A week ago I had 4GB of RAM die (well, part of matched pair anyway) in my main desktop PC.
I’m currently awaiting replacement under warranty from Corsair, but meantime it’s hard to run dev tools and big virtual machines with the measly amount of memory I have left. So I thought it was time to give the new Google network-attached RAM a try.
I had to flash the motherboard BIOS of course and upgrade the chipset driver and the on-board network controller firmware. Google RAM, just like wake-on-LAN, has to interact with the network card at a hardware/BIOS level. In this case, the purpose is to ensure that any OS I boot sees the new space just like local memory.
Then I rebooted and … nothing.
Where is my free 4GB of storage?
Then I remembered that Google’s revenue model for this product requires you to run a Windows service that in turn interacts with a Google-provided kernel patch for PAE.
In addition to providing checks in real time – as my machine accesses RAM – for any security threats, this service displays Google ads as 5 new icons on my desktop.
Apparently they are context-based, and determined by Google’s analysis of what I have in RAM at the time.
And they are surprisingly accurate. I had a picture of a Corvette open in Photoshop, and the G-RAM icons turned into links to car dealerships, new-car financing, and a discount oil change.
Google’s FAQ insists that it does not look at my clicks or the image file metadata – instead, its server analyzed the image in real time (since the network RAM is in their datacenter) and determined I was looking at a new Corvette.
The only downside was that my cable modem signal dropped out for a couple of minutes, and the local service warned me not to touch any processes using G-RAM until it could sync back up, or those apps would immediately crash.
No matter, overall it’s great technology, and I think my RAM replacement will arrive from Corsair tomorrow.