Mushkin Callisto 120GB SSD Reviewjlqrb - May 24, 2010
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Muskin's decision to use the SandForce SF-1200 controller in its new SSD line has really turned out to be a good call. With this controller, you will not only get a drive that is capable of 285MB/sec read and 275MB/sec write speeds, but one that gives some of the best small write performance available for a consumer-based SSD. This allowed the Callisto drive to stay on par with, or ahead of, the INDILINX Barefoot controller throughout the read performance test, but it also allowed the Callisto to absolutely dominate the other drives when it came to write performance. The write performance will lead to real-life performance increases and is definitely a strong selling point for SandForce-based drives. However, the Callisto also comes with an added bonus that helps set it apart from the majority of other drives that use the same controller - a 20% capacity increase.
The reason for this capacity increase is that most SF-1200 drives use a firmware version that sets aside a large amount of Flash memory to be used for Wear-Leveling, DuraWrite and RAISE technologies. All of these are very important when it comes to longevity and data protection, but the 28GB standard was developed for both enterprise and consumer grade devices. We all know that an average consumer's needs are not going to match the requirement needs of an enterprise-based product, so it only makes sense that the 28GB could be lowered to a more consumer-friendly level. In the end, the amount of memory set aside was reduced to 8GB, effectively changing the drive from a 100GB model to a 120GB model - at no additional cost! This not only frees up more storage area, but also helps eliminate one of the main complaints leveled toward SandForce-based drives - that you pay the same price or more than that of SSDs using alternative controllers and yet receive less storage capacity. So, with Mushkin increasing the capacity of the drive without passing the cost to the consumer, the Callisto ends up in a much more competitive price range.
The fact that drives using the relatively new SandForce controllers can match and even exceed the performance of controllers that have been around for some time is very impressive. And with the controller being new, we can mostly likely expect future firmware releases that improve upon the performance even further. Changes to the firmware would require a utility of some kind from Mushkin though, and as of this review, the company has yet to release such a program. The Callisto drives can be found in either 60GB, 120GB and 240GB capacities, which thanks to the SandForce controller, all have the same amazing level of performance. The only real downside with the Callisto drive is that the firmware caps the 4K random writes at 10,000 IOPS. Even with this limitation though, the small write performance was still amazing when compared to the drives we had available for our side-by-side testing. Overall, the Mushkin Callisto paired with the SF-1200 controller is one of the fasted SSDs that I have tested to date.
- Strong Overall performance
- Very strong small write performance
- 20% extra capacity (compared to other SandForce-based SSDs)
- 2.5" to 3.5" adapter
- TRIM support
- Price per GB better than most SandForce-based drives
- 4K random writes capped at 10,000 IOPS