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Question Is PrimoCache worth it?

Hi-Fi Man

Senior member
Oct 19, 2013
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I have an OCZ Vector 150 120GB laying around that I'm trying to find a use for. I originally tried to use it for Intel SRT but I found it kind of lackluster in performance for long sequential transfers and a little buggy. I heard about PrimoCache and I'm wondering if it's any better.

This would be used to accelerate two HGST Deskstar NAS 5TB drives that are striped.
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
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No kidding.
If there is anybody on these forums who has tinkered with every caching option out there, it's him. I'm not sure what his latest project/findings are, but I'm sure he will stop by this thread shortly.
 

Dasa2

Senior member
Nov 22, 2014
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it has the option of a free trial give it a go
i used it for a while after moving to a larger hdd on windows 10 than the ocz synapse software dataplex supported and it worked well for windows\games
a budget 128g drive caching for 10tb can obviously only do so much so it will really depend on your uses and what your expecting from it
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
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It used to have a 90-day free trial, but that's amended now to 60 days. I could speculate about demand for the product as it might affect such an initially tantalizing trial period.

You should be easily able to cache a RAID array. It's a lifetime license, so the single PC option is not a lot of money spent or wasted.

In my case, there are some options and constraints that affect a dual-boot system. According to the tech-support, one SHOULD be able to maintain SSD cache disks for each OS. I THINK they have to be on separate SSDs, and creating separate caching volumes for each OS on the same SSD could be a problem. In my case, I'm only using the SSD-cache feature for a single OS right now. But that shouldn't be a concern for the OP.

You can cache a combination of AHCI, RAID and multiple drives under a single SSD cache. Or the same combination cached to a common RAM-cache (or separate ones), or a combination of RAM and SSD-caching.

The SSD cache works with RAM-caching, which is also a nice feature if you have some extra RAM to use. I haven't upgraded to 2x16 32GB yet, because I seem to have plenty with 16. Some people with enormous tasks and data configure 128GB of RAM, and even use a single 960 Pro for SSD-cache. Definitely not a requirement for a single workstation or gaming system.

As to the SSD-cache again. You cannot measure its impact in benchmarks! But -- you can feel it after the cache loads up. This is because it fills the cache stealthily when the system is idling, and the results of a benchmark simply won't register. This will supposedly be changed with version 3.0. But there's no doubt that the SSD-cache matters.

The larger the SSD you use, the larger the block-size recommended, or you will begin to consume large amounts of RAM in overhead.

Ram-cache can be saved and prefetched through restarts or reboots. If you plan to cache a drive that has offline writes, you will run into trouble unless you only use session-specific RAM-cache that is not available for the next boot time, and obviously you wouldn't use SSD-caching for a drive that has off-line writes.

As for any real "troubles," there haven't been any except for a foolish experience with the offline write problem and another with dual-OS caching volumes on the same device. And I figure if you can create a dual-boot system that works flawlessly with prudent caching choices with no problems and only the desired benefits -- "it's good."
 

VolunteerFireF

Junior Member
Jan 16, 2013
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Is PrimoCache the RAM Disk program that you would recommend for purchase? I used SoftPerfect but couldn't get it to work as it got a little too confusing for me.

It used to have a 90-day free trial, but that's amended now to 60 days. I could speculate about demand for the product as it might affect such an initially tantalizing trial period.

You should be easily able to cache a RAID array. It's a lifetime license, so the single PC option is not a lot of money spent or wasted.

In my case, there are some options and constraints that affect a dual-boot system. According to the tech-support, one SHOULD be able to maintain SSD cache disks for each OS. I THINK they have to be on separate SSDs, and creating separate caching volumes for each OS on the same SSD could be a problem. In my case, I'm only using the SSD-cache feature for a single OS right now. But that shouldn't be a concern for the OP.

You can cache a combination of AHCI, RAID and multiple drives under a single SSD cache. Or the same combination cached to a common RAM-cache (or separate ones), or a combination of RAM and SSD-caching.

The SSD cache works with RAM-caching, which is also a nice feature if you have some extra RAM to use. I haven't upgraded to 2x16 32GB yet, because I seem to have plenty with 16. Some people with enormous tasks and data configure 128GB of RAM, and even use a single 960 Pro for SSD-cache. Definitely not a requirement for a single workstation or gaming system.

As to the SSD-cache again. You cannot measure its impact in benchmarks! But -- you can feel it after the cache loads up. This is because it fills the cache stealthily when the system is idling, and the results of a benchmark simply won't register. This will supposedly be changed with version 3.0. But there's no doubt that the SSD-cache matters.

The larger the SSD you use, the larger the block-size recommended, or you will begin to consume large amounts of RAM in overhead.

Ram-cache can be saved and prefetched through restarts or reboots. If you plan to cache a drive that has offline writes, you will run into trouble unless you only use session-specific RAM-cache that is not available for the next boot time, and obviously you wouldn't use SSD-caching for a drive that has off-line writes.

As for any real "troubles," there haven't been any except for a foolish experience with the offline write problem and another with dual-OS caching volumes on the same device. And I figure if you can create a dual-boot system that works flawlessly with prudent caching choices with no problems and only the desired benefits -- "it's good."
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,013
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Is PrimoCache the RAM Disk program that you would recommend for purchase? I used SoftPerfect but couldn't get it to work as it got a little too confusing for me.
No -- the RAM disk program converts memory into a storage mechanism. You would have to copy programs or data to it before running the programs or accessing the data.

PrimoCache does block-level caching of a slower source disk or medium to a faster one. You want the PrimoCache program. You need to decide on any number of configurations. It will cache to SSD (including NVME), and it will cache to RAM. You can have two-tiered caching to both SSD and RAM. You need enough RAM to use that feature. I'd suggest a system with 12 to 16 GB of RAM. You'd find out how much RAM you use in your regular usage and then choose extra RAM (and a margin) for the cache. Or, as I said, you can simply cache an HDD to SSD, or any HDD or SATA SSD to NVME SSD.

Get the trial download -- it's good for two months. If your computer system is stable, it will harm nothing nor will you lose anything. It is simple and installs and uninstalls simply without any complications.

If you are the type of mainstreamer who is all thumbs about the OS, system maintenance and other things, it might not be "for you." But you'll find out if you try it.

Also, reviewing the initial post, your source drive intended for acceleration is a RAID0 of total 10TB, the size of the caching volume you'd use depends on the size of files you are accessing from it, as opposed to the total size of the array. I run some games, flight and racing simulators, and my current cache against a 1.3TB source volume is 140GB. It takes a couple days for the cache to fill up after it's either cleared or re-created. My OS drive is a 960 Pro NVME cached to 8GB of RAM. It takes a few hours before the hit-rate reaches 50%, and it will stay around 80% until the system is restarted and rebooted. But the program will save the cache contents through restarts if you configure it that way.
 
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0ldman79

Member
Dec 9, 2017
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Long time techie, don't post much in the forums, so forgive the necro-post.

BonzaiDuck, after reading your comments on Primocache on this forum I tried it out a few months ago.

You don't necessarily notice a *huge* improvement initially, it is gradual, however, let the trial expire and it feels like you dropped an entire computer generation.

I recently swapped my main system running an FX 6300/GTX 970 with mechanical drives and an 80Gig cache drive for a Xeon with an 850 EVO primary and a 2TB spinner hosting my games. The load time on the FX was dramatically better with Primocache. The 2TB drive has 150+ MBps read confirmed in this machine and Primocache made my old WD 1TB load games faster.

I'm sold on it.. It is quite impressive.

Edit: it is an 850 Pro, not an 850 EVO. My mistake.
 
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Dr.StrangeSpock

Junior Member
Dec 11, 2018
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Ok re wrote my wonder why.
I bought Primo Cache years ago. I have no idea whether it helps load from my Hybrid 2TB of Steam Games or Not? I have a 240GB SSD for C drive in Windows 10 ...I have a 425 GB drive for holding Microsoft Flight Sim X paid scenery Downloads, I then moved all MS FSX from G drive to this SSD drive so using Primo now for my 349 other Steam Games...choose READ SSD ONLY in first choice so I am assuming READ SSD only is going to read uses from G drive in a current interest STEAM game in CACHED in my 40 partition for PRIMO CACHE on the same SSD drive I use for FSX and FSX downloads.
I assumed the Primo Cache would be a natural for Gaming and would be well known by their Forum people but have found little key data to tell me to go one way or the other on creating a Cache preset for my gaming setup.
Seems all up to total experts as a tool in their view. You have to choose "READ SSD only" which could mean reading a SSD drive only which would be unneeded or hopefully Caching into a SSD partition and READ THAT ONLY as gleaned from the G drive in Steam which is not an SSD. Then they have you choose all these other options after the Choice and one has no idea what works best for ones gaming rig.. Nuts.

No gaming Presets for various configs for Gamers trying to speed long game loads like Microsoft Flight Simulator X or called FSX.
They seem to require you to play around with settings and you figure it out. One would think their forum would really cater to interested pro pc gamers and have plans for their configs but no. .they sell and let you mess with it. All these tinkering choices with no help for the aspect of GAMING.. I wonder who they are selling to? Clearly no PC GAMER respect.
 
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0ldman79

Member
Dec 9, 2017
40
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You don't have to uninstall Primocache, just disable the cache in the Primocache control panel.

The settings seemed pretty straightforward to me. The "best" config is subjective and/or specific to your system.

I've got a laptop with 20gigs of RAM that the BIOS will only allow use of 16gigs.

Primocache can use the 4 gigs that the OS can't use. Works like a champ.

My desktop has 20 gigs of RAM and can use all 20, has a 256GB SSD for the OS and 2TB spinner, so I used an 80GB Intel SSD as my L2 cache for the 2TB and used a small amount of RAM for that cache, essentially just using the 80gig SSD to improve my game load time.

I have a gig set aside for my 256GB SSD instead of using Samsung RAPID, running a comparison.

The smaller cluster size can improve speeds, however, it increases overhead and in that case can also slow it down. It is good by default config and can be tuned for excellent results depending on your exact usage.

What snags are you hitting?
 

0ldman79

Member
Dec 9, 2017
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I've got it caching my 2TB game drive, doesn't really require any modification beyond the defaults to do that.

When it is set to read cache it only loads data to your SSD for reading, writes go directly to the hard drive. This will speed up reads, shorten load times, etc and have minimal wear on the SSD.

Read/write will buffer writes to RAM then to SSD then it will write to the HD afterwards. I found this to actually improve system performance almost as much as the read cache itself. Most of my system lag was waiting on the HD to be ready to write to. Essentially you take the limited IO capacity of the HD and replace that with either the IO capacity of RAM or an SSD, 1,000 operations per second exchanged for 80,000 ops per second. This made a *huge* difference in overall system responsiveness.

If you're just trying to improve load times the default settings work fine.

If you're trying to improve system response time then you use read/write. If you're really trying to improve response time, set the RAM buffer as large as you can afford (I've got 4 gigs set aside on my system with 20 gigs of RAM) and set the deferred write option to 10 seconds or better. This does open you up to some data loss if your power cuts out, up to whatever time allotted.

I believe I have my desktop set to 10 seconds and my laptop set to 60. With a large RAM buffer, an SSD and defer set to 60 seconds you're looking at NVME performance or better on buffered files.

I was playing with it last night and moving a 2GB video file from my SSD to my 1TB drive with a 4GB buffer and 60 second defer and it moved it instantly, wrote it later without impacting system performance or me having to wait to do something else.

Primocache with write caching will also help with the life of an SSD (if used to buffer the SSD as opposed to using one for a cache) as it will write in bigger chunks rather than small writes. The SSD has a minimum write size, so writing 1KB log file actually has more wear on the drive than the 1KB file size would suggest. The SSD have a degree of management in there to prevent tiny writes from causing early wear, but having Primocache (or any other caching program) defer the writes it will write in larger chunks, ultimately extending the life of the SSD.
 

Dr.StrangeSpock

Junior Member
Dec 11, 2018
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Sry been away. Now clearly, YOU are just the cat this program is for. You know the technical details of many aspects of the tech and I love it man. When you wrote: "When it is set to read cache it only loads data to your SSD for reading, writes go directly to the hard drive." This is an initial choice quandary that creates my first fear of whether on not I am configuring best . One can choose Read cache or Read Cache (SSD ONLY). What is the difference betwixt the two??? I do expect to only increase load times for large gaming files and just want PCache to fill the 40GB partition for L2 cache for any current Steam Game I am hooked on. Next choice is the size of L1 Cache using Ram. I have 16GB and my new RXVEGA card seems to steal 4 or so automatically for GPU purposes. Prior PCache editions blanked this choice out for L1 if I had chosen read SSD ONLY. Later Write defer on an on choices are confusing too.
I just think the program should be a natural for File loading for Serious Sim Hobby Gamers who are not tech trained and provide us with a cute Wizard choice system after seeing one's rig. I think they would sell more if so. Ha.
Any further tips would be gratefully appreciated.
 

0ldman79

Member
Dec 9, 2017
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I believe "Read Cache (SSD Only)" is only caching to an SSD, no RAM used aside from overhead. I have that option on my desktop with an SSD used for cache, I do not have that option on my laptop without an SSD cache.

Why would your Vega steal 4GB of RAM? APU?

If you have an SSD for cache then the RAM cache can be fairly small and it will still be a sizable improvement on your load times.
 
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BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,013
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Well, I see this thread -- not quite "necro" -- has some ongoing life.

My Skylake build is now exactly two years old. there were some acquisitions: a Crucial 2TB SATA SSD, and a second 2x8GB matched set of TridentZ RAM -- for 32 GB.

The system hibernates, sleeps, and restores the L1 and L2 caches without fail. It hasn't missed a lick. I should probably run some benchies on the drives with the caches.

It works for me. You've got to feel comfortable making occasional tweaks to the configuration, and there are nuances with settings to restore caches upon reboot. It just hasn't become an obstacle or hazard of any sort, and the system always seems super fast in storage access.

I should go over to the Romex PrimoCache forum and see what's new there. It's been awhile.
 

Hi-Fi Man

Senior member
Oct 19, 2013
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Interesting that this thread is still kicking around. Nowadays I think there is less of a need for caching; SSDs are really cheap right now. In fact, I was able to buy two 2TB Micron 1100s for about $240 each earlier this year.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,013
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Interesting that this thread is still kicking around. Nowadays I think there is less of a need for caching; SSDs are really cheap right now. In fact, I was able to buy two 2TB Micron 1100s for about $240 each earlier this year.
I couldn't help myself, and I had to experiment with NVME caching SSD volumes and more RAM. But we all know there's a point where benchmarks of 11,000 MB/sec don't seem to matter much even compared to regular Samsung 960 Pro speeds with benchmarks around 3,000.
 

0ldman79

Member
Dec 9, 2017
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Primecaching also helps limit small writes going to the SSD. The SSD generally have a function that prevents a lot of small writes, but an extra level can't really hurt.

I'm getting NVME speeds in various benchmarks depending entirely on the test size and my L1 cache size. It certainly helps in IO, drive latency and load times when loading anything recently used.

For an SSD cache drive, I don't think I'd run anything newer than an MLC drive, just grab a small, cheap MLC drive. Using the SSD as an L2 would probably go through a TLC or QLC drive pretty quickly. Using RAM to buffer writes to a TLC or QLC can only help.

It needs a decent amount of RAM for certain. The more the better.

I'd love to play with it with a 16gig cache and 10-60 second buffer, 256GB L2 for a 2TB mechanical drive... At that point running a full SSD might not make a huge difference. I'd love to tinker and find out.
 

beerman81

Junior Member
Dec 30, 2018
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I've just started to use this program and haven't really seen the benefits yet, likely due to misconfiguration or my lack of knowledge. I have an Intel-based 12 TB Raid 5 array utilizing SSD for cache. When doing a lot of writes (acronis backups, torrent etc) it is just faaaaaaar too slow. For example, acronis started a backup last night while i was doing in-home streaming using plex, the PC cant read data fast enough to serve it over my home network (all ethernet) and the apple tv was complaining. So, in other words they server couldn't maintain the reads necessary due to the heavy writes.

Would it be better to use a two layer cache system using primo cache? I do have 64 GB ram so i am pretty flexible with my setup here. Any optimal suggestions here would be appreciated.
 

0ldman79

Member
Dec 9, 2017
40
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You should be pulling stupid speeds even without caching.

Have you run CrystalDiskMark without Primocache first?

Primocache can correct a lot of that, but the Acronis backup would still cause a pretty significant hit. It should still be able to serve a video stream unless you're talking uncompressed 4k or something.

One thing I have noticed is AppleTV complains about everything. They're not the most forgiving devices.
 

DooKey

Golden Member
Nov 9, 2005
1,666
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After reading this thread I decide to get PrimoCache and I love it. Running an L1 4GB R/W cache (have 32GB RAM) and an L2 128 SSD read only cache. All of this is on my 2 TB SSHD drive. My OS drive is a 970 EVO 2TB drive. My system is super snappy and it was worth the $30 to register as far as I'm concerned.
 

0ldman79

Member
Dec 9, 2017
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It really is.

Compared to Optane it's like NVME vs SATA 3 SSD, but it's still a *huge* improvement over just using the mechanical.

After a month or so just turn it off and use the computer. You almost want to smash the thing.
 

Collider

Senior member
Jan 20, 2008
514
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Came across this thread and found it very useful. Now considering PrimoCache.

Can PrimoCache speed up SQL Database reads / writes?

Also how about hosting VMs?
 

0ldman79

Member
Dec 9, 2017
40
3
51
Depends entirely on the size of your cache.

I'd probably host both of those on an SSD myself.

By the time you had a cache large enough to host a VM you'd be just about as well off to buy a cheap, dedicated small SSD.

SQL, depends on the size of the DB.

If it's small (a couple gigs or less) absolutely. If it's big, again, I'd get an SSD for it.
 

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