably moved around/altered some system files in a manner that is NOT conducive to performance). OS's back-up - dido.

When you combine this limitation WITH the overall limitation in RAM suitable for a software RAM drive then you come-up with really only one solution:

1 OS having 1 game with that 1 game on RAM. Limit the OS's programs if possible - keep it light. The software RAM drive is obviously necessary. Other than that not much else.

Basically - if you are going to "archive" a game, why not archive an OS + its one game? Sure it's going to cost you in terms of disk space, but on an archival basis it shouldn't be terribly expensive.

Even the software RAM drive isn't going to be that expensive. 4 8 gig sticks of system memory can be had for less than 300 US. 6 gig of that can be used for the OS's use, the remaining 26 gig will work for most games. The "save" file will need to be on disk (SSD) as will the Ram drive's back-up and of course the OS itself.

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Postby Tricky » Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:36 pm

(Edit: This is mostly a reply to #6, Scottg)

Interesting. I think I won't have any more than four or five games installed at any time, but I think I still want to look into Drive Shifting. If only because it sounds cool. Like Hackers (the 1995 film) cool.

My setup, once finished, will not utilize ReadyBoost. I've thought about it and I think I can achieve largely the same effect by moving the pagefile to the SSD (partition?), thus avoiding the bit where ReadyBoost uses it to make Windows load better and stuff. I don't care about how Windows loads, I care about how the games load. I can optimize Windows, one process at a time, by myself anyway. I will keep a regular SATA around for downloading programs that utilize frequent / fragmented writes and 'no-priority' software such as OpenOffice, GIMP and Cakewalk.

That's pretty much it. A simple setup, really. I found that it helps to really understand your own needs. It makes it easier to tailor the entire system for performance.
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Postby Tricky » Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:47 pm

Scottg wrote:That's something similar to what I'm planning. ;)
1 OS having 1 game with that 1 game on RAM. Limit the OS's programs if possible - keep it light. The software RAM drive is obviously necessary. Other than that not much else.

Basically - if you are going to "archive" a game, why not archive an OS + its one game? Sure it's going to cost you in terms of disk space, but on an archival basis it shouldn't be terribly expensive.

Even the software RAM drive isn't going to be that expensive. 4 8 gig sticks of system memory can be had for less than 300 US. 6 gig of that can be used for the OS's use, the remaining 26 gig will work for most games. The "save" file will need to be on disk (SSD) as will the Ram drive's back-up and of course the OS itself.


I had a slightly smaller test for this setup in mind. I see no need for the OS to be on the RAM drive, you see. If it does its job nicely, it should be staying out of the way while a game is running. I don't care much for increased boot speed.

I will try this for a small game first, perhaps a heavily modded Morrowind installation with large texture packs, then I will push it to the limits with something more modern. If I am satisfied with how I can make this run for a longer time, I might stick with the SATA and forgo the SSD altogether.

I can see some problems with this though, mainly that no game was really ever designed to run like this. Everything will just plop on screen, instantly. I'm slightly worried about possibly overheating the RAM (it will probably never see heavier use), so I'm going to take some temperature readings from my motherboard as I do this.

Short term prospects: really cool.
Long term prospects: we'll see.
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Postby Scottg » Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:12 pm

Tricky wrote:(Edit: This is mostly a reply to #6, Scottg)

Interesting. I think I won't have any more than four or five games installed at any time, but I think I still want to look into Drive Shifting. If only because it sounds cool. Like Hackers (the 1995 film) cool.

My setup, once finished, will not utilize ReadyBoost. I've thought about it and I think I can achieve largely the same effect by moving the pagefile to the SSD (partition?), thus avoiding the bit where ReadyBoost uses it to make Windows load better and stuff. I don't care about how Windows loads, I care about how the games load. I can optimize Windows, one process at a time, by myself anyway. I will keep a regular SATA around for downloading programs that utilize frequent / fragmented writes and 'no-priority' software such as OpenOffice, GIMP and Cakewalk.

That's pretty much it. A simple setup, really. I found that it helps to really understand your own needs. It makes it easier to tailor the entire system for performance.



As long as you have system RAM in (relative) abundance, you don't need Readyboost (..in fact it's detrimental).

Readyboost is a paging file. A paging file (Window's "Virtual Memory") is just extending RAM access to a *much* SLOWER medium (in my case a flash ram USB stick). The "old" standard paging file just moved that to your hard disk space (which is much slower than the USB stick).

Considering the cost of system RAM these days - it's just cheaper to buy more RAM. (..and of course with a LOT better performance). Turn off your page file with good system memory. ;)


One of the most noticeable ways with daily computing to get a performance boost is by dramatically increasing your browser cache and moving it to an SSD (or a portion of one). Basically it's own paging file. That way "returns" can fill the page from cache rather than from a much slower internet + network connection (unless the file is "new"). Page "fills" should overall be a lot faster as a result.

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Postby Scottg » Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:29 pm

Tricky wrote:
I see no need for the OS to be on the RAM drive, you see.

I will try this for a small game first, perhaps a heavily modded Morrowind installation with large texture packs, then I will push it to the limits with something more modern. If I am satisfied with how I can make this run for a longer time, I might stick with the SATA and forgo the SSD altogether.

I can see some problems with this though, mainly that no game was really ever designed to run like this. Everything will just plop on screen, instantly. I'm slightly worried about possibly overheating the RAM (it will probably never see heavier use), so I'm going to take some temperature readings from my motherboard as I do this.

Short term prospects: really cool.
Long term prospects: we'll see.


The *OS* CAN'T be on the RAM drive. The only exceptions to this are separate RAM disks (NOT system RAM), OR if the OS is a virtual computer (..EX. boot into a variety of Linux with Virtual Box that includes a Windows OS + your one game; the Virtual Box OS + Game file would be the only thing on the software RAM drive that resides on your Linux OS). Unfortunately the former isn't stable (it is volatile memory and would need some sort of save to disk) + it's expensive and still limited to around 32 gig (practically speaking). The latter would have problems with fully accessing resources - most notably the video card's full performance (but also peripherals like gaming devices).

(..actually there could be one other method. IF the system's motherboard had the option to boot from a network drive, AND you had a second computer with a ram drive (and the 1st computer's OS on it) then it would work.. But again, it would be volatile though presumably the software ram drive would have back-up to disk on that machine. As crazy as this sounds, it's perhaps one of the few ways to effectively move past 32 gig into 64 gig + while having both error correcting memory and registered memory A cheaper AMD server board + 8 - 8 gig sticks of ECC RAM would do it. On the down-side I'm not sure how limiting the network connection would be - though it wouldn't really be about maximum throughput (which is how Network connection's are often spec'ed - i.e. gigabyte ethernet). Kind of a "head scratcher"/oddity here, and not inexpensive - though not brutally expensive either. I'm sure someone has done this before, but I've never heard of it.)

This is the RAM disk solution:
http://techreport.com/review/16255/acard-ans-9010-serial-ata-ram-disk

Not cheap and finding cost effective DDR2 (non-ecc) RAM in 8 gig "sticks" - forget about it. 4 gig sticks are really the only solution with a net result of 32 gig (..i.e. 8 - 4 gig RAM sticks of DDR2). There also seems to be some substantial losses in the architecture (performance-wise), plus its not a Sata 3 design. Really, a design like this is begging for server ECC memory and a bus system based on Thunderbolt. THAT would be cool. :cool:



As far as performance - that's limited by the game itself and other factors that would include the CPU and Video card.

Tip: slowing down (or even playing certain games) could be accomplished by turning off cpu cores. (..if you are rebooting into a drive position with just one game (i.e. multi-boot with multiple OS's), you could set this condition to automatically occur for that game/OS. The same is true for video card settings, programmable controllers, etc..)

With respect to the disk system, running it from system RAM (via a software RAM drive) would just allow it to be "smooth". Morrowind's map buffering would almost be non-existent (provided it's not pulling anything from the DVD). Game "load" times would be very fast, only really limited by anti-piracy measures, checks with peripherals, etc..

The RAM itself should NOT heat-up anymore than normal (..that's a fairly static voltage thing set by the motherboard). An unseen benefit would be non-existent errors and corruption (of system process, the game, and the game save file) due to those times when "stuttering" would otherwise occur.


Also,

Yes, going from Hard Disk to software RAM is perfectly viable as well. The only real added constraints are (vs that of an SSD platform):

1. It's much slower to load the game to RAM, and
2. It's much slower to write saves to hard disk, and
3. It's much slower on the OS (assuming the OS is on the same Hard Disk).

Also, such a system can remove a "step" with respect to "archiving":

Ex.

Disk 1 (Hard Disk or preferably SSD): OS and other programs,
Disk 2-22 (Hard Disk only with NTFS limitations): Games.

"Plug-in" the hard drive for the game you want - it's already on the disk (and it can contain a LOT of games).

IF you need more than 20 hard disks (..though I find that HIGHLY unlikely), then you would need to consider a newer GPT disk system (..that can also get above the 2 TB disk limit of NTFS as well).

The biggest problem with all of this is that the rest of your computer's "baggage" is still running in the back-ground. You can "get around" this in the same fashion - multi-boot your system with each OS having its single game. In this instance however you will never have your game's OS on an SSD - it will always be on one of those Hard Disks (2-22). Only your initial Boot OS (ex. Disk 1 above) would be an SSD (if at all).

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Postby Tricky » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:35 am

Right, RAM disks. I see where you're coming from now. And I still have many facts left to sort out. A friend of mine suggested to use scripts to load entire directories into RAM at bootup. I admit that I don't know much more about it beyond that (well, aside from the hardware basics).

I can't help but being cautious though. A lot of this simply sounds too good to be true. Also, I don't have a lot of money left to change the setup in case something doesn't work out and I need to revert back to an SSD solution. I just want to be sure I'll get it right.
[INDENT][SIZE="1"][font="Courier New"]'..[color="White"]t[/color]olerance w[color="White"]h[/color]en fog rolls in clouds unfold your selfless wings fe[color="White"]a[/color]thers [color="White"]t[/color]hat float from arabesque pillows I sold to be consumed by the [color="White"]s[/color]now white cold if only the plaster could hold withstand the flam[url="http://bit.ly/foT0XQ"]e[/url] then this fountain torch [color="White"]w[/color]ould know no shame and be outstripped only by the sun that burns with the glory and [color="White"]h[/color]onor of [color="White"]y[/color]our..'[/font][/size][/INDENT]

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Postby Scottg » Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:17 am

Tricky wrote:Right, RAM disks. I see where you're coming from now. And I still have many facts left to sort out. A friend of mine suggested to use scripts to load entire directories into RAM at bootup. I admit that I don't know much more about it beyond that (well, aside from the hardware basics).

I can't help but being cautious though. A lot of this simply sounds too good to be true. Also, I don't have a lot of money left to change the setup in case something doesn't work out and I need to revert back to an SSD solution. I just want to be sure I'll get it right.


I think the biggest hurdle *without* the SSD would be the time it takes to load the game into a software RAM drive. IF it winds-up taking more than 2 minutes for an average game (less than 6 gig) I think the "appeal" would be lost. On the other hand if it's part of a Boot process then the extra time probably won't be as noticeable (because sadly we have been "conditioned" to accept longer boot times).

I'd suggest starting first with multi-booting, and only after that's sorted - moving onto a RAM drive. That way if you mess anything up - it's on an OS you don't depend on. (..i.e. you can always go back and boot into your regular system.)

First stop on the multi-boot path would be getting your OS configured the way you wanted for that game. Nlite and Vlite allow for OS configuration - specifically designed for making the OS faster and lighter for games. http://www.nliteos.com/nlite.html
for windows 7 we have:
http://www.rt7lite.com/
http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/145343-slipstream-windows-7-sp1-into-installation-dvd-iso-file.html

Game XP is a utility designed to optimize certain processes, it's only XP and all of what it does is NOT entirely related to improving performance of gaming. Still, just the *list* of services it disables is a good list for looking at when modifying the OS:

http://www.theorica.net/GameXPHelp.htm


Once you have that then move on to installing it as an added bootable OS. Gparted is nice software package for partitioning and "cloning" OS's..

-just a suggestion. ;)

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Tricky
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Postby Tricky » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:15 pm

I can deal with it if the preloading winds up taking a few minutes. It should more than pay itself back during use. As for NLite and such.. I can do all that by myself. I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to how Windows runs.

Another thing I'll be looking into, *if* I'm satisfied with the tests, is some kind of affordable, battery based UPS solution. I won't get second chances with RAM after all.
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Scottg
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Postby Scottg » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:03 pm

Tricky wrote:
Another thing I'll be looking into, *if* I'm satisfied with the tests, is some kind of affordable, battery based UPS solution. I won't get second chances with RAM after all.



I've also contemplated this (..deep cycle batteries with enough "juice" for several hours). From what I've read generally more trouble (and cost) than it's worth.

Really though, under this build-type if you loose power the only thing you are loosing is the game loaded into the software RAM drive. No loss other than the time it takes to reload (..or the time it would take to load at start-up). *Game* saves should still be to hard disk, and the game itself is "pulled" from hard disk (and copied to the software RAM disk) - so you won't loose either.

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Tricky
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Postby Tricky » Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:10 pm

I know. I might use it for sound editing as well. And to be honest, losing progress in a game can be a real ***** sometimes too.

I wouldn't need several hours of UPS though. Five to ten minutes would be enough for me to turn off the PC properly and save my stuff, but I doubt any commercial battery holds that little charge. Either way, I'm not making up my mind about this until I have finished my tests.
[INDENT][SIZE="1"][font="Courier New"]'..[color="White"]t[/color]olerance w[color="White"]h[/color]en fog rolls in clouds unfold your selfless wings fe[color="White"]a[/color]thers [color="White"]t[/color]hat float from arabesque pillows I sold to be consumed by the [color="White"]s[/color]now white cold if only the plaster could hold withstand the flam[url="http://bit.ly/foT0XQ"]e[/url] then this fountain torch [color="White"]w[/color]ould know no shame and be outstripped only by the sun that burns with the glory and [color="White"]h[/color]onor of [color="White"]y[/color]our..'[/font][/size][/INDENT]

Scottg
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Postby Scottg » Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:19 pm

Tricky wrote:I know. I might use it for sound editing as well. And to be honest, losing progress in a game can be a real ***** sometimes too.

I wouldn't need several hours of UPS though. Five to ten minutes would be enough for me to turn off the PC properly and save my stuff, but I doubt any commercial battery holds that little charge. Either way, I'm not making up my mind about this until I have finished my tests.



NWN2 screen splash: "Save early. Save often." :D

I've got a standard UPC (..around 100 US on sale purchased over 5 years ago) that tends to last for at least 2 minutes (now). That's still more than enough time to save work. Anything over a 1000Va should give you enough time for saving several files/games (even many years after the battery should have been replaced).

The times UPS manufacturers provide are complete crap. 1500Va unit that will run for 2 hours! :rolleyes:

I gotta say though - when the power goes out on your home, (which I've found is usually at night), searching around for that annoying beeping sound can be painful. (..you know, running into walls and such in the dark.) :oops:

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Tricky
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Postby Tricky » Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:00 am

What I expect to run into more often are small hiccups of fractions of seconds.
[INDENT][SIZE="1"][font="Courier New"]'..[color="White"]t[/color]olerance w[color="White"]h[/color]en fog rolls in clouds unfold your selfless wings fe[color="White"]a[/color]thers [color="White"]t[/color]hat float from arabesque pillows I sold to be consumed by the [color="White"]s[/color]now white cold if only the plaster could hold withstand the flam[url="http://bit.ly/foT0XQ"]e[/url] then this fountain torch [color="White"]w[/color]ould know no shame and be outstripped only by the sun that burns with the glory and [color="White"]h[/color]onor of [color="White"]y[/color]our..'[/font][/size][/INDENT]

Scottg
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Postby Scottg » Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:57 pm

Update..

I've decided that a more elegant solution is via multiple virtual systems ALL on SSD.

The selling-point for me was that:

1. You can effectively remove the need to create a separate OS for each game (while still having the same isolation of 1-game 1 OS) - thereby dramatically reducing storage requirements. Note: this involves very special requirements.

2. Speed. The time it takes to auto-load the game from SSD to RAM drive will be much lower than HDD. (..this is a "read" action from the SSD - precisely where SSD's have their highest performance).

3. Wear-reduction. The "writing" back to an SSD from an archived state on a HDD is removed - removing the "write" wear on the SSD. Note: again, this involves very special requirements to get TRIM support to also account for standard wear on the SSD.




This idea came from reading sources on *Boot* virtual hard drives (or Boot VHD's), that mentioned the idea of "differencing" systems with a parent/child configuration.

Under a typical Virtual system you can start it from within your current OS - like Virtual PC, VM Ware, and Virtual Box. In each case the virtual system boots into those pieces of software - and virtualizes most of your hardware (..which is overall useless for gaming because it's massively slower).

However, a *Boot* VHD is actually booted at startup. The only hardware that is virtualized is your disk system. This usually has no real penalty to performance and should be excellent for gaming. (..like only a 3-12% penalty to the disk system, (and only the disk system), with a Hard Disk Drive - and a negligible penalty with an SSD.)


As for "differencing" a system:

VHD's can have "differencing" back-ups. In the context of a Boot VHD you can have the differencing capability as follows:

Boot VHD (parent - primary) 15 gig: stripped-down Windows 8 - only that portion of the OS that you'll want for all games.
to:
Boot VHD (parent - secondary) 1 gig: those additions to Windows 8 that you'll need for a particular game and perhaps a few others - Ex. network connection (because several of your games have the need to access a network or the net).
to:
Boot VHD (child 1) 3 gig: Game A that needs to access the network.
Boot VHD (child 2) 5 gig: Game B that needs to access the network.
etc..

In this example you would ONLY select the particular "Child" that you want to boot into (..and that boot VHD would presumably have the name of the game that resides on it).

Booting into that child VHD accesses the two prior Parent drives automatically (and transparently).


By contrast:

IF it were done in a multi-boot format it would be 15 gig + 1 gig + space for each game. That's a much higher space requirement.


However it does require Windows 8 64 bit PRO to get all of this working properly. (see: Boot VHD and Boot VHDX for TRIM pass-through.) VHDX, a format available via Hyper-V 2012 found in Windows 8 (64 bit) Pro (only) and Server 2012, isn't just necessary for TRIM support, it also has a data corruption prevention feature.

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Postby KendoBento » Tue Dec 25, 2012 9:37 pm

Scottg wrote:
6. If can't spend much but you just want the speed of an SSD (and can meet some requirements), but still want to use your standard Hard Disk - then consider a caching SSD.


I think this is what I meant, though I wasn't very articulate in conveying my point... Tom's hardware went over SSD caching and Z68/Z77/H77... I think it's called "Smart Response Technology" or something like that.

I've got some ca[t]ching up to to in relation to reading this thread... but for now I'm responding to the point on Virtual Machines/single OS per game; VM's are obviously more preferable (or at least conventional, and ever increasingly-so), though 1 game per OS sounds like a novel undertaking.... but I'd personally rather Dual-Boot or simply (and ideally) keep 2-3 SSD's on hold each with their own OS... I don't have a traditional case (the parts sit naked on a multi-level desk), so my SATA ports are all plug-and-play, so to speak... I've noticed some games play better on 32-bit and some better on 64-bit (and of course many can't be played at all on one or the other - at least by conventional means). My original intention was/is to run one SSD with a 32-bit Windows XP SP2 or 3 installation, one SSD with Windows 7 (which I may or may not configure to run VM's), and one spare SSD to test and form my own opinions of particular linux distributions, particularly the Ubuntus, for starters...

In any case, I am still stuck with Windows XP, though I have 16 gigs of 1600 RAM that can't be used until I get a 64-bit OS. I don't have internet access at home either, so downloading a redistributable 3rd party OS like Ubuntu/Linux/etc isn't really an option. For now.

Edit with one more miscellaneous point... I've had problems with a RAID configuration BUILT-IN-TO a gaming computer in the past. I definitely can't recommend using RAID cards within your gaming PC. Cheaper RAID cards tend to die after about 1 years usage, and sometimes take out drives that are always on with them; though this has only happened with me with the Seagate 7200.11 Barracuda's that all had bad firmwares (which I have not fixxed to this day). However, if you make a RAID device for network storage/usage... that might not be so problematic.

Edit 12/20/12: Just remembered, one more thought in relation to non-SSDs; I have had 1 docking station for about 4-5 years, and 2 external enclosures for about 6-7 years... and now I have another docking station, just got on black Friday for $5 (my first one was about $50). I tend to back up all my video games as soon as I get them on such external media... as well with any save files, screenshots, or video captures, etc I create in association with those games.