Last year we reviewed OCZ's RevoDrive Hybrid, which saw the marriage of a 1TB hard drive and a pair of 50GB SandForce SSDs on a PCI Express card. The idea was to use the SSD controllers and 100GB of NAND flash as a high-speed cache for the much larger spinning disk drive.
Potentially achieving performance close to that of a SandForce SF-2281 SSD with a 1TB storage capacity was very appealing, however there were some notable drawbacks. At $485 (since dropped to $330), the RevoDrive sounds like reasonable value at $0.48 per gigabyte (in SSD terms), but in reality the RevoDrive Hybrid performed nothing like a high-end SSD in most tests. As a result, we had a hard time recommending OCZ's hybrid solution.
Then on January, Crucial announced their latest SSD series called Adrenaline. Not meant to replace their existing and well regarded m4 SSDs, the Adrenaline is a cache solution meant to work along your existing disk drive, using a 50GB SSD to act as solid state flash-based cache for your larger primary hard drive.
OCZ also offers a similar caching solution called Synapse, which comes in 64GB and 128GB capacities. Though after our review of the RevoDrive Hybrid, OCZ didnt seem so keen for us to take another pass.
Essentially what we have is Crucials answer to the OCZ Synapse. The Adrenaline costs $110 for the 50GB version, while the slightly larger Synapse costs $135. Note that Crucial's drive allocates 50GB for caching while 14GB is provisioned for performance optimization, so really both drives feature 64GB of NAND flash memory.
Like the Synapse, and of course, the RevoDrive Hybrid the new Adrenaline uses the Dataplex software. Although we had found licensing issues to be a headache before we also acknowledged that the software does work rather well. With that said, lets move on to check out the Adrenaline in better detail...
The Crucial Adrenaline looks like a typical SSD and that's because it is. The drive is based on the m4 design featuring the same controller and NAND flash memory.
Crucial claims the Adrenaline can achieve read speeds of up to 500MB/s and write throughput of 95MB/s, the same figures they claim for the 64GB version of the m4. Of course, ultimately those speeds will be determined by how well the caching software works.
The Marvell 88SS9174 controller along with a large 256MB cache are used to improve small write performance and eliminate any 'stuttering' issues. The Adrenaline is equipped with 8x8GB 25nm chips (29F64G08CFACB) and feature Micron's high-speed ONFI 2.1 NAND interface for 166 MT/s with 512-byte industry standard sector size.
Like all SSDs, the Adrenaline cites very low power consumption figures, at idle it uses less than 100mW and when active consumes just 150mW. It measures 100.5 x 69.85 x 9.50mm and weighs 75 grams. The drive is compatible with both laptops and desktops. Crucial supplies a 3.5 adapter in case your chassis doesn't have a 2.5" bay.