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HyperDuo vs larger SSD

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January 20, 2011 6:58:02 AM

I'm building a new Sandy Bridge system right now. I was originally planning to spring for a 240-256GB SSD, so I could basically install everything on there and not have to worry about space. (I'm sure a 128 gig would be more cost-efficient, but I would rather pay more to not have to worry about swapping around what programs are installed where. Plus, the larger drives write faster, which is a nice bonus.)

However, I've just come across another interesting option: Marvell's HyperDuo (CES Hands-on, PDF Product Brief)

Basically, HyperDuo combines an SSD and an HDD into a single logical volume, basically using the SDD as an intelligent cache for the HDD. According to Marvell's PDF there, it also does support TRIM. Finally, it comes onboard on the Asus P8P67 Deluxe motherboard.

My original plan was to buy the P8P67 pro (~$190 Canadian) along with a 250ishGB SSD (~$450) = $640.
Instead, I could get the P8P67 Deluxe ($242), a 128ishGB SSD (~$220), and a nice 500 gig HDD (~$60) = $522.

And instead of a 256GB C drive, I'd have a 628. Videos and such would still go on a separate media drive, but I would obviously have pleeenty of space. I'm thinking 128 would be plenty for windows and any program I use frequently, so as long as HyperDuo does its job, I should maintain most of the performance of the larger SSD, while saving $100+ and getting a better MB in the process.

And since SSD prices are dropping so fast, I can probably grab a significantly better/larger G4 SSD in a year and a bit.

So... those are all the reasons it seems like a great idea. On the other hand, I can't help worrying that it won't live up to its marketing and I'll end up with something slightly faster than a hard drive, but without the noticeable, blinding speed of a nice SSD.

What do YOU think?

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a b G Storage
January 20, 2011 8:19:00 AM

There are hybrid drives available now that do the same thing, combining a platter drive with an SSD. However the reviews are spotty and I've seen a lot of early failures and folks claiming it just isn't worth it from a performance standpoint. This tech sounds great, and I'd love to see it in action, but I suspect there will be some growing pains and you may be underwhelmed by the speed.

I can't tell you if this is a good investment, but I do think that a boot SSD and data drive combo is working for a lot of people. If you can afford the larger SSD then that would be my recommendation-until we see something that is proven to be better.


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January 20, 2011 8:38:47 AM

buzznut said:
There are hybrid drives available now that do the same thing, combining a platter drive with an SSD. However the reviews are spotty and I've seen a lot of early failures and folks claiming it just isn't worth it from a performance standpoint. This tech sounds great, and I'd love to see it in action, but I suspect there will be some growing pains and you may be underwhelmed by the speed.

I can't tell you if this is a good investment, but I do think that a boot SSD and data drive combo is working for a lot of people. If you can afford the larger SSD then that would be my recommendation-until we see something that is proven to be better.


Thanks for the input. I have heard about the Seagate Momentus hybrid drives, but from what I understand they're tailored for laptop use and have a relatively small amount of solid state memory - a few gigs at most. One would hope that a full-size (say 128 or 64 gig) SSD as a cache would perform significantly better, since it's all about cache hits vs misses. Of course, that's assuming the controller doesn't add a bunch of overheard.

Your point about unproven tech is definitely taken though.
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a b G Storage
January 20, 2011 1:37:50 PM

This product reminds me of some company putting peanut butter and jelly in a squeeze tube to squirt onto bread to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. IT sounds like a reasonable idea but they wanted to charge more for the convenience and coolness and so we dont see it around, do we?

IT sounds interesting but its not worth ANY premium over regular SSDs and hard drives. The old advice is true - buy the best you can afford. Buy a nice SSD and add in a TB drive. They are like $60 now?
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January 21, 2011 11:06:58 PM

Hmm.. I'm inclined to agree that if one can afford a 256GB SSD, there's not much reason to go with HyperDuo. However, I still think this could really shine at the 64GB level or so.

The issue isn't saving the cost of a TB (or likely 2TB) media drive. You'd want to get that anyway. Rather, it's that for less than the cost of a 120GB SSD, you could get a 64GB SSD, a better motherboard, and a nice fast HDD that combined will give you enough space to install Windows and all your programs, rather than having to pick and choose.

Why would you want to do that? Imagine I just have a 64GB SSD and a 2TB drive. So I install windows on the SSD. I play a lot of Starcraft 2, so I put that on there too. I can maybe fit one more game or Office or something. The rest will go on the media drive.

So Windows boots really fast. Starcraft is fast. Everything else is slow, but I don't use it much. But then eventually I get bored of SC2. I play it occasionally, but I'm playing Civ 5 more now. I can either a) install it on my media drive and lose the benefits of the SSD, or uninstall Starcraft, reinstall it on the media drive, then install Civ 5 on the SDD. And if I change back a week or two later, do it again. With HyperDuo, you just put them both on C:, and the swapping is done automatically in the background. The first load or two of a new game will be slow, then it will be fast.

What's more, with separate drives, it's all or nothing. You put a program here or there. But in reality, not all files for a given program (or Windows itself) will be used often. HyperDuo should be able to put ONLY the often-used files on the SSD, making the most use out of the space, unlike if you split things manually.

So it's not just about performance. In the right circumstances, you could see a significant performance boost as well.

I don't know. I've never used the tech, and I probably won't even do so now, since I can afford a large enough SSD to hold all my programs. But if I were looking at how to build the best setup with a couple hundred dollars budget for an SSD, I would seriously consider this instead... Of course, that's all assuming it works as advertised. I'd love to see some benchmarks. And as much as I think it's a cool idea, I don't think I'm excited enough to benchmark it myself. :) 
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January 28, 2011 11:47:57 PM

Best answer selected by chnathan.
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April 28, 2011 2:26:56 AM

I was planning to buy the Asus P8P67 Pro until I found out about the Marvell 9130 and learned that it is in the Asus P8P67 Deluxe. I get significantly increased functionality with the Deluxe in addition to the 9130 controller at only a slight price increase.

I'll give it a try with a 120GB SSD and a 1.5TB HDD. If it doesn't work the way I want, I haven't lost anything. I'll just go with my original plan of striping a couple SDD for my boot/game disk.
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