Gigabyte announced today that they are working on four new Z68 based motherboards that include support for mSATA.
While the concept behind mSATA, SSD caching, is nothing new per se Gigabyte’s blog explains benefits of the technology:
mSATA uses the SLC and MLC memory modules that you’d find in an ordinary SSD so there’s no difference in terms of read and write speeds; its the same memory chips in both. The difference is that with an mSATA module the memory modules are simply soldered on to a small PCB and not housed in a 2.5 inch case as you’d find with a drive. This helps to save on cost. Also, whereas regular SSDs are installed inside the chassis the same way you would with a 3.5 inch drive and connect to the board via a SATA cable, mSATA uses the Mini-PCIe interface to connect directly to the board. Note however that mSATA still uses up one of your SATA ports and not any of your PCIe lanes. mSATA modules are considerably smaller than an SSD, usually 29.85mm x 50.8mm x 3.5mm which is approx one eighth the size of a regular 2.5 inch SSD. This makes mSATA ideal for small mobile systems (‘m’ for mobile?) and also small enough to be installed directly onto a motherboard.
All of these boards will be compatible with Intel’s new Larson Creek SSDs. It is expected that Gigabyte will release these new motherboards, the Z68XP-UD3, Z68XP-D3, Z68AP-D3 and Z68P-DS3 in June or early July.