Configuring a mSATA mini SSD + 1 SSD + 1 HDD on a GA-Z77-D3H

Discussion in 'Gigabyte' started by Leachim Sredna, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. Helllo all,

    I've given up on my two hopelessly temperamental Asus P5W DH Deluxe boards
    and have embraced my first Gigabyte board, the GA-Z77-D3H, which is very
    basic but all-modern and notably has an mSATA socket, into which I've put a
    32 G mini SSD from Crucial. On the first Sata port I've put a 64 G SSD, the
    V4 from Crucial as a boot drive, and on the second a Seagate 1T° HDD for
    storage.I've provisionally installed Win7 on the 64 G SSD (with BIOS setting
    on AHCI) and everything works but I'm a tinkerer and I want it to work
    better still !
    Is there any sense in installing either Intel Rapid Start Technology or
    Intel Smart Reponse (or both?) ? I realise I may have to re-install the OS
    for one or both of these, but that's no problem for the moment.
    Among the questions and considerations I have mulled are the fact that the
    current boot SSD is a bit small at only 64 G and therefore does not leave
    much headroom after installing the 64-bit version of Win7 (half is already
    used up), and also that it is in fact only SATA2 although it's on a SATA3
    port.
    Would it make any sense to use the miniSSD on the board as a cache for the
    current boot SSD ? Or would that in effect happen automatically, without one
    of these Intel options?
    And isn't there an official Microsoft tweak, which generally uses a USB
    memory stick to speed things up? Could the miniSSD in the mSATA slot on the
    board serve in this way too?
    Another question is: is it possible to configue Win7 so that the swap file
    is on the HDD? If so, how? I didn't find the answer in the offline Win7
    help... I seem to remember configuring Win98 so that the swap file was on a
    different partition from the boot C: with good results.

    Thanks to all those inclined to give me guidance on the above.
    I want to build a fast modern machine for future use even if I'm writing
    this on an ancient but utterly reliable old Dell....

    Leachim Sredna
     
    Leachim Sredna, Nov 30, 2012
    #1
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  2. Leachim Sredna

    Paul Guest

    Crucial M4 CT032M4SSD3 mSATA 32GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148610

    Article on SRT.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4329/intel-z68-chipset-smart-response-technology-ssd-caching-review/2

    Using the 32GB MSATA to back the 1TB hard drive, seems a
    reasonable plan. To get a good locality of reference,
    it helps to back a system partition, since when you're
    booting from a system partition, you're visiting small
    files in the same kind of pattern on each boot. The caching
    software can learn that pattern, and more of the data needed
    for a fast boot, ends up in the 32GB drive.

    If you use the 32GB MSATA SSD to back the 1TB drive, and
    make the entire 1TB drive a data drive, then randomly reading
    movies off it, the SSD might not accumulate anything of
    lasting value. The SSD can only cache 32GB of data, or about
    3% of the drive.

    As long as there is a locality of reference, and the
    drive keeps reading the same data from session to
    session you see a boost.

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

    On writes, there'd be a difference between write-thru
    and write-back performance. If the SSD is used to
    hold a write, obviously the write goes very fast.
    But eventually, you want the software cache, to store
    that information on the HDD as well. It really
    depends on what triggers writing to the SSD, as
    to whether something useful is happening on writes.
    (Job gets done faster, as far as the user can tell.)

    So let's draw a picture. If the 32GB MSATA caches for
    the lowest part of the 1TB drive, and the OS lives there,
    maybe you'll get some benefit from the 32GB drive.

    1TB drive
    +---------+
    | | Rest of disk
    | | holds data only
    | |
    +---------+ SRT, back C:
    | C: | +----------+
    | 64GB | |32GB MSATA|
    +---------+ +----------+

    You can use the second SSD for anything you wish.

    If you don't want to put C: in the 1TB drive, then
    just put the 32GB MSATA SSD back in its box for later.

    Or, use the 32GB MSATA as a regular SSD for whatever you want,
    with SRT turned off. But with SRT turned on, I see the most
    benefit coming from it, if it operates as a cache for C:.

    With SRT turned off, you have a three drive system.

    And I don't see any other particularly useful patterns
    there. For example, doing Dynamic Disk and Spanning the
    two SSD drives, is not going to do a very good job
    of spreading free space around on the flash on the
    two drives (the Microsoft dynamic disk code, isn't going
    to know how best to treat the flash based drives).
    And consequently, I personally wouldn't run a configuration
    like that.

    Once you've made the purchase decision, to buy the
    particular size of SSD drives that you did, you're
    kinda stuck with the consequences. By buying the
    32GB MSATA, it's more or less dedicated (works best),
    doing the SRT thing, and then, backing a C: partition
    makes perfect sense. But now you have to decide,
    where to store your backup copies of any data stored
    on the 1TB drive. So you might still benefit from
    purchasing a second 1TB drive (not involved with
    SRT in any way), and make sure to back up this setup
    every once in a while. Just in case. Windows 7 has
    System Image, to help you make the backup. The
    System Image, would only copy the busy sectors.
    You would not store the backup, on the same hard
    drive itself (on the original 1TB drive).

    1TB drive 1TB backup
    +---------+ +---------+
    | | Rest of disk | |
    | | holds data only | |
    | | ==> | |
    +---------+ SRT, back C: | |
    | C: | +----------+ | |
    | 64GB | |32GB MSATA| | |
    +---------+ +----------+ +---------+

    *******

    Readyboost is a waste of time, if your system has
    enough RAM.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/2163/6

    Paul
     
    Paul, Dec 1, 2012
    #2
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  3. Thanks for all that Paul, I'll study it. As you've been told oft times in
    these groups, you are brilliant !
     
    Leachim Sredna, Dec 1, 2012
    #3
  4. My thinking now (FWIW) is now as follows, given the hardware and software to
    hand that I indicated above :

    Install both Intel Smart Reponse and Intel Rapid Start; which means using
    the miniSSD (mSATA) as a cache, and installing the OS on the HDD. The new OS
    installation will have to be with RAID enabled in BIOS, says Intel. I
    further plan to partition the HDD into two (say system C: and then D: for
    storage, in a ratio of one third and two thirds).

    The other idea that occurred to me in a brilliant flash was to put the
    pagefile.sys and the hibernfil.sys files onto the V4 64 G Crucial SSD, in
    order to free and speed things up and put that object to good use. I'm not
    presently sure how to do that in Win 7 but I'd like to try.

    All thoughts on the above welcome !

    TIA

    Leachim Sredna
     
    Leachim Sredna, Dec 2, 2012
    #4
  5. Leachim Sredna

    Paul Guest

    You can see here, opinions are mixed on the topic.

    http://www.sevenforums.com/performance-maintenance/135153-win7-ssd-should-i-move-page-file.html

    And one poster, quoting this article, does nobody any
    good, because this article is interest in "performance"
    and not the lifetime of the SSD. This doesn't answer the
    question in a way that we can use.

    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/e7/archive/2009/05/05/support-and-q-a-for-solid-state-drives-and.aspx

    What they really needed to provide in terms of information,
    is how many gigabytes of writes per day, are done to the
    pagefile.sys. Then, a user would be in a better position
    to judge the impact to the lifetime of the SSD.

    On a system with a lot of RAM, there isn't a lot of reason
    to use the Pagefile. When the system starts, some material
    is flushed to the Pagefile and never referenced again
    (clever design).

    But to give an extreme example, look at the 64 bit version
    of CHKDSK. It has a "feature", where it uses the entire
    system RAM as a scratchpad. (The version of CHKDSK on WinXP
    doesn't do this.) If you run CHKDSK on a volume with a lot
    of files, then open Resource Monitor, eventually it'll suck
    up all the RAM. You can see the column for paging operations,
    start to report paging is happening. CHKDSK puts pressure
    on the virtual memory subsystem. Now, that would be a case,
    where the SSD will get some wear from paging. For a lot of
    your more reasonably written applications, the pagefile might
    not get any accesses at all.

    When the system shuts down, there is a security option
    to overwrite the pagefile with zeros. And again, that
    eats some of the SSD endurance. But done once a day,
    isn't a big deal.

    If it was my system, I'd move the pagefile off
    to hard drive. So it doesn't hit the SSD. That
    would be my choice. The Sinosky information above,
    concentrates on the performance the SSD gives, and
    no question, the 4KB random reads that paging might
    do, would be quite fast on an SSD. Putting the pagefile
    on disk, if the pagefile is actually being used,
    is going to slow the system down. So when the system
    "recovers" after a CHKDSK run, it's going to take
    longer if I move the pagefile purely to a hard drive.

    You can use Resource Monitor to watch your system.
    And perhaps form your own opinion.

    Paul
     
    Paul, Dec 2, 2012
    #5
  6. Leachim Sredna

    DevilsPGD Guest

    In the last episode of <50bb6f0b$0$1367$>,
    Do you actually use the pagefile for anything meaningful? Don't get me
    wrong, don't disable it (this causes some unexpected side effects since
    all RAM requests must then be backed by physical RAM), but you can
    likely cut your pagefile to a very small size, allow it to grow quite
    large if needed and forget it exists. If you are hitting the pagefile,
    adding RAM is a better approach.

    As far as hibernfil.sys, if you're not using the other SSD for anything
    then sure, go for it, but it's somewhat wasteful if you don't hibernate
    frequently. Given how quickly my SSD based systems can power up, I've
    moved away from hibernating and instead standby for short periods of
    time and otherwise just power off for my own laptop.
     
    DevilsPGD, Dec 2, 2012
    #6
  7. Leachim Sredna

    andy Guest

    Control Panel > System and Security > System > Advanced System
    Settings > Advanced tab > Performance Settings > Advanced tab >
    Virtual Memory Change

    I'm running Windows 7 x64 with 16 GB of system RAM and no paging file.
    It works fine.
     
    andy, Dec 4, 2012
    #7
  8. Leachim Sredna

    DevilsPGD Guest

    In the last episode of <>,
    Note that by doing so, you lose out on some of the virtual memory
    benefits. Specifically, if an application allocates but fails to use
    utilize memory, it gets backed by physical memory which is completely
    wasted whereas if you had a small active pagefile, you'd have all of
    your system's RAM available for caching and other purposes.

    It's not a deal-breaker, but keeping a pagefile enabled is generally a
    good idea even if you never run out on physical RAM.
     
    DevilsPGD, Dec 4, 2012
    #8
  9. Leachim Sredna

    Paul Guest

    Personally, I'd be more curious what is going to happen when the
    x64 version of CHHDSK begins to run. Open Resource Monitor
    and watch the fun. It seems to stop, before it runs out
    of memory, but on my Windows 7 laptop, it tended to "squeeze"
    discretionary memory from other running tasks. You'd want to
    run CHKDSK on a big enough NTFS partition, something with
    lots of files, so the run doesn't stop before the fun is done.

    Paul
     
    Paul, Dec 4, 2012
    #9
  10. Leachim Sredna

    DevilsPGD Guest

    CHKDSK may easily be one of those applications that reserves a huge
    amount of memory before it's needed because of potential failures if RAM
    is unavailable on short notice.

    But I can't speak to whether that's actually true or not.
     
    DevilsPGD, Dec 4, 2012
    #10
  11. Leachim Sredna

    Paul Guest

    The application is just stupidly designed, but hey, that's just
    my opinion. Unless a machine has dropped to a "single-user"
    configuration, where you're absolutely sure about resource
    usage and what is safe, you shouldn't be doing that. It's
    not like the memory is used in an intelligent fashion.
    It's abusive, since the OS has a file system cache, which works
    perfectly well, and is transparent to other RAM requests (it
    backs off if there is any memory pressure at all). You could
    use the properties of the file system cache, get to use
    virtually all of the system memory for file caching, and
    still offer memory instantly to any other application running
    at the time that needs it. That preserves the responsiveness
    of the machine, under any circumstances. Why they insist on
    privately managing all of that "scratchpad" of memory, is
    beyond me. One user reported it used 15GB of 16GB or so,
    to give some idea how limitless it is. I couldn't test
    that high on my laptop, because I have less memory than that.

    I only researched the issue, and found a workaround, because
    people had complained about slow speeds. If you manage to
    use the x32 version of CHKDSK, it can't gulp down all the
    memory on a 16GB machine. That was the easiest fix I could find.

    Paul
     
    Paul, Dec 4, 2012
    #11
  12. Leachim Sredna

    DevilsPGD Guest

    Requesting a bunch of otherwise-unused RAM is perfectly safe and
    harmless with a properly configured pagefile since the pagefile will
    back the RAM allocation requests and RAM will only be assigned if
    needed.
     
    DevilsPGD, Dec 4, 2012
    #12
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