The Smart Response SSD caching technology Intel debuted with its Z68 Express chipset is very slick indeed. To go along with it, Intel even designed a 311 Series solid-state drive decked out with exotic SLC memory. That SSD only serves up 20GB of caching capacity, which looks a little light next to OCZ’s new line of Synapse SSDs. The Synapse drives have been "optimized for caching applications" and are available in 64GB and 128GB capacities.
You won’t need a Z68 motherboard to get in on the caching action, either. OCZ is shipping Synapse drives with Dataplex caching software from Nvelo. That’s the same software included with the company’s RevoDrive Hybrid, which uses a PCIe SSD to cache data stored on an included 2.5" hard drive.
With a 6Gbps Serial ATA interface, the Synapse isn’t quite as fancy as the RevoDrive. However, it does feature SandForce’s latest SF-2281 controller paired with 25-nm MLC flash. The use of MLC memory in a write-heavy caching environment is interesting, and it may explain why OCZ has gone with an unusually high 50% overprovisioning percentage with the drives—half of the Synapse’s total NAND capacity is set aside as "spare area" for use by the controller.
The Synapse isn’t listed for sale online just yet, and the official press release doesn’t mention how much it’ll cost. Undercutting the 311 Series shouldn’t be too difficult. Intel’s solution costs $115 online, which is an awful lot to pay for a 20GB SSD cache with ultimately limited compatibility.