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Old 11-09-2007, 08:38 AM   #1
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Use a CompactFlash card as extra RAM with a PCMCIA adaptor?

I have a laptop with 512MB of RAM, which is fine for every day use - I rarely go into swap.

However, I often use VirtualBox to run Windows XP (to which I've allocated 256MB of my RAM). This has a detrimental effect on the performance of both the host (Slackware) and the guest (Windows XP) as a lot of stuff in memory seems to get moved over to swap (which increases in use from ~10-20MB to ~200-300MB).

I've seen articles about people using memory cards (digital camera type cards) as either an extension of their RAM or as a swap partition.

Would I see a benefit in using a CompactFlash card in a PCMCIA adaptor as a swap partition, rather than my hard drive? What about a SmartDigital card? What throughput can I expect from a PCMCIA slot?

Finally, would all this (1GB CF card + PCMCIA adaptor = ~30) be comparable in performance to just buying a new 1GB stick of RAM (~50)?
Old 11-09-2007, 02:54 PM   #2
David the H.
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If you want my uninformed opinion, I'm sure it would be faster than a HDD swap, and a swap partition or file would be easy to set up on one, but I couldn't tell you what kind of throughput you'd get. I imagine it would depend a lot on your exact hardware specs, the speed of your data bus, what the flash card read/write speed is, etc.

But I always been suspicious about just how good an idea this is. Flash memory is severely limited in the number of write/erase cycles it can go through. To use it as swap or system memory risks burning the thing out in a very short time. While it may be more convenient in the short term, or as an emergency measure, I believe that adding more system ram is almost always a better buy in the long run.
Old 11-09-2007, 03:36 PM   #3
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After I'd posted, and realising how small the difference between the flash system and the RAM is, I think I'll go for the extra RAM. It's just unfortunate that my set-up at the moment is 2x256 sticks, which means I'll have to lose one in order to add the 1GB stick.

We all have our crosses to bear!


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