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Kevin OBrien

DIY SSD/HDD Notebook Caching With NVELO's Dataplex Discussion

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After the previous success we had with NVELO's Dataplex software with the pre-packaged OCZ Synapse Cache and RevoDrive Hybrid solutions, we decided to look at new avenues for this exciting caching technology. With a large assortment of Lenovo ThinkPads on hand, all supporting mSATA SSDs, we decided to throw together a quick caching solution with a ThinkPad X220, an 80GB Intel mSATA SSD and a 2.5-inch 7mm Hitachi Z7K320 hard drive. The results were impressive to say the least!

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Very interesting review. Thank you for posting it!

Would it be possible to do a set of benchmarks with the 80GB SSD alone? The SSD+HDD+Dataplex solution obviously performs much better than the HDD alone; but what's the performance gap between that and a pure SSD setup?

I realize that benchmarking cached setups is difficult. It's obviously a big performance boost, but the boost is of course variable depending on if the data you want is cached or not.

(Been reading SR for years, this is my first reply!)

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I'll try to reclone the OS back tomorrow and get the PCMark7 stats using the mSATA alone.

And yea benchmarking caching solutions does present an interesting problem since you are effectively benchmarking "hot data"... the more you run the test the more the data gets burned in. In the real world each user's experience will vary depending on use and applications.

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PCMark7 results on the X220 running just off the Intel 310 mSATA:

Overall score: 4360

Windows Defender 5.23

Importing Photos: 15.42

Video Editing: 20.68

WMC: 7.77

Adding Music: 1.38

Starting Apps: 36.88

Gaming: 14.91

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Nice review, short and sweet. Will be interesting to see how this Dataplex cache compares to Intel SRT cache. Wish I had a notebook with an mSATA slot to try both. What is the availability of this cache software (both Intel and Dataplex)?

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On the Intel SRT side I'm not sure if any notebooks support it yet... Dataplex right now the software exists but itsn't not licensed outside of the pre-packaged caching solutions.

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They've got tremendous potential here. But I guess they'll be a little worried about everything working correctly on arbitrary hardware configurations.. which is why they didn't go full retail yet.

MrS

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I am very interested in this SSD caching option. I don't want to use an SSD as my primary drive (for a variety of reasons) and I have an empty hard drive bay in my 64 bit Win 7 laptop I would like to put to use.

Is Dataplex the only potential caching option out there? Or alternatively, is there a way to manually set up a secondary SSD so that it functions statically just like the OCZ Synapse (i.e. it boots fast and the programs/data I use most often load fast) without the monitoring offered by the Dataplex software?

It seems like all you need to do is figure out which stuff to put on the SSD and then how to tell Windows to look there for it.

Anyone have any ideas about how to accomplish this?

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At this point you're best off going with the Synapse solution since you can't buy the Dataplex software on its own. I'd expect we see others try to replicate the software though as there's clearly a need in the client space for something like this.

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Fantastic review, Brian, this is the first site I've seen to get the scoop on how Dataplex works with an arbitrary SSD.

I have a Lenovo X220 and (mistakenly) purchased an Intel 311 SLC mSATA 20GB drive, thinking Intel's RST would work with the QM67. Turns out that's not the case.

A. Here is a suggestion; it would be revealing to see how Dataplex goes head to head with the Intel RST by pairing the 311 with an identical HDD as an Intel rig.

B. Also, to answer your question about standalone pricing: in trying to salvage my 20GB SLC cache, I have tried various products:

a. eBoostr - File Level Caching that is SSD aware - $20 with a perpetual 50% discount off of $40 List

b. FancyCache - Block Level Caching that has a "Tier 2" SSD cache - Free in Beta

They work well, although I'm realizing that having more memory (with the 16GB kits on $189 sale with Black Friday) that FancyCache may never even let things get past Tier 1.

I've also heard about SuperCache but that it doesn't help with SSDs.

I would suggest $39-59?

--

Oh, and if you need someone to bench Dataplex the Intel 311 SLC mSATA, I can dedicate a whole day to it!

Edited by hroth

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We're going to try to get some Intel RST tests done, good suggestion.

As to pricing, I was thinking $79, but at $50 I think that's probably the sweet spot.

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If you've got the coice "120 GB SSD as regular system drive + some manual fiddling" or "60 GB SSD as cache for the entire HDD", the 2nd option has to be cheaper - including the software.

MrS

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Exactly, although I think there's some benefit to going SLC on the 311 instead of MLC and having (somewhat) the entire range of the 320GB HDD cached.

It looks like $50 is the premium OCZ has too, with the Synapse package (since the $150 gets you the SSD as well).

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Wow I'd definitely like to see something like this available as a universal SSD cache solution! I would definitely be willing to pay a good $20-$30 for the software if it's good.

Having a ThinkPad with a large HDD and mSATA drive for SSD cache definitely seem like a very clever idea.

Are there any other solutions for this sort of thing besides Intel's SRT? I know of hardware solutions like Silverstone's HDDBoost thing around as well but they aren't quite as flexible or versatile.

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I went all out and purchased the $250 OCZ Synapse option with Dataplex per the glowing reviews of this site and a few others. None of them mentioned how dangerous the software is. If you check out OCZ's forums you'll find Synapse users reporting that if any kind of improper shutdown occurs you'll be potentially locked out of the system for hours while waiting for data on the cache to be recovered. There is no option to skip this process, and if you somehow could skip it or if the recovery fails (as it did in my case) you lose all of that write-date (which can be alot, 30-60 GB depending on the model you purchased.

5-6 reinstalls later and testing on 2-3 other machines in my house just confirms this is an extremely dangerous solution, if not for the the data loss, then for the sheer amount of downtime caused by the recovery process. Stick with Intel SRT or traditional SSD solutions until OCZ and Nvelo figure this one out. I ended up with an unbootable system in 3 of my test scenarios by simulating a power outage. THERE IS NO FAULT TOLERANCE.

I'm really confused as to how the product received such glowing reviews without mentioning that this is a fun product that only works in the best case scenario but has a very very very low tolerance for disaster (it only has to happen one time for you to sit there for hours, and for some, overnight, waiting for a mandatory verification process, that's one time too many). If you don't have some kind of UPS or a laptop with a battery, be very wary.

If you're testing and love cutting edge tech and you're not working with anything important, then this is a fun product. For production, well, this shouldn't be deployed on any mission critical machine at all. Period. It almost caused me to miss a final exam deadline and since I'm stuck with the drive cause Newegg doesn't take returns on this product, I'm left with a very expensive experimental product that I only feel comfortable doing experiments with...not actual work.

Now if only I could somehow get a refund or at least an exchange to a more traditional SSD...

Edited by shadowyani

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I went all out and purchased the $250 OCZ Synapse option with Dataplex per the glowing reviews of this site and a few others. None of them mentioned how dangerous the software is. If you check out OCZ's forums you'll find Synapse users reporting that if any kind of improper shutdown occurs you'll be potentially locked out of the system for hours while waiting for data on the cache to be recovered. There is no option to skip this process, and if you somehow could skip it or if the recovery fails (as it did in my case) you lose all of that write-date (which can be alot, 30-60 GB depending on the model you purchased.

5-6 reinstalls later and testing on 2-3 other machines in my house just confirms this is an extremely dangerous solution, if not for the the data loss, then for the sheer amount of downtime caused by the recovery process. Stick with Intel SRT or traditional SSD solutions until OCZ and Nvelo figure this one out. I ended up with an unbootable system in 3 of my test scenarios by simulating a power outage. THERE IS NO FAULT TOLERANCE.

I'm really confused as to how the product received such glowing reviews without mentioning that this is a fun product that only works in the best case scenario but has a very very very low tolerance for disaster (it only has to happen one time for you to sit there for hours, and for some, overnight, waiting for a mandatory verification process, that's one time too many). If you don't have some kind of UPS or a laptop with a battery, be very wary.

If you're testing and love cutting edge tech and you're not working with anything important, then this is a fun product. For production, well, this shouldn't be deployed on any mission critical machine at all. Period. It almost caused me to miss a final exam deadline and since I'm stuck with the drive cause Newegg doesn't take returns on this product, I'm left with a very expensive experimental product that I only feel comfortable doing experiments with...not actual work.

Now if only I could somehow get a refund or at least an exchange to a more traditional SSD...

I wouldn't touch any of OCZ's products.....We all know the story.......Totally Unreliable Junk!

The money OCZ spends on marketing to convince consumers to buy there product must be out of this world ..... Its all coming to an end for them though, as they are having to give deep discounts just to dump there trash.

They may be one of the fastest SSD, but their also known to Crash and Burn just a Quick!

They've been making SSD for years, so what makes you think after all these years OCZ can turn a Turd into something of real value?

Edited by Ricky_005

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