You heard that right. This is the first time we are exploring RAM caching on an NVMe SSD in this fashion. While many RAM caching softwares exist, no other SSD manufacturer has yet to enable RAM caching for NVMe SSDs in quite the way Crucial has. Crucial’s Momentum Cache feature, part of Crucial Storage Executive, is unlocked for all NVMe SSDs, or at least the ones we have tested in our Z170 test system; the keyhere, of course, is that a compatible Crucial SSD must initially be on the system to enable this feature at all. So…we have a OCZ RD400 in our system. When we install Crucial Storage Executive on the system with a Crucial MX300 installed as well, Crucial Momentum will work on just about any NVMe SSD. Remove the Crucial SSD and Crucial Momentum will still cache the OCZ RD400 NVMe SSD. The key here is, as long as the Crucial drive is there initially, the software works on any number of NVMe SSDs.
For those of you who haven’t read over a recent Crucial SSD review, or aren’t in the know when it comes to storage, Crucial’s Storage Executive is their SSD software suite that is packed with features that allow you to monitor and manage your Crucial, and other SSDs. Momentum Cache, the subject of today’s post, is a RAM cache feature. This means that when enabled, it provides for more performance out of your system’s storage. When utilized many reads and writes will be read from/sent to the RAM cache before the SSD. Thus, you are able to unlock faster compute performance at the expense of using up a bit more RAM space than normal. This is how Samsung Magician’s RAPID mode works with select Samsung SSDs. To read more about it, check out their white paper here.
Crucial Storage Executive is compatible with their MX, BX, and M500 and M550 series SSDs (all of which we reviewed), but this short list isn’t the be-all and end-all list of compatibility it seems. After installing the latest free version of Crucial Momentum, version, 3.46.062017.04, it looks like we have stumbled upon a little bug. Not only can its features be used on Crucial SATA SSDs, but also quite a few other SSDs, NVMe SSDs to be exact.
So far, we have tested Momentum Caching on a fair amount of NVMe SSDs, including the Toshiba OCZ RD400, Phison E7 based NVMe SSDs, Intel 600P, Intel 750 Series, Samsung 950 Pro, Samsung 960 EVO, WD Black SSD, and Plextor M8Se. With such a diverse array of controller/firmware combinations, it seems that the programmers didn’t lock down how this program’s feature interacts with NVMe SSD devices. As you can see in the before (left) and after (right) screenshots above and below, that is a good thing for us. Remember, the key to getting NVMe SSDs to work on Crucial Momentum is simply having a compatible Crucial SSD in the system to activate the software.
To explore this bug’s range of compatibility a little more, we took out our Kingston Hyper X Predator (a non-NVMe based PCIe SSD, but rather AHCI based) to see if we could enable momentum cache on it, and low and behold, we were unable to. Also, it seems if you use a proprietary driver for your non-Crucial NVMe SSD, it disables your ability to use the feature. Furthermore, as a disclaimer, doing this is not officially not supported and due to the volatile nature of DRAM, data could be lost upon an unexpected power outage. Thus, it is recommended to have a UPS or some sort of battery-backed power source in place before enabling and we do not take responsibility for any data loss that may occur.
In sum, if you want to try this, all you need is the following:
- A compatible Crucial SSD;
- An NVMe SSD;
- Windows 10 default NVMe driver; and
- Crucial Storage Executive 3.46.062017.04 (found at this link).
Last but not least, our advice is to download this software soonest. There is no doubt that Crucial will pick up on this soon enough, coming out with an update that restricts caching to solely crucial drives, and removing this version.
If you have any questions, remarks or just want to show off your results, please comment below!