Crucial Adrenaline 50GB Solid State Cache

While SSDs make for extremely attractive purchases from a performance point of view, they can be relatively pricy, especially when compared to the cost-per-gigabyte of traditional hard drives.  The capacity of entry level SSDs in the lower price range are also mostly made up of 60-64GB, which are too small to use as an application and OS drive for many users.  So while we're in this transitional phase, a new class of interim devices have cropped up in the market, solid state cache drives.  These solutions pair up small solid state drives with caching software, and provides users with the performance benefit of an SSD while maintaining the capacity of a hard drive.  Today, we're looking at Crucial's solid state cache drive, the Adrenaline.  It combines a 50GB Crucial m4 drive with NVELO's Dataplex caching software in a package that comes in at under $100.


• MLC NAND Flash
• Interface: SATA 6Gbps / Backwards Compatible 3Gbps
• Native TRIM support
• Use in conjunction with your existing hard drive
• Integrated Dataplex™ caching software
• 2.5" Design
• Compatible with Windows 7

Max Performance
• Sequential Read: 500MB/s
• Sequential Write: 95MB/s
• Random Read 4KB: 45,000 IOPS
• Random Write 4KB: 20,000 IOPS

Included in the Package
• 2.5" to 3.5" drive mounting adapter
• SATA cable

Physical Drive Analysis

The Adrenaline drive fits in the 2.5" drive form factor with a 9mm height.  There are mounting holes on the bottom and sides of the drive at standard locations.  Included in the package is a 3.5" adapter for mounting, should your case not have provision for mounting 2.5" drives.

The shell of the Adrenaline matches that of the m4 solid state drives.  The top and the bottom are metal, and there is a plastic spacer.  With the spacer installed, the drive has a height of 9mm, and removed it's down to 7mm.  While more important for a non-caching drive like Crucial's m4, it's a good simple design to fit both form factors.  It should be noted that owners cannot remove the plastic spacer without voiding their warranty.

Taking a look inside the Adrenaline drive, we can see that Marvell's 88S9174 is matched up with synchronous NAND (ONFi 2) and cache memory from Micron.  This matches up with what we see inside of the m4 solid state drives from Crucial.  Each of the NAND modules have a capacity of 8GB, which is made up by 2 internal dies.  This adds up to 16 dies in total, which translates to 2 dies per channel of the Marvell controller chip.  All of the components are on one side of the PCB, with the other side being bare.