32GB mSATA SSD

Discussion in 'Alienware' started by Prasad, Jun 2, 2012.

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  1. Prasad

    Prasad NBR Reviewer 1337 NBR Reviewer

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    How useful is the "32GB m-SATA SSD (Caching)" upgrade option? How much would it help really?
     
  2. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Overclocked | Overvolted Moderator

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    Caching is pretty incredible. Below is an example of software caching. It should be even better with a mSATA as a dedicated hardware cache.

    M4 SSD RAID0 w/o cache | M4 SSD RAID0 with cache

    Crucial and OCZ have an equivalent aftermarket solution that works in essentially the same way as the mSATA caching available on select Alienware systems. Both Crucial and OCZ are using Dataplex™ software. Here are some links to read up on the subject.

    Crucial Adrenaline Caching -and- OCZ Synapse Caching

    Adrenaline Installation Guide
     
  3. DarkSkies

    DarkSkies Notebook Evangelist

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    Let me just add that to properly understand what Mr. Fox said and the results he quoted, one need to know what 'caching' means. So people, if you don't know, google that up and don't get the wrong idea (e.g. about permanent boost of all speeds all the time).

    Personally, I'd say if one is running a fast SSD, dedicated mSata cache is an overkill. It's just complicating things for no reason. Modern SSDs are fast enough anyway. RAID 0 is a nice solution (prolly being an overkill already, talking regular use), but even more extra caching on a 'home' laptop with a small mSata ssd? Not needed.
     
  4. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Overclocked | Overvolted Moderator

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    Well, where caching really does a great thing is for people that have an ordinary HDD or HDDs in RAID0. Using the Crucial or OCZ solution with a small dedicated SSD with Dataplex software does some good things for performance. Not a substitute for SSD, but better than a standard HDD. It's like having the Momentus XT HDD on massive amounts of steroids, LOL.
     
  5. DarkSkies

    DarkSkies Notebook Evangelist

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    Ordinary HDDs, right. Everything I said I meant about mSata + SSD, I guess since your screen shot showed caching on M4 in RAID 0.
     
  6. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Overclocked | Overvolted Moderator

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    There is no reason one cannot take advantage of the same technology with SSD. To me, there is no such thing as "too fast" LOL. This is also where having tons of system memory comes in handy. I have allocated 6GB (4GB for SSD cache and 2GB for HDD cache) for caching. With the 2GB Windows normally consumes, I still have 8GB of unused RAM available. Data is read from, or written to, the cache at blistering speeds, which can then be written to disk at whatever speed the disk can manage. As long as there is not more data than cache space, cached data can move at the speed of the cache.

    Below is an illustration of what one can perceive as read/write performance using an ordinary HDD. In this case, by employing a delayed write from the cache the HDD appears to be faster than the SSD. I set up a Level 2 cache on the SSD for the HDD. (Note the memory used in the Windows Gadget.)

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Prasad

    Prasad NBR Reviewer 1337 NBR Reviewer

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    Thanks for the input guys! According to Donald@PNB, the 32GB SSD is just too small to do any good... So I will avoid it and save my money altogether. :)

    Is this with the 32GB SSD? I'll be using a single 750GB 7200RPM HDD. No secondary drive, thus no RAID. Will the gains really be as such?
     
  8. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Overclocked | Overvolted Moderator

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    No, I don't have an mSATA drive, or any cache drive. The screen shots are only using FancyCache software and system memory. System memory is going to be faster than a hardware cache, but probably more volatile as well.

    Whatever method you use, my guess is you would see similar results. Only cached data will benefit and that is "learned" as you use the system. Using a hardware cache that is larger than system memory would cache more information. One of the reasons the Momentus XT drives had limited success if because the integrated SSD cache was too small to be effective. The newer hybrids, such as the Revo are much better performers from what I have read. I don't own one, and I am by no means a subject matter expert. This is just stuff I have been tinkering with for fun.
     
  9. DarkSkies

    DarkSkies Notebook Evangelist

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    hey Prasad, why don't you just buy an SSD? 120GB Intel 330 or Crucial M4 128GB shouldn't be that expensive.

    Maybe not "too fast" but kinda unnecessary or inconvenient. Why to play around with some caching mSata SSD if one can fairly cheaply buy a regular SDD for example? I am pretty sure they came with the mSata SSDs idea for R2 simply to make the whole thing 'even more fancy' talking marketing and sales. Now, with RAID 0 SSD, is it really helpful at all to cache anything? Hmm...

    I think I'll put 16Gb of my old 1600Mhz RAM into M18x and check out that FancyCache and see for myself how this goes. Intel basically runs windows booting only. All games and dynamic data is kept on M4. Logically, if I play the same game for, say, a week and the data is cached, load times and everything should be easily faster.
     
  10. Prasad

    Prasad NBR Reviewer 1337 NBR Reviewer

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    Well, I'm stretching my budget as it is, and don't really see the need for an SSD regardless of public opinion. I thought however, the cache drive might help but that doesn't seem to be the case. Besides, even if I did manage to pull out the extra $$$ for a proper right SSD drive for storage, neither would I be satisfied with the storage space I'm getting with it at that price point, nor would I be able to prioritize and determine what OS/programs would I want to keep on it...
     
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