Gaming PC

Solidigm Synergy 2.0 Amplifies P41 Plus and P44 Pro Performance with Custom Driver

Solidigm is active in the PC client SSD market with the QLC-based P41 Plus and traditional TLC-based SSDs. P44 Pro For high-end market. While introducing the P41 Plus, Solidigm was also talking about implementing read caching using his pSLC segment of the drive. This required installing the Solidigm Synergy software. Over the past few quarters, the company has been working hard to finalize his Solidigm Synergy 2.0 software release. This promises to deliver even better performance for real-world workloads (compared to launch performance) when used with the P41 Plus and P44. Professional. While most SSD vendors work at the hardware and firmware level, Solidigm believes there are performance benefits that can be leveraged at the software/driver level as well.

Solidigm’s Synergy 2.0 has two components: the Synergy Toolkit and the Synergy Driver. The toolkit leverages SMART support and Windows performance counters to support a wide variety of SSDs, but the Synergy driver is apparently only supported on Solidigm’s client SSDs.

The toolkit itself is similar to what nearly every other SSD vendor has released for storage monitoring and maintenance. It brings together a set of features across multiple tools that can serve as a one-stop-shop for mainstream users. A more interesting component is the Solidigm Synergy Driver, which actually works at the kernel level. Currently this driver only works on Windows 10 or 11. Solidigm claims a significant performance boost with their custom driver, and QLC-based drives see significant improvements.

Drivers can achieve this performance improvement through three different aspects:

  • dynamic queue
  • Prefetch for QD1 access
  • FastLane (host managed caching)

Of these three, FastLane is currently only available on the P41 Plus. This host-managed caching scheme was already detailed in the P41 Plus’ launch coverage, but it didn’t have his FastLane moniker at the time.

The read cache is only useful if the cache size is really too small and the drive is not full to the point of being unusable. Solidigm claims this technique works best for his 25% to 75% drives.

The Synergy driver includes the ability to analyze your application’s storage traces in real time to detect predictable read operations. If the access queue is shallow and operations are sequential in nature, the next access can be predicted and prefetched before the actual application request. This makes it more responsive from a user experience perspective.

You can get up to 8 streams with this driver. Each stream has a buffer size of his 512KB and a maximum request size of 128KB. The driver’s prefetching behavior can be controlled via his registry parameters.

On systems with a large number of CPU cores, Solidigm’s drivers claim to be better at routing I/O requests to relatively idle cores compared to native Windows drivers. The driver utilizes the I/O request load, request size, and I/O processing time with or without CPU core redirection to determine whether to activate a dynamic queue. This process is dynamic. Dynamic queuing behavior is removed if the driver detects that redirection will degrade completion time or if the workload changes. Like smart prefetching, this aspect can also be disabled using the registry.

Solidigm’s approach to providing added value to client SSD customers after purchase is very different from other vendors who rely solely on firmware updates, primarily for bug fixes. From an end-user perspective, driver releases that improve performance over time are welcome. The point to keep in mind here is that these features are useful for real-world workloads. Measured using ATTO or CrystalDiskMark, not primarily for use cases dealing with large sequential transfers.

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