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Gigabyte Z68 boards feature on-board SSD slot

Gigabyte Z68 boards feature on-board SSD slot

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.

28 Comments

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Instagib 12th May 2011, 12:42 Quote
And what was wrong with using a normal sata port to hook up a ssd?
It just seems like something else that will bump up the price of a new board when i have a perfectly good stand alone ssd which does exactly the same job.
Andy Mc 12th May 2011, 13:18 Quote
If they put this on an itx board and the cost/size of the mSATA SSDs was acceptable then it would allow for super tiny HTPCs :)
.//TuNdRa 12th May 2011, 13:20 Quote
I spy a baby blue board. The news about the mSATA might be interesting, but Gigabyte continuing to produce those wonderfully coloured boards is just awesome. :3
l3v1ck 12th May 2011, 13:27 Quote
Quote:
Would you rather have an SSD-based hard drive caching system, or just use an SSD as a system disk?
System disk.
Xir 12th May 2011, 13:45 Quote
Why use valuable board space for this if the performance is the same as with a "wired" connection?
In a Tablet, AI1 or notebook, OK, but on desktop?:?
schmidtbag 12th May 2011, 15:28 Quote
i find it completely pointless. what i would REALLY like to see is sli/crossfire mobos with mini-pcie 1x slots, although these slots should be placed directly next to the normal pcie 1x slots with a switch that lets you use only one of them. if anyone really cared about having a compact SSD built into their mobo they could just get a mini-pcie ssd. they're slow, but i'm getting the impression that mSATA is slow too.
Unknownsock 12th May 2011, 15:33 Quote
Quote:
You could, of course, also forsake the Smart Response technology altogether and simply use the board-mounted SSD mounted as a system disk.

Gief..
meandmymouth 12th May 2011, 16:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Mc
If they put this on an itx board and the cost/size of the mSATA SSDs was acceptable then it would allow for super tiny HTPCs :)

Agreed, this would indeed make for a very good itx set up.

Other than that possible use (that probably won't happen) I struggle to see the point. Why buy a micro SSD when you can just buy an SSD as a system disk, apart from the fact that you'd need to reinstall everything (though not necessarily if you just clone the drive).

It does make me think Intel is saying "Look what we did, just because we can!"
kenco_uk 12th May 2011, 16:26 Quote
The picture looks like a mini pci-e device which begs the question - why bother?
fingerbob69 12th May 2011, 16:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by l3v1ck
Quote:
Would you rather have an SSD-based hard drive caching system, or just use an SSD as a system disk?
System disk.

As I understand it, it is too allow the ssd to act as a a cache for your traditional hdd and thus "vastly" improve the read write times of the hdd.
IvanIvanovich 12th May 2011, 17:53 Quote
i hate msata. nonstandard mini pci-e slot attached to the sata controller directly or even worse to usb controller. it made an amount of sense for netbooks where the space is so limited. this implementation on desktop boards just screams pointless in my opinion. why buy a more expensive, smaller and generally slower msata ssd when you're dealing with large desktop boards, its not like you're saving any space.
mucgoo 12th May 2011, 18:23 Quote
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=HD-235-SE&groupid=701&catid=14&subcat=1894

Looks exactly like this but the solid state cache is located on the mobo rather than on the hard drive. Pointless.
Power users eg any Z68 buyer will get a proper boot SSD or not bother at all.

Sort of thing which should go on office/business range hardware were ease of use is most important.
Silent_Raider 12th May 2011, 18:51 Quote
if they put this on a fusion board i could make a great very small form factor htpc.
John_T 12th May 2011, 19:02 Quote
I said in the comments section of the Z68 preview back on 16th April that I wondered if the Z68 wouldn't feature a NAND chip on the Motherboard - I wasn't far off! :)

Like fingerbob says, these may have the potential to vastly improve traditional HDD performance, and possibly at a fraction of the price of a standalone SSD, (as I'm sure prices of these smaller capacity drives would fall through sale volumes). Even if a standalone SSD was used as a boot disk, this could still vastly improve the storage HDD performance.

I'm not going to knock it till I've seen it in action, as I think it could, potentially, be a very good idea.
moshpit 12th May 2011, 19:29 Quote
This should have been an H67 feature, not used on Z68.
mediapcAddict 12th May 2011, 19:53 Quote
Could be used to give a more "instant on" feeling for media centers from just one hard drive.
azazel1024 12th May 2011, 21:44 Quote
I like. I've been wondering/hoping someone would finally do something like this. Now don't get me wrong, I might not utilize something like this, but I have been wondering when it was going to happen. If Soda Creek gets better with a future revision I might even take advantage of it. If I am going to be honest, it probably won't be for a boot disk.

However, it would be great for a boot/app disk split. Something like a SATA 6Gbps SSD for a boot/app drive and then a seperate mSATA SSD for an app only drive.

Say, put all your games on the mSATA, and the OS and core apps on the SATA 6Gbps drive.

This will be x10 more impressive though if they make uATX and mITX boards with mSATA ports on them for SSD storage. A nice little 4 port mITX board + an mSATA slot would be perfect for a sever board for me. SSD boot mSATA card, room for 3 SATA drives and an eSATA hookup to the last port.

Now if we could also start seeing laptops come with an mSATA slot standard on top of the DVD drive and SATA harddrive port/bay.
FelixTech 12th May 2011, 23:04 Quote
There a lot of negative reactions. I think another level in the memory hierarchy can only be a good thing when combined with traditional HDDs. While large SSD systems are obviously going to be better, I look forward to seeing if this works out as a good price-performance addition.
mucgoo 12th May 2011, 23:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by FelixTech
There a lot of negative reactions. I think another level in the memory hierarchy can only be a good thing when combined with traditional HDDs. While large SSD systems are obviously going to be better, I look forward to seeing if this works out as a good price-performance addition.

But people who buy Z68 boards aren't generally very price/performance aware. There'd rather just spend £100 on a proper boot than £50 on this kind of SSD which will be slightly worse.
It's the sort of feature that need to go on space constricted laptops/media servers, budget build were £50 or so more for near SSD performance is good and mainstream computer hardware were an auto managed SSD cache is fine but the end consumer would be confused by the presence of two separate drives.
DeadMan 13th May 2011, 06:31 Quote
This could work really well as as a swap disk for windows, props to gigabyte for leading innovation.
the_kille4 13th May 2011, 09:34 Quote
I saw a Z68 based gigabyte motherboard today... not the msata version but the ud6 instead... still loocked cool though
Xir 13th May 2011, 12:54 Quote
I don't doubt that this use-a-SSD-to-speed-up-normal-drives works... but why onboard and not offboard?
l3v1ck 13th May 2011, 14:37 Quote
Anandtech have a good article on using a Sandforce SSD with this chipset:
CLICKY
dave99 13th May 2011, 23:42 Quote
Having just bought a P67 mobo can I say that I am really angry that computer components keep moving on. WHY WON'T THEY JUST STOP. For the love of God, JUST STOP. And so on and so forth :)
dave99 13th May 2011, 23:48 Quote
On a more serious note. Why not just wait until SSD's are mainstream? My first hard drive was 30MB, that's right 30 MEGABYTES. It cost an awful lot of money at the time. Soon SSD's will take over from mechanical disk based drives. They will be cheap and have massive storage. Now I laugh. MUWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
ZERO <ibis> 15th May 2011, 05:36 Quote
Why not just offer the same features over a normal sata connection? Oh b/c then you could use any size drive and actually save money... on that note what is the point of this again?
jqball2u 15th May 2011, 10:22 Quote
Just a thought ... seems to me that this would be great to use to have OS installed in a *read-only* SSD and write all hardware drivers & software installs (applications) on hard drive ... this would make the computer more 'fool'-proof & keep the OS from being corruptible (except for hardware failure)! :) Maybe have certain basic apps (web browser, paint/pic viewer/editor, media player, document editor, etc) on the SSD as well and have any option changes written to hard drive?
Kacela 16th May 2011, 22:37 Quote
I think the overall potential for incorporating mSATA onto the motherboard is quite exciting, if you're forward-thinking enough. For example, If the throughput were there, I'm sure some "firmware" could be written to an SSD, or another mSATA device, and utilized as an inexpensive RAID controller for other "down-stream" disk arrays...
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