Dutch company Attorn has announced a solid state drive made from DRAM memory chips, faster than existing solid state drives based on flash memory such as the notebook drive from Samsung, and many times faster than hard drives such as the Western Digital Raptor.

The 32 Gbyte HyperDrive4 occupies a 5.25-inch storage bay and uses DDR SDRAM (double data rate synchronous dynamic RAM) chips whereas flash drives, like the Samsung flash-SSD, use slower NAND chips. It has a write sustained data rate of 30 Mbyte/s and a read rate of 53 Mbyte/sec. The HyperDrive4, two to four times faster, has a uniform sustained transfer rate of 126MB/sec.

Attorn says that its HyperDrive4 is faster than some Texas Memory Systems RAMsan products - which claim to be the world's fastest storage. Attorn compares its HyperDrive4 with a Western Digital serial ATA Raptor hard drive and the TMS product here,

Why are DRAM SSDs needed?

Businesses such as financial trading and arbitrage firms need lightning fast trading decisions made on the basis of fast processing of database information. Public sector security computer systems also need real-time response to security requests from, for example, airplane passenger lists, which have to be checked against databases of known or suspected terrorists.

When these databases are stored on disk then there is an absolute stop to faster performance: the seek time and latency involved in the mechanical disk head movement and platter spinning. Everything has to stop whilst this is being done and the wait can exceed 5 milliseconds. The Western Digital Raptor 740 has an 8.4 millisecond access time while HyperDrive4's 1 microsecond is over 8,000 times faster. According to Attorn's data, the HyperDrive4 can find, read and output 125 1kbyte files in the same time that the Raptor can find, read and output one 1 kbyte file.

Although a 16 Gbyte HyperDrive4 is 160 times faster in IOPS than the Raptor it is 22 times more expensive per Gbyte, That means you have to generate enough profits or savings from using it to make it worthwhile.

When computers make buy/sell decisions on the financial markets based on real-time analysis of data then consistently being a few seconds faster to decisions can mean bigger profits. DRAM SSDs excel at repetitive random reads and writes to/from a database. Attorn quotes an un-named computerised financial markets trading company whose spokesperson said: "Processing a typical download of financial data used to take 8 minutes. It now takes 26 seconds."

A 16GB HyperDrive4 costs £1,195, without memory modules which have to be purchased separately. Attorn's UK distributor has more technical information here.