Volatile USB Storage?

Did you see a new gadget or toy and start brimming with ideas? See something that has tons of potential? Discuss these thoughts here.

Re: Volatile USB Storage?

Postby st2000 » February 18th, 2011, 12:51 pm

USB protocol is rather complex. You almost have to understand (most of) it before you can comment on ideas like the one that started this thread. When I think of dynamic (volatile) memory in a USB Thumb drive I am not thinking of security. Rather I am thinking of small disk-less computers. What I can see as being an interesting device is a compound device (not USB compound (I think that means 2 USB devices behind a USB hub)) consisting of a flash drive and a RAM drive. Maybe configured as two SCSI devices inside of one USB device. Such a device could store the OS and Applications in flash and run out of the RAM. I guess there is a bit of security inherent in this scheme as you can essentially take your OS, Applications and RAM with you when you leave. Leaving behind the processor, display and keyboard.
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Re: Volatile USB Storage?

Postby MS3FGX » February 18th, 2011, 1:38 pm

But what would be the advantage of that over a simple USB flash drive?

Again, any speed increase that you would get from using a filesystem on RAM would be completely nullified by being on the USB bus, and now you are even talking about having your non-volatile OS storage and volatile "scratch space" on the same port, effectively halving throughput.

The idea of "taking the RAM with you" as a security measure will be completely ineffective, as the system itself obviously couldn't use the volatile storage in the USB device as actual RAM. So the system would still be susceptible to physical RAM attacks (I.E. hitting the RAM with cold blast and extracting data). Even if there was some software implementation like ReadyBoost in play, that has nothing to do with the fact that the CPU needs to execute code from physical RAM sitting on the motherboard. So your data will eventually have to make it's way outside of your little USB computer.
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Re: Volatile USB Storage?

Postby jim » February 19th, 2011, 5:04 pm

Just use a RAM drive and no physical disk -- boot into the RAM drive from a source like a live CD and you have the same security aspects as using volatile USB as storage.
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Re: Volatile USB Storage?

Postby leafgarden » October 7th, 2016, 9:58 pm

I have a very real use for this. A lot of newer Intel Atom type computers have a maximum 2 gig ram. If you use a USB drive or a internal SSD drive for virtual memory you can quickly burn out these write many type flash storage devices. The only choice is to use a slow clumsy mechanical hard drive. With a volatile memory drive you can format it on OS boot and mount partitions for temp directories and swap space. Making temp directories and swap on a volatile ram device will save the internal SSD and last longer and be more reliable than a external flash drive.
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