Going a bit off the beaten path for this year’s Computex, MSI surprised us at the show with the prototype of a new hybrid storage array. The MSI Gaming Storage Card is all-in-one PCIe storage card that holds two M.2 NVMe SSDs and a 2.5" HDD. Like existing motherboard drive caching implementations, the idea here is to offer a SSD-cache in front of a HDD, allowing for SSD-like performance of critical data without manually allocating files/programs between the SSDs and the HDD. Except now the entire storage array is on a stand-alone PCIe x8 card.

MSI tells us to expect up to 7,200 MBps from the dual NVMe SSD array, which runs in RAID 0. Using large capacity NVMe SSDs will cache a lot of data, so only very cold data will come to the host system directly from the HDD. To ensure data protection, the card features an array of super capacitors that preserve data in flight in the event of a host power fail condition. Meanwhile the NVMe SSDs should benefit from increased airflow from the custom blower style fan used to tame thermal throttling.

MSI tells us the card will ship in MSI branded desktop systems. The company doesn't have plans to release the card as a standalone product, though it sounds like with enough consumer interest, that policy may not be set in stone. That said, we were told not to expect this anytime soon, as the card on display is only a prototype. The lead time could be as long as one year away, according to the product manager with whom we spoke.

Chris Ramseyer contributed to this report

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  • lmcd - Saturday, June 3, 2017 - link

    This looks cool, but I can't say I'd buy it. I'm fine with most of my single-player games using cold HDD storage.
  • beginner99 - Sunday, June 4, 2017 - link

    Yeah. Games are just fine running on HDD. Loading times are longer but that's ok. SSD still are too expensive to store 50GB+ games on them.
  • CheapSushi - Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - link

    What? Are you stuck 5+ years back? There's plenty of roomy, affordable drives that can hold plenty of games out there. I didn't figure AnandTech was a retirement home; some of the thinking on here is so dated.
  • CheapSushi - Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - link

    Thanks for the reminder than AnandTech doesn't actually have enthusiasts reading anymore.
  • Dizoja86 - Thursday, June 8, 2017 - link

    At this point you need to stay updated on whether an HDD is a functional option, even for single-player games. With texture detail being what it is at this point, SSD's can be a system requirement for ultra settings if the game streams textures.
  • eek2121 - Saturday, June 3, 2017 - link

    Before the price spike I purchased a 1 tb SSD for $200. Between that and my primary drive having 512 gb of storage, I have more than enough space for all the games I play...and I have over 700 games in my steam library.
  • cosmotic - Saturday, June 3, 2017 - link

    That's cool.
  • Samus - Sunday, June 4, 2017 - link

    Fortunately you can still find plenty of excellent, new, MLC 1TB SSD's for $200.

    Sandisk Cloudspeed ECO and Mushkin Reactor come to mind. You can land used M500's and MX100's for even less and they are very reliable even with many many drive writes.
  • ltcommanderdata - Saturday, June 3, 2017 - link

    So does this require special software/drivers or is all the caching management handled in hardware and the whole card just appears as a single standard storage drive to the OS?
  • HomeworldFound - Saturday, June 3, 2017 - link

    They're probably only expecting to sell five of them, so I doubt anyone knows.

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