Behold the Mighty Roboson!

, posted: 16-May-2007 19:14

This is geeky in the extreme I suppose, but one of the features in Intel Santa Rosa notebook platform that I was looking forward to check out was the "Robson" FLASH memory cache. At the last Intel Developer Forum that I attended, Robson was one of the technologies people were most curious about.

And for a good reason too: while the additional cache only saves a little bit of power through reducing the amount of accesses to that energy-sapping electromagnetic mechanical device, the hard drive, it promises to bump up performance in a meaningful way.

How much? Intel flew me and other NZ media to Sydney last week for the Santa Rosa launch, where the unabashedly techie Graham Tucker ran a script that launched apps on a Robson equipped Lenovo T51 and one without, and made them perform certain things like image file manipulation. The timed result:
Robson Script Comparison
All the usual caveats apply: vendor demo, no knowledge of how it was set up, and so forth. Intel reckons Robson will make a big, big difference though, so it'll be interesting to see how much of a difference it really makes when I test things.

What is Robson though? Well, I got the impression it would be incorporated into hard drives themselves, or somewhere close to the disk controller on the motherboard. That turned out to be wrong. Intel Turbo Memory (good grief, Chipzilla really needs help with its product naming) looks like this:
That's right: a tiny PCI-Express card. This one was pulled out from a test ASUS notebook and I quite like the silk-screen tyop. "Roboson" is a way cool name - beats TurboMemory hands down, in fact.

From what I can tell, there's 1GB of FLASH RAM on the Robson card, but I have no further details on the specifications. As soon as I get the right drivers, the notebook will be put through the wringer, with and without Robson mini-card, to see what actually happens.

Graham Tucker says Robson is much faster with ReadyBoost than memory cards/thumb drives connected via USB 2.0, so that'll be one of the things I'll look at.

Other related posts:
The TechEd 2013 bag review
Timelapse clip of Brisbane superstorm
IITP Newsline: Software patents special issue

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