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Running Win OS purely in RAM


manisandher
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I thought I’d share my recent experience of PeterSt’s latest development – running a Win OS purely from RAM. This allows for the HDD/SSD on which the OS is stored to be completely removed from the PC once the OS is booted into RAM, reducing power draw from the mobo/PSU (and therefore presumably noise too).

 

In my case, I have literally two devices connected to my mobo:

  1. my DAC, via a PCIe USB card
  2. my NAS drive (on which all my music files are stored), via the ethernet port

 

And that’s it.

 

Running the OS purely from RAM has provided a quantum leap in SQ. Whether this is down to the increased speed or decreased noise, or a mixture of a lot of things, I have no idea. But the result is dramatic.

 

The way PeterSt has configured things, multiple OSs can be stored on the HDD/SSD and the one to be loaded into RAM easily selected. This makes comparing the SQ of different OS versions a total doddle. And it’s so easy to demonstrate that different OSs do indeed sound totally different, even with exactly the same hardware and configuration.

 

In my case, I’ve gone even further with the following PC mods:

  • the CPU is water-cooled and all fans have been removed from the PC
  • 2 of the cheap clocks on the mobo and 1 on the PCIe card have been replaced by high-quality DEXA clocks (each with its own linear PSU)
  • the PC’s ATX SMPS has been replaced with a high-quality Teradak ATX linear PSU
  • I use a Baaske ethernet isolator and an Intona USB isolator

 

I strongly suspect that running the OS purely from RAM and removing as many devices from the mobo as possible provides more of a SQ improvement than all these mods put together (apart from the Intona, which I think is essential with a USB DAC). But this is difficult to verify.

 

More info on what PeterSt has done on the Phasure forum.

 

Mani.

Main: Okto dac8PRO -> 6x Neurochrome 286 mono amps -> Tune Audio Anima speakers + 2x Rotel RB-1590 stereo amps -> 4x subs
Office: MOTU UltraLite-mk5 -> 6x Neurochrome 286 mono amps -> Impulse H2 speakers
Vinyl: Thöress Phono Enhancer -> RME ADI-2 Pro

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Hi manisandher,

 

I do the same here in a different way. Using PXE boot and iscsi, both archlinux real-time and Windows can be booted from the NAS without a storage device in the AudioPC. With swapping turned off there is next to no disk activity between the NAS and AudioPc during play back, except for retrieving the music files.

 

Without any storage devices in the audioPc, SQ is phenomenal, and I have found archlinux to be the best sounding of the two OSes.

 

Like you, I am running with an network isolation, Ac isolation and USB isolation with the Intona.

 

I've haven't replaced the clocks yet, but will do so in my next build.

 

It's great to hear that you have similar results.

Pareto Audio aka nuckleheadaudio

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I've been thinking about doing this too. I need to look into the thread on Phasure. Do you have a link?

 

Correct me if I am wrong, wouldnt using RAMdisk work in the same way?

12TB NAS >> i7-6700 Server/Control PC >> i3-5015u NAA >> Singxer SU-1 DDC (modded) >> Holo Spring L3 DAC >> Accustic Arts Power 1 int amp >> Sonus Faber Guaneri Evolution speakers + REL T/5i sub (x2)

 

Other components:

UpTone Audio LPS1.2/IsoRegen, Fiber Switch and FMC, Windows Server 2016 OS, Audiophile Optimizer 3.0, Fidelizer Pro 6, HQ Player, Roonserver, PS Audio P3 AC regenerator, HDPlex 400W ATX & 200W Linear PSU, Light Harmonic Lightspeed Split USB cable, Synergistic Research Tungsten AC power cords, Tara Labs The One speaker cables, Tara Labs The Two Extended with HFX Station IC, Oyaide R1 outlets, Stillpoints Ultra Mini footers, Hi-Fi Tuning fuses, Vicoustic/RealTraps/GIK room treatments

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Interesting setup for sure

 

http://www.phasure.com/index.php?topic=3364.0

 


Audiophiles in Taiwan were also running the same thing with Windows 10 VHD, FiraDisk, and GRUB4DOS. Everyone who heard that slimmed-down Windows 10 running exclusively in RAMdisk was blown away by the quantum leap in SQ

 

http://www.andaudio.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?f=25&p=1139265

http://www.myav.com.tw/bbs/showthread.php?threadid=20473423

http://www.myav.com.tw/bbs/showthread.php?threadid=20474294

 

They actually took one step further with the CUDA feature of GeForce video cards and HQPlayer, that's yet another upgrade and finally they had to get rid of other hardware tweaks because those redundant components were hurting the SQ.

 


Further discussions and tweaks below

 

http://www.tirnahifi.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=3171

http://www.tirnahifi.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=3267

http://www.aktives-hoeren.de/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=5848

http://www.acourate.com/RamWin/WinRAM%20Installation%20Guide%20V1.3_engl.pdf

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I've been thinking about doing this too. I need to look into the thread on Phasure. Do you have a link?

 

XXHighEnd - Index

 

Correct me if I am wrong, wouldnt using RAMdisk work in the same way?

 

Not quite the same. There are a surprising number of processes going on "under the hood," as well as electrical connections made (and thus routes for any sort of electrical noise and interference making its way from anywhere else in your system/home) that getting rid of the physical HDD/SSD will totally stop.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Hi manisandher,

 

I do the same here in a different way. Using PXE boot and iscsi, both archlinux real-time and Windows can be booted from the NAS without a storage device in the AudioPC. With swapping turned off there is next to no disk activity between the NAS and AudioPc during play back, except for retrieving the music files.

 

Without any storage devices in the audioPc, SQ is phenomenal, and I have found archlinux to be the best sounding of the two OSes.

 

Like you, I am running with an network isolation, Ac isolation and USB isolation with the Intona.

 

I've haven't replaced the clocks yet, but will do so in my next build.

 

It's great to hear that you have similar results.

 

Hi lmitche,

I use a program called Rewrite Data. It's a Windows program to be used in conjunction with Bughead music player. It can only be used with local data and Intel processors. Would you tell me if this is compatible with your method? Thx in advance!

Developer Hiroyuki Yokota (oryaaaaa) in JAPAN - OneDrive

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With swapping turned off there is next to no disk activity between the NAS and AudioPc during play back, except for retrieving the music files.

 

Hi lmitche, Ordinarily, once XXHighEnd loads the music files into the audio PC's RAM from the external NAS, there is absolutely zero ethernet activity as the music plays - the OS and the music files reside in the RAM before playback. (In my case, this isn't actually true because I use the audio PC completely headless - no GPU card, with the PC controlled via RDC, which keeps the ethernet slightly active.)

 

Just how much ram are you two running?

 

Hi blownsi, running the whole Win 10 OS from RAM takes 13GB - I have 16GB installed, which gives 3GB for loading the music files into RAM before playback.

 

Correct me if I am wrong, wouldnt using RAMdisk work in the same way?

 

Hi tboooe, running the whole OS from RAM and removing all HDDs/SSDs is a totally different solution to running just an audio player in RAMdisk, something that many of us have been doing for years now.

 

It's a very, very neat solution that PeterSt has come up. And most importantly, it really takes the SQ to another level.

 

Mani.

Main: Okto dac8PRO -> 6x Neurochrome 286 mono amps -> Tune Audio Anima speakers + 2x Rotel RB-1590 stereo amps -> 4x subs
Office: MOTU UltraLite-mk5 -> 6x Neurochrome 286 mono amps -> Impulse H2 speakers
Vinyl: Thöress Phono Enhancer -> RME ADI-2 Pro

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There are a surprising number of processes going on "under the hood," as well as electrical connections made (and thus routes for any sort of electrical noise and interference making its way from anywhere else in your system/home) that getting rid of the physical HDD/SSD will totally stop.

 

Jud, I agree entirely, but FWIW would add my hypothesis that flash memory controllers are a source of high frequency RFI that manages to defeat many isolation schemes. The diskless audioPC enabled a consolidation of my boot images and music files onto a single HDD and the elimination of SSD and USB sticks. That one change had an immediate and significant impact on SQ. And yes I know the HDD motors are noisy, but it seems to be easier to isolate than the noise from the flash controllers.

 

That and having one LPS, not two or more in each isolated section of the system also makes a contribution. I have three galvanically isolated sections, a WiFi NIC, NAS and audioPC with one LPS in each section. Adding a second device/LPS like an FMC degrades sound quality.

Pareto Audio aka nuckleheadaudio

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Mani, nice thread you created !

;)

The used memory is slightly more complicated as there is

a. Free memory as usual;

b. Free memory within the OS' "disk" environment which now also is internal memory.

 

a.: That is the 3GB you mentioned.

b.: That is 4GB.

 

Ad b.

So the OS takes 9GB in RAM with 4GB free for all the temporary (music) files (Caches, Proxies).

Thus indeed the OS occupies 13GB in memory, but 4GB of that is deliberate "free disk space".

 

The 9GB can be ~3.5GB less, which I applied to Windows 8 on the disk. However, for W8 that was a necessity because its footprint is about that size larger and too large for the 16GB I assume to be available. But the means I use to "compress" can be applied to the 3x W10's in there just the same (this is not the general formal VHD "shrinking" we read about, at all). Matter of a small (downloadable) upgrade, if necessary in the first place.

 

Thanks !

Peter

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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Thanks for the explanation Peter.

 

I thought I already had a pretty well-optimized audio PC (linear ATX PSU, 3x DEXA clocks, totally fanless, no GPU card, SSD for OS, totally stripped down minimized OS, music on NAS, plus loads of other mods and tweaks) and I really wasn't expecting the level of improvement that the RAM-OS has provided. It's staggering.

 

Thanks for making the RAM-OS disk available - there is no way I'd have been capable of figuring out how to run the OS from RAM in a million years. Like all the others who have tried it, it has simply taken my listening pleasure to a completely new place.

 

Mani.

Main: Okto dac8PRO -> 6x Neurochrome 286 mono amps -> Tune Audio Anima speakers + 2x Rotel RB-1590 stereo amps -> 4x subs
Office: MOTU UltraLite-mk5 -> 6x Neurochrome 286 mono amps -> Impulse H2 speakers
Vinyl: Thöress Phono Enhancer -> RME ADI-2 Pro

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PeterSt, is this something I can purchase from you and install into my PC or do I have to buy the entire PC from you?

 

Mani, nice thread you created !

;)

The used memory is slightly more complicated as there is

a. Free memory as usual;

b. Free memory within the OS' "disk" environment which now also is internal memory.

 

a.: That is the 3GB you mentioned.

b.: That is 4GB.

 

Ad b.

So the OS takes 9GB in RAM with 4GB free for all the temporary (music) files (Caches, Proxies).

Thus indeed the OS occupies 13GB in memory, but 4GB of that is deliberate "free disk space".

 

The 9GB can be ~3.5GB less, which I applied to Windows 8 on the disk. However, for W8 that was a necessity because its footprint is about that size larger and too large for the 16GB I assume to be available. But the means I use to "compress" can be applied to the 3x W10's in there just the same (this is not the general formal VHD "shrinking" we read about, at all). Matter of a small (downloadable) upgrade, if necessary in the first place.

 

Thanks !

Peter

12TB NAS >> i7-6700 Server/Control PC >> i3-5015u NAA >> Singxer SU-1 DDC (modded) >> Holo Spring L3 DAC >> Accustic Arts Power 1 int amp >> Sonus Faber Guaneri Evolution speakers + REL T/5i sub (x2)

 

Other components:

UpTone Audio LPS1.2/IsoRegen, Fiber Switch and FMC, Windows Server 2016 OS, Audiophile Optimizer 3.0, Fidelizer Pro 6, HQ Player, Roonserver, PS Audio P3 AC regenerator, HDPlex 400W ATX & 200W Linear PSU, Light Harmonic Lightspeed Split USB cable, Synergistic Research Tungsten AC power cords, Tara Labs The One speaker cables, Tara Labs The Two Extended with HFX Station IC, Oyaide R1 outlets, Stillpoints Ultra Mini footers, Hi-Fi Tuning fuses, Vicoustic/RealTraps/GIK room treatments

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Mani. The Dexa upgrade, did you do it yourself? What Mobo are you using?

Is the second Clock on the USB..Thanks for sharing.

Synology NAS (LPS) >UA ETHER REGEN (BG7TBL Master Clock) > MACMINI (Uptone MMK JS-2) > Auralic Aries 2.1 > (LPS-2) > AUDIO-GD DI20HE (BG7TBL Master Clock) (I2S OUT)LampizatOr GG /Meridian 808.3> Wavac PRT1 / Wavac EC300B >Tannoy Canterbury SE

 

HP Rig ++ >Woo WES/ > Stax SR-009, Audeze LCD2

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I'm only asking because I'm sure someone has already tried this but here goes... why not just boot to an SD card with your OS on it and once everything is loaded, eject the card? Would that cause a BSOD?

 

Nah, if that would have worked then this kind of thing would have worked in Windows 7 (Win to Go).

Btw it is true that with the right setup (I recall from of W8) you can remove the (USB) boot device. But all what happens is that the PC stalls with a popup warning you it is inoperative and continues when the device is re-inserted.

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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PeterSt, is this something I can purchase from you and install into my PC or do I have to buy the entire PC from you?

 

Sure ! And no special PC is required. All you need (to do it the best/nicest possible) is a hot-swap removable 2.5" drive bay (ask if you are unsure about this) so the hdd can be removed after booting. What belongs to it, sort of, is that all your music providing hardware is elsewhere (other PC, NAS - LAN connected), so that the audio playing PC becomes really really lean. Thus it is not only the OS working solely from RAM but it is also your goal that the PC is only a processor with some memory, so to speak.

 

Drop me a mail (sales at phasure com) and you can have one in a couple of days. All works right out of the box. Otherwise there's extensive Tutorials here : The Operating System booted from RAM.

(the Tutorials are not completely finished, as there's also the possibility for upgrading in a wimp (like 2 minutes) to future OSes / OS-versions).

 

Regards,

Peter

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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Nice work Peter,

 

I can also attest that entirely removing the disc drive (HDD/SSD/flash) similarly provides a sonic improvement.

 

For me, it is useful to keep the PC connected to the network because I like to select music to play from my large collection on my NAS.

 

So I use a fiber optic Ethernet NIC., and, like lmitche, I iSCSI boot the OS -- which means the drive is never directly connected. We've discussed this on the iSCSI boot thread. In any case the solution you provide here is really unique.

Custom room treatments for headphone users.

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If running from RAM is what you want then why use Windows in the first place? Why not just use Linux which has been running from RAM since the stone age.

 

One could certainly save a fortune by not needing to purchase 12-20GB of RAM to pull off this feat. An audio focused version of Linux only needs 256MB of RAM to run the whole OS and stream DSD128 without a whiff of dropouts to boot.

 

Seems like we are trying to reinvent the wheel here :)

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If running from RAM is what you want then why use Windows in the first place? Why not just use Linux which has been running from RAM since the stone age.

 

One could certainly save a fortune by not needing to purchase 12-20GB of RAM to pull off this feat. An audio focused version of Linux only needs 256MB of RAM to run the whole OS and stream DSD128 without a whiff of dropouts to boot.

 

Seems like we are trying to reinvent the wheel here :)

 

Availability of particular modes (Win kernel streaming for XXHE) or ASIO drivers permitting higher sample rates and native DSD rather than DoP (HQPlayer) may be factors for certain users.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Very interesting threat!!! :-)

 

Can we expect the same kind of 'quantum leap in SQ' if the SSD in our streamer is already powered by a separate low ripple power regulator and playing the audio files directly from RAM using JRiver?

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