Current computer systems fill the demand of operating systems and applications for ever greater amounts of random access memory by paging the least recently used data to the hard disk drive. This paging process is called "virtual memory," to indicate that the hard disk drive is used to create the illusion that the computer has more random access memory than it actually has. Unfortunately, the fastest hard disk drives are over five orders of magnitude slower than the DRAM they are emulating. When the demand for memory increases to the point that processes are being continually saved to disk and then retrieved again, a process called "thrashing" occurs, and the performance of the entire computer system plummets. This thesis sought to find alternatives for home and small business computer users to the hard disk drive for virtual memory which would not suffer from the same long delays. Virtual memory is especially important for older computers, which often are limited by their motherboards, their processors and their power supplies to a relatively small amount of random access memory. Thus, this thesis was focused on improving the performance of older computers by replacing the hard disk drive with faster technologies for the virtual memory. Of the different technologies considered, flash memory was selected because of its low power requirements, its ready availability, its relatively low cost and its significantly faster random access times. Two devices were evaluated on a system with a 512MB of RAM, a Pentium 4 processor and a SATA hard disk drive. Theoretical models and a simulator were developed, and physical performance measurements were taken. Flash memory was not shown to be significantly faster than the hard disk drive in virtual memory applications.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





computer, virtual memory, flash memory, hard disk drive