I'm thinking about jumping on the SSD bandwagon when LGA 2011 comes out next year, so I'm starting to do some research. While I build high-end systems (I use them for gaming) my first priority is stability rather than all out speed.
I don't quite trust SSDs yet and so it seems like going with SRT might be the thing to do. Which leads me to my first question:
Question 1: If the ssd which was caching a raid dies, will all the data still be there. Can I remove the ssd or plop in a new one and expect the system to recover like nothing bad happened?
In researching ssds I came across Intel's 311 Larsen creek, which I like because it's SLC and therefore better suited for caching (slc have something like 100,000 write cycles versus MLC with at most 10,000). The only issue with Larsen Creek drives is that they are only 20GB and they are a little slow. Which leads me to question 2:
Question 2: Is there anyway to use a RAID of SSDs as a single cache in SRT so that I could buy two 311 Larsen creek drives and have more room and more speed?
1) If any store which is write-caching in front of a hard drive fails, the cached-but-not-written writes will be lost. This is why RAID controllers come with an (expensive) option to put a small backup battery on board.
On the other hand, I think that SRT is not used for write-caching, only for read caching. In which case, you are perfectly safe from failures.
2) RAID with SSDs is generally not done except as a stunt / demonstration (Tom's did an SSD RAID0 to get 3 Giga Bytes per second, ten time the transfer speed of SATA II). Plus there is only one SATA port for the SRT, so you would have to build a hardware RAID that presents as a single SATA port, as Firewire2 does.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about caching. Intel developed caching for clients and businesses that could not afford a large capacity ssd. Back when the concept was on the drawing board, Intel hoped clients and businesses would purchase a small 10Gb or 20GB for about $100.00. Microsoft Windows 7 and all software applications would remain on hard disk drives. The cache only produced a minor boost in hard disk drive performance. Intel hoped that once clients saw the slight performance boost they might be inclined to purchase a larger dedicated ssd.
Intel also researched the size of the cache. Intel determined that a 60GB ssd was the point where it made no sense to use the ssd as a cache for a hard drive. Instead if you have a 60GB ssd, then Windows 7 and software applications should be installed on the ssd to take full advantage of the ssd capabilities.
Since you are thinking of purchasing an ssd, it makes more sense to purchase a larger capacity ssd so you can install Windows 7 and your software applications on the ssd. The ssd performance boost is much higher than the hard disk drive performance increase.
Windows 7 will use up a just a little over 21GB leaving some room for software applications.
As for gaming I hope you know that an ssd will not improve actual game play and it will not improve FPS. The only thing that happens is that the game will launch faster and levels, maps, or charts will load faster. If you participate in online gaming, then the ssd will not improve anything. You'll still be at the mercy of your Internet Service Provider.
A few days days ago Tom's Hardware published "SSD Performance In Crysis 2, World Of Warcraft, And Civilization V". It is an analysis of ssd's and gameplay. Here is the link: