Intel Smart Response Technology is an easy and low cost way to enhance mechanical hard drives today. The technology brings the feel and user experience of dedicated solid state drives to the user and does so without the massive cost of running a large SSD.
There are still some issues, though, that may leave some users wishing they went with a dedicated SSD. The first is the capacity of the Intel 311 Series cache drives. At just 20GB the drive isn't able to cache everything. Users who mainly surf the web and run just a handful of programs will get many cache hits and almost always feel like they're running an SSD. Power users and enthusiasts on the other hand who run several different programs will find SRT in its current form a little hit and miss.
Another issue is the hardware required. At this time only Intel's Z68 chipset supports Smart Response Technology. Over time this list will grow and end users will find SRT a good upgrade when their system starts to slow, but for now you have to buy into the tech with a new processor, motherboard, 311 Series SSD and possibly other components. Instead of going that route, some users may find a simple SSD upgrade more cost effective, especially if their current system is using a processor just a couple of years old.
We feel that the real benefits of Smart Response Technology will come in the future when nearly all Intel chipsets support the technology. At that time mainstream users who purchase low cost, off the shelf systems will be able to add a small SSD and increase their desktop systems performance.
The real winning category, though, is going to be the notebook market where it's rare to see two 2.5" HDDs in a single system. Smart Response Technology will allow notebook users to run their 1TB 2.5" platter drive and an mSATA 311 Series SSD. We're already seeing notebooks ship with mSATA connectors and it won't be long before SRT makes its way into this sector. SRT in a notebook should also increase battery life by reducing the amount of time the system needs to keep the platters spinning.