HD Overdrive: Corsair's Accelerator SSD Cache

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Drive Reliability, Data Retention, and Price

For some readers, SSDs are still too new to be trusted, particularly given the shrinking level of data retention in modern Flash. For those concerned about long-term reliability, it probably doesn't help that Novaplex's included help file makes grim reference to the inadvisability of randomly removing the cache drive. We spoke to both Novelo and Corsair regarding these concerns.

How Dataplex keeps data..plexed.

The Dataplex software is specifically designed to work around failed cells, while the drive itself is overprovisioned. Dataplex caches both reads and writes, but the writes are synchronized aggressively with the hard drive. In the unlikely event that the Flash memory begins to fail in large quantities, Dataplex's driver will preemptively disable caching and write all data back to the hard drive before the problem becomes acute enough to potentially threaten user data.

Even a sudden drive contoller failure is unlikely to threaten any user data. Because writes are synchronized quickly, the only way for an SSD failure to kill the operating system (or a vital document/program) is if an update to that specific file is being performed at the exact instant the controller dies. Can this sort of thing happen? Sure. But it's pretty damn rare. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the sudden and irretrievable death of the SSD will result in a normal hard drive boot after the Dataplex software confirms that the cache drive has failed.

The idea that Corsair is selling a specific "cache accelerator" drive could give rise to fears that these drives are somehow made from substandard Flash, or aren't up to the challenge of being Real OS Drives. This is not the case. Without the Dataplex software, the 60GB Accelerator Series drive we've reviewed here is a perfectly ordinary SSD with the same three-year warranty as other Corsair SSDs and competitive read/write performance.

The 60GB Accelerator Series drive we've reviewed today is currently $89.99 at NewEgg. That's in line with the upper-range of 60-64GB drives NewEgg carries, and while a 60GB SSD can be had for less, the difference between the cheapest standalone SSDs and the Corsair Accelerator is only $20. Would we pay $20 for Dataplex's software? Absolutely. In fact, we'd pay more.

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