M. Tim Jones explains initrd anatomy, creation, and use in the Linux boot process.
FTA, "...The Linux initial RAM disk (initrd) is a temporary root file system that is mounted during system boot to support the two-state boot process. The initrd contains various executables and drivers that permit the real root file system to be mounted, after which the initrd RAM disk is unmounted and its memory freed. In many embedded Linux systems, the initrd is the final root file system. This article explores the initial RAM disk for Linux 2.6, including its creation and use in the Linux kernel.
The initial RAM disk (initrd) is an initial root file system that is mounted prior to when the real root file system is available. The initrd is bound to the kernel and loaded as part of the kernel boot procedure..."
Read more at IBM developerworks...
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