Over the years we have seen various attempts from AMD and Intel to try and help improve storage performance on their mainstream platforms. Because of the solid user experience benefits that solid state storage can bring, these attempts come in two forms: to make the most of a small amount of super-fast storage, or to expand the amount of super-fast storage available. Most attempts at this have been laborious, such as Intel’s caching technology that allows a SSD or 32GB of Optane Memory to act as a quick read/write cache for a rotational drive.

AMD’s latest attempt to boost the storage performance is Enmotus FuzeDrive, a collaborative piece of software that is designed to combine several storage devices into one big disk. The principle is fairly simple: take any combination of rotational hard drive, SATA SSD, NVMe SSD, and even DRAM, and this software will create a single drive that addresses them all. The software and drivers will manage what data goes where for quicker access, rather than it appearing as one big JBOD.

The obvious red flags from the press were about DRAM, which we were told will only act as a read-cache from prepared data taken from the other drives. The other flag was about if one drive in that system fails, whether all the data is lost. The answer was a likely yes, and so the risk of such a system might be in-line with a JBOD array or similar to a RAID-0, but without the predictable speedup a RAID-0 array might bring.

Predictive caching technologies to help speed up read/write access times are, on paper, a good idea. Some SSDs already do this, by having a small amount of fast SLC cache to act as a write buffer, which the controller can then move the data around to empty the cache when the drive is idle. The difference between having something like a controller manage an embedded system and a general software package in play is that the embedded system has to work for a single drive, albeit millions of units. That arrangement is going to be as defined and engineered as much as that SSD vendor wants it to be. For a software package, it has to work across a variety of environments that might be badly configured, or in situations that the software might not be able to identify properly. As the software stretches over three or four different drives, it sounds like a potential failure in the making of one of those drives decides to die.

AMD lists several benefits of FuzeDrive: no Windows reinstall required, drives can be added to the pool at any point, or removed from the pool if sufficient spare space exists. Pools with DRAM added can be configured manually if some more DRAM is needed. AMD lists that in its testing, comparing a 500 GB hard-drive to a system with a Samsung 960 Pro added to the pool, they recorded a 578% faster Adobe Premiere launch, and a 931% faster Adobe Photoshop launch.

I could see FuzeDrive being useful in two particular scenarios: If a user as a small (32-128 GB) NVMe drive and a 1TB SSD/HDD, a single pool can be made. Users with a single large drive (SATA or HDD) could use the software to add DRAM, enabling an automatic RAM disk.

Enmotus FuzeDrive will be available for Ryzen Desktop systems, and will cost $20.

Zen Cores and Vega: Ryzen PRO Mobile Zen+ Cores: 2nd Generation Ryzen, ThreadRipper, GlobalFoundries 12LP, and X470
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  • Ian Cutress - Sunday, January 7, 2018 - link

    Hey everyone, thanks for coming to read about AMD's roadmaps. I want to go into a lot more detail on what came out of AMD's Tech Day, particularly about APUs, 12nm, 7nm, Vega, new APU pricing, the X470 chipset and so on, but a pretty bad strain of CES flu is doing the rounds and this year I'm an unlucky recipient. It's not completely debilitating, but bad enough for me to lose concentration that I might have to cancel a few meetings at the show tomorrow as a result if I can't string a coherent thought together.

    Rather than post a garbled mess, I want to get around to detailing the news for you all properly, as there's a lot of nuances to go into. We also had an interview with Dr. Lisa Su about AMD in 2018. Stay tuned for updates over the next couple of weeks, as I stay hydrated and call room service for chicken soup!
  • Eris_Floralia - Monday, January 8, 2018 - link

    Ian, isn't Ryzen 3 2200U utilizing a new dual core die?

    They did have a dual core die with 3 CUs on their former roadmap.
  • Ian Cutress - Monday, January 8, 2018 - link

    AMD has one die design covering the whole of Ryzen Desktop + Threadripper + EPYC, and one die design covering Ryzen Mobile + Ryzen APUs. They're not going to spend a third amount of money on masks for a single low-end dual-core die with a few CUs unless it was going to expand into a new segment of products. Given that AMD has been quite open about its 2018 roadmap today, I doubt that would happen.
  • Eris_Floralia - Monday, January 8, 2018 - link

    Thanks Ian.
    I'm also quite surprised they didn't announce the new die on CES if it will be coming. So it's just harvested dies....
  • mczak - Monday, January 8, 2018 - link

    Well there is a 2 core / 3 CUs design on the roadmap - Banded Kestrel. This is however intended for embedded. Although it is rather similar to the Bristol Ridge / Stoney Ridge split, and the latter also showed up in non-embedded markets.
    However, just like Stoney Ridge, Banded Kestrel will be limited to single-channel memory. I always assumed it's going to show up in cheap notebooks/PCs, basically as a Pentium Silver competitor, but of course I could be wrong (in any case, it's not ready yet).
  • StevoLincolnite - Monday, January 8, 2018 - link

    Error on the second page in the table...
    "Vega 3
    3 CPUs
    192 SPs"

    Should be:
    "Vega 3
    3 CUs
    192 SPs"
  • Krysto - Monday, January 8, 2018 - link

    Next time, supplement 10,000 IU Vitamin D3 a day, months before CES. You can thank me later.
  • Dave Null - Monday, January 8, 2018 - link

    This is actually very good advice.

    Most of us who sit in front of computers all day aren't getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a major regulatory role in our immune systems. Since realizing I was deficient in vitamin D a few years ago (your doctor can easily test for this), I've been supplementing it, and getting sick far less often as a result.
  • Rοb - Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - link

    But I smoke heavily, drink coffee almost continuously, eat poorly and avoid the Sun, and don't take vitamin supplements.

    I haven't been sick in decades ...

    Not that I would advise anyone to smoke nor offer medical advice but there's flu shots (which I also don't have) that will reduce your vulnerability rather than copy my lifestyle.
  • MFinn3333 - Thursday, February 1, 2018 - link

    The problem with that attitude is that you are chipping away at your body's natural defenses against all kinds of diseases, such as COPD, over time.

    You are born with a lot of over-provision inside each of your organs. Those activities are eating away faster than normal. What happens when you run out of extra "space"? Same as on an SSD Degraded performance or size.

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