Over the past few months, we've explored solid state RAID performance at a blistering pace. As technology marches forward, we are seeing new SSD form factors. The mSATA form factor has been around for a while now; it allows SSD manufacturers to pack an entire SSD into a very small, thin package designed mainly for ultra-thin PC form factors. A variety of desktop motherboards have been equipped with a single mSATA slot for some time now. Until now, desktop implementation of an mSATA port has been done with drive caching in mind. Intel's SRT (Smart Response Technology) Storage Technology has been built into their RST (Rapid Storage Technology) drivers for over two years now.
Typical desktop implementation of mSATA has been largely SATA II based, which means it lacked the performance necessary to make it an appealing to enthusiasts/power users. With the launch of Z77 based laptops, we started seeing a wide adoption of native mSATA III based ports, but because Z77 is limited to two native SATA III ports, desktop motherboards typically utilized a native SATA II channel to power a single mSATA slot.
Intel's newest platform has changed all that. Haswell based motherboards are equipped with six native SATA III Intel ports via its Z87 Lynx Point chipset. With Z87, Intel has made native mSATA III based slots an attractive option for desktop motherboards. Even with an mSATA slot on board, users still have five powerful native Intel SATA III based ports available. An mSATA III port combined with new high capacity mSATA SSD's has become an attractive storage option for desktop builds. Having high performance storage integrated right onto the motherboard with no need for additional connections to another piece of hardware is in my opinion, an attractive feature afforded by an integrated mSATA slot.
It's fair to say that mSATA has "finally arrived" so to speak. We're starting to see high-end laptops utilizing dual mSATA SSD's running in RAID 0 for Uber storage performance and high capacity. Naturally though, we want even more. The next logical progression is native Intel Based mSATA III RAID on a desktop platform. Multi-slot native implementation of mSATA ports on a desktop platform has been on our wish list for some time now.
It appears ASRock has had the same thing on their minds, because they've granted us our wish. We recently debuted TweakTown's no.2 consumer based RAID testing platform. Our Test Rig no. 2, as we call it, is built around ASRocks super cool Extreme 11 a/c Z87 based motherboard. This Uber board, in addition to its six native Lynx Port SATA III ports and 16 LSI 3008 powered SAS 12Gb/s ports, is outfitted with... you guessed it, two mSATA Z87 Lynx Point powered slots.
We believe we will start seeing many others jump on the bandwagon by implementing multiple native mSATA ports onto their own designs. ASRock's newly launched Extreme 11 a/c socket 1150 motherboard has granted us one of our long time wishes. Right now, we can outfit our motherboard with up to two terabytes of SSD goodness via native mSATA III ports, but even more importantly, we can RAID 0 those babies.
TweakTown is NV storage headquarters, and as such, it's only natural that we're first to publish a native based mSATA RAID Report. Today, we are going to closely examine what kind of performance we can extract from a pair of Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA SSD's running balls out in RAID 0, strapped to our ASRock Test Rig no. 2 benching platform.