You can boot without
initrd on any hardware. I never use it myself on desktops/laptops and home servers, because it just adds to boot time. The only situation where I've found it really necessary so far, is when your root filesystem is on an LVM (but I may be in error - there might be some way to go about this also).
If you want your setup to be fast and simple, you should first of all try to remove all the unnecessary stuff from your kernel configuration. There are two general ways you can do that while configuring your kernel:
- strip down - try to get rid of all the unnecessary modules and options
- build up - take a minimal config and add in just the stuff you need
I personally recommend the second option - simply because it takes less time and you avoid being overwhelmed by uncertainty about all the options. For a great starting point, you can pick an adequate Pappy's kernel seed. You can find more information about those on his webpage. With this approach, a general tip from my side is to first run
lspci -knn, which will tell you, what modules are currently used by most of your hardware.