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Intel Corp. this week released a new enthusiast-class platform for its latest Core i-series "Sandy Bridge" microprocessors. The platform is powered by the new Z68 core-logic set along with 311-series "Larsen Creek" solid-state drive (SSD) that speeds up typical workloads by working in companion with a hard disk drive (HDD).

"The Z68 chipset offers new overclocking and caching features for PC enthusiasts who want more control over their [...] desktops. The 20GB Intel SSD 311 is optimized for the new Intel Smart Response Technology caching feature in Z68 which helps speed boot times, application loads, and many other PC uses," said Daniel Snyder, a spokesman for Intel.

Intel Z68 is the most versatile core-logic in the 68-series family for Core-i-series "Sandy Bridge" in LGA1155 packaging as it supports all the features that P67 and H67 provide. It not only fully supports overclocking of K-series microprocessors, but also allows to use integrated graphics at the same time. This feature gives additional freedom of choice and some people may find it useful. For example, it is now possible to use Virtu switchable graphics technology and utilize advanced standalone graphics cards only in games, thus reducing power consumption.

But the most important innovation of the Z68 is the feature called Smart Response Technology (SRT), which is a special hardware/software caching mechanism for SSDs and hard disk drives (HDDs). The technology attempts to accelerate boot time and runtime reads and writes by caching the content of hard disk drive onto solid-state drive.

The technology requires one 311-series 2GB SSD (or any other with 18.6GB - 64GB capacity) as well as one HDD. The SRT makes operating system see the combination of SSD and HDD as one logical drive and automatically caches often used files onto the solid-state drive to speed up the system or ensure data protection in case of disk failure.

The Intel 311-series "Larsen" creek solid-state drive features 20GB capacity, is based on 34nm single-level cell (MLC) memory and will have either SATA or mSATA connectors.

Leading makers of motherboards have already started to ship their Z68-based offerings.

Tags: Intel, SSD, Larsen Creek, Z68, Core

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