One of the biggest limitations to a storage subsystem is the interface and while some will argue that the device itself can be the problem. In the end even the fastest device will be bottlenecked if it cannot transfer data quickly enough. This is one reason why RAID was an important feature back in the day and why PCI Express based SSD has become a faster alternative over SATA based drives. What some people do not realize is that there are two types of PCI Express based SSDs, one uses a SATA interface and is no faster than a standard 2.5” SATA SSD and the other uses a NVMe controller and can fully utilize the performance of flash based storage devices.
In this review I’ll be going over the Mushkin Pilot. The Pilot is one of two NVMe based M.2 drives from Mushkin and is designed to be the faster of the two. The drive featured in this review is the 1TB version (MKNSSDPL1TB-D8) with sequential read/write speeds up to 2710/1775MB/s. Overall speeds will vary across the five available capacities (120GB, 250GB, 500GB, 1000GB, 2000GB) with the 1TB edition having the fastest advertised speeds. In terms of NAND the Pilot features 3D TLC and is backed by a Silicon Motion SM2262 controller making the drive both fast and affordable.
By now most hardware enthusiasts will know about NVMe SSDs and the benefits the NVMe controller brings to flash based storage systems. Sadly, prices for NVMe drives are still rather high when you compare it against a typical SATA based drive and this is due in part to the low number of vendors offering NVMe based SSDs.
NVMe or Non-Volatile Memory Express is a SSD specification for drives connected directly to the PCI Express bus. They work much like a standard SSD but take advantage of low latency parallelism of PCI Express and allow the SSD drives to move data extremely fast by splitting the transfer over different paths.
The thing to keep in mind is that NVMe is simply a specification with some real benefits to how storage is handled. SATA and IDE were specifications designed for rotational drives and worked well with the limitations of the traditional HDD. While the interface works on SSDs the interface has proven to be inadequate for Solid State Drives and needed to be updated. Sadly some technologies are slow to grow and NVMe happens to be one of them.
The Mushkin Pilot features include
- MEDS (Mushkin Enhanced Data-protection Suite) ensures valuable data is protected
- SLC caching accelerates burst performance
- Built-in LDPC ECC
- L1.2 power mode supported for ultra-low power consumption
- Supports NVMe Security Erase
- NVMe Deallocate function supported (NVMe equivalent of TRIM command)
- High-reliability 3D TLC NAND flash
- S.M.A.R.T. support
- User-upgradeable firmware
- Temperature sensor
- RoHS, FCC, CE
- Power Consumption (Idle): 0.3W
- Power Consumption (Active): 5.7W
- Max sequential speeds measured using CrystalDiskMark 5.2.1 x64. Max IOPS measured using IOMeter 1.1 with 4-thread, 128 queue depth per thread
Brand Mushkin Enhanced
Type M.2 (2280) Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
Form Factor M.2 (2280)
Memory Components 3D TLC
Interface PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3
Controller Silicon Motion SM2262
Max Sequential Read 2710MB/s
Max Sequential Write 1775MB/s
4KB Random Read Up to 283,000 IOPS
4KB Random Write Up to 280,000 IOPS
Seek Time <0.1ms
MTBF 1,500,000 hours
Warranty 3-year limited warranty