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If Solid State Drives become sufficiently fast that they aren't that much slower than RAM, and Level-2 caches get larger; is it possible to build a PC that doesn't have any RAM at all? What would the advantages/disadvantages of this be? Are there any examples of computers/operating systems that do this already?

This might be a naive question to the hardcore tech guys but I'd love to hear some thoughts/ideas/answers.

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IMOHO it would be best to interact with a buffered copy of the OS rather than the OS in its persistent state. But then again Knoppix is persistent on a USB drive, so it's not that far off... – Ben Plont Jul 10 '14 at 6:21
In the discount server world, OpenVZ allows you to take an SSD and use it as RAM for its virtual machines. It's not as fast but it's much cheaper. There's also a lifespan issue, as I believe RAM gets written to a lot more than a regular drive does. – cloneman Jul 10 '14 at 6:30

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

i would say that RAM is still very important to modern computers and, without a major jump in technology, it will remain important for the foreseeable future. For active applications the speed of RAM (3.2 - 12.8 GB/s) far out-weighs the relative stellar performance of SATA3 with a compatible SSD (280 - 590 MB/s)

Tom's Hardware reviews (of course anything on the internet requires some salt)

RAM (DDR2 and DDR3)


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Thanks for the answer! By the way, the new HSDL drives are pushing above 800MB/s in the right conditions. Granted, they're still a long way off comparing to RAM in terms of speed. – Daveyjoe Nov 27 '10 at 21:58
Plus the memory controller is built on the CPU these days giving even better speeds. Like Xantec said it'll be a long time before RAM is totally done away with. We are just now scratching the surface of SSDs and even if they were a lot faster than they are now I'm thinking it would require some hefty hardware rethinking by Intel/AMD and chipset manufacturers. – Nori Dec 1 '10 at 21:33

External RAM will still be necessary for a long time, since it is one of the few sane ways to share state between cores on different CPUs.

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