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Gigabyte mobo with integrated SSD due in June

Gigabyte mobo with integrated SSD due in June

This tiny module holds 20GB of SLC NAND, making it perfect for an Intel Smart Response setup.

Gigabyte has just announced that it plans to launch a motherboard with an integrated SSD in early June, which will be available from 'selected online retailers' around the world.

The new board, dubbed the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD, uses Intel’s new Z68 chipset and will feature a tiny m-SATA SSD module that effectively functions as a small Intel Solid State Drive 311.

'We are thrilled to deliver the world's first motherboard to come pre-bundled with an Intel SSD 311,' said Richard Chen, vice president of worldwide sales and marketing for Gigabyte. 'The Z68XP-UD3-iSSD is the easiest way for [Gigabyte customers] to instantly take advantage of the performance boost [of Intel Smart Response].'

We’ve tested Intel's Smart Response technology and found that it successfully delivered SSD speeds for commonly used data.

The only concern was whether the technology was appropriate for a high-end motherboard, although Gigabyte's UD3 branding indicates that this board may be keenly priced. We've asked Gigabyte for pricing information, but haven't had a response yet.

With only one chipset, which is located in the typical Southbridge position, Gigabyte has placed the m-SATA connection in the historical location of the Northbridge. This is clever thinking, as the SSD is just a bunch of ICs on a PCB – you won't need to swap the SSD in and out, and it won’t clash with connectors or cards there either.

Elsewhere the board looks fairly typical. It uses Gigabyte’s blue and white colour scheme (the company's high-end boards are black these days), but still uses the chunky, curved heatsinks that look a bit like the power stations of Hoth.

Given the UD3 branding, we were surprised to see a chunky heatsink on the VRMs and the overwhelming number of features advertised on the box. With two 16x PCI-E slots, three 1x PCI-E slots and a pair of PCI slots – plus four SATA 6Gbps ports and at least a pair of USB 3 ports – it’s hard to see where Gigabyte has skimped. There’s even Lucid Virtu support, if you fancy trying it.

Are you intrigued by the prospect of an integrated SSD on a motherboard – if not for Smart Response, then for ultra-compact builds – or are you more interested in buying a large, fast SSD for your data? Let us know in the forums.

21 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Lowsidex2 27th May 2011, 13:34 Quote
Neat concept but an enthusiast willing to pay the money this board is surely to cost is likely to already be running a SSD boot drive. I realize this works a bit differently than just OS data but this seems better suited to laptops with large drives for data and this for performance. I praise the innovation though. Keep it coming.
scott_chegg 27th May 2011, 13:39 Quote
Have your games installed on a traditional disk and the regularly played ones will automatically be cached up on the ssd. No more "wish I could move individual games on steam to my ssd" sadness. Awesome.
EzyRyder 27th May 2011, 13:41 Quote
It looks like an interesting idea for system integrators. Wonder how much it will cost - I bet they are not cheap!
Tulatin 27th May 2011, 14:46 Quote
At least Gigabytes is using a removable card for this. It should mean they can just send you out the SSD if things go awry, rather than you needing to ship the whole thing back in.
Destroyer 27th May 2011, 15:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by scott_chegg
No more "wish I could move individual games on steam to my ssd" sadness. Awesome.

http://www.traynier.com/software/steammover
Bungletron 27th May 2011, 15:32 Quote
This looks promising, whats the premium over a standard board tho? I found the specs for the SSD:

http://download.intel.com/design/flash/nand/325502.pdf

SLC chips, speeds seem fast enough, its an elegant solution, I think I would be interested.
jrs77 27th May 2011, 15:49 Quote
Call me when there's miniITX-boards with mSATA and more important exchangable mSATA SSDs avaialable.

Or even better yet, picoITX-boards with an E-350 and mSATA-SSDs allowing for a nettop in a case with less then 1l

EDIT: Seems I'm allready being listened to in parts -> http://de.kontron.com/products/boards+and+mezzanines/embedded+sbc/pitx+25+sbc/kta55pitx.html :D
schmidtbag 27th May 2011, 17:03 Quote
i still don't understand what the purpose is. if i buy a mobo with a m-sata port, i'll buy the SSD myself. but, i wouldn't buy a mobo with m-sata because it is a pointless technology on full atx mobos. i'm sure the mobo itself is great but really, features like this are a waste of time, space, and money
Lazy_Amp 27th May 2011, 17:35 Quote
Considering how cheap RAM is getting, I'd be more interested in having more RAM on board to use rather than assigning what is essentially a swap file to an onboard SSD. Newegg has 24GB packages for under 300$ after all. I suppose it's a little less power efficient, and I'm simply assuming superior DRAM access speed over any SSD right now, peeps are free to prove me right/wrong.
Bungletron 27th May 2011, 17:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
i still don't understand what the purpose is. if i buy a mobo with a m-sata port, i'll buy the SSD myself. but, i wouldn't buy a mobo with m-sata because it is a pointless technology on full atx mobos. i'm sure the mobo itself is great but really, features like this are a waste of time, space, and money

This is for use with Intel's Smart Response technology and software (link in article) that will create a hybrid array with the SSD and a hard drive. I am hoping the package deal will effectively be a discount, I think the boards will be available without the SSD too according to Gigabyte's site.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazy_Amp
Considering how cheap RAM is getting, I'd be more interested in having more RAM on board to use rather than assigning what is essentially a swap file to an onboard SSD. Newegg has 24GB packages for under 300$ after all. I suppose it's a little less power efficient, and I'm simply assuming superior DRAM access speed over any SSD right now, peeps are free to prove me right/wrong.

You would still have to bus data into and out of the RAM, surely the hard drive is still the limitting factor even with obscene amounts of RAM? Ideally you want all storage, volatile and non-volatile to be as fast as RAM, in practice you want the fastest non-volatile storage possible.
meandmymouth 27th May 2011, 18:20 Quote
I like that Gigabyte has done this. It's the only way I'd actually buy it if at the right cost. I wouldn't buy the parts separately because I'd always just use an SSD system disk, but as it comes bundled with the board I'd give it a go.
Lazy_Amp 27th May 2011, 20:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bungletron
You would still have to bus data into and out of the RAM, surely the hard drive is still the limitting factor even with obscene amounts of RAM? Ideally you want all storage, volatile and non-volatile to be as fast as RAM, in practice you want the fastest non-volatile storage possible.

Reading the article again, it is interesting the idea of storing only frequently accessed user files on the SSD long term, so it's there even at boot up. The RAM idea I stated would rely on caching that data to allocated hard drive space on shut down/sleep and bringing it back booting up. I still think it would theoretically faster in operation, but would negatively affect boot times. I've been interested in RAM disks for a while, but I'd agree the mainstream user would be better suited for this solution, considering how cheap 20Gb of SSD is compared to 20Gb of memory.
jamsand 27th May 2011, 21:22 Quote
I think it's the start of something that needs continued. Finally we seem to be coming to a point where a SSD can rival the huge capacity and low cost of a HDD, fingers crossed for SSD's taking over in the next 5 years at least in the mid-high range builds(and not just for start up and common programs)
Christopher N. Lew 28th May 2011, 01:59 Quote
Let's just say that I'm sceptical
Andy Mc 28th May 2011, 04:17 Quote
Interesting, but it's usefulness will depend on the pricepoint. The lower the price the more useful it will be. As has been pointed out top en systems will already have a dedicated SSD which will make the onboard SSD irrelivant.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrs77
EDIT: Seems I'm allready being listened to in parts -> http://de.kontron.com/products/boards+and+mezzanines/embedded+sbc/pitx+25+sbc/kta55pitx.html :D

Heres the english link:
http://uk.kontron.com/products/boards+and+mezzanines/embedded+sbc/pitx+25+sbc/kta55pitx.html
Now THIS is interesting, it would make a perfect XBMC front end if the integrated Fusion APU can decode 1080p content.
sub routine 28th May 2011, 14:56 Quote
punt OS on the mobo have extra drives for games nice.
AnG3L 28th May 2011, 15:26 Quote
I had that idea wayyyyyyyy before someone would eventually do it.
moshpit 29th May 2011, 18:33 Quote
It's such a tiny SSD for capacity, and useless to those already using an SSD as the OS drive, but is it REALLY useless to us? Maybe not. Consider that even though you cannot cache an SSD to an SSD, but you can still remove the swap file from your system SSD and place it on this tiny onboard SSD, reducing write cycles to your main SSD and prolonging it's life expectancy, and possibly net some performance gains by moving the swap to a different drive that is based on SLC flash, very fast and nice.

I like the idea, at least. In theory, it all sounds good. I just hate it that theory and reality are often horses of a different color.
MSHunter 29th May 2011, 23:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazy_Amp
Reading the article again, it is interesting the idea of storing only frequently accessed user files on the SSD long term, so it's there even at boot up. The RAM idea I stated would rely on caching that data to allocated hard drive space on shut down/sleep and bringing it back booting up. I still think it would theoretically faster in operation, but would negatively affect boot times. I've been interested in RAM disks for a while, but I'd agree the mainstream user would be better suited for this solution, considering how cheap 20Gb of SSD is compared to 20Gb of memory.

Don't you mean a RAM-DISK?
like a BIGGER VERSION OF THIS:
http://www.systemsofhull.co.uk/gigabyte-ram-ramdisk-p-82.html?osCsid=58cacad2f3f58826d328db90ff65079c
maximus09 31st May 2011, 08:37 Quote
this would be nice for a home theatre pc. Freeing up HDD space for pure storage.

I was thinking of getting a small SSD for my HTPC but my case only has a 2 HDD cage. I even jimmed a 3rd one above the CD drive, so no more space even for an SSD. Would be great to have one on the mATX board though!
fingerbob69 31st May 2011, 09:59 Quote
What surprises me is that a mobo manufacturer has incorporated an ssd into the mobo specifically to be a boot drive ...with win7 pre loaded.

Or is that only now become possible with Intel's Smart Response feature?
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