SSD As Windows 8 Boot Disk + Cache for other disks

Discussion in 'PC Hardware, Software and Displays' started by Jawed, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. Jawed

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    If I make a Windows 8 system using an SSD as the system disk, can I also use the SSD to cache other hard disks in the system? With these other hard disks having a wide variety of files and sizes (from small documents to video). I'm thinking of something like Intel's Smart Response or a hybrid drive like the Momentus, applying generically for the entire system, not just for a given drive.

    Is SSD + 16GB of RAM just easier?
     
  2. Arwin

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    Isn't it a bad idea to have the SSD do lots of (re)writing? Or is that a thing of the past now?
     
  3. pcchen

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    From what I've seen, if you can afford to install more RAM, and you don't shutdown your computer frequently, add more RAM is probably better than using a SSD cache.

    However, SSD cache does have size advantage: Intel's SSD cache can be up to 64GB. Most motherboards can't have 64 GB of RAM. It also works across reboot, so you can have faster application launch time right after a reboot, but this only matters for those who shutdown their computers frequently (I personally just use sleep).

    Hybrid HDD is generally a good idea, as it's software independent. But right now they are best for notebooks as the cache is too small so the benefit is best seen on a slow HDD (i.e. most 2.5" HDD).

    Note that if you want to use SSD cache you probably want to use a SLC SSD, as it's more resilient to frequently small writes, so it's probably not a very good idea to use part of your system SSD as SSD cache, unless you use a SLC SSD for your system drive.
     
  4. Jawed

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    I would guess that the small writes that an OS does due to web browsing would be a more signficant factor than small writes due to caching. But I haven't come across any kind of discussion of this stuff, so I don't really know. Does web browsing put a dent in typical consumer SSDs' lifetimes?

    Is it technically possible to set up an SSD as a boot disk and as a cache for multiple hard disks under Windows? I haven't found an answer to this, so far. ReadyBoost isn't aimed at this functionality:

    "Readyboost is not enabled on this computer because the system disk is fast enough that ReadyBoost is unlikely to provide any additional benefit."

    as it's purely to speed up application loading/swapping.

    16MB of RAM seems to be the sweetspot right now. e.g. 32GB is roughly 4x as costly (in conventional 4-slot mobos). Though I suppose there's an option to have 2x4GB sticks + 2x8GB sticks.

    I tend to leave my PC running from one patch tuesday to the next, so RAM as cache would be meaningful. Except, I suppose, when I blat it with some photo editing...
     
  5. Arwin

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    Would definitely be nice if you can change the location of your user folder more easily next gen. I've changed this location manually for most folders (my documents, my videos etc.) to my D drive (C being the SSD) on my laptop, but you really have to be careful with these things.
     
  6. Jawed

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    Libraries are meant to obviate this basic organisational problem, aren't they?

    You just tell a library, e.g. the Documents library, that stuff is here, there and over-there, e.g. on other disks.

    But under Windows there's a wodge of "user data" that's application maintained and not what you'd call user-maintained. e.g. Google desktop's index files or the databases/settings-files that Firefox uses to hold site passwords, per-site settings and tab group setups etc. Managing these (finding them, too!) and deciding which to backup is still fiddlesome.

    Last night, rummaging, I found a folder called "VirtualStore" inside the AppData/Local folder - at first I thought I was entering a virtual infinite loop as there's a folder there called Program Files, but no...
     
  7. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
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    And all it needs is a setting that allows me to put the Users folder on a different drive.
     
  8. Malo

    Malo Yak Mechanicum
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    I have my documents, pictures etc pointing to my share on my WHS. It works most of the time, there's the occasional game which seems to have a problem with saving config/save information on a network drive when it thinks it's saving to local documents folders (Gothic Arcania was one such game)
     
  9. Jawed

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  10. Silent_Buddha

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    It probably depends on how long you expect to use the SSD. I'm now starting my 3rd year of the C300 as my primary drives with no changes to user folders etc. The only thing I've changed is where my download accelerator stores temporary files, and that was mostly due to it triggering so many writes (over 500 GB a day sometimes, which is them compounded by the file reassembly method it uses) that the SSD would enter trashed state where its writes would degenerate to unacceptable levels at which time the dreaded SSD Windows pauses would occasionally kick in. Something I hadn't seen since the first and second gen Jmicron controllers.

    But I do extensive web browsing. Enough to rewrite the browser cache many multiples of times each day. Likewise with temp file folder, etc. And so far it's chugging along just fine. Granted just a bit over 2 years isn't enough time to definitively say anything. Hence why I have no plans on upgrading my primary boot drive despite faster SSD's now being available. I want to see just how long this sucker can last with extensive and constant heavy useage.

    OS is regularly backed up via WHS, so no biggie if it catastrophically craps out one day. And that shouldn't happen as SSDs are supposed to fail rather more gracefully than HDDs.

    Still not sure how using it as a readyboost cache would affect things however. But assuming it isn't a LOT of data, it might not be that bad. Especially if you expect to replace the drive every 2-3 years.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  11. Lightman

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    I've build PC with Corsair F3 64GB drive solely for caching purpose. Main HDD was 7200RPM 500GB SATA-600 drive and I must say I was positively surprised by responsiveness of this solution. Boot time without POST was 5-7s on W7 x64 and all drivers loaded.

    If you want to use same SSD drive as OS and cache with Intel Z68 chipset it should work, just don't forget to partition this drive before loading Windows OS.

    As mentioned by pcchen ideally you want SLC drive, but any new generation MLC drive will cope as well, just don't expect to have 300MB/s+ writes for more than few weeks on it. It will quickly go into fully trashed state and slow down quite a bit. Luckily with TRIM you can do garbage collection on your system drive but I'm not sure how it will work with cache partition as it's not formatted.

    Anyway I run my SLC SDD solely as an OS drive, and on top of that I use RAMDisk as a software RAM drive for temporal files, browser cache, etc. It has an option to read/write RAM disk state on system start/shut down so you don't loose any data and saves loads of R/W cycles on SSD. My RAMDrive saves ISO to mechanical RAID0 disks, which takes only 3-4s extra time at boot to read. What's great is if you just restart your PC data in RAMDrive seems to be preserved and computer boots that little quicker (no need to read ISO again).
     
  12. PeterAce

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    A good way of increasing the write endurance (and also lowering the write amplification of OS writes) would be to buy a larger SSD and leave space for over-provisioning. For example one possible setup could be :

    1) Partiton 64GB for your OS.
    2) Partition 64GB for your ISR cache.
    3) Leave the rest SSD space unallocated for extra over-provisioning.
     
  13. Albuquerque

    Albuquerque Red-headed step child
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    Yup. I've got six 240GB SSD's on a hardware raid controller, but each drive only has 180Gb allocated to the raid stripe. That's another 25% overprovisioning on top of whatever the SSD manufacturer provides by default.
     
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