Anyone in the market for high capacity 8 TB M.2 drives has so far only had one choice on the market. Today Mushkin is coming in as the second vendor to offer an 8TB M.2 NVMe option, with its new ALPHA series of drives. These drives use the same Phison E12S controller and high capacity NAND as those also available on the market, but Mushkin rates its drives slightly differently to the competition.

One of the ways the storage market has amazed me in the last few years is capacity. While physical rotating spinning rust is at 16 TB  or 18 TB and perhaps approaching 24 TB next year, we’ve seen storage drives in similar form factors reach 64 TB and 100 TB without too much trouble. The enterprise is where we see some of those crazy SSD capacities using TLC and QLC, hence the existence of NimbusData and competitors, but the nous that goes into these products trickles down into the prosumer space, where there is demand but at a more palatable cost/GB ratio.

The question is always one of control and cost, and NAND is still more expensive than rotating iron oxides. Consumer grade NVMe SSDs are hovering around the $100/TB mark, depending on the brand, performance, and if it’s in a sale, making high-speed storage a very attractive offer. For the high-capacity prosumer NVMe options, we’ve historically seen this come down as well, from $1000/TB to $500/TB, and now with these new 8 TB drives, we are solidly looking at below the $200/TB mark. This new Mushkin Alpha 8 TB is going to be available for $1300, which puts it at $162.50 per TB.

Here Mushkin is pairing the Phison E12 controller with QLC NAND, and the PCIe 3.0 x4 interface should allow maximum sequential speeds of 3300 MB/s read and 2800 MB/s write, or up to 550K IOPs read and 680K IOPs write. The fact that this is all within the standard M.2 2280 form factor to me is still amazing, whether it’s from Mushkin or anyone else.

Mushkin ALPHA Series
AnandTech 4TB 8TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 Double Sided PCIe 3.0 x4
Controller Phison E12S
NAND Flash Micron 1TB 96L 3D QLC ?
Sequential Read/Write (MB/s) 3200 / 3000 3300 / 2800
Random 4K IOPs Read/Write (MB/s) 550K / 640K 550K / 680K
Power Consumpton Idle/Max (W) 0.3 / 6.5 0.3 / 6.5
Warranty 3-year Limited Warranty
Write Endurance 900 TB
0.2 DWPD
900 TB
0.1 DWPD
Retail Price $650
16.3¢ per GB
$1300
16.3¢ per GB

The drive has a 3 year limited warranty, and is rated to 900 TB written, which equates to 0.1 drive writes per day, or 800 GB of writes per day in that timeframe. For those working with 4K video, this is probably not enough, but for business users that need a high capacity drive for their laptop or mobile workstation, it should fit the bill. Mushkin rates the drive at 0.3 W at idle and 6.5 W max. It is worth noting that the 900 TB rating is half of what Sabrent rates its 8TB drive for. This rating is only for the warranty period cover - the drive will still work after these numbers, but it just won't be replaced by the manufacturer.

The 8 TB drive (and 4 TB variant) will go on sale near the end of January in the US, but the listings are already up on Amazon, with stock expected on January 23rd.

Source: Mushkin

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  • shabby - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    16c per gb compared to around 10c for tlc nand 🤯 Reply
  • zepi - Friday, December 11, 2020 - link

    You pay for the performance. Why is this somehow a problem? Reply
  • antonkochubey - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    3 year warranty, meh. Sabrent is offering 5 years on their Rocket Q, and if I was spending over $1000 on a SSD, I'd definitely appreciate extra 2 years of peace of mind. Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    In 3 years the drive will be worth nothing anyway these aren't even PCIe 4.0 Reply
  • lmcd - Monday, January 4, 2021 - link

    Which means that they're still perfectly functional and operate at a good data rate for just about any application?

    I'm disgusted by this bad take.
    Reply
  • wrkingclass_hero - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    112 writes before that $1300 drive is toast. That seems like an exceedingly foolish investment. These SSDs are becoming lavishly expensive disposable storage devices. What's also crazy is that for $650 more you aren't actually getting any extra storage capacity over the (brief) life of the drive. Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    "These SSDs are becoming lavishly expensive disposable storage devices."

    well, that's of a piece with smartphone 'longevity'. get the gullible used to short lifespan devices, and all devices fall to that lifespan. I mean, they're all the same bits and pieces inside, right?
    Reply
  • Tomatotech - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    Nope, that's only the minimum guaranteed writes. It won't magically go up in smoke after 112 writes - will last a lot longer, just as computers and HDDs aren't expected to break down the day after their warranty expires (it does happen but it's rare). T

    here were some endurance studies on cheap SSDs, I don't have the links but I recall they went into the petabytes, possibly 100x their rated endurance, before breaking down. That was some time ago though, and I'd be interested in similar studies on more modern QLC drives which are a bit more fragile.
    Reply
  • hechacker1 - Thursday, December 10, 2020 - link

    People forget about all the strategies to prevent problems in the first place:

    1. Over-provisioning

    2. Trim

    3. Copy on Write filesystems (AFPS, btrfs)

    And things like using the SSD as a cache in a NAS with supported tiering and hot cache for the whole volume.

    You give the controller space to do its provisioning in the background and decrease write amplification.
    Reply
  • inighthawki - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    Most users (especially those willing to pay over $1000 on an SSD storage device) will have discarded this drive long before they've written 900TB of data to it. Reply

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