OCZ’s Synapse brings SSD caching to multiple platforms

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.

Comments closed
    • evilpaul
    • 8 years ago

    Doesn’t OCZ have terrible problems with making their SSDs actually work right in the real world? Adding some abstraction layer to make it extra crashy.

    • cegras
    • 8 years ago

    What if I buy this and use it as a regular SSD? Will I be able to unlocked the 50% over provisioning?

    • MethylONE
    • 8 years ago

    Not much info to go on here. Will this work with any SATA platform? Are there any special physical needs? …when can we see some reviews?

    • Rand
    • 8 years ago

    StorageReview.com claims the price is $150/250 respectively for the 64/128GB variants.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 8 years ago

      That would be extremely cheap if the capacities are ‘real’ capactities and not just ‘total flash on-board’ capacities given the 50% overprovision. But I suppose as a caching drive it won’t be used stand-alone so maybe it is ‘total flash capacity’, in which case the dollar prices make sense. However what would stop someone from buying one and using it without a HDD? If OCZ advertises total flash but the available stand-alone size is like a 50% overprovision SSD there will be some backlash.

        • Buzzard44
        • 8 years ago

        If you check out the links, you’ll see that that is in fact the total NAND capacity on the drives, not the cache space.

        I’ve taken these excerpts from the bottom of the “Synapse SSDs” link on this page.

        Exhibit A:

        * 64GB (32GB cache capacity): SYN-25SAT3-64G
        * 128GB (64GB cache capacity): SYN-25SAT3-128G

        Exhibit B:

        *NOTE: Synapse Series features 50% NAND flash overprovisiong to accommodate performance and software features

        Edit: If $150 is indeed the price for 64GB of 25nm MLC flash, you’re paying a buttload for those drivers. It is a very logical and good concept though, introducing solid state as a new member of the memory hierarchy. I just hope some competition makes the prices reasonable.

    • phez
    • 8 years ago

    I’m a bit confused … isn’t this just a normal ssd only with half of its capacity reserved?

      • thesmileman
      • 8 years ago

      No. It runs in front of your regular mechancial hard drive as a superfast cache. to your OS you will have a hard drive the size of your full mechanical storage size. If the caching is very good you should see a pretty darn decent performance increase.

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      It’s a normal SSD with half its capacity reserved… and custom drivers to do what thesmileman describes (and what Intel does with their Smart Response drivers on the Z68 chipset). Presumably the drivers will only work with these OCZ drives, and not any arbitrary SSD (though it’s possible nvelo will offer a generic retail version in the future, their business plan seems to revolve around OEM sales; and tying their software to particular hardware has the benefit for them of reducing piracy somewhat — at least until the inevitable hacked drivers appear)

    • anotherengineer
    • 8 years ago

    I am still waiting for something like this [url<]http://www.fusionio.com/products/iodrive/[/url<] (320GB SLC) to be fully bootable from Win 7 for about 800 bucks.

      • thesmileman
      • 8 years ago

      Why aim so low. I already have one of those at the office. I am currently dreaming of their 1million iops version:

      [url<]http://www.fusionio.com/products/iodrive-octal/[/url<]

    • 5150
    • 8 years ago

    If OCZ can pull this off (without totally buggering your data) I’d definitely look at something like this.

      • Elsoze
      • 8 years ago

      for sure

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