SSD Caching (Without Z68): HighPoint's RocketHybrid 1220

HighPoint RocketHybrid 1220

The RocketHybrid 1220 is a compact, low-profile PCI Express 2.0-based card that utilizes a single-lane PCIe slot. While PCI Express 1.1 would have delivered only 250 MB/s bandwidth for upstream and downstream, the second-gen standard ensures that 500 MB/s can be transferred in each direction.

Technically, this is not enough to match the 600 MB/s of bandwidth technically enabled by the SATA 6Gb/s standard. Then again, there aren’t many SSDs that could saturate a single second-gen lane anyway. Slotting in to a four-lane PCI Express connector was not an option either, as the system interface is part of Marvell’s 88SE9130 controller. If it were possible, maximum bandwidth would expand up to 2 GB/s bidirectionally. But such an add-in card would be limited to systems with the requisite slot. At any rate, a more complex interface would increase this card's cost, which, at $59, currently isn't that bad.

The Marvell 88SE9130 controller that HighPoint chose supports two 6 Gb/s SATA ports, which can also operate at 3 Gb/s or 1.5 Gb/s. RAID 0 or 1, Native Command Queueing (NCQ), I2C and GPIO support for management, as well as port multipliers, are supported.

A 5-55°C temperature range is very much normal, and we like that the card is specified to require 1 W nominal power and no more than 3 W peak power. HighPoint says it supports all Windows operating systems starting with Windows Vista and that no drivers are needed thanks to AHCI compliance. This actually ensures that the card can be used with any other modern operating system. However, you do need Windows Vista or something newer if you want to use HighPoint’s management software.