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NVELO Dataplex SSD Caching Software Review – Seven mSATA SSDs Prove An Amazing Concept

OUR SSD ROUNDUP

We are going to test today with mSATA SSDs manufactured by Intel, Samsung, Toshiba, Kingston, AData, Runcore and Renice.  We have provided a brief background on each below and all are SATA 2 SSDs except for the Runcore T50 which is a SATA 3 drive.  As a bit of a heads up, the Lenovo X220 does not support SATA 3 speeds through its mSATA interface and we will only see SATA 2 speeds throughout our tests.

INTEL 310 SATA 2 80GB MSATA SSD

The 310 contains Intel’s own PC29AS21BAO controller, five pieces of Intel 34nm 16GB 29F16B08JAMBA memory as well as an ISSI 32MB IS42S16160D DDR chip for caching purposes.  This was the first mSATA release and was reviewed here in January 2011.  Its advertised speeds are 200MB/s read and 70MB/s write and it is available to consumers at $189.99

SAMSUNG PM810 64GB SATA 2 mSATA SSD

The PM810 contains the Samsung S3C29MAX01 controller and four pieces of Samsung 16GB NAND flash memory.  We reviewed the 128GB version in May 2011 and it is very similar to that which we are testing except for total size.  Its advertised speeds are 220MB/s read and 120GB write and it is not available as a consumer product.

TOSHIBA 128GB SATA 2 mSATA SSD

Although the Intel 310 SSD was really the first consumer release mSATA SSD, we believe that the Toshiba mSATA was the first to be available at the oem and enterprise level and its first release was January 2010.  It contains Toshiba’s own controller and four pieces of Toshiba 32nm 16GB NAND flash memory and we will give you a heads up right off; this is the slowest of the bunch.  Manufacturer specifications list speeds of 180MB/s read and 70MB/s write and they are only available via oem and enterprise sales.

KINGSTON mS100  64GB SATA 2 mSATA SSD

The mS100 uses a Phison controller and specifications are listed at a decent 255MB/s read and 170MB/s write with the drive being available to the consumer for a great price of $99.99. Once again, memory consists of four pieces of 16GB NAND flash memory.

ADATA XM13 30GB SATA 2 mSATA SSD

The XM13 is ‘SandForce Driven’ mSATA SSD and the only to use SandForces newest SF-2141 processor.  This SSD contains four modules of Intel 25nm 16GB NAND flash memory and specifications are listed at 280MB/s read and 260MB/s write.  It is also available to the consumer for $74.99.

RUNCORE T50 120GB SATA 3 mSATA SSD

The T50 is our only SATA 3 SSD and our personal favorite.  It is in use presently and installed within our Toshiba Z830 that we just completed a full review on.  The speed difference between the Toshiba and Runcore in that report is absolutely amazing.  The T50 contains the SandForce SF-2281 SATA 3 processor and our earlier full review of that mSATA SSD alone resulted in 556MB/s read and 499MB/s write transfer speeds.  Remember now, our test Lenovo X220 only allows SATA 2 speeds while we were able to push out SATA 3 performance from our Toshiba Z830.  The T50 is available to the consumer at a cost of $319.

RENICE X3 120GB SATA 2 mSATA SSD

The Renice X3 is also ‘SandForce Driven and contains the SF-1200 processor capable of 260MB/s read and 200MB/s write performance.  Our full review describes this SSD in detail as well as showing our original full test bench results. The X3 is available to the consumer at $239.99.

  • John

    I have a question after some background information. I have an aging Dell Vostro 1500 notebook originally built to run Win Vista. It will allow use of a flash cache module (FCM) connectable using what appears to be a miniPCI connection. These miniSATAs appear to be miniPCI cards, but unlike the FCM that may have available drivers, I am unaware of drivers to make these miniSATAs work. If all the above is correct information, can I add one of these miniSATA’s cards to my Dell and have this caching software work with it to achieve this same goal. Or am I still in need of a miniSATA driver?

  • Christopherkr

    I’m wondering the same thing as John. I have a latitude D630 which has the same FCM port, and I’ve not found out what it supports.

  • Anonymous

    Are you really trying to tell me that a cached drive writes data faster than the SSD drive that is doing the caching????

    This makes absolutely NO sense. Please explain. You can’t just throw out test results like that and then just expect people to accept the test’s veracity. What is the Dataplex software doing to the data that would cause this increase in write performance over a bare SSD? Is it some kind of compression? What am I missing?

    Also, I’m confused about bus speed. A SATA 3 SSD on a SATA 2 controller has to be slower than straight SATA 3…at least for sustained read/write speeds or what would be SATA 3s reason for existence?

    There are lies, damn lies and then there are disk speed benchmark results. Where did all the cached drive performance go (relative to a standalone SSD) in your ‘real world’, actual usage tests? Either I’m reading the results incorrectly (quite possible) or you got some ‘splaining to do Lucy.

    • The tests results are exactly as they are stated in the charts. As far as SATA 3 speeds on a SATA 2 controller, all SATA 3 SSDs are backwards compatible and we never found anything unusual in those results as well. We really don’t know what there would be to exlplain that might assist. All tests were done from the same laptop, all with the same HDD and caching software. The tests were simply the SSD scores and then the HDD cached scores from the specific SSD.

      • Anonymous

        Am I being punk’d? Where is Ashton Kutcher? Did you even read my questions? What’s the difference whether the SSD is caching the data or just writing the data as a ‘normal’ SSD when it comes to write speed? Isn’t caching and writing the same thing? Obviously not, if the speed increases, but that then leaves the question regarding what is different unanswered. The only variable is the Dataplex software. So, I ask again…what is the Dataplex software doing that would increase write speed (higher than a standalone SSD)? How do you get BOTH increased access times AND increased sustained write speeds without compression? Is the data being written on two channels at the same time? You can say you don’t know but don’t act like these write results make sense in the absence of an explanation.

      • I would like to help you but am afraid that there is really no way to do that. The results are the results and were consistent through a few tests, most commonly with the SF drives with respect to the increased write speed. Tx ahead.

      • We have a bit of a return regarding the write speeds.

        This is all in the noise. From the results, it looks like NVELO varies 5-10% better in some cases and 5-10% worse in other cases. With caching, the software write location/pattern is unique, such that sometimes it can outperform the SSD. In the future, it may be possible to do better more consistently based on the fact that the software recognizes that it is writing to SSD while the application thinks it’s just writing to some random storage device.

      • Anonymous

        If this is the case, I would assume that as SSDs become more prevalent many software developers will begin to optimize their code for these drives.

        Also, is there any way for The SSD Review to run tests to discern the difference in read/write speeds between a SATA 3 SSD running on a SATA 2 controller from a SATA 2 SSD running on the same SATA 2 controller. I’m trying to figure out if the controller or the drive is the main contributor to performance. Thanks.

    • Fairly simple explanation : the writes are being performed by both the SSD and the HDD at the same time, each of them splitting the task respective to their relative speeds. Eventually the part of the data that was cached to the SSD will be moved to the hard drive, probably during either the next reboot or when the file system is not as busy.

      NVELO is a software company with tens of employees and millions of dollars. It isn’t surprising that their product is more complex than you might expect.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for the info. Do you work for Nvelo? Could you point me to a website where this information is documented so I can read more about it? I’m curious how the software is able to write to two channels at the same time and how this ends up being faster than simply writing to the SSD. I didn’t know the bus speed was the weak link in the data storage process.

      • I don’t work for NVelo and might suggest you contact them for additional information.

  • Lori

    I got subscribed to an email list and don’t even know how…can’t find a way to unsubscribe and any attempts by email fell on blind eyes I guess

  • Les,

    I appreciate your team’s reviews, they are informative & I learn something useful every time I visit your site.

    Regarding the ability to cache data on a PC to increase performance:

    Any plans on reviewing other cache software other than Dataplex?
    Romex Software has a product in beta testing called FancyCache that uses System RAM as Level-1 cache & unseen RAM or an SSD as Level-2 cache. The performance is amazing. Unlike Dataplex, the Romex software is highly user adjustable & they have built in many safeguards to prevent system crashes & hang-ups (write flushing, etc). The Romex software also allows the end-user to utilize the SSD of their choice & they are not limited to an OCZ product.

    There are also a few other software vendors out there offering something similar, but the Romex version looks to be the most flexible & robust (to-date anyway).

    Any interest in reviewing something like this?
    It should be incredibly useful to those of us that follow your site.

    Thanks,
    CH

  • needtoknowmore

    how were you able to get the dataplex software on to the other SSDs??I thought it was just installed on the OCZ?

    • We have a close relationship with NVELO who have provided us with open copies of the software for the purpose of such reviews.

      • John Lyu

        So I’m guessing I can’t get my hands on that software right now. I have a Intel 525 mSATA SSD installed in my notebook with a 1TB 3 gb/s/5400RPM HDD as the main drive. I can’t use IRST because my notebook does not have RAID mode available. If I can’t use that special copy of the software can you recommend one that could give me caching abilities for my ssd?

      • Unfortunately there is none…sorry.

      • John Lyu

        Thanks for the reply. I was able to purchase a Intel 520 6GB for less than $1/gb so I don’t think I’ll need a caching software.

  • MRFS

    FYI: there’s a thread here which started out discussing SuperCache 5,
    and then migrated into a discussion of FancyCache:

    http://www.thessdreview.com/Forums/ssd-discussion/1542-post20292.htm#post20292

    MRFS

  • Mohdali

    Hello
    I already have my Dell Precision running on 128GB SSD drive from crucial
    Will I get any benefit by deploying another SSD as cache and installing the dataplex software ?
    Ali

    • No benefit at all SSD to SSD. Dataplex is intended to benefit HDD use.

  • question: I am using Dataplex. Does the data just migrate from HDD to SSD or is it copied there while remaining safely on my HDD? Many people are reporting a Win7 loss or system crashing while using this software.

    • Only the ‘hot’ data is moved to your SSD and the hard drive remains unchanged. The drive needs to be uninstalled properly to gain access to the hard drive alone as it was prior to its use with the caching software however.

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