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How it Works: Intel SSD Caching

Written on June 29, 2012 by Matt Bach
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Introduction

SSD caching (also known as Intel Smart Response Technology) is not new, but is something we have not inspected closely since its introduction with the Z68 chipset. SSD caching is intended to provide improved performance for computers that use traditional hard drives in a way that is both cost effective and easy to configure. This is done by using a small, relatively cheap SSD drive to cache or store commonly accessed data. Since SSDs are much faster than traditional hard drives, this allows the computer to read the cached data much faster than if it had to read the same data directly from the hard drive.

SSD caching reduces the time it takes to load commonly used programs, but there is a limit to the benefits. If the data is already stored in the computer's RAM, then SSD caching does not improve load times at all since the computer's RAM is much faster than even the fastest SSD drive currently on the market. The main advantage of SSD cache comes into play when booting into Windows or when a program is run for the first time after a reboot or power off. Since the data in RAM gets cleared each time the computer powers cycles, the data is not present in the RAM whereas it is still present on the SSD cache drive. 

With SSD caching setup and configured, all that the cache needs in order to function is for the program to run once. After that, the data is stored for future access within the cache drive. On a chipset level, Intel SSD caching is currently only compatible with certain chipsets and their mobile equivalents, but some motherboard manufactures have released software that does much the same thing as Intel SSD caching. In this article we will only be examining the performance of the SSD caching as provided directly from Intel.

Intel SSD Caching

Behind the Scenes

In order to understand SSD caching and how it works, you need to understand some of what is going on behind the scenes when a computer is trying to find the data it needs. When a program is first run, all of the different files needed to launch that program (the main .exe, dll files, etc.) are read from the hard drive and loaded into the different levels of temporary storage found in a computer. On most computers, the basic hierarchy goes: 

CPU Cache   RAM   Hard Drive


Whenever a computer needs to find data, it goes through this hierarchy of different storage locations starting with the CPU cache and working all the way back to the hard drive. As you go through the list, the speed of the storage gets slower so ideally you want the most commonly accessed data higher up on the list. For example, reading data from the CPU cache is much faster than reading from the RAM, which itself is much faster than reading directly from the hard drive. SSD caching adds an extra step between the RAM and hard drive, so this process becomes:

CPU Cache   RAM   SSD Cache   Hard Drive


Since SSD drives are much faster than traditional hard drives, this gives the system one more place to look for data before having to read from the comparatively slow hard drive.

Due to space limitations, not all of the data in a computer can be stored into the relatively small CPU cache or RAM, and SSD caching is no different. While the algorithm to decide what data gets cached is confidential, our testing shows that at the very least, files larger than a few MB are not stored in the SSD cache.

Setup and Configuration

Setting up an SSD cache is very easy as long as the following requirements are met:

  1. The chipset supports Intel Smart Response Technology
  2. A traditional primary hard drive
  3. A secondary SSD drive
  4. The SATA controller must be set to RAID mode (no arrays need to be configured)
  5. The Intel RST software must be installed.

Before we get into actually setting up SSD caching, there are a few things to note: First, a platter hard drive is required since the benefits of SSD caching are completely non-existent if you already using a SSD as your primary drive. Second, SSD caching is limited to 64GB. If the SSD is larger than 64GB, the remaining space is partitioned as a standard drive. You can either leave this space empty, or format it for use as additional storage through Window's Disk Management utility.

Once the five requirements listed above are fulfilled, simply follow the four easy steps shown below to enable and configure SSD caching:

Launch the Intel RST software and click on the "Accelerate" button. If the button is not present, you either are not in RAID mode or one of the other requirements have not been met

On the next screen, click on the link "Enable acceleration"

A window comes up allowing you to configure the SSD cache. From here, you can select the cache size (with a maximum of 64GB), the drive to accelerate (likely the OS drive) and can choose between Enhanced* and Maximized** mode

After clicking OK, the SSD cache is fully configured and ready for use. If you want to change the cache mode or disable SSD caching, you can do so from the Accelerate tab


*Enhanced Mode: Acceleration optimized for data protection. This mode uses the write-through cache method to write data to the cache memory and the disk simultaneously. In the event that the accelerated disk or volume becomes inaccessible, fails, or is disconnected, there is no risk of data loss because data on the disk is always synchronized with the data in the cache memory. For data safety reasons, this mode is the default acceleration setting.

**Maximized Mode: Acceleration optimized for input/output performance. This mode uses the write-back cache method where data is written to the disk at intervals. In the event that the cache device or the accelerated disk or volume becomes inaccessible or disconnected, there is a chance of data loss. However, if the device was missing and can be reconnected, reboot your system and caching activity will resume from where it stopped. If you wish to remove the cache device in the future, make sure that acceleration is first disabled on that disk or volume.


Once you complete these four steps, SSD caching is fully setup and will start working immediately; no reboots or additional configuration needed. At first, you may not notice much performance improvement, but this is due to the simple fact that no data has yet been stored to the SSD cache drive. As you continue to use the computer, more and more data will get saved to the cache, resulting in better and better system performance.

Performance Benefits

To test the performance benefit of SSD caching, we used the following hardware in a laptop system:

While most of our testing was performed with the operating system installed to the traditional hard drive and the SSD drive configured as the cache drive, we also did testing without the SSD cache configured as well as with the OS installed directly onto the SSD. This will give us a good look at the difference between not using SSD caching, using SSD caching in both modes and running the system directly from the SSD drive.

To benchmark the performance advantages, we decided to start off with testing the difference SSD caching makes to Window's boot times. To do this, we used BootRacer to record how long it took Windows to load in each of our configurations. BootRacer provides measurement from two different points: when the base OS is loaded and ready to start user-specific applications; and when the OS is fully loaded and completely ready to go. We went ahead and provided both readings, although the total is what most readers will likely be interested in. Note that these results are only for the Windows boot time and do not include pre-boot actions such as POST or BIOS hardware detection.

Sufficed to say, we were very impressed with the results. Our boot times were only 60% of what they were without SSD caching and essentially identical to simply using the SSD as the boot drive. The only unexpected result was that the difference between Enhanced and Maximized caching modes was so little. Given the risks associated with using Maximized cache, we highly recommend using the Enhanced cache setting if your primary goal is to improve Windows boot times.

Moving on to our application load testing, we ran three different programs and recorded how long it took for each to fully load: GIMP (image editing), Avid Studio (video editing) and Google SketchUp (3D modeling). This is a fairly limited number of programs, but we wanted to cover the basic idea of SSD caching across in this article, and not get too caught up on how SSD caching improves performance on a per-application basis. 

Each of the programs had been previously launched (so that they would be present in the SSD cache when available) but the system was rebooted before taking our measurements to ensure that they were not simply running from the computer's RAM.

  GIMP Avid Studio Google SketchUp
No Cache 14.2 45.9 4.7
Enhanced Cache 4.3 (30%) 10.2 (22%) 1.6 (34%)
Maximized Cache 3.9 (27%) 11.9 (26%) 1.7 (36%)
OS Installed On SSD 3.8 (27%) 10.9 (24%) 1.5 (33%)
RAM (additional runs) 3.0 (21%) 6.9 (15%) 1.0 (21%)

From our testing, you can clearly see that SSD caching proves great benefits to program load times. Once again we want to point out that this is only for the first time you run the program after a reboot. Any subsequent runs will be pulled from the computer's RAM so the load times no matter what caching you use will be much better.

While it is impossible to define a trend using so few data points, our results appear to show that the longer a program normally takes to load, the greater the benefit gained from using SSD caching. With load times reduced to 25-35% of the standard load times, it's clear that SSD caching is not just a hype tool, but is very useful in minimizing load times.

What really surprised us was how well the SSD caching performed compared to having the OS running directly from the SSD. Having the OS and programs installed directly onto the SSD provided a bit better load times, but the results were close enough that we completely validated Intel's claims of getting SSD-like performance by using SSD caching.

The testing we performed for this article just barely scratches the surface of the various programs that can benefit from using SSD caching. If you want to learn more about the performance benefits of SSD caching, we recommend checking out the Anandtech and Tom's Hardware articles about Intel SSD caching. These articles are a little bit dated, but the technology for SSD caching has not changed much since the launch of Z68 so they are still very valid.

Conclusion

Overall, we were very impressed with how much OS and program load times were reduced when using SSD caching. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that using SSD caching does not result in a system-wide increase in performance. Reading data over a few MB in size and writing data must still be done directly from the hard drive and will not benefit from having an SSD as a cache drive. Depending on the size of the cache drive, some data might also get "evicted" from the cache as you continue using your computer and newer data gets written to the cache drive.

So really, whether or not SSD caching is right for you depends on what you use your computer for. Do you spend most of your time opening lots of different programs, but rarely any large files? If so, SSD caching will likely give you a very nice performance boost. Or, do you spend your day reading and saving very large files? In that case, SSD caching will still give the performance boost when opening programs, but the actual reading and writing of the files will not be any faster. At the very least, Windows load times will be greatly improved no matter what your computer is used for.

Tags: Hard Drives, SSD, Storage, Technology, Performance
Dizhiyin1

Very detailed,great work!

Posted on 2012-12-15 03:30:59
Graeme Simpson

Great article! I'm wondering whether I should go with a cheaper msata ssd for cache or a fully fledged ssd for os and programs. I only really surf the web, use itunes etc and play 1 game only (Football Manager). Would the msata be satisfactory for my needs? Would you say the ssd is overkill?

Posted on 2013-01-21 09:44:01

It sounds to me like you may not need a lot of storage space, and if that is true then I would highly recommend a full SSD.  I use a 120GB model both here at work and at home, and that is plenty for my needs (though I do have other systems at home with far more storage, for my media and other files).  If you need a lot of space, though, the combo of a hard drive with a mSATA SSD cache is also a fine option.

Posted on 2013-01-21 17:39:33
Graeme Simpson

Ok thanks. I'll keep that in mind.

Posted on 2013-01-28 01:33:23
BornRight

I'm planning to buy a new Win 8 ultrabook having 500GB 5400 RPM HDD + 32GB mSATA SSD cache. But I want to use an SSD as my primary disk. So which of the following do you think is better:

1. Replace the 500GB HDD with an SSD
2. Replace the 32GB cache with a bigger mSATA SSD and use that as my primary drive.

In either case, I plan to clone my HDD to my new SSD. I don't like reinstalling the OS from scratch.
If I choose option 1, do I have to remove the cache drive after replacing the HDD with the new SSD?
If I choose option 2, can I reformat the HDD and use it as a storage drive or do I have to remove it from the system?

Any advice is highly appreciated. Thanks.

Posted on 2013-02-22 13:42:56

It depends a bit on the specs of the Ultrabook. I'm guessing that the SATA for the 2.5" drive is SATA 6Gb/s, while the mSATA is 3Gb/s since that is how most laptops/ultrabooks I've seen are. If that is the case, it would be better to upgrade the 2.5" drive to a SATA 6Gb/s SSD if you want the best possible speed since you will be limited to SATA 3Gb/s speeds if you used the mSATA as the primary drive. You don't have to remove the 32GB mSATA drive, but you can't use it as a cache drive anymore (what would be the point? You are already at SSD speeds). You could leave it in and do something like set your page file to that drive, use it as a small secondary storage drive, or use it to backup any important files.

If you want a balance of speed and storage, then upgrading the mSATA to a larger model and moving the OS to that would be best. This way, you can format the 500GB drive and use it as a storage drive.

If it turns out your mSATA is actually SATA 6Gb/s, then I would upgrade the mSATA and keep the 500GB drive as storage. mSATA drives are slightly more expensive then their 2.5" counterparts, but it is really nice to have that extra storage from a traditional HDD in addition to the SSD.

Posted on 2013-02-22 16:12:53
Jim Dijkstra (86NL) aKa Jimmy

Yup....Get the biggest SSD you can afford since with Intel caching the remaining storage will be partitioned and can be used as storage. (as long as external SATA/mSATA is 6GB/s)
Then upgrade the memory to max capacity, since memory is WAY faster an there is software to set memory as first cache (Most small size/high I/O requirement) and SSD as secondary cache, that way you can get up to 2-120 Gigabytes p/second on reads of most acceded data or those files/folders loaded into first RAMcache. ;-D (depending on memory and BUS(QPI) speeds of course. ;-)

GL in your queste to speed. ;-)

Posted on 2016-08-23 05:15:33
bussche

Thx for the article Matt, it's very nice.

Posted on 2013-04-26 09:50:58
Starrlt

Matt, you saved my hide, thank you. With a new computer (Dell 8500), new system (Windows 8) and a newly installed 32GB ssd I was very nervous messing with the system BIOS (to turn on raid). Everything worked as you said it should.

Posted on 2013-05-01 23:53:14
mzmzmz

Thanks for the article! - It made me curious:

Do you know if it is possible to use this with RAID arrays as well?

For example consider the following setup:

Two SSDs (with e.g. each 128GB) @ RAID0, 64GB of them used as SSD Cache for an RAID10 array of regular HDDs (e.g. 4x2TB), and the rest of the SSD-RAID-Space for the OS of the machine.

Should this be possible? (Assuming to have the right Mainboard)

Posted on 2013-06-17 15:23:32

I honestly have never tried SSD caching with RAID arrays, but I will warn you that the configuration you are proposing is very complex and as such will be much more prone to problems than a simpler configuration. Also keep in mind that SSD caching is really intended to speed up things like program load times and does pretty much nothing for load normal files once said program is running. In most cases you really should have your programs on your main OS drive and use the regular HDD RAID for storing files. In that case, you will see no performance benefit by having a SSD cache drive assigned to those regular HDDs. If you do have programs running off the regular HDD array, then you will see a pretty decent boost in the load times for those programs, but again will not see an improvement for opening any files once the main program has opened.

Overall, I would strongly suggest not using this configuration. One more small SSD assigned as a cache drive for the regular HDD array will prevent a lot of the complexity and will be nearly as fast. But honestly, in the vast majority of cases you should not have any programs running off a secondary RAID array anyway, so SSD caching won't provide any performance benefit.

Posted on 2013-06-18 03:34:45
NothingChange

Thanks, just exactly response my doubt... :)

Posted on 2013-07-17 04:04:06
McVuz

What if you already have SSD as system disc (WIN8 already installed with few programs), and HDD for games and media. Can you change that SSD role without messing the Win install?
By the way, it's MSI GT70, so I think it's not Intel SSD inside, but it could still be done, right?
Thanks!

Posted on 2013-08-09 04:37:47

No, if you change its role to a SSD cache it would wipe out what is on the drive now - and since that is your OS, the system would no longer function.

Posted on 2013-08-12 15:25:41
Vivek Viru

I am planning to buy 60 gb SSD,i have a intel i5-3570k processor and intel DZ75ML-45K motherboard..which do not support intel SRT but the processor supports it.

my purpose of buying SSD is

1)fast boot up of system

2)i want to play games through SSD due to decreased load time

i will install only OS and some games to SSD

so plz tell can i set up SSD to my system...?

plz reply...! i am eagerly waiting for ur reply....:(

thanks in advance....:)

Posted on 2013-08-10 13:11:44

I don't think you can use SSD caching with that motherboard, but I'm not very familiar with Intel's line so I can't say for sure. However, you could use the SSD as a boot drive - you would need to reinstall Windows there, and any applications you wanted to have run from the SSD. 60GB is a limited amount of space, though, so watch how much capacity on the drive you are using very carefully... or consider a larger SSD, which might be better in the long run.

Posted on 2013-08-12 15:27:23
RxG

Hello,
I have bought a new dell 17R 7720 with 32gb ssd. I would like to know that how can i maximise its performance ??

1. I can install OS on 32Gb m-sata and use the 1 Tb hard drive for storage.I will install the small Apps and programs in 32gb m-sata drive but for storing games i will be using 1TB normal HDD.

2. I can use 32 GB m-sata for caching the 1TB HDD and obviously i wil be installing everything on regular Hard drive now.

Which is better for maximum performance of games playing from other Drive??
Which is better for programs and small softwares installed on SSD with windows, ignoring the games in other HDD.??

Thank You

Posted on 2013-08-28 21:23:58

With just a 32GB SSD, I wouldn't recommend installing the OS onto the SSD. Unless you are very frugal with what gets installed onto the SSD (and disable page files, hibernate files and every other space hogs), 32GB simply isn't going to be enough space. You can follow our guide for reducing how much space an OS install needs ( http://www.pugetsystems.com... ) but even if you get the OS to fit it is always going to be right on the edge of being full.

In your case, I would say that SSD caching is going to be your best bet to help speed up everything. You could instead use the SSD as a secondary drive where you install games and programs, but I personally would rather have a more responsive OS overall rather than just faster game load times.

Posted on 2013-08-28 22:54:32
pauldj

PLEASE PLEASE HELP ME I HAVE THIS COMPUTER HP ENVY dv7-7212nr notebook with 750 gb hhd and msata 32 gb cache 8gb ram....!!!! already upgrade to 16 gb ram and intel smart technology doesn't work!!!! later upgrade msata to 64 gb .... so i need to know how do the step 4....
!!!The SATA controller must be set to RAID mode (no arrays need to be configured)!!! thanks this the link with the problem on hp http://h30434.www3.hp.com/t...

Posted on 2013-09-01 07:45:04
DavidB

While this is possible, it's tricky. Best to do a clean install & load the correct drivers when installing. Make sure bios settings are correct too. If you want to try with your existing install, you need to install ahci drivers & enable msahci in registry. That will start you on your quest of frustration but lead to performance bliss LOL!

Posted on 2013-09-13 02:26:53
DavidB

I think I may have found an incompatibility in windows automatic repair & SSD caching. When in windows auto repair with command line open, no drives or partitions show up! How is windows supposed to fix your boot loader if it can't see the drives?? You would think that they would copy the correct drivers on install to the hidden recovery partition in win8 but I don't think they do. I was able to get back to booting by loading off a USB drive like I was installing windows & doing a custom install, loading the correct intel drivers then pressing shift F10 & doing a chkdsk /r & some bootrec commands.

Posted on 2013-09-13 02:35:10

That may not have to do with the SSD - after all, SSDs don't need special drivers, right? I would guess that Windows needed the drivers for your SATA controller instead... but I've not used auto repair before, so maybe there is something else afoot?

Posted on 2013-09-13 05:29:35
Jonathan

Fantastic Article. I bought a new Asus laptop the other day with a 24GB SSD and was wondering how it was supposed to work as a cache drive. I'm glad I finally found an answer. Thanks for writing this and running the benchmarks, it really helped.

Posted on 2013-09-16 06:33:21
Arc

Hi,

im looking at getting a new gaming computer,
i5 OC haswell 4.3ghz
gtx680
16gb 2133mhz
2tb 7200 samsung spin point.
and 120gb SSD 6g/s OCZ,

i do quite a bit of work other than gaming and as the 120g will have my OS and 3-4 games that i play alot, is it worth my actually getting a 60gb 6gb/s SSD as a cache? It will make almost no difference to my games but photoshop and google 3d + other programs i should make difference, but as im using a SSD as a OS is it worth the money for the SSD cache?

Posted on 2013-09-26 14:41:37

I wouldn't advise getting the SSD as a cache, but I *would* consider getting it and using it as a dedicated scratch disk for photoshop (and any other programs that need some drive space for temporary working files). I would also try to make sure you put your main applications - not just your games - on the SSD... and then leave the 2TB drive exclusively for saving files / data.

Posted on 2013-09-26 16:29:17
idiot

My SSD made a *huge* difference in my games. The biggest is level load times. Even more significantly, while playing Skyrim, the transition from HDD to SSD made changing cells (walking to a new area in the open world) stutter free.

The wait screens between maps with the pictures and helpful suggestions started going by so fast I couldn't read them.

It's very easy to move your Steam folder around, just google for directions. Overall, if I'd known how much better gameplay would be, I'd have sprung for an SSD far sooner.

Side note: as SSD's get bigger, the disk access gets much faster, with more data paths for the drive to grab data from.

I'd really like to have 2 separate things:
1: a way to SSD cache my non-system media disk.
2: a way to cache my OS SSD to some of my unused 32GB of RAM automatically on startup, so I can have 'fresh from RAM cache' every time.

Posted on 2014-03-17 13:43:02
Yo'av

I'm going to get a 240gb SSD to put my OS on and store all my files and programs on then I'm getting a 32gb SSD to cache

Posted on 2013-11-04 03:03:17

Just FYI, there is no point to having a SSD cache for another SSD. The smaller SSDs used as caches are almost always slower than the larger ones, for one thing, and even if they were the same speed there would be no benefit from adding a cache when the main drive is already fast. I'd skip that smaller SSD altogether, or if you already have it then use it for other things: maybe dedicated Windows Virtual Memory, or temp files, or something along those lines.

Posted on 2013-11-04 04:22:04
Zeke

Very good article! Really helped me to understand this process. You way of writing it was perfect!

Posted on 2013-11-17 19:15:26
Paulo Munoz

Hello I have a Dell XPS 27 touch screen with 2TB hdd and 32gb ssd my system supports RST I installed windows 8 on 32ssd and left the 2TB for storage, now is telling me that the 32gb is full can someone help me please.

Posted on 2013-12-13 18:18:04

32GB is a really small drive for fitting all of Windows. If you had meant to take advantage of RST, you would want to install Windows to the 2TB drive instead. Then, once in Windows with the Intel software installed, follow the instructions above to assign that 32GB SSD as a cache for the larger hard drive.

Posted on 2013-12-13 18:20:55
Paulo Munoz

Thank you so much William, one last question now every time I reboot the computer it shows this screen how can I disable this?

Posted on 2013-12-13 18:34:33

That is a screen showing the management options for your drives / giving you the change to enter the Intel configuration utility even outside of Windows. The drives aren't technically in RAID, which is what that control interface is normally used for, but the SATA controller has to be in RAID mode in order for the caching stuff to work... and when that is enabled, this screen will show up (and cannot be turned off, so far as I am aware).

Posted on 2013-12-13 18:41:24
Paulo Munoz

Thank you again.

Posted on 2013-12-13 18:44:56
vin

i have a question.
what if, in my alienware 14, I keep the 64GB mSATA SSD as it is, and replace the hard drive with SSD (2.5"), and then format both those SSDs and install something like Linux or Windows server? What will I see while installing? Two hard-drives or just one?
My alienware came with a 750GB hard drive and 64GB cache SSD. I'm not sure if it has two different drives or just one hybrid drive inside.

Posted on 2013-12-16 18:58:33

If it is a mSATA SSD then it should be physically separate from the hard drive. The 'hybrid drives' are all one component, and shouldn't use the term 'mSATA' or even draw attention to there being two drives in the system. There is no way to access the cache SSD part separately from the main HDD on such drives.

So to answer your initial question, I would indeed expect two drives to show up as being usable if you replaced the hard drive with another SSD. There would be no benefit to using the 64GB mSATA SSD as a cache drive, though, since caching a SSD with another SSD would just introduce delay / latency without any performance gain. You could use it for other purposes I suppose, though.

Posted on 2013-12-16 19:12:13
vin

i just got off the phone with the dell customer care guy, he said that there's only one 2.5" drive in my laptop of 750GB capacity including 64GB of space as a cache. He also said that it's not similar to a hybrid drive, and certainly there is only 1 hard drive in the laptop.
My question is where exactly is that 64GB located? Does it start from the first sector till 64GB, and after that the remaining general storage sector begins? I am asking because I want to install Linux and other Operating systems, and I want to know exactly how to make use of the cache space. I'm doubtful whether the Linux even supports such features.

Posted on 2013-12-16 23:18:27

Jumping in here since I noticed your reply: everything I can find on the Alienware 14 doesn't match what the Dell customer care guy told you. Everything I can find on that laptop - including Google searches for "Alienware M14 mSATA -R2" (-R2 to explude the newer version) and Dell's official spec sheet http://www.dell.com/support... - lists the smaller drive as a mSATA (so physically separate from the primary drive). So I'm pretty sure that Dell guy you spoke to was simply reading from a spec sheet and doesn't actually know what is in your laptop.

So if you were to reinstall, I am 99% sure you would see two separate entries to choose from. If you do this, make sure to switch from RAID mode (required for SSD caching) to AHCI mode so that you don't have to deal with additional RAID drivers.

Posted on 2013-12-17 00:05:54
vin

Hey Matt, thanks for telling me about the hard drives. The customer care services are quite unreliable these days.
I always do my installations on AHCI mode, to install operating systems such as Linux and Mac OSX. (Earlier I was a little hesitant on doing such operations on my laptop that hardly is 4 to 5 days old.)
I have one question though - If I install windows 8 on mSATA drive and Linux on the 750GB drive; obviously Linux having the GRUB2 boot menu, can boot to anything, is there gonna be any conflict? I'm asking because I read on many websites that mSATA is supposed to be the Boot drive.
Can I treat both harddrives as any general two harddrives hooked up together and do operations as per our preferences like we have always done before?

Posted on 2013-12-17 06:42:49

There shouldn't be any problems installing the boot OS to one drive over the other. Really a mSATA drive is identical to any other hard drive except that it uses a different SATA connector. To the BIOS and any OS, it looks the same as any other SATA drive.

All things being equal, the only reason I can think of that anyone would recommend specifically using a mSATA drive as the primary is if the mSATA uses the SATA0 port which is usually better because then the BIOS defaults to trying to use that drive as the boot device. This will change based on motherboard though, so I can't see that being a good rule of thumb.

The two reasons that I would install to a mSATA drive are really no different than any other SSD. It will be faster than the larger traditional drive, and the fact that you usually want to use the smaller of two equivalent drives for the OS and the larger for data storage. In your case though, the only potential issue with installing the boot manager to the 750GB drive is if the mSATA drive actually uses the primary SATA port. If that is the case though, all you have to do is change the boot order in the BIOS.

Posted on 2013-12-17 20:58:57
vin

Alright. I'll definitely work it all out. Thanks a lot for your suggestions.

Posted on 2013-12-18 06:01:20
Ernet

Hi, it's really great explanation of how SSD caching works. Now, I have "unusall" question: having 8GB RAM in my Laptop I used to turn the paging file off. Does this move disturb or not with normal SSD caching work ? Or having SSD caching in my Laptop I just shouldn't turn off paging file?

Posted on 2014-02-06 13:08:58

Having the page file off shouldn't affect SSD caching in any way. In some regard, SSD caching and page file do similar things, but they way they go about them is so different that one really does not affect the other. Page file uses the hard drive as a type of "overflow" for your system RAM, while SSD caching works as an additional storage layer between the RAM and the hard drive.

SSD caching in no way affects the need for a page file, and if you only have 8GB of RAM, I would generally recommend keeping the page file on. If you know that you never even get close to using 8GB of RAM you could turn it off, but my personal opinion is to leave it on if you are not 100% sure you don't need it.

Posted on 2014-02-06 19:42:25
Ernet

Thank you very much for your quick reply.

Posted on 2014-02-07 09:10:52
Ernet

... now everything is clear and my knowlage is (again) bigger than before.

Posted on 2014-02-07 09:17:29
Divine

I run a Raid0 main drive consisting of (2) 160GB SataII drives. Would using a SataII SSD as a cache improve my speeds or would the SataII controller limit the SSD to approx. the same speed as the Raid0 array?

Posted on 2014-02-14 18:20:00
Dany

Hi. I didn't read all comments but I want to know, wich one of these config is better :
- a system with 2x 1TB HDD + 80gb SSD Caching
- a system with "1x 120gb OCZ Vertex 3" (for Windows & high hdd access apps) + "1TB HDD" (for profile and normal apps).

I don't really need 2x 1TB HDD on my system. I just wonder.

Also, is my system can work ok with a "OCZ Vertex 3 SSD" AND the "80gb SSD Caching" ??

Thank you.

Posted on 2014-03-06 18:32:48
Omar

I'd say the second one is better. By the way, in the first case, you could only use 64GB as cache. It's the maximum allowed by Intel RST.

Posted on 2014-03-16 11:55:25
Αντωνης

Hello. This is the most clear article that I have read. I am not new in computers, had my first one back in '85, but there are some new things in my new HP Touch 15t-j100, 240 mSata, 1 TB hard drive, 16 Gb Ram, 8.1. Am trying to recover to the factory settings via a (paid) USB media, but if I have both mSata & HD in place, during the process, I receive an error message (something about SRT that could not be initialized or something). So, I removed the hard drive and used the same recovery USB and all went well. Then I installed the hard drive and after formatting it, it was recognized ok. However,at a later stage I faced another problem. The Bluetooth icon was there, so I paired my Bluetooth mouse (Logitech V470). It workded ok until the next reboot. The reboot took longer and then there was no BT icon in the tray and it was shown as unknown device in the device manager. Re-installing BT driver fixed the problem, but again until the next reboot..
At present I am trying recovery to the hard drive while the mSata is removed. Then I'll install the mSata and see how to enable cache.
I'll revert with specific questions soon.
Thanks much
Antonios

Posted on 2014-05-01 01:52:12
ssnakedaman

Hello i have a question. i just bought an asus n750jk t4032d. and i've got an 24gb mssd for cache but in bios i don't have raid, just ahci and ide. i see this mssd in windows as a hard drive but can't make cache with him. in irst i don,t have the option cus i can't put raid on bios. can someone give me a solution. ty

Posted on 2014-08-19 21:20:24

Unfortunately, it looks like that laptop uses the HM86 chipset which does not support Smart Response Technology and thus does not support Intel SSD Caching.

Posted on 2014-08-19 21:27:28
Filip Glemba

i have asus G551JW and also have 24GB os m.sata SSD. BIOS doesn t support RAID, only ahci. So how does it work then? It must work somehow when they are selling it as ssd cache. Do i need to install some extra soft for it?

Posted on 2016-02-10 15:43:23

I looked up the specs for the G551JW, but I don't see that they list mSATA drives. I did find, however, that there is a half-height mSATA port under the palmrest so maybe you have a special model or limited run edition. Either way, if it came with the unit and was advertised as a cache drive, it should work out of the box. If you did an OS re-installation or something like that, you may need to contact Asus' support to see exactly how you need to re-enable the drive as a cache. It may be that they have either native hardware support for caching added to the motherboard or some special BIOS-level code in place. Asus makes their own motherboards, so it wouldn't surprise me if they are actually using something different than Intel's SSD caching via Smart Response Technology that this article is about.

Posted on 2016-02-10 18:05:32
qruret

You made clear exactly what i was trying to figure out, wether a small caching drive can get you results similar to having the OS installed in a larger SSD. Thanks for the info, great work.

Posted on 2014-08-27 19:18:15
Duane Leach

Thank you this was exactly what I needed to know mate, brilliant work much appreciated from here in the U.K.

Posted on 2015-01-13 04:55:57
imtheone

HDD is still reliable. But who doesn't want fast processing? Off course SDD is the best one. Spectra

Posted on 2015-03-01 09:58:06
YÅ«suke Fujisaki

May i ask, should i install the OS on HDD or SSD?

Posted on 2015-03-11 04:30:31

If you are using the SSD as a cache drive, then you need to install the OS to the HDD first. Once that is done you can set the SSD to be a cache through Intel RST (like we showed in the article).

Posted on 2015-03-11 15:33:28
YÅ«suke Fujisaki

Thank you so much. Im just making sure that im on the right path on having a lightning fast computer. :D

Posted on 2015-03-11 22:31:29
Infinity Snow

I know it might sound silly as you have mentioned there is no point for having mSata in "mSata + SSD" configuration.

The Intel® Rapid Storage Technology doen't show "Accelerate" tab and has "Performance" tab instead with no option for enabling acceleration.

I just don't want to get rid of the 32GB mSata :D

Posted on 2015-06-03 19:18:35
YÅ«suke Fujisaki

Did anyone tried making there Primary Drive a SSD and Using this SSD cache? Is it possible or not?

Posted on 2015-08-07 17:37:42

I haven't tried it, but it should be possible. However, it would be pointless: if anything, it would probably slow the computer down. Smaller SSDs tend to be slower than larger ones, and since the primary drive would already offer SSD speeds there would be no need to provide caching on top of that. So I would *not* recommend it.

Posted on 2015-08-07 17:40:47
YÅ«suke Fujisaki

I see, i was thinking of doing that. well your point make sense to me. thanks. maybe ill gonna stick HDD + SSD Cache

Posted on 2015-08-07 19:26:33
Fivish

I have cloned my UX32A 500GB HDD to a 500GB MX200 SSD. This works just fine. What am I to do with the 24GB SSD? Can I convert it to small drive? Do I have to turn off or uninstall the software that writes to the 24GB cache?

Posted on 2015-08-16 14:07:28
Ryan Eka

where did you install the OS first ?. HDD or SSD ?. I want do it, thanks

Posted on 2016-03-03 03:59:29

You install the OS onto the HDD only. The SSD is just working as a cache drive so you don't actually place any files onto the drive yourself - it is automatically done for you when you enable caching.

Posted on 2016-03-03 17:56:43
cookoosnest

Upgraded to Windows 10 version 1511 build 10586.545 on Dell 15z 5523 and attempted to defragment c:/ drive (HDD). Noticed that both (c:/ - HDD & d:/ - SSD) drives were read as SSD so unable to Analyze or Defrag.

So, I attempted to install the latest drives from Intel site. Unfortunately, crashed my system. Required a new clean install.

Once new install, went to Dell site and installed SRT driver and Chipset drivers. Restart - checked bios - RAID drives and SRT enabled. Save & exit.
Went in to Cmd Prompt (Admin) - Diskprt - Clean. List Disk showed 2 drives both online with available space on both.
Went to Disk Management to initialize disk - Disk 1 setup - MBR style of partition.
Then on disk 0 (HDD) last partition chose “Shrink Volume…” from menu & shrank. Once completed, Extend Volume on disk 0 (HDD).
Ran SRT program - Enable Acceleration - selected total drive - Maximized Mode. Restart.

Finished.......but noticed the following.....

Where is the 2nd drive (SSD) that is being used as cache - why is it not showing up in Device Manager, Diskpart, Disk Management and Defrag software??

Yet SRT shows everything working!!

And 2nd question why is Disk 0 type still showing as SSD in Optimize and defragment??

Please note that I did not install Intel Rapid Start Technology b/c Intel no longer supports it & Windows 10 (Power Options - System settings) offers similar tech.
Therefore, using 2nd drive for cacheing only.

So ultimately, is SRT working?? How can I tell?? Thanks.

Posted on 2016-08-28 18:17:20
DanielTremblay514

What about Premiere pro and SSD caching, let say i have my medias in HDDs, will SSD caching will keep in SSD medias i am scrubbing in my timeline?
Anyone experienced such acceleration?

Thanks

Posted on 2019-05-03 12:39:53

SSD caching really only works with application data - you will be better off just putting your media onto an SSD directly. Or working with proxies if you have more media than can fit on your SSD.

Posted on 2019-05-09 20:04:32
ziplock9000

Windows already uses RAM for a file cache and has done for many years. If this also uses RAM it's not only redundant to do so, but wasting memory

Posted on 2019-10-01 13:47:56