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#1 Kevin OBrien

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 04:11 PM

The Synapse Cache SSD is OCZ’s attempt at a DIY consumer software-based storage cashing setup. Essentially it lets you stick a SATA 6.0Gb/s over-provisioned SSD in front of almost any hard drive to act as a large file cache, theoretically giving you the speed of a SSD over the capacity of a HDD or disk array. This is very similar, in fact it uses the same software, as the PCIe OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid we just reviewed. While the RevoDrive Hybrid includes a 1TB hard drive, dual-processor SSD and caching software, the Synapse is simply a caching SSD and Dataplex software, offering users tremendous flexibility and a lower price point.

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#2 mike2h

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 06:29 PM

seems like the ticket. wished this would have been out before i commited to the raid setup on my wifes comp.
for the majority of users the 64 gig seems the wtg.

#3 Brian

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 03:02 PM

We debated the capacity issue internally for a while and came to the same conclusion you did. 64GB seems like "enough" for most, though if you have the cash for cache, then the 128GB should provide a bit more reliable SSD speeds.

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#4 mike2h

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 03:29 PM

the other downside to the 128gig vers is cost. for that price u can get a good 120gig ssd. & 120 gig is more than sufficient as a primary drive. you can use the old sys drive for storage & you have overall increased capacity & at least as good id not better performance for basically the same $$.

i really do like the 64 gig vers, if i hadnt already purchased the 500 gig re4's for my wifes comp i would jump all over it. been trying to figure out a way to justify spending the money on it but just cant do it:( would be perfect for her & all her photoshop cra..ah stuff;)

'cash for cache' love that:)

#5 [ETA]MrSpadge

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 06:02 PM

This is one very interesting offer!

Personally I've been using an Agility 3 60 GB to cache my WD 640 Blue for some time now, using Intels software on a Z68 mainboard. At first the difference wasn't that impressive, but over time my work machine, which uses a WD 640 Black, started to feel dog slow upon reboots. So it's definitely worth a lot :)

A couple of thoughts regarding this topic in general, the Synapse and this review:
- I'd like to see their caching software compared to Intels. Which was the de-facto standard until now. And you get Intels caching for free, if you go for / have a Z68. Of course, the OCZ has to huge benefit over the Intel solution that it works with any Win 7 system.. still, I'd like them compared.

- Does OCZs software cache media files like .avi or mp3? I know Intel is supposed to detect such cases and avoid caching them (which should be good).

- You're writing OCZ does support "write back" and hence helps upon the 1st access. I'm not quite sure I understand.. is this similar to Intels "maximum" mode, where write accesses are also cached and synchronized later on? Personally I'm using the "safe" mode, which came in handy since the first Agility 3 died within weeks. No harm done, though, as the cache could easily be rebuilt.

- Do they cache files or do they work at the "I/O block level", like Intel does? You're supposed to get some benefit here, as e.g. a huge archive of a games textures is not cached entirely, but just the used part.

- I'm wondering about this 50% overprovisioning. I'm sure they've put some good thinking hours into this.. still, I'm not convinced the overprovisioning has to be that much. My drive has seen 1.6 TBs of writes in about a half year. Sure, that's much more than what the drive would have seen as a system drive.. but it's not shocking either (still showing 100% fitness in the OCZ toolbox). And consider this: if only 30 GB of a 60 GB drive are being used as cache, this will actually lead to more write acesses, because files are pushed out of the cache more often and will have to be rewritten. This will not matter much for an office work station, but if one's running a different game every now and then, this might well add up.

Best regards,
MrS

#6 Ricky_005

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 06:46 PM

We debated the capacity issue internally for a while and came to the same conclusion you did. 64GB seems like "enough" for most, though if you have the cash for cache, then the 128GB should provide a bit more reliable SSD speeds.


Questions:

1. Is there a particular reason why you chose WD RE4 raid drive for testing the system?

2. Was the testing performed on LSI hardware?

3. Also do you think data reliability/integrity will be good enough for use lets say, in a high-end xeon workstation for software development and graphics? The workstation is the HP Z800 with 5520 chipset and drives running on the ICH10 (SATA-2)

4. Running raid 1 with two samsung f3 drives on the ICH10, will this work with OCZ Synapse cache?

5. CPU overhead?

Edited by Ricky_005, 09 November 2011 - 07:38 PM.

#7 Kevin OBrien

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 09:24 PM


This is one very interesting offer!

Personally I've been using an Agility 3 60 GB to cache my WD 640 Blue for some time now, using Intels software on a Z68 mainboard. At first the difference wasn't that impressive, but over time my work machine, which uses a WD 640 Black, started to feel dog slow upon reboots. So it's definitely worth a lot :)

A couple of thoughts regarding this topic in general, the Synapse and this review:
- I'd like to see their caching software compared to Intels. Which was the de-facto standard until now. And you get Intels caching for free, if you go for / have a Z68. Of course, the OCZ has to huge benefit over the Intel solution that it works with any Win 7 system.. still, I'd like them compared.

- Does OCZs software cache media files like .avi or mp3? I know Intel is supposed to detect such cases and avoid caching them (which should be good).

- You're writing OCZ does support "write back" and hence helps upon the 1st access. I'm not quite sure I understand.. is this similar to Intels "maximum" mode, where write accesses are also cached and synchronized later on? Personally I'm using the "safe" mode, which came in handy since the first Agility 3 died within weeks. No harm done, though, as the cache could easily be rebuilt.

- Do they cache files or do they work at the "I/O block level", like Intel does? You're supposed to get some benefit here, as e.g. a huge archive of a games textures is not cached entirely, but just the used part.

- I'm wondering about this 50% overprovisioning. I'm sure they've put some good thinking hours into this.. still, I'm not convinced the overprovisioning has to be that much. My drive has seen 1.6 TBs of writes in about a half year. Sure, that's much more than what the drive would have seen as a system drive.. but it's not shocking either (still showing 100% fitness in the OCZ toolbox). And consider this: if only 30 GB of a 60 GB drive are being used as cache, this will actually lead to more write acesses, because files are pushed out of the cache more often and will have to be rewritten. This will not matter much for an office work station, but if one's running a different game every now and then, this might well add up.

Best regards,
MrS


1. Would love to test out Intel's solution, we just dont have a rig that supports it yet.

2. This software is as low-level as you can think... works regardless of the files being accessed and works at the LBA activity level.

3. I would need to talk to Dataplex about that.

4. Works at the I/O block level... we were able to finally start working with the software outside of some of the original constraints and work with the drive unpartitioned/unformatted

5. Really depends on the solution, but they are probably going the better safe than sorry route since many user profiles can vary.

Questions:

1. Is there a particular reason why you chose WD RE4 raid drive for testing the system?

2. Was the testing performed on LSI hardware?

3. Also do you think data reliability/integrity will be good enough for use lets say, in a high-end xeon workstation for software development and graphics? The workstation is the HP Z800 with 5520 chipset and drives running on the ICH10 (SATA-2)

4. Running raid 1 with two samsung f3 drives on the ICH10, will this work with OCZ Synapse cache?

5. CPU overhead?


1. RE4 was the fastest HDD we had on hand. We were initially going to use the new 3TB Barracuda but ran into the 2TB limit. The RE4 was nearby ;)

2. Straight Intel SATA in AHCI mode on our ASUS P8P67 Deluxe board

3. Outside of a caching failure or power outage (write-back data in limbo which could be solved with a battery backup) if the cache dies you still have the primary data on the hard drive.

4. That I will have to check with the OCZ branded Dataplex software. I'm not sure if it wants an individual disk or can work with a array.

5. In our benchmark runs we saw a 2-3% blip at max on our Intel Core i7 when caching was enabled.

#8 Noli

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 03:52 PM

"...considering the $150 entry-point, this is the no-brainer upgrade of the century for those wanting big speed over big storage."

Big speed over big storage is just an SSD. Surely this should read, "... this is the no-brainer upgrade of the century for those wanting big speed *and* big storage."

I mean, as I understand it, you have a 120GB SSD caching a 2TB HDD and the *whole* "array" is almost as fast as an SSD due to clever caching right?

If that's correct, it sounds like what Intel's lacklustre caching should have been. I agree with previous chappy that comparison with Intel's Z68 solution is highly desirable. I would also like to know if opening a 12GB mkv film file (for example) a few times, would result in it being cached to the SSD or not.

Another benchmark I'd really like to see is Windows start up times comparison vs pure SSD and vs pure HDD.

Very interesting review though - was surprised this was the first I'd heard of this tech!

#9 [ETA]MrSpadge

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 04:15 PM

Thanks for the answers, Kevin!

Regarding my point 2: the reason I asked is because Intel deliberately avoids caching large media files. I think this is generally the best thing to do (maybe apart from letting the user choose). Otherwise moving some movies around to / from external disks would quickly flush the cache and result in large amounts of data being written, mostly useless (file only accessed once) or harmful (flushing valuable data out of the cache). So if Dataplex would do this the Intel way I'd see it as a plus point.

5. Really depends on the solution, but they are probably going the better safe than sorry route since many user profiles can vary.


Probably. I guess I'd like this solution more if I had the chance to use it with 40, 50 or 60 GB of a 64 GB SSD. And with the corresponding price adjustements, of course ;)

@Noli:
I think the sentence says: "...considering the $150 entry-point, this is the no-brainer upgrade of the century for those wanting big speed over [the full capacity of] big storage."

MrS

Edited by [ETA]MrSpadge, 10 November 2011 - 04:16 PM.

#10 Ricky_005

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 05:38 PM

This is truly a great way to lower overall storage cost, but as most things in life that seem to good to be true, usually are. I feel rather certain that testing of this product over a few months would expose the issues of a software cache based system. Also expose the simple fact that OCZ product quality hasn't changed.

Now if I could purchase the cache software and use it with any brand of SSD, now that might change my view.

Edited by Ricky_005, 11 November 2011 - 01:57 AM.

#11 Kevin OBrien

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 07:39 PM

This is truly a great way to lower overall storage cost, but as most things in life that seem to good to be true, usually are. I feel rather certain that testing of this product over a few months would expose the issues of a software cache based system. Also expose the simple fact that OCZ product quality hasn't changed.

Now if I could purchase the cache software and use it with any brand of SSD, now this might change my view.


You bring up a good point about racking up some mileage so to speak on these devices... which we are currently aiming to do. We like to rotate products through our home/work systems to get hours of long term tests and we are trying to figure out which system to stick them in. The synapse is a bit easier to work with though since it doesnt rely on the VCA drivers that the Revodrive does.

Also I can't say I agree with your comments about OCZ though. To date only one OCZ drive has caused us trouble, and it has also been one we have been abusing since its review. The original 120GB Vertex 2 might have finally croaked on us, but it was also abused to hell and back through power tests, not to mention massive amounts of data written to it. The turning point was when I used it inside my PS3 last week before I started playing Uncharted... and something happened in the process and it no longer initializes. Everything else has been run of the mill compared to any other SandForce-powered offerings with glitches relating to firmware.

Also word from NVELO is that RAID arrays within the 2TB limit should be recognized by the Dataplex software with the Synapse.

#12 [ETA]MrSpadge

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 04:23 PM

Yeah, I wouldn't jump into the OCZ bashing either. They're quick to market, you've got to give them that. And sometimes there's a price to pay for that, too. And by far the majority of systems was not affected by the SF22xx bug (including mine), and it was not even an OCZ exclusive issue.

MrS

#13 [ETA]MrSpadge

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 11:44 AM

I feel rather certain that testing of this product over a few months would expose the issues of a software cache based system.


BTW.. what exactly do you mean by this?

MrS

#14 Ricky_005

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 11:59 AM


Yeah, I wouldn't jump into the OCZ bashing either. They're quick to market, you've got to give them that. And sometimes there's a price to pay for that, too. And by far the majority of systems was not affected by the SF22xx bug (including mine), and it was not even an OCZ exclusive issue.

MrS


As you stated....

They're quick to market, you've got to give them that. And sometimes there's a price to pay for that, too.

The time/frustration and data loss has far exceed the value of the product.

Edited by Ricky_005, 12 November 2011 - 12:14 PM.

#15 [ETA]MrSpadge

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 03:47 PM

With the Synapse being used as a cache there wouldn't be any data loss if the drive fails. Or at least that's how it works using Intels caching in the safe mode. I'm not totally sure how Dataplex is doing it, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt here (until proven otherwise).

MrS

#16 DigitalFreak

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 03:23 PM

Will it cache multiple drives not in a RAID array? I have 2 WD Raptors (150 & 300GB). Would the 128GB (well, 64GB usable really) version be worth the extra $$?

#17 mike2h

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 05:04 PM

dont beleive it can cache seperate hd's. and why spend the money on the 128 vers when the 64gig vers is perfect for 90% of uses...unless you are the 10%;)

#18 TSullivan

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 11:11 AM

Correct, it will only do one drive and it must be boot.

#19 [ETA]MrSpadge

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 03:41 PM

Correct, it will only do one drive and it must be boot.

Uh, that's a stupid limitation! It means you can't run several of them to cache several disks. They're hurting their own sales by this.. a little. If this limitation is artifical they should work on removing it.

Besides: I don't see why one cache couldn't be used for several drives. Is it due to this RAID nonsense, which e.g. Intel has to create in order to cache the drive? If one could cache several drives with one SSD that would make the larger caches more attractive.

MrS

#20 TSullivan

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 04:46 PM

It is probably a limitation set by this packaged solution. In the environments this products would go you would be looking at two drives total (SSD + HDD)

#21 tester1

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Posted 01 December 2011 - 11:24 AM

Topics: OCZ Synapse in Lenovo Thinkpad W520 and/or improper Windows 7 shutdown.

Just wondering if anyone has installed Synapse on the 2nd Hard Drive Bay (i.e. that originally came with a DVD/CD) and if they ran into any issues.
I am interested on the reported issues/problems if you have to improperly shutdown Windows 7 and the Dataplex recovery process.

I am planning to install a 64GB Synapse on a W510, which is similar to the W520, this week.

Thanks

#22 Kevin OBrien

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Posted 01 December 2011 - 01:43 PM

I can run through a few tests with our W520 if you would like. Regarding the improper shutdown.... want me to yank the drive and give you a rundown of the process as it rebuilds or something?

#23 tester1

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Posted 01 December 2011 - 03:06 PM

Kevin,

Thanks for the offer. I don't need any testing on the W520, I was just wondering if Synapse users have run into issues with improper shutdown of Windows and Dataplex behavior.

I will be posting some before/after test bechmarks and any issues I ran into after doing my install this week.

Thanks


I can run through a few tests with our W520 if you would like. Regarding the improper shutdown.... want me to yank the drive and give you a rundown of the process as it rebuilds or something?


#24 tester1

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Posted 01 December 2011 - 10:00 PM

Update....

I installed the Synapse SSD and Dataplex software. These proved to be incompatible with Full Disk Encryption (FDE) software, which I need to run.
The Dataplex implanted itself before the FDE software in the boot process, which always caused Dataplex to go into recovery mode.
If you are planing to use FDE please proceed with caution, do full backup before you start testing.

I an alternative to improve my Disk I/O performance and also need to simultaneously run FDE software, I was wondering if an SSD for the primary HDD (boot)
will be a good option. Already use a Seagate Momentus XT, but is about 30-40% slower due to the FDE software. The question is as follows:

-- FDE software will complete fill the SSD to capacity, with encrypted data. In this case the SSD will always look full, no empty space available, to the BIOS and HDD/SSD controller. To the OS
will look like a normal file system with both use and empty capacity. Does having the SSD always at full capacity cause the SSD to have a shorter life, fail or cause performance issues.

Thanks for your comments.








Topics: OCZ Synapse in Lenovo Thinkpad W520 and/or improper Windows 7 shutdown.

Just wondering if anyone has installed Synapse on the 2nd Hard Drive Bay (i.e. that originally came with a DVD/CD) and if they ran into any issues.
I am interested on the reported issues/problems if you have to improperly shutdown Windows 7 and the Dataplex recovery process.

I am planning to install a 64GB Synapse on a W510, which is similar to the W520, this week.

Thanks


#25 Kevin OBrien

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 12:26 PM

Technically speaking, you could just get a SSD that supports FDE already (Intels, SandForce models, etc) and let it handle it that way. On SandForce models it is already working in the background with no performance impact.



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