Intel Z68 Express Chipset Preview: SSD Caching And Quick Sync

Benchmark Results: 3DMark 11 And MediaEspresso 6.5

This is more of a spot check than anything. Lucidlogix claims you should be getting native performance from discrete cards in discrete mode. Indeed, with a GeForce GTX 580 installed and using the latest drivers, we’re getting 100% of our performance before and after installing Virtu.

While we initially had trouble launching MediaEspresso with a pair of Radeon HD 6970s in CrossFire installed (this has since been fixed), the two graphics cards still handled their 3D workload without a problem. This is one huge benefit of running natively from a discrete card: if compatibility bites you, media transcoding is affected, not gaming.

Drop in a single Radeon HD 6970 or GeForce GTX 580 into Z68 and you won’t have any trouble at all with Virtu. Even virtualized, transcoding performance is near-native. We lose one second from our previously 17-second workload. That compares to a 1:12 task if we’re using the Radeon HD 6970’s acceleration.

Lucidlogix recommends against running in this configuration, since it doesn’t impart any power-saving benefits. However, this is exactly the way an enthusiast is going to want to use Z68. Kudos to Lucidlogix for turning around so quickly to address our most critical feedback.

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  • James296
    interesting read
    2
  • aliened
    Nice. Thanks for the quick heads up, I was just starting to build my new rig but now that I read this I'm going to wait for the Z68 MOBOs :D
    0
  • compton
    I am one of those ssd+hdd users who prefer manually managing the drives. Recently I discovered some of the older ssd + hdd cache devices(Silverstone made one). I wasn't impressed. However,I could see the Intel cache set-up as being advantageous for me. Why? I have a boot SSD, large storage HDD, and a third SSD. I could still boot from the boot drive, then use the second SSD and HDD together. I like that idea enough to wait for the Z chipset before I ditch the H chipset.
    0
  • cangelini
    compton, problem with that SilverStone unit was that it didn't have any intelligence built-in--it was simply mapping the first sectors of the hard drive, if what I remember reading a year ago was right...
    0
  • masterofevil22
    waiting for Bulldozer...
    4
  • Crashman
    Excellent Work, Mr Angelini! Now it's my job to make sure the motherboard manufacturers follow through!

    -Your Adversarial Colleague
    0
  • haplo602
    wow ...

    I am thinking what is more restricting ... a ZFS supporting OS or the stupid Intel list for SSD caching.

    The only impresive part of Sandy Bridge is the single-threaded performance. Everything else is a disaster (chipsets, QuickSync restrictions, price, linux drivers and bugs etc.) or was already available in previous generations.

    Waiting on AMD Bulldozer and Llano ... I just hope those 2 won't be similar disasters.
    -1
  • Crashman
    haplo602wow ... I am thinking what is more restricting ... a ZFS supporting OS or the stupid Intel list for SSD caching.The only impresive part of Sandy Bridge is the single-threaded performance. Everything else is a disaster (chipsets, QuickSync restrictions, price, linux drivers and bugs etc.) or was already available in previous generations.Waiting on AMD Bulldozer and Llano ... I just hope those 2 won't be similar disasters.
    In regards to Linux, isn't that like saying "Toyotas are junk because they're always dirty"? I mean, Linux is maintained by its "owners".
    0
  • Anonymous
    So would ssd caching work on a raid 0 setup with 2 samsung spinpoint F3's or would this add an additional risky element without much performance gain?...or say a raid 1 where I have backup...would it cache both drives or 1?..Sorry new to this and also waiting for a z68.
    0
  • cangelini
    tradeshowhoundSo would ssd caching work on a raid 0 setup with 2 samsung spinpoint F3's or would this add an additional risky element without much performance gain?...or say a raid 1 where I have backup...would it cache both drives or 1?..Sorry new to this and also waiting for a z68.


    Yes, so long as all members of the array are hard disks.
    0
  • SpadeM
    P67 and Z68 are both incomplete chipsets. You still have to pay extra for virtue if you don't want to swap cable. I'm actually fine with that it's just that going down this path is like selling a modular design. I'm expecting intel's P77 chipset to be missing disk controllers but motherboard manufacturers could opt for marvell, jmicron or others to supplement that shortage. Intel does make some fine processors today, but their chipsets disappoint. But the good news is, maybe one day with the help of motherboard vendors we could pair a AMD chipset (which is believe to be superior) with an Intel processor.
    1
  • Crashman
    SpadeMP67 and Z68 are both incomplete chipsets. You still have to pay extra for virtue if you don't want to swap cable. I'm actually fine with that it's just that going down this path is like selling a modular design. I'm expecting intel's P77 chipset to be missing disk controllers but motherboard manufacturers could opt for marvell, jmicron or others to supplement that shortage. Intel does make some fine processors today, but their chipsets disappoint. But the good news is, maybe one day with the help of motherboard vendors we could pair a AMD chipset (which is believe to be superior) with an Intel processor.
    Chris probably won't say anything, but as a motherboard tester I've found that the Intel features that do work "right", work better. That includes drive controllers, so it really comes down to a choice of a bunch of good features or a few great ones.
    0
  • wribbs
    I don't understand why cached SSD/HDD is so far from pure SSD. Once something is cached to the SSD shouldn't the performance be nearly identical? Seems like this type of technology needs more work.
    0
  • silverblue
    Had Intel not imposed such limitations on Sandy Bridge, they'd not need so many motherboard chipsets for a start, plus you can only imagine what a monster it could have been to start off with.
    1
  • valuial
    So yeah hooray for intel, ssd caching is just taking performance down (note, this is an option aimed for power user, they are kind of guy who pay 300$ bucks and then choose the worst way to get perf...), quick sync is a unstable restricted piece of crap, transcoding media is a top priority... what about a trim support in raid a array? something that is really needed by power user and not those wanabee features
    1
  • Crashman
    silverblueHad Intel not imposed such limitations on Sandy Bridge, they'd not need so many motherboard chipsets for a start, plus you can only imagine what a monster it could have been to start off with.
    Intel, like most other companies in this business, is known for using feature limitations to push more-expensive platforms.
    valuialSo yeah hooray for intel, ssd caching is just taking performance down (note, this is an option aimed for power user, they are kind of guy who pay 300$ bucks and then choose the worst way to get perf...), quick sync is a unstable restricted piece of crap, transcoding media is a top priority... what about a trim support in raid a array? something that is really needed by power user and not those wanabee features
    If you have the money for a huge SSD, go for it! But don't Sandforce controllers already have their own built-in garbage collection that practically negates the need for TRIM?
    1
  • marraco
    You can get some benefits of SSD caching by doing different RAID setups between a SSD disk and a partition on magnetic disk.
    0
  • mrmotion
    I could see this working out very well for a cad or cam software where your pulling up the same huge files day in and day out off of a storage drive. I will look forward to this for my next workstation.
    0
  • lradunovic77
    Useless. Why would you use SSD as caching? Why would you pair your Nvidia card with that useless silicon called HD3000? Looks like Intel is running out of good ideas so they throw all this useless technology, what a waste.
    -2
  • lradunovic77
    I am waiting for true next generation Intel Chipset and CPU, successor of x58. P75, Z68 LGA1155, just like LGA1156 -> freaking joke for masses.
    Also looking to see Bulldozer!
    0