What I am about to describe below definitely falls under the 'unsupported' and 'not-an-intended-use' category for Intel Turbo Memory
. I debated about posting this for a few months but it has worked well enough for me that I feel secure in describing how to do this. Of course, if something breaks, please let me know in the comments section and we'll get it documented.
Typically Intel Turbo Memory is included as a mini-PCIe option on laptops and some desktops, and provides an embedded version of ReadyBoost
. Most computers have enough RAM these days so the boost from ReadyBoost
is pretty minimal.
With that in mind, I figured I would try to see if I could re-purpose the Turbo Memory. In Windows 7 (as of driver version 22.214.171.1242
), the memory is exposed to the OS as a Storage Controller
with a disk volume of IMD-0
By default, it will automatically enable and control the entire volume.
What you want to do is open diskmgmt.msc
and look for a volume that is about 75% of advertised size of the RAM. In my case, I have 2GB which shows up as 1.37GB due to some of the space being used for ReadyDrive
If you set the View
to Disk List
, the Device Type
will be listed as UNKNOWN
instead of IDE
You'll want to delete this volume but make sure it is the Turbo Memory! After deleting the volume, create a new simple MBR volume from what you just deleted. Format the drive as FAT16 with 64KB cluster size. You can use other block sizes if you want less waste on smaller files. NTFS is a bit of an overkill for most scenarios too. Feel free to experiment and report your findings.
After formatting, assign it a drive letter and enjoy a persistent RAM disk, as long as you don't rebuild your computer or upgrade your Turbo Memory driver
The end result will look something like this: Uses for this new drive 1.
Store your Windows Search
index on the new drive. In my case, under R:\TEMP\INDEX\
. You can easily move your index by going into the Control Panel, under Indexing Options, under Advanced and selecting Select New
. After restarting the Windows Search
service, the index will move from the original location to the newly created Turbo Memory drive.
Why do this? Less hard drive thrashing overall and faster search results inside Windows and Outlook. Instead of the index and the content residing on the same drive spindle, you have a 'pseudo' SSD dedicated to your Windows Search index. The old joke about making Vista faster was to do net stop wsearch
, but this is no longer needed using this method. 2.
Set your TEMP
environment variables to use the drive for temporary storage/scratch space. In my case, I set my user TEMP
variables to R:\TEMP\USER
and my system TEMP
variables to R:\TEMP\SYSTEM
. Make sure to create these directories on the drive before applying the settings. 3.
Internet Explorer disk cache location - I set IE to store cache inside R:\TEMP\IE
and limit the size to a small amount. 4.
Firefox disk cache location - Using about:config
, I set browser.cache.disk.parent_directory
. In order to avoid stalls on fsync on Firefox 3.x due to SQLite, you can also add toolkit.storage.synchronous
set to 0
. I know this quirk is being addressed in Firefox 3.5+, so it will soon be a non-issue. You do have a slight risk of corruption of Firefox SQLite tables, but in practice, I have not experienced any. Things to watch out for
If you do upgrade the Turbo Memory driver in the future, you will want to reset your TEMP
variables back to the original values in order to ensure that you can log in properly into your computer. The Windows Search index and IE/FF caches can be dynamically regenerated after you redo the drive setup.
I have experienced scenarios/programs that required more than 1.3GB of free temporary space so I sometimes set the variables back to the original hard drive location on a case by case basis. Conclusion
Please let me know if you think of new uses for this and I will add them to this blog entry. It has worked well for me since Windows 7 RC and it should work well for you too. It has even inspired me into looking into cheap 4GB Robson modules or a secondary bay SSD.