Mushkin Callisto Deluxe 60GB Reviewccokeman - September 6, 2010
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The Mushkin Callisto Deluxe is a 2.5 inch form factor solid state drive. This model comes in three different capacities starting with the 60 GB model I am testing today, along with larger 120 GB and 240 GB models. The outside of the aluminum casing is coated with a textured black paint for that industrial look. Not that you will be looking at the drive much once it is installed, but it just gives it that added pizazz. The front of the drive lists the name of the drive with the Mushkin Enhanced logo on the bottom right. The back side of the Callisto has all the drive's pertinent information, such as the model number of the drive, the capacity (60 GB), the voltage and current requirements (5v, 5A), and the firmware revision of 3.20P. This new revision is an uncapped firmware similar to that used by OCZ on the Vertex 2. What's not shown is the MTBF of 2,000,000 hours and low energy consumption of 2 watts maximum. Maximum read/write speeds for this Sandforce 1200 based drive are 285 MB/s for reads and 275 MB/s on the writes. On paper, this drive looks to be able to compete with larger drives in this class.
Connectivity for this drive is through the SATA data and power ports on the drive, much like any other drive on the market. There are no jumpers used on this drive for firmware updates. Even so, the firmware is can be upgraded. Currently, the 3.20P is the latest available for this drive, but there is a firmware update for the earlier Sandforce-equipped Callisto drives available. SATA II is supported for speeds up to 3 GB/s and is backwards compatible to 1.5 GB/s. The back side of the drive is featureless. The drive is held together with four hex head screws to make intrusion into the drive a bit more difficult for the average consumer. There are threaded screw holes for mounting the drive on all four corners of the drive to allow for multiple mounting capabilities, so installation in your chassis will not be a compromise. One thing I noticed was the lack of a warranty violation sticker. Even so, the Callisto drive comes with a mention of this on the main product label, just in case you want to void the three year warranty.
Going inside the Callisto will void your warranty, plain and simple. So instead of voiding your warranty, I will open it up to see what you get in terms of the hardware mounted inside the case. The Callisto Deluxe, much like its predecessor, is equipped with the consumer grade Sandforce 1200 series NAND controller. There are a total of sixteen 4 GB Intel 34nm MLC memory chips on the PCB, arranged in a horseshoe shape around the Sandforce processor. If you do the math, that equals 64GB of space, yet this is a 60GB drive, right? Yes it is. When the drive is formatted for use, you will only end up seeing about 55-56GB of space due to the way the Sandforce controller operates. You may also notice the lack of a DRAM cache buffer module on the PCB - this was needed on earlier drives run by INDILINX or Jmicron NAND controllers to prevent stuttering and improve wear leveling. It's not needed on Sandforce-equipped drives because they use over provisioning of the NAND to help with wear leveling instead of the cache used on other controllers. Sandforce uses its Duraclass technology to increase the longevity of the drive through its use of Intelligent Block Management and Wear Leveling.
To improve performance on this version of the Callisto, Mushkin has updated the firmware on the SF-1222 SSD processor to version 3.20P from the earlier 3.09 firmware used on the Callisto. What this does is increase the random write 4k IOPs performance from the earlier 30,000 burst (10,000 sustained) to the level of the SF-1500 controller's IOPs performance of 50,000 burst, with 30,000 sustained. So essentially, you now have uncapped 4k random write performance. You get the performance without the enterprise class feature set of the SF-1500. How is that possible? The die is the same, but it's a matter of which features are enabled or turned off. The Sandforce controller is equipped with a built in Tensilica Diamond Core DC 570T processor and supports features such as TRIM, built-in ECC, NCQ (up to 32 commands), and SMART
Let's see if the new Callisto delivers "Deluxe" performance.