Dual-SSD Mod - OCZ Solid Series 30G SATA+8G ZIF (pics added)

Discussion in 'Modding and Customization' started by fridtear, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. fridtear

    fridtear

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    I've done some mods with my AA1-110, 1G memory added, a bluetooth adapter added in the caddy left for 3G module and an OCZ Solid Series 30G mounted on SATA port.

    My AA1 is the one with 8G SSD which is notorious for the poor writing speed. Now with the new OCZ 30G added, it has two SSDs inside, as I can leave the original compact and fast Linux in the 8GB SSD and install a "real" OS in the new SSD with a decent read/write speed (120/80 RW in ATTO) and enough space, at least for a full version of XP to work decently.

    It has been a long time since I decided to figure out a perfect solution for my AA1, solving the storage problem, expanding and accelerating. Normally there are three methods, 1.8 zif HDD/SSD replacement, CF - ZIF converter and SATA HDD solution. I didn't use any HDD because I don't like the noise and heat they make and the weight and fragility they might add to my AA1. I didn't use CF-ZIF converter because a fast CF card with enough capacity always costs so much, and even the fastest CF card can hardly compete with an entry-level SSD in speed. And I gave up the plan to buy a Runcore or Mtron 1.8 ZIF SSD because they cost more than a cheap 2.5 SSD while their performance is still way behind, due to the limit of ZIF connection, I guess. And, as I read from several sources, the mod to add a conventional 2.5 HDD into the SSD SKU requires nearly half of the chassis bottom being cleared, with posts/L-braces/T-braces removed, which kinda scared me off.

    So I decided to do the SATA mod first, though, I have to say, it was really some hard work for me to dismantle the SATA connector from an external harddisk box and solder it onto the MB of AA1. However, at last, I only soldered 6 out of all 22 pinouts to make SATA port usable, which made things easier. I also disassembled the 2.5 SSD, attached the PCB directly onto the SATA connector and left behind the useless but heavy and huge case. That helped a lot, since the PCB itself is merely as thick as the 8GB SSD (PCB-form as well, only smaller), even slimmer than a 5mm 1.8-inch HDD, and weighs 1/3 of the whole SSD. Then I only need to cut 3 posts and 3 braces in half to fit it in and I still have enough space to place the 8GB SSD just above it.

    It cost me almost 8-9 hours to do all the mods yesterday, but indeed it was worth it. Now I'm really happy with my AA1. It weighs 1008g (with 3-cell battery) after bluetooth and one more SSD integrated and 1G DDR2 memory added, with a mass increase of 30-40g, scarcely noticeable. So it runs much faster but its body shape remains which are both very important to me, or I would have bought AA1-150 model instead.

    However, there are still 2 problems. One is the speed of the new OCZ SSD in my AA1 does not match the number claimed by the company, where it is said to have a read/write speed of 155/90MB/s in ATTO but mine only scores around 120/80 MB/s. I checked the device properties in Windows device manager. It says the connection is Ultra DMA-5. I think the SATA controller of ICH7M is working in IDE compatability mode and it seems Acer doesn't provide AHCI support for AA1 and perhaps no harddisk can be tuned up to real SATA mode in AA1. I'm not sure if this really accounts for my problem. Does anyone have any advice? Is there any tweak that can help AA1 achieve a real SATA mode? I've searched some forums but failed to find any useful info about that.

    The second problem is about the boot sequence. I had supposed that the two SSDs would be listed as IDE 0 and IDE 1 in BIOS but curiously found that only the 8GB one is there, labled as IDE 0, and IDE 1 is still left blank. At the same time, on the first page of BIOS, however, the HDD model name is OCZ SOLID_SSD instead of P-SSD1800. And the annoying part is AA1 always boots from P-SSD1800 as there is no way to give priority to the SATA one in BIOS when the two SSDs are both connected. As I disconnect the original SSD from the motherboard, AA1 recognises SATA as IDE 0 and boots from it. Now I only find out two ways to let AA1 boot from SATA SDD in dual-SSD mode, using F12 Boot Menu where both SSDs will appear as IDE 0 and each of them can be selected as the boot device, or making a multi-booting setup in the 8GB SSD, apparently neither of them is perfect. Could some one give me any clue to solve this?

    BTW, I just left a post in NeoVector's thread to report the second problem. And I'm glad we seem to have done the same thing. :D

    Maybe next time, I can replace the original 8G SSD with a Runcore ZIF SSD, if they could just simply cut its price somehow. :cool:
     
    fridtear, Feb 20, 2009
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  2. fridtear

    fridtear

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    Re: Dual-SSD Mod - OCZ Solid Series 30G + Original 8G

    Well, I've ghosted the whole XP system volumn from the original 8GB ZIF SSD to the new 30G SATA SSD and tried some boot/shutdown tests to see how much improvement it has gained. Here is the result.

    SSD | boot | shutdown
    8G / 3'20" / 46s
    30G / 1'02" / 11s

    The boot process timing starts from the moment I press ENTER to select the exact booting device in F12 booting menu and ends when windows fully finishes every thing and the harddisk led goes off.

    And I found when the new SATA SSD works with XP, the HDD led almost never stays fully on, just blinking when operating and system always responds instantly, not like with the 8GB ZIF, system often freezes as the HDD led stays on for a few seconds.
     
    fridtear, Feb 21, 2009
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  3. fridtear

    Shad0wguy

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    Re: Dual-SSD Mod - OCZ Solid Series 30G SATA+ 8G ZIF

    How did you add SATA in addition to the ZIF? I'd love to see some internal pics of how you layed all of this out.
     
    Shad0wguy, Feb 21, 2009
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  4. fridtear

    2manydjs

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    Re: Dual-SSD Mod - OCZ Solid Series 30G SATA+ 8G ZIF

    +1 on the pics!
     
    2manydjs, Feb 21, 2009
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  5. fridtear

    fridtear

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    Re: Dual-SSD Mod - OCZ Solid Series 30G SATA+ 8G ZIF

    All right, I'll open it and take some photos this time, will be tomorrow I guess.
     
    fridtear, Feb 21, 2009
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  6. fridtear

    fridtear

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    Re: Dual-SSD Mod - OCZ Solid Series 30G SATA+ 8G ZIF

    I used to use filefront but now I'm trying this with flickr. I hope it works.

    [​IMG]
    The old 8GB SSD is placed just above the new one, next to the WIFI card.

    [​IMG]
    A piece of transparent tape is used to stick the 8GB SSD on the WIFI card.

    [​IMG]
    The 30G SSD is attached to the bottom of the motherboard.

    [​IMG]
    Bottom side of MB, with SSD and bluetooth dongle. The white wire is used to tie up the SSD, using two holes on the MB which become two screw posts in A150 model to fix its 120G/160G HDD to the MB.

    [​IMG]
    Bottom of the case. Those posts cut in half still works as the sustaining, to make the MB and SSD a tight fit.

    [​IMG]
    Two IDE 0 devices in boot menu.
     
    fridtear, Feb 22, 2009
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  7. fridtear

    fridtear

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    Re: Dual-SSD Mod - OCZ Solid Series 30G SATA+ 8G ZIF

    Another insteresting thing is, if look carefully, one must find that the flash memory chip on 8GB SSD is almost identical to those used by OCZ SSD, only the 3-digit number next to Samsung is differenct but that number just indicates the production date of the chip I guess.
     
    fridtear, Feb 22, 2009
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  8. fridtear

    2manydjs

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    Looks great!

    Why do you worry about the 8GB SSD? Everything works correctly when it's detached, right?
     
    2manydjs, Feb 22, 2009
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  9. fridtear

    fridtear

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    Thanks :p

    And you are right, I kind of thought too much about saving the original 8GB SSD for my AA1. I could've detached it and everything would just work better, only the total harddisk capacity of system would shrink one fifth. :mrgreen:
     
    fridtear, Feb 23, 2009
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  10. fridtear

    Shad0wguy

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    Do the HDD models still have the zif connector? Otherwise, how did you get both SATA and ZIF?
     
    Shad0wguy, Feb 23, 2009
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  11. fridtear

    fridtear

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    This mod is based on A110, the SSD model, which has ZIF but the SATA connector is missing.

    I think in HDD model, the A150, a ZIF connector should be added if one wants to have two "internal" harddisks. Well, I mean real internal, not those just located inside but connected to a USB port. ;)

    However, I don't think anyone would do that, modding A150 to do ZIF hack. SATA is far superior to ZIF!
     
    fridtear, Feb 23, 2009
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  12. fridtear

    jamesshuang

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    Hi, have you posted the instructions for this anywhere? I'd like to see pictures of the solder pads for the SATA connector before I go through with this mod.
     
    jamesshuang, Mar 4, 2009
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  13. fridtear

    fridtear

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    Sorry I haven't, but I think you can check this link for more information about those solder pads as I did before I started the mod.

    viewtopic.php?f=43&t=637&start=110

    In my opinion, you won't have any problem with those solder pads. A standard combined SATA connector (DATA and Power supply in the same connector) is what you need which can easily be found in any normal 2.5 external SATA box. The pins of such a connector just fit those pads quite precisely. Or you can use some Molex thing as the one people were talking about in another thread. And some others just cut open a normal SATA data cable and solder it to the SATA pads directly and that works as well.

    The difficult part is the soldering itself. Not all the soldering holes in those solder pads are drilled through by the manufacturer. And pin 2,3,5,6 in DATA part of the SATA connector are the pins you need to solder to the corresponding pads on MB for DATA transfer. For power supply, only two pins are needed, for Gound and +5V, and I used pin 5 and 7 since I figured out the corresponding pads on my MB were drilled through beforehand. You can find the pinouts of DATA and POWER for SATA connection in Wikipedia. In total, what I did is soldering 6 pins of a SATA connector to the mainboard and bending the others so that they won't make any trouble. And don't forget to short the two solder humps of R358, where +5V goes through.

    Another part you might spend some time to deal with is how to fit the 2.5 drive in between the mainboard and the bottom, and of course the new drive should be fixed very well in that space with some tapes or glue, or maybe even a wire as you can see in my pics.

    So, to sum it up, two steps for the mod. First, solder 6 pins of a SATA connector to the MB and a make a short in R358. Second, fit the drive in carefully.

    And if you do need the pics for solder pads, I can open it again and take some more photos. Good luck! :p
     
    fridtear, Mar 4, 2009
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  14. fridtear

    dj_steve

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    the reason your seeing both SSDs on IDE 0 is because the sata and zif socket are both on the first ide channel (like on pcs where one ide channel can handle 2 devices at once, master and slave) which also suggests to me the one may have another 2 sata ports lying around somewhere on the board
     
    dj_steve, Mar 9, 2009
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  15. fridtear

    fridtear

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    Well, I had the same idea at the beginning but when I looked into the device manager in Windows control panel, it told me that the two SSDs were both Master Devices belonging to different IDE channels. So I guess maybe in BIOS, IDE0 and IDE1 just indicate Master and Slave no matter which channel the device belongs to. That sounds a little bit weird but since Acer does not provide any single laptop with both ZIF and SATA available, such a setting won't cause any problem at all.

    Therefore, if I could switch the ZIF drive to slave mode, I would like to see if it will be put on IDE1 in BIOS. Does anyone has any idea how to change the 8GB SSD to slave mode? I didn't find any jumper or switch on it. Or maybe some modification to the cable will do?
     
    fridtear, Mar 9, 2009
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  16. fridtear

    wugui

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    I recently did the similar mod to my AAO. I was not sure whether the 2.5 inch SSD PCB can fit. After a little research, I decided to go with Samsung MCCOE64G8MPP-0VA. It is 64GB SLC technology. Most budget SSD is MLC technology, which is can more capacity with low price. But the durability and performance is worse than SLC. All the high performance disk is using SLC technology. But the Samsung SSD I bought is similar priced as most MLC SSD. It costs half the price as mtron (SLC technology).

    The way to chose disk boot sequence is in the Bios setup->Boot menu, select the SSD, press F5 to move it to the top.

    The timing for Windows Pro SP3 fully patched: boot 40s, shutdown 8s. As you can see from the table below, it is faster than most of disks I have.
     
    wugui, Apr 17, 2009
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  17. fridtear

    fridtear

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    Great work!

    I thought about the same Samsung SSD at first but gave it up at last. It seems that all the SATA SSDs in AAO are crippled to some extent due to the inefficient SATA controlled in ICH7M. However, they still work noticeably faster than any ZIF drive and mechanical HDDs installed in AAO.
     
    fridtear, Apr 24, 2009
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  18. fridtear

    uipe

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    just to post that I have the exact same problem as you do, it always boots from the ssd disc...
     
    uipe, May 27, 2009
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