That endurance value is almost as low as what we’re seeing from SSDs that use QLC NAND, and is likely due to a combination of the DRAMless controller making it harder to keep write amplification low, and Mushkin potentially using somewhat lower-grade flash in the Source. Nevertheless, the aim of this drive is primarily cost, and is aimed at a home user unlikely to do 100GB of writes per day every day.
How to Get Cheap before QLC Hits The Market
SATA SSDs with four-bit-per-cell QLC NAND flash memory are coming, but are not yet available in the consumer market and yield issues are preventing QLC from yet offering a meaningful discount relative to TLC NAND. That has led Mushkin to use a more familiar formula for the Source: 3D TLC NAND combined with a DRAMless SSD controller. Drives in this market segment always make sacrifices to reach the lowest price points, but they don’t all make the same tradeoffs seagate hard disk price.
NAND flash memory prices have been in steep decline in recent months, and Mushkin has for the most part been able to keep pace with price drops for the Source. There have been occasions where more mainstream SATA drives with DRAM caches have gone on sale for lower prices than DRAMless drives, but the Mushkin Source has usually been quite close to being the cheapest SSD on the market from a reputable brand. Almost any SSD can garner some measure of success simply by being the cheapest. Being the cheapest *and* offering better than bottom-of-the-barrel specifications is harder to pull off.
The Mushkin Source uses Silicon Motion’s SM2258XT controller, the DRAMless variant of the familiar SM2258. There is a newer SM2259 SATA controller but it doesn’t offer any significant benefits for consumer SSDs, so the 2258XT can still be regarded as the current-generation solution from Silicon Motion. The Source uses Micron 64-layer 3D TLC NAND, which has proven to be much faster than their previous 32-layer 3D NAND and has been used in great products in all segments of the SSD market.
With only four NAND channels coming off the small SM2258XT controller and no external DRAM packages, the PCB inside the Mushkin Source is quite compact. Unusually, the SATA connector is not a discrete component attached to the edge of the circuit board but instead is formed from a combination of exposed contacts on the PCB itself and a plastic part to fill out the rest of the connector’s shape. This may not be as durable as a discrete connector and certainly doesn’t look as neat, but it works fine and probably saves a few cents. There’s a token thermal pad between two of the NAND flash packages and the case, but is seems unlikely to have much effect on the drive’s operation.