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SilverStone Announces Hybrid SSD-Hard Disk Device

SilverStone Announces Hybrid SSD-Hard Disk Device

SilverStone's recently announced HDDBoost delivers SSD speed for Terabytes of storage.

SilverStone has just announced its HDDBoost, a device that teams an SSD with a hard disk. The aim is to offer the incredibly fast data access speeds typical of SSDs with the high capacity of a hard disk but to make it easy to use, so both appear as a single storage device in Windows. Essentially, the HDDBoost uses an SSD as an huge cache for your hard disk, theoretically delivering the best of both technologies with no compromise. This sounds almost as magical as the Lucid Hydra, but with a much better chance of success.

The device takes the form of a 2.5in to 3.5in hard disk caddy with a couple of SATA connectors on the end. These connectors allow you to daisy-chain the hard disk to the SSD, and then connect the caddy to your motherboard. As usual, images are better than words for explaining weird layouts, so here you go:

In order to appear as one storage device in Windows, SilverStone has needed to use some software to con the OS. As soon as you install the HDDBoost, it performs a mirror backup of the most commonly used hard disk files to the SSD.

SilverStone Announces Hybrid SSD-Hard Disk Device
SilverStone’s HDDBoost aims to pair an SSD and hard disk to deliver the best attributes of both devices (that’s speed and loads of storage, just in case you’ve been asleep for the last two years)

In SilverStone’s own words: "During the first mirror backup process, the HDDBoost will ‘mirror’ the front-end data from the HDD to the SSD directly. Defragmenting the HDD first will ensure there is as much data as possible to be copied to the SSD."

Once the SSD has all the priority data from the hard disk, the HDDBoost storage controller sets the data read priority to the SSD, telling Windows to favour the SSD when possible. This makes the storage sub-system as fast as the SSD, but with all the storage space of the hard disk.

Some software is needed to achieve the magic, but the HDDBoost looks like one of the most innovative yet practical products we’ve seen in ages. It’s due for release on19 February 2010, and set to cost €33 (exc VAT) in Europe. We hope to have one in the Labs for testing soon to see if it all works.

In the meantime, take a look at SilverStone’s flashy, er, Flash animations of the HDDBoost in action and let us know your thoughts in the forums.

Update There's confusion as to whether the SSDBoost requires software or not. The above slide from the press release says not, but a subsequent slide from the same release talks about a 'Special Software Utility'. We've asked SilverStone for clarification, but we may need to wait until we get our hands on a sample to know what the situation is. Stay tuned!

47 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Dave Lister 3rd February 2010, 18:24 Quote
It would be great to see some speed tests done with this !
Picarro 3rd February 2010, 18:27 Quote
If this actually works, it could mean a larger sale of low-capacity SSD's. Buying a F3, and then boosting it with a 32gig SSD would be awesome.
tonyd223 3rd February 2010, 18:29 Quote
so using the SSD as cache memory? look - I know I'm old, but surely a better system would be to do a bay that uses all the old memory sticks we've got lying around that can't be used for anything - DDR 400 with 4- 8 slots would be ideal...

Anyone...
Icy EyeG 3rd February 2010, 18:33 Quote
I wonder how it would perform with a SSD and a 300Gb WD Velociraptor.
This would be an interesting test on a review...
Bonzo45 3rd February 2010, 18:34 Quote
So you have to buy an SSD, the kit and a Hard Disk... not seeing this take off in all fairness. Look forward to speed tests though.
UncertainGod 3rd February 2010, 18:41 Quote
Very interesting idea.
mclean007 3rd February 2010, 18:48 Quote
Interesting solution, and may be a hit in the short to medium term (i.e. until cheap big SSDs become available). We'll need to see some numbers, but it could be a winner, provided it actually works. Probably won't be as good as a smallish (60-120GB) SSD as system drive with secondary storage for media files etc. on a big HDD, but a lot more convenient.

Looks from the article like it's a drop-in upgrade. Can anyone confirm, or are we in clean install territory?

Edit: looks like it is a drop in. If performance improvement hits the 70% range SilverStone suggests, it's a massive winner for €33.
wafflesomd 3rd February 2010, 18:52 Quote
So you still have to buy an SSD? lol
Sim0n 3rd February 2010, 19:24 Quote
But you dont have to reinstall !!!
Psytek 3rd February 2010, 19:40 Quote
Your article says it requires software, but the picture says it doesn't... which is correct?
Hugo 3rd February 2010, 19:42 Quote
This is exactly what I need to persuade me to actually put the SSD I have in my system - reinstalling is too much effort!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icy EyeG
I wonder how it would perform with a SSD and a 300Gb WD Velociraptor.
This would be an interesting test on a review...
SSD speeds when accessing cached data; Raptor speeds otherwise. Simple really.
tad2008 3rd February 2010, 20:10 Quote
Well the idea is nice, shame it's so poorly designed, surely a company like Silverstone is perfectly capable of making it possible to simply slide the hard drive and SSD in to the bay without the need to use un-necessary cables and mess and secure with a couple of screws at worst if not a completely tool-less design.

The price certainly seems cheap until you consider how simple the overall concept is and that it could probably be home made for less by any electronics guru's out there.
wuyanxu 3rd February 2010, 20:19 Quote
wouldn't this increase access time if the data is not on the SSD? so if you buy a really small SSD (eg. 32GB vs 1TB HDD) most of the files would read slower?

hopefully Silverstone can prove me wrong.
digitaldave 3rd February 2010, 20:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonzo45
So you have to buy an SSD, the kit and a Hard Disk... not seeing this take off in all fairness. Look forward to speed tests though.

nope, you can just get the SSD and the kit and use your existing OS hard drive, this will mirror the most used data from the HDD to the SSD and tell the OS to look at the SSD first for the data it needs.

you wont even have to re install the OS if what silverstone say is true.

shame it looks like its windoze only . . . . . id have one if it supported mac or linux.
kenco_uk 3rd February 2010, 20:37 Quote
The clue is in the name. It sounds like it's incredibly similar to ReadyBoost. And that worked well.
feathers 3rd February 2010, 20:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonzo45
So you have to buy an SSD, the kit and a Hard Disk... not seeing this take off in all fairness. Look forward to speed tests though.

Many people already have SSD. Some even have SSD in raid mode!

I have a 30gb ssd and at £99 for a fast vertex, they are affordable. Oh and I have mechanical hard disks too!!
Veles 3rd February 2010, 20:57 Quote
I like the sound of it, taking a small SSD and using this controller and software to be efficient with the data you put onto it's limited space.
pimonserry 3rd February 2010, 20:57 Quote
33€ ain't bad, if it works well.
Scootiep 3rd February 2010, 21:25 Quote
Sign me up. I'd be more than happy to snag one of these and a 32gig SSD and pair it with my 1tb F3. Provided it works of course. I do agree that it would be nice if it was made in more of a "hot-swapable" style without all the extra cables though.
The_Beast 3rd February 2010, 21:36 Quote
Looks pretty sweet, can't wait to see the speed test
ZERO <ibis> 3rd February 2010, 21:50 Quote
This looks very cool, now if they could make a version that lets me connect my sas drives to an ssd and still use my sas controller this could get interesting. For example it would be cool to see what sort of speed boost I could get from putting together two 15k sas drives in raid 0 with sas cach drives! Also its use with storage drives is very cool, as for the speed side I wonder how much it could boots the performance of my first gen raptors. Perhaps if paired with some small cheep ssds I could make my old raptors fast enough to be worth wild again. On servers I could take the power savings of a slower rpm 2tb drives and match them with some decent ssds so that I can still get the speed I want from 7200 rpm but with a lower power combination! There are just so many possibilities, I am really excited!
Jenny_Y8S 3rd February 2010, 22:59 Quote
Hmmmm something sceptical is twingling deep inside....

But if it works and doesn't need software (bt says it doesn't, Silverstone don't say) then I could see myself using one of these on my primary data drive. My main drive is a 120gb SSD, but a lot of stuff sits on one of my 1tb drives so a "cache" for that would be good.
srgtherasta 3rd February 2010, 23:09 Quote
I've two wd hdds in raid 0, if i got two of these would that also work in raid0?. Like the idea tho.
Cupboard 3rd February 2010, 23:52 Quote
hmm... anyone else though about daisy-chaining these?
Vonchor 4th February 2010, 00:06 Quote
One important point - and i have an SSD on my pc so i found this out: one of the nice things in Win 7 is that the OS recognizes the SSD IF and ONLY IF you use the microsoft driver for that sata port. Why's that important? two main reasons: 1. automatic defrag will be shut off for SSDs (which you can do manually) and 2. the OS will use the SSD "Trim" command which will make the drive last longer and work better (to simplify stuff). You can't do that manually.

Search for SSD TRIM in a search engine or wiklipedia and you can read about it. If this somewhat nifty product does not let the microsoft driver recognize the SSD that may be a bad thing. Just something to be aware of - I don't really know the guts of what this product it.

Another thing: if you use this adapter will the Intel SSD toolbox still recognize the SSD? Obviously this is only important if you use an Intel SSD but it could be another issue.
BurningFeetMan 4th February 2010, 03:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by
Am I the only person who doesn't see the point of this device?

Most users have Windows, then they have files, music & videos. Logic tells me that most would put the Windows OS on the SSD, and put the music, videos and files on the mechanical drive.

So, how is buddying up a 64gig SSD with a 1.5 Terabyte with this device drive gonna speed things up? Movies will still be hosted on the mechanical drive, in which you'll see a slight delay whilst starting the movie, due to the drive spinning up and locating the data.

If anything, I reckon this device would slow down your operating system, as random windows files get squeezed off the SSD and shoved somewhere on the Mechanical drive...

My two cents. :)
sear 4th February 2010, 03:46 Quote
Yeah, I'm not getting it. Maybe it uses some software to monitor your most frequently used files and sticks them on the SSD as needed, but... eesh, I don't know. That sounds like something the user could easily do on his or her own anyway.
Xtrafresh 4th February 2010, 07:18 Quote
I'm interested, but not convinced... It would be a nice way to give a boost to the drive that's currently hosting my steam folder, but i'm curious how this thing will get 1TB of data off the HDD faster then the HDD alone could... the question about uncached data being possibly slower then normal will hold me from trying at the moment.

Oh, and when you do test these, i'd be mighty interested to see if these can be put in RAID.
1ad7 4th February 2010, 08:46 Quote
If it works.... its like super ****ing ready boost. I like it I may give it a shot.
scawp 4th February 2010, 09:18 Quote
Article says:
"In order to appear as one storage device in Windows, SilverStone has needed to use some software to con the OS."

Image says:
"No software or driver update is required to enjoy the added speed"

Ok then....
Blarte 4th February 2010, 10:07 Quote
The whole idea is encouraging

Maybe we could be seeing manufacturers … hybrid a SSD / HDD in a single drive, in the near future
Dave Lister 4th February 2010, 10:42 Quote
I can see a point in this if your building a system for a customer or friend who doesn't really know how a pc system works but ask for a fast system. You could just pair a small cheap SSD With a 2Tb HDD. It would then make the system easier for them to use having only 1 drive but with quicker drive speeds than there friends systems.
On the other hand i think most system builders would be better off using the small cheap SSD for there OS and the 2Tb HDD for everything else.

There's alot of questions i'd like to have answered about this !
Boogle 4th February 2010, 11:02 Quote
I think the underlying technology does not require any software. However if you want the maximum benefit (as well as an initial setup process without re-installing) then software does that.

So for example without having the software, the device probably follows a simple algorithm that the most recently used data is stored in the SSD, and the oldest stuff is deleted to make room for the new stuff. However, with the software the intelligence increases - so that the *most used* data is stored in the SSD, rather than *most recently* used.

I think it's fantastic - the problem with Intel's version of this is that the cache was way too small. Even with a rudimentary algorithm, given 32-64GB of 'cache' you have a fighting chance that Windows and all of your most used apps will almost permanently be stored on the SSD. Windows boot and all your main apps will load in record times. Your personal files and other files that you only access every so often will be stored on the HD. You basically get the speed boost of an SSD, without the lack of storage space. It's pretty ideal until SSDs become cheaper per GB than a mechanical drive.

I would like to see a version that uses DIMMs instead of SSDs for those people who want insane performance.
Claave 4th February 2010, 11:34 Quote
Update There's confusion as to whether the SSDBoost requires software or not. The slide used in the story (which came from the press release) says not, but a subsequent slide from the same release talks about a 'Special Software Utility'. We've asked SilverStone for clarification, but we may need to wait until we get our hands on a sample to know what the situation is. Stay tuned!
[USRF]Obiwan 4th February 2010, 12:37 Quote
hmmz. Why not make HD's with larger cache sizes? Or better yet Make a HDD where a SDD 8GB SSD sits on the bottom (called a BHDD). It would be cheaper then a SSD and the HD would be almost as fast as a SSD (if you want to believe the HDBoost Silverstone talk)

You could get a 2TB BHDD for around 200 euro with the speed of a SSD. I will certainly buy one yesterday.
UncertainGod 4th February 2010, 12:41 Quote
I think it's fairly straight forward as Boogle says, it has default setting which work without software but with software it can be tuned or indeed become 'intelligent' in what it caches, I just hope it's intelligent caching is configurable, unlike superfetch which pisses me off as I want to tell it what to keep preloaded.
Moriquendi 4th February 2010, 23:07 Quote
When you do a review of this could you try testing the performance variation with SSD size? Probably not something thats easy to do quantitatively but it would be useful to know whether there's a great advantage in going for a (say) 32GB over a 16GB.

I think that the advantage of this will be not that you can get SSD speeds without reinstalling but rather that it automatically selects the files that get used most often to go on the SSD. This should mean that only those windows files that are frequently used go on the SSD. Some way of forcing the page file and memory image for hibernation onto the SSD would be good too.

Moriquendi
mogmios 5th February 2010, 08:44 Quote
This is cool but what I really want is something like the Gigabyte i-RAM that sits in front of a hard drive like this does. Let me shove 32GB of RAM as a cache instead of an SSD.

The average person can get a similar boost by getting a computer with more RAM and disabling swap/virtual memory. If you've already done that and maxed out system RAM then I can see that things like the hddboost and i-RAM start to make sense. My server already is maxed at 48GB of RAM and has fast drives already so it makes sense to consider the hddboost and i-RAM. I wonder how this would play with my RAID5 if each disk had one of these on it. Doing that and using the i-RAM for temp files might offer some speed boost and possibly extend hdd life.

If they could come up with removable drawers that support these that would be an awesome idea. I like to be able to remove drives without shutting down and cracking open the system and drawers (or better yet ejectable hdd) would be just the thing.
Moriquendi 5th February 2010, 09:15 Quote
The I-ram came in a 5.25" bay in version 2. There are also Acards ramdisks, Link, but they're not cheap. Personally I think it's a waste to connect something as fast as DRAM through a SATA interface that's limited to 3Gbps when the memory can be capable of 10 or 20 times that.

Moriquendi
alpha0ne23 5th February 2010, 10:40 Quote
If these things work as well as promised then who do I give my $ to until SSD prices lower by 70%
Claave 5th February 2010, 11:49 Quote
Regarding the confusion as to whether software is required or not, SilverStone says, 'The HDDBOOST is a unique hardware-based bridge between HDD and SSD to M/B. There's no need to install any driver or software, and the device will synchronzise data automatically, our HDDBOOST utility software is only used for firmware upgrades and to manually synchronise data.'

Anyone who guessed this answer, gets a gold star! :D
UncertainGod 5th February 2010, 11:55 Quote
Manually synchronise data means to me select what apps stay in the cache. I'm sold on this device now.
dec 5th February 2010, 13:50 Quote
interesting. as long as it sells for a small enough price it would tempt me to get an SSD. I agree with Obiwan that a HDD with a SSD should be faster and cheaper than this but I think this (if it becomes popular) will make HDD manufacturers look at such an idea. As long as it does better than Hydra did ill take one.

In theory could you RAID (striping # here) these things?
Azayles 7th February 2010, 14:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyd223
so using the SSD as cache memory? look - I know I'm old, but surely a better system would be to do a bay that uses all the old memory sticks we've got lying around that can't be used for anything - DDR 400 with 4- 8 slots would be ideal...

Anyone...

Not a bad idea! But you just know something like that will be released a week after you've thrown out all your old memory sticks D;
Davey 18th March 2010, 11:14 Quote
now what SSD is the fastest of all? according to my books it's the OCZ Technology 120 GB Vertex Series SATA II Solid State Drive (Black) OCZSSD2-1VTX120G

Available in 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, 250GB capacities
Read: Up to 250 MB/s Write: Up to 180MB/s Sustained Write: Up to 100MB/s
Shock Resistant 1500G / Low Power Consumption: 2W in operation, .5W in stand by
64MB Onboard Cache / RAID Support
MTBF 1.5 million hours /2 year warranty
Picky88 18th June 2010, 18:39 Quote
Interesting idea. Does it appear to the OS as a hdd or ssd? as the ssd part will need TRIM and the hdd will need defragging, but the OS sees it as a single drive so cannot perform both of these things on the "same" drive. So performance of both drives will degrade over time right?
Leedstights 18th May 2011, 12:17 Quote
I think theres a massive 'window' of opportunity here, I can't help but think that Western Digital will be the ones to fill that 'window'. As mentioned, in real world terms SSD are just far too expensive. I can't help but wonder why Seagate didn't release a 3.5 version of their hybrid Momentus drives, though am sure they have good reason. I personally predict Western Digital will do their homework and in the not too distant future release something suitable and better for the desktop market.
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