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Data Storage Hardware

OCZ Couples SSD, Mechanical Storage On a PCIe Card 201

J. Dzhugashvili writes "We've seen some solid-state drives on PCI Express cards before, but OCZ's RevoDrive Hybrid may very well be the first solution to combine solid-state storage and a mechanical hard drive on a single PCI Express x4 card. Using Dataplex caching software from Nvelo, the RevoDrive Hybrid uses its solid-state component (a RAID 0 array of SandForce-based SSDs) as a cache for an onboard mechanical hard drive. The caching scheme is reportedly so effective that "a 5,400-RPM drive can be used without sacrificing much performance," according to The Tech Report's coverage. OCZ hasn't hashed out all of the details yet, but it expects the RevoDrive Hybrid to start at $350 this July. The base configuration should couple 60GB of solid-state storage with a 500GB mechanical drive."
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OCZ Couples SSD, Mechanical Storage On a PCIe Card

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  • by adolf ( 21054 ) <> on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @01:13AM (#36305126) Journal

    Do anyone remember the old ISA hardcards?

    Yes. They were made by Quantum, and later by some other manufacturers.

    It kind of made sense at the time, since hard drives were non-trivial to install back then. I still remember performing a series of dark incantations in MS-DOS debug to initialize an MFM hard drive on an XT.

    At the time, I thought it was pretty cool, getting my fingers dirty like that. But I think most folks would have preferred to die in a fire than get involved in their hardware to that extent.

    And at the same time, I felt it was a lousy idea to integrate everything since it also increased the number of single points of failure in the storage system. (This so-far vapor offering from OCZ suffers the same problem.)

    Another issue with the OCZ product: What problem does it actually solve which cannot also be solved by a good OS, a competent admin, an SSD, and a spinning disk?

    I feel spoiled, these days, when I pull the side off of my desktop, plug in a new SATA drive, and it just works -- immediately, without even turning the box off first.

    (I also remember 8-bit memory expansion cards populated with six dozen individual DIP RAM chips. I remember soldering pins onto SIMM memory to make them fit into my SIPP motherboard. And I remember caching hard drive controllers, stuffed with as much RAM as you could afford. And I remember hardware data compression cards of at least two general variations. I remember the And I remember when sound cards actually did something, and themselves had SIMM sockets. And I remember squeezing sixteen 30-pin SIMMs into four 72-pin sockets on a Socket 5 board.

    I even remember an 8-bit ISA card, called the Copy II PC Option Board [], which existed only to facilitate copying software on floppy. I even found a Gopher source for the reference [] just to show how full my beard is, and how long I've been in Mom's basement.

    Now, get off of my lawn before I start lamenting about how under-appreciated a common 8-bit parallel port is.)

  • Re:huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swilver ( 617741 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @01:54AM (#36305352)

    Actually, all you need to cache is meta-data and small files (say anything less than 100 kB). Anything larger (assuming it is unfragmented) can be streamed from a traditional harddisk at speeds comparable to SSD's anyway.

    Large files are almost by definition rarely accessed randomly as they are usually some kind of media (image, music, video).

    Also, at today's data density, even traditional harddisks can saturate a link as long as the reads are sequential.

  • by adolf ( 21054 ) <> on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @02:01AM (#36305376) Journal

    You're not using all ten gigabytes of Portal 2 every time you play the game. An intelligent caching scheme would see that you're reading a lot of data from a contiguous section of disk, and copy more stuff from the area into your SSD cache than you actually ask for.

    No, I'm not using all ten gigabytes of Portal 2 every time I play the game.

    But an intelligent caching system won't see that I'm reading a lot of data from a contiguous section of disk, because the installation is likely not contiguous on disk in the first place. Without knowledge of the filesystem AND the application, "intelligent" sector-level caching is a waste for such applications.

    Meanwhile the OS will likely, while I'm running through the single-player mode of that particular game, only request new data once per session: Even if I play a level over and over again, it's still going to be in the OS's RAM-based cache on any respectable machine that isn't otherwise burdened. The extraneous "intelligent" SSD caching system won't help a bit.

    And even if I'm particularly good at Portal 2, and never replay a level, the data for the next level will still need loaded from a spinning disk...because until I do play them, unplayed levels will appear to an "intelligent" caching scheme as data that has no business being pre-cached because nothing has ever used it before (aside from the first time it was written out to disk at installation).

    All it will help out with, consistently, with common use of Portal 2 is initial load time of the game itself...and only then if the game is used often enough that its data isn't flushed from the SSD cache in favor of more recently-used data.

    Just to be clear: I'm not sure what point you're trying to argue, exactly, when talking about games and this particular sort of technology (which is not, by any means, a new concept). I can, however, see that you are wrong.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson