The mSATA connector enables you to plug a small SSD directly into Gigabyte's new motherboards.
Gigabyte has announced a full line-up of future Z68-based motherboards that will include an onboard mSATA connection, enabling you to plug a small SSD directly into the motherboard.
This, Gigabyte claims, will enable you get the best out of the Intel’s new Smart Response technology, which is a feature of the new Intel Z68 chipset on which the boards are based (look out for an article all about Z68 shortly). Smart Response aims to speed up program boot times by caching regularly used files from a hard disk to an SSD.
Gigabyte suggests teaming the onboard mSATA connection with one of Intel’s new 20GB 311 mSATA SLC SSDs, but you could potentially fill the slot with any mSATA SSD you can find. You could, of course, also forsake the Smart Response technology altogether and simply use the board-mounted SSD mounted as a system disk.
Confusingly, though, we can’t see any pattern to the naming scheme for the boards sporting the mSATA connection, with Gigabyte planning to release the Z68XP-UD3, Z68XP-D3, Z68AP-D3 and Z68P-DS3 with the slot.
Gigabyte's announcement was also accompanied by the official release of 11 separate SKUs for Z68-based motherboards. This is in huge contrast to other major motherboard manufacturers, most of which have only released one or two boards based on the new chipset so far. Gigabyte is clearly gambling on Z68 taking off in a big way, and possibly replacing P67 as the chipset of choice for performance enthusiasts.
Does Gigabyte's on-board mSATA connection appeal to you? Would you rather have an SSD-based hard drive caching system, or just use an SSD as a system disk? Let us know your thoughts in the forums