Intel's Z68 Chipset to Bring SSD Caching to Sandy Bridge

095114 intel z68

VR-Zone reports (via Hardmac) that Intel has begun production of its new "Z68" chipset for Sandy Bridge-based processors, with availability set for May. Most notably in light of rumors regarding the new MacBook Pro that failed to materialize, the Z68 chipset will support Intel's Rapid Storage Technology SSD caching.

Interestingly, Intel has also started production of their Z68 chipset this week along with other Cougar Point SKUs like H61 and Q65. All of them are based on the new B3 stepping therefore the SATA port 2-5 issue is fixed before they hit the market. Judging from the specs, it seems Intel has catered Z68 specially for enthusiasts which allows better processor overclocking, discrete graphics support and SSD caching capability.

SSD caching marries a conventional hard drive to a relatively small solid-state drive (SSD), with the most frequently-accessed data automatically placed on the SSD for fast access while the two drives appear to users simply as a single drive. The functionality serves to bring users much of the speed benefit of SSDs but with the storage capacity and lower cost of traditional hard drives.

095158 intel z68 slide

Several rumors in the days leading up to last week's MacBook Pro refresh claimed that the updated models would offer a dedicated SSD to host the operating system and other essential files. The claims did not, however, come to fruition.

Update: To be clear, the Z68 chipset is for desktop implementations.

Top Rated Comments

drsmithy Avatar
130 months ago
Obviously nobody remembers Turbo Memory. This is just embedding it into the board.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Turbo_Memory

It did very little to improve performance and actually hurt performance in several areas.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/2252
I don't think it's really valid to draw conclusions on this from that. SSD performance - and in particular size - have come a long, long way since then.

This is basically an attempt to implement ZFS's L2ARC and (hopefully) ZIL in the chipset. IMHO this is the best usage of SSDs at current (and near future) technology levels and I've been waiting for other OSes/filesystems to implement it for years (Microsoft kind of did with Vista's/7's ReadyBoost, but you can't use regular SSDs and it doesn't cache writes).

Per those that say just get a SSD, this would still be beneficial. You could have small (4GB?) super fast SSD's (think almost RAM speeds) using the new caching tech, and have a regular-speed SSD (80GB) for your "regular" data. That would provide the best bang for the buck.
Better to just spend the money on 4GB more RAM.

This sort of thing really needs 10s or 100s of GB of SSD to be effective.

The real problem (from a marketing perspective) is that it's extremely difficult to benchmark, since it requires some time (anywhere from hours to days of representative usage) for the SSD cache to properly "warm up" before the performance benefits are seen.

Why do we need a new chipset to support SSD Caching? It seems like this could be done with software on the OS level... Windows can already do this, can't it?
The OS level is the best place to do it (because it knows about the filesystem, not just blocks), but OS vendors are dragging their feet. Vista and 7 have this somewhat implemented with ReadyBoost, but the real standouts are the OSes using ZFS.

One TB port may be fine for a laptop but but a couple of years down the road and desktops will find the need for more than one port. Laptops may never have that need but that is no surprise.
I disagree. Laptops are _exactly_ where TB can be most useful due to their physically constrained expansion options. I'm hoping future Apple laptops - particularly the Air - will soon come with at least two TB, if not three or more, TB ports.

(In the PC world it's somewhat less important since docking stations with things like multiple DVI outs, eSATA and even PCIe slots are available, but the same argument applies.)

Exactly the question I had. I assume a hardware solution may be optimal but even a software solution should be able to provide a big improvement over current solutions (similar to hardware raid versus software raid).
The "optimal" solution for both these things (caching and RAID) is in software, not hardware, because the OS has greater insight into the structure, type and frequency of data being accessed, and can hence make more intelligent decisions about how to improve performance.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple event spring loaded

Apple's 'Spring Loaded' Event Officially Announced for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Following an overnight leak by Siri, Apple today officially announced that it will be holding a special "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with all of Apple's 2020 events, the April 2021 event will be a digital-only gathering with no members of the media invited to attend in...
iphone12cameras

Kuo: 2022 iPhones to Feature 48-Megapixel Camera, 8K Video, and 6.1 and 6.7" Sizes With No 5.4" Mini Option

Tuesday April 13, 2021 10:45 pm PDT by
The upcoming 2022 iPhone lineup will feature two 6.1-inch devices and two 6.7-inch devices, with no mini-sized 5.4-inch iPhone, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note to investors that was seen by MacRumors. Two of the iPhones will be high-end models and two of the iPhones will be lower-end models, similar to the current iPhone 12 lineup. Apple introduced the 5.4-inch...
macos catalina serial number

Apple Preparing Rollout of New Randomized Product Serial Numbers Ahead of 'Spring Loaded' Event

Wednesday April 14, 2021 2:08 am PDT by
Apple is advising its authorized premium resellers and dealers to prepare for new products with 10 and 12 digital serial numbers, days ahead of when it's expected to reveal a slew of new products. MacRumors previously reported that Apple plans to switch to randomized serial numbers for future products starting in early 2021. The company now seems to be preparing for that roll-out, telling...
apple event particularly innovative article

Gurman: Apple's 'Spring Loaded' Event Won't Feature Anything 'Particularly Innovative'

Thursday April 15, 2021 1:30 am PDT by
Bloomberg's highly-respected Mark Gurman says that he expects nothing "particularly innovative" or "extraordinary" to launch at Apple's "Spring Loaded" event next week, Tuesday, April 20. Gurman made the remarks during an interview for Bloomberg Technology, in which he reaffirmed that Apple will launch a new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, with the higher-end model featuring a brand new...
duanrui iphone13 notch samples

More Leaked iPhone 13 Samples Show Smaller Notch, Repositioned Earpiece and Front Camera

Wednesday April 14, 2021 1:06 am PDT by
Leaker known as "DuanRui" has today shared an image of two iPhone 13 "film samples," which show the same rumored smaller notch design coming to the iPhone 13 series that we've seen from other sources. In past tweets, DuanRui has accurately leaked the correct names of the iPhone 12 models and an iPad Air 4 manual revealing its new design, so there's good reason to think this leak is credible, ...
siir apple event april 20

Siri Reveals Apple Event Planned for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 12:04 am PDT by
Siri has apparently prematurely revealed that Apple plans to hold an event on Tuesday, April 20, where the company is expected to reveal brand new iPad Pro models and possibly its long-awaited AirTags trackers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Upon being asked "When is the next Apple Event," Siri is currently responding with, "The special event is on Tuesday, April...
apple event hashflag

Twitter Hashflag for April 20 Apple Event Goes Live

Tuesday April 13, 2021 2:21 pm PDT by
Following the overnight Siri leak and subsequent announcement that Apple will hold a media event on Tuesday, April 20, a new Twitter hashflag has appeared to help provide visibility for the event on the platform. For the last several recent events, Apple has utilized hashflags, which are little icons next to hashtags on Twitter, as a way to market its events. The company first started the...
parallels windows 10 arm mac

Parallels 16.5 Can Virtualize ARM Windows Natively on M1 Macs With Up to 30% Faster Performance

Wednesday April 14, 2021 7:00 am PDT by
Parallels today announced the release of Parallels Desktop 16.5 for Mac with full support for M1 Macs, allowing for the Windows 10 ARM Insider Preview and ARM-based Linux distributions to be run in a virtual machine at native speeds on M1 Macs. Parallels says running a Windows 10 ARM Insider Preview virtual machine natively on an M1 Mac results in up to 30 percent better performance compared ...
iphone 13 pro render rear

iPhone 13 Pro Rumored to Be Thicker and Feature Larger Rear Camera System

Wednesday April 14, 2021 7:07 am PDT by
Tech blog 91Mobiles has obtained 3D renders of what it claims will be the iPhone 13 Pro, revealing a largely familiar design with a few notable changes, including a smaller notch and a significantly larger rear camera system. Following renders of the standard iPhone 13 model from MySmartPrice yesterday, which showed a new diagonal rear camera layout, these renders of the 6.1-inch iPhone 13...
third gen Apple pencil leaked video

Video of Alleged Third-Generation Apple Pencil Leaks Ahead of Apple Event

Friday April 16, 2021 6:13 am PDT by
A video purporting to be of the third-generation Apple Pencil has today been shared online, showing a glossy finish that mirrors previous leaks. New ✏️ ready to 🚢 #AppleEvent @TommyBo50387266 pic.twitter.com/s4RCDwDi5M— 漢尼斯·拉斯納 🇨🇳 (@ileakeer) April 16, 2021 The brief video from Twitter account @ileakeer, spotted by 9to5Mac, shows an Apple Pencil with a glossy finish much like the...