mSATA drive in M6400 FCM slot?


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mSATA drive in M6400 FCM slot?

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Is it possible to use an mSATA SSD in the M6400's Flash Cache Module slot? Apparently the FCMs were of fairly low size, just a few GB, but I'm wanting to drop in a much larger SSD. (e.g., the 80GB Intel 310.) I've found conflicting reports on the Internet on whether or not these drives will work in my Precision, and would like a definitive answer.

Dell Precision M6600 | AMD FirePro M6100 2GB | 4GB DDR3-1333 | 128GB Samsung PM830 SSD | 60GB Intel 330 SSD | Windows 8.1 Pro

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  • You cannot do that.

    For the CPU,  the Flash Cache is not just another hard drive.  In normal operation,  the CPU receives instructions and information.  At times,  the CPU request information from other components,  and stays idle while waiting.  This idle time can be substantial.  A way to reduce that idle time is with cache memory,  where the processor keeps some of the recently processed information for faster operation. 

    Cache memory comes in two forms.  The most obvious is within the CPU itself,  but this makes the CPU much,  much,  much more expensive.  Another form of cache is external to the CPU,  where a different kind of RAM is used;  that RAM is called the Flash Cache Module when it is separable from the motherboard.  I believe that,  for the M6400,  the maximum size is 1 GB. 

    If you put your 80 GB SSD in the FCM slot,  the machine may not work.  If it does work,  it may not see the SSD,  or use only the few GB expected for cache.  Of course,  your SSD will not show as a new hard drive on the BIOS or for Windows. 

    By the way,  I plan to put an FCM on my M6400,  and I am very curious as to whether you went ahead and placed your SSD,  and would like to know how it went.  

  • Been a while since I posted that. Yes, I did some research on it and came to the same conclusion, so I didn't bother purchasing any sort of mini SSD. According to my research, none of the three mini PCI Express in the M6400 supports mSATA. In order to get an SSD to work in one of them (probably the WWAN slot), the card would need an onboard disk controller, either PATA or SATA. Not many such SSDs exist, and that ones that do are relatively slow and horribly expensive. So I abandoned the idea. Eventually I'll put a standard 2.5" SSD in the drive bay currently occupied by a 160GB Scorpio Black. But not for the time being...

    Dell Precision M6600 | AMD FirePro M6100 2GB | 4GB DDR3-1333 | 128GB Samsung PM830 SSD | 60GB Intel 330 SSD | Windows 8.1 Pro

  • Since I posted my answer,  I have looked around.  I found two items of interest:

    . Somebody did put a large ssd on the FCM,  and it worked.  He did a convoluted dance with drivers and settings,  and I doubt the benefit warrants the effort.

    . Intel says the chipset of the M6400 expects a FCM of 2Gb or 4Gb,  not 1Gb as I said before.

    I still plan to install an FCM,  but not for the immediate future.  There are other obligations I must finish before I start a new project.