Intel is showing off a future technology called Robson that could cut that annoying boot-up time. With Robson, a PC pulls data and applications off an add-in flash memory card and Intel software, rather than the PC’s hard drive. Flash reacts more quickly than hard drives, thus cutting down the time it takes to launch an application. Potentially, notebook users could experience a longer battery life because the hard drive, which is spun by a motor, wouldn’t have to work as hard.
Intel Cuts PC Boot Time
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2005-10-18 8:34 pmjack_perry
I used to do something similar but simpler on my Amigas some fifteen years ago.
Not entirely similar: the non-volatile RAM disk (RAD:) would not survive a shutdown. Robson would.
My old Powerbook 100 could do that as well. I could store the OS and a word processor on the RAM disk and start and run quicker + only spin up the hard drive for periodic safety copies. Worked well and tremendously increased battery life.
So what is there to this besides a Flash card with an OS on it? I don’t see much need for “Intel software” unless it’s a BIOS that makes their flash card bootable. For that matter, I’d rather have it on a removable USB2 or Firewire drive that could move to other machines.
Will it be compatible with FreeBSD?
Somehow, it’s similar to Microsoft’s work with Seagate (IIRC) for build hybrid HDs that also has Flash Memory as a larger cache. The OS could cache the startup to this flash memory on shutdown, could use it to hibernate data, and also could use it for caching system files, caching Page file and high-accessed files for better performance and the flash cache would help notebook users too…
This hybrid solutions seems more practical and more backwards compatible too…
I hope we can see these too technologies soon, so we can compare each one better in more practical environments.
…wasn’t MRAM supposed to be the great technology to care of instant boot-ups/shutdowns? Is IBM still having problems with it, or was the project canned? If so, that’s an unfortunate loss. To me, these flash-based “solutions” are just a bridge, a stop-gap fix, to what is beyond our reach right now.
And using flash may not be all that great, since it only handles ~1,000,000 reads/writes to the best of my knowledge, and every time data needs to be read, it has to be written back, or it will be lost. Not sure how they’re going to cope with that, or if there’s even any other alternative…
2005-10-18 4:30 pmAnonymous
Flash memory handles ~1,000,000 ERASE cycles/block (ca 8k-1M depending on type) not read/writes. Data may be read any number of times, without being lost or any other problems; its exactly like reading from SRAM/EPROM etc.!
However, the number of ERASE cycles must, of course, be kept low; especially important when flash is used “as hard disks”, to store frequently changing files. One could say the task is like defragmentation on the fly and strictly on demand!
Last I remember on damnsmalllinux’s web page, they already have a mini-ITX board that boots from compact flash..
I never shut my laptop down and never boot it up. I close the screen and it sleeps, (using very little battery life) and then I open it and within 2-5 seconds I’m working again.
Only times I have to boot it are when I’ve updated some part of the system that requires a reboot as part of the installation process.
I suppose it might be of use 8-10 years ago when (Windows) systems didn’t stay up very long and required regular restarts anyway. But now, do we really need to shut down and restart regularly enough to necessitate a hardware solution to speed it up?
I simply don’t shutdown my PowerBook. Usually no reboot. Only sleep. So…
showed this on a laptop not long ago. I made Vista really speedy.
I need it now… >_<
I think i heard this about half year ago. It was on Microsoft and some harddisk maker (Samsung i think) that demonstrate similiar system, only difference that it was implemented on HD. So Intel’s idea is just another copy of that, i hope they won’t make 10 different systems that won’t work together. But it’s good idea anyways.
What a timesaver… Given that I usually turn on my PC once per day which currently takes about 3 minutes until it’s usable. And that you have technologies like Standby, suspend to disk.. should we really care?
2005-10-18 9:05 pmma_d
If you had a notebook, you’d care. Did you even bother to read the blurb?
2005-10-19 8:50 amArKay
I actually never bother to turn off my notebook.
I’ve been saying this for about 3 years now…
Course, it sounds like Intel is confusticating this to work well with anti-partition Operating system (*cough* MS Windows *cough*); in the Unix world we’d just put the thing in, put everything but /home on it, and be done! Well, might put /opt on the hard disk as well, for big programs.
I’d love to see this as well though. It should seriously improve battery life as you won’t have to spin up and down the hard disk all the time. Especially as rpm’s on hard disks increase.
Just use a flash memory as the boot media. Better, save an initialized state to the boot media (like a
hibernate partition) — boom, super fast.
The trick there is, of course, saving off the whole state means having as much NVRAM as you have available memory (plus a little overhead for hardware state information).
You could actually try writing an OS that didn’t need such silly amounts of space on disk, and swallow up so many resources….
It is possible to have lots of features without requiring masses of resources…
Take a modern (compatible) desktop system from the last… 5 years, slap BeOS or Zeta (or hell, even a lightwieght linux distro with icevm or similar) on it, 20 seconds after booting you have a fully funtional OS that is ready to run.
Want quicker boot times? Write cleaner less resource hungry OS’s.
I used to do something similar but simpler on my Amigas some fifteen years ago. In AmigaDOS you could create a non-volatile RAM disk (i.e. it was still there after you rebooted) which booted the main OS then everything else was loaded from HD. Very simple and very useful.