Mushkin at CES demonstrated its new SSDs in 2.5”/7 mm form-factor aimed at mainstream PCs with a SATA interface. The new Reactor Armor 3D and Triactor 3D use 3D NAND flash memory, the same controller from Silicon Motion and offer nearly similar performance. The main difference is that the former use 3D MLC, whereas the latter uses 3D TLC memory.

The NAND flash industry is transitioning to various 3D NAND architectures that enable higher densities, lower per-bit costs and higher endurance compared to planar flash made using very thin process technologies. So far it has not been easy for independent makers of drives to secure a supply of 3D NAND memory because some manufacturers are cutting down the share of produced flash they sell on the open market, whereas 3D NAND from others does not suit SSDs well. In the recent months ADATA was the only independent supplier of drives to offer 3D NAND-based drives, but as we observed at CES, the situation is about to change. Mushkin is another company to announce a lineup of SSDs featuring 3D NAND and targeting different market segments, from entry-level to the high-end. Unlike ADATA, Mushkin is announcing all of its 3D NAND SSDs at once, which implies that the company can get enough chips for different kinds of drives.

Mushkin’s Reactor Armor 3D and Triactor 3D SSDs are based on Silicon Motion’s SM2258 controller, but while the former uses 3D MLC NAND, the latter uses 3D TLC NAND from an undisclosed manufacturer. The SM2258 controller has four NAND flash channels, LDPC ECC technology, a SATA interface, a DRAM buffer support as well as pseudo-SLC (pSLC) caching in order to maximize SSD performance. At present, the SM2258 is virtually the only market-ready third-party SSD controller with that supports 3D NAND (technically speaking, the SM2256 also supports 3D NAND, but drive makers prefer the more advanced controller so to address the higher end of the SSD spectrum), so Mushkin’ s choice is not surprising if the company needs rapid time-to-market (which is also why it does not wait for Phison's PS5008-E8). What is even more interesting is that Mushkin is considering to add 3D NAND-based drives to the Reactor lineup that uses the SM2246EN controller (this one is qualified for 3D MLC as well). It does not look like the company has made any final decisions, but it is considering such possibility in a bid to continue addressing the entry-level segment with the Reactor lineup.

Mushkin does not disclose the name of its 3D NAND flash supplier, but we have a reason to believe that this is Micron. SanDisk and Toshiba are shipping their 64-layer BiCS NAND inside their removable media products and promise to use this memory for their SSDs. But as of now, 64-layer BiCS chips have not been qualified for SSDs. 3D NAND from SK Hynix is also available for various products, but it has not been qualified for SSDs just yet.

The Reactor Armor 3D SSDs will be available in 240 GB to 1920 GB configurations, whereas the Triactor 3D drives will feature 256 GB to 2 TB capacities. The former family will take advantage of MLC and offer slightly better endurance albeit at a higher price, whereas the latter lineup will be more aggressively priced thanks to cheaper memory. At the same time, it is noteworthy that both product lines include high-capacity (~ 2 TB) drives, an indicator that they target customers who need a lot of non-volatile memory and can pay for that.

As for performance, Mushkin rates sequential read speed of both Reactor Armor 3D and Triactor 3D drives at 565 MB/s, whereas sequential write speed is rated at up to 525 MB/s and 520 MB/s (when pseudo-SLC caching is used) respectively. Random performance of the drives is specified at up to 90,000 read IOPS and up to 85,000 write IOPS.

Mushkin's Reactor Armor 3D and Triactor 3D SSDs
Capacity Reactor Armor 3D Triactor 3D
Capacities 240 GB - 1920 GB 256 GB - 2 TB
Controller Silicon Motion SM2258
Sequential Read Up to 560 MB/s
Sequential Write Up to 525 MB/s Up to 520 MB/s
Random Read IOPS Up to 90K IOPS
Random Write IOPS Up to 85K IOPS
Pseudo-SLC Caching Supported
DRAM Buffer Yes, capacity unknown
TCG Opal Encryption No
Power Management DevSleep
Warranty 3 years
MTBF 1,500,000 hours

Mushkin did not announce MSRPs or ETAs for its new Reactor Armor 3D and Triactor 3D drives, but said that they will be covered by its three-year warranty.

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Source: Mushkin

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  • Samus - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    Only Samsung's 40nm-class 3D VNAND has endurance exceeding <20nm-class MLC.

    Keep in mind endurance of MLC has actually DECREASED as the nodes have shrunk. Older generations of MLC such as Intel SSD 320's had higher endurance than many consumer SSD's currently on the market and these drives were released 7 years ago. The legendary 160GB model's were rated at 60TBW. Most 250GB drives these days are lucky to crack that, and even Samsung's 250GB 850 EVO is only rated at a class-leading 75TBW.

    Newer is not always better. Sacrifices are made to make things cheaper, faster, etc. Reliability and endurance is not the focus of the current consumer SSD market. "Reliable enough" or more reliable than spinning platters, is.
  • leexgx - Saturday, January 21, 2017 - link

    the TBW is just for warranty purposes, most of them can do over 1PB reliable (windows might be nagging you to death about half that thought if the SSD is using the correct SMART ID to trigger windows 7 disk is going to die box)

    Samsung Pro drives can do over 2PB of written data Evo was not far off that as well (but the Pro drive lasted with 0 errors up to the point it suddenly failed just before 2PB )
  • MrSpadge - Monday, January 16, 2017 - link

    Don't mix up endurance and reliability. TLC is indeed reliable, as it performs predictably and does not suddenly fail any more often as the other chips (once the firmware has the drifting voltage levels under control). Given a similar process it obviously has less endurance than MLC, though.
  • leexgx - Saturday, January 21, 2017 - link

    not sure what slow down you can notice for an avg consumer is the slowest state of a SSD is still 10-100x faster then a HDD

    wost case SSD i have is the BX200 witch i do notice when it slows down a little when i tell it to do somthing that cause lots of reads and writes but that same operation would eat a HDD for 5-10 minuets (or 1 hour doing somthing that norm takes 10 minuets on a SSD based system)

    i find Ram less SSDs are noticeable slower (would a normal person notice it very No especially if they have another computer that still has a HDD in it) i do wish MLC would stay the more as the Cost saving of TLC nand is really not that much (£10 cheaper or same price then MLC)
  • nikaldro - Monday, January 16, 2017 - link

    Not really. Peak performance may be similar, but sustained performance still varies wildly.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Monday, January 16, 2017 - link

    These newfangled 3D SSDs seem to look just like the old 2D ones....
  • ET - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    It all depends on the viewing angle.
  • Ninhalem - Monday, January 16, 2017 - link

    I'm very interested in seeing what the prices will be on the MLC variant at 512 GB and 1 TB. I usually recommend the current Reactor 1 TB because of the great pricing to friends and family (that are not tech savvy).
  • bill.rookard - Monday, January 16, 2017 - link

    Agreed, but I'd rather see the 2TB SSDs get into the $200 range. I'd rebuild my entire NAS array with 2TB SSDs at that point.
  • Dorkaman - Monday, January 16, 2017 - link

    Does this drive have capacitors to help write out anything in the buffer if the power goes out? skip to 2:00

    23 power-loss capacitors used to keep the SSD's controller running just long enough, in the event of an outage, to flush all pending writes:

    Would this prevent something like this:

    Only some Intell SSDs passed this test

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