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Closer Look at HighPoint RocketHybrid 1220

We discussed Intel's Smart Response technology in our earlier reviews, so we won't dwell on it here. Let's take a look at the hybrid controller from HighPoint instead.

The HighPoint RocketHybrid 122x series consists of two controllers designed for a PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot. These are the RocketHybrid 1220 with two SATA 6 Gb/s ports and the RocketHybrid 1222 which has external (eSATA) rather than internal ports.

The controllers are based on a Marvell 88SE9130 chip which was announced at CES 2011. In fact, even the web-interface and monitoring utility are branded by Marvell rather than HighPoint.

The HighPoint RocketHybrid 1220 is otherwise identical to the HighPoint Rocket 620 (which was shipped with 3-terabyte Western Digital drives, for example) except that the latter was based on a Marvell 88SE9125 chip that provided standard RAID capabilities without the option of building a hybrid disk subsystem.

The accessories to the controller include a disc with drivers and user manual, a brief paper manual, a couple of SATA cables and two mounting brackets (a standard and a low-profile one).

The manufacturer claims an ideal price/performance ratio for a hybrid disk subsystem built on a RocketHybrid 122x controller: 80% of the SSD performance and the huge storage capacity of the HDD. This is in fact what Marvell promised when announcing their 88SE9130 chip.

The RocketHybrid 1220 allows to set the virtual hybrid drive HyperDuo at either of two modes: Safe or Capacity.

In the Safe mode the hot, i.e. frequently accessed, files exist in two copies on the HDD and SSD. In the Capacity mode the hot files are stored on the SSD, so the user can utilize the entire capacity of both disks. The manufacturer claims that the Capacity mode is also somewhat faster (at the expense of reliability because there is a risk of data loss in case of a failure while a file is being transferred between the HDD and SSD).

The Safe mode can be enabled by simply connecting an HDD with an installed OS to one of the controller’s ports and a new SSD, to another. Then you just have to do some setting up in the controller’s BIOS. Creating a hybrid drive in the Capacity mode is not any more difficult in terms of setting up but requires that you reinstall the OS.

The RocketHybrid 1220 allows the user to choose the folders to cache in the SSD rather than leave that up to the controller as with Intel Smart Response technology. You can do this by checking the Auto and Cache checkboxes next to folders. You can’t combine the two options, of course. When you choose one, the other is disabled.

By default, the RocketHybrid 122x controllers cache data automatically but you can manually enable caching of certain folders or prohibit to cache some of them (by unchecking both checkboxes).

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