We're seeing a true shift in the mobile market to including SSDs in more of the market spectrum. What was once the domain of $1500+ laptops is now being pushed well into sub-$1000 territory, and good 128GB SSDs are generally available for under $100 now. If you need capacity, it's still hard to beat hard drives, but for fast storage SSDs are the way to go and have been for a few years. Along with the transition to faster and better SSDs, we're also seeing smaller mSATA SSDs.

Up until now, the largest mSATA SSDs have topped out at 240GB/256GB, but Mushkin is now announcing their 480GB SF-2281 based Atlas mSATA drive. What's particularly interesting is that this may be the first 16GB NAND die we've seen; we're trying to confirm that, but it would make sense considering the capacity and form factor. Update: Nope! It looks like Mushkin is using a stacked daughterboard--thanks to PaulJeff for the image link in the comments to TweakTown's review.

Ultrabooks and ultraportables in general are set to benefit from the presence of higher capacity mSATA SSDs. While many users can get by with 128GB or 256GB of storage, another class of users can routinely fill up 256GB SSDs and then some. A quick look at my Users folder on my primary desktop reveals I'm using 150GB just for my normal data (documents, images, videos, music, email, etc.) Add in my Program Files and Windows directories and that's another 80GB. Obviously I'm not a typical user, but if I were to try and go pure SSD while keeping all of my data on one drive, I'd definitely need more 256GB--and as Anand showed earlier this week, having more spare area available will only help improve the consistency of performance.

Specifications for the new Atlas mSATA drive are what you would expect from a modern SandForce 480GB offering. Trim, ECC, SATA 6Gbps, upgradeable firmware, and all the other usual suspects are present. Mushkin is using "high speed MLC NAND", just like virtually every other modern consumer SSD, and the Atlas comes with a 3-year limited warranty. Max read speed is 540MBps, write is 425MBps, with 78K random read IOS and 28K random write IOPS. It uses the MO-300 mSATA form factor (50.80 x 29.85 x 4.85mm). Availability is expected in January with an MSRP of $500. That's higher than 2.5" 480GB SF-2281 drives by $50-$150, but that's the price we pay for smaller form factors.

Source: Mushkin PR

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  • jwcalla - Thursday, December 6, 2012 - link

    Only the sticker was made in the USA.

    I kid... All Mushkin memory products are assembled in the USA. That's just how they roll.

    There might be a bit of a trend though... rising fuel prices, rapidly rising wages in China and a floating yuan certainly help.
  • DanNeely - Friday, December 7, 2012 - link

    Honestly I think reducing the amount of inventory in transit has more to do with bringing manufacturing back to the USA (or Mexico for low skill items). Ex The cost to ship a tshirt across the pacific in a container ship is only a few cents. Fuel costs could soar an order of magnitude without making minimum wage workers in the US competitive with their Vietnamese rivals.
  • SandmanWN - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - link

    This doesn't mean there is any reduction in transit at all.
    Made in USA sticker can be put on anything "assembled" in the US.

    The chips and circuit board could have been manufactured anywhere in the world. You can still use the sticker as so long as the chips and board are joined together in the US.
    Basically 99% of the creation of the good is done offshore, and 5 morons on a warehouse somewhere in the US solder the two pieces together and its suddenly Made in America.
  • PaulJeff - Thursday, December 6, 2012 - link

    Turns out that the mSATA card uses a stacked daughter board:


    I would assume then that the NAND is still at 8GB. Furthermore it is utilizing 25nm asynchronous NAND. I do not know if that was for power restrictions on mSATA or not, but also consider the fact that Mushkin is trying to get rid of their asynchronous NAND stock.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 6, 2012 - link

    Interesting... I'm surprised they can use this sort of arrangement and still be within mSATA size restrictions.
  • PaulJeff - Friday, December 7, 2012 - link

    According to Intel, the mSATA z-height spec is 4.85 mm.

    The Intel 313 mSATA card is 3.6 mm thick and that would mean that the Mushkin daughter card would be 1.2 mm to stay within spec. I highly doubt that it is 1.2 mm as that would be too flimsy and the NAND chip itself is 1.2 mm thick.

    I want to say that there are 2 installation scenarios, laptop and desktop. Desktops should not be an issue with z-height, but laptops would have some restriction depending on the manufacture. My Lenovo X220 (wannabe Ultrabook) has a decent amount of space for a "thick" mSATA card, other manufactures may have tighter tolerances, especially real Ultrabook class chassis designs.

    PDF Source: http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/...
  • ajp_anton - Thursday, December 6, 2012 - link

    Isn't this short enough to fit an adapter to be put into a Macbook?

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