Closer Look at Mushkin Chronos deluxe 240 GB and Mushkin Chronos 240 GB
The Chronos and Chronos deluxe are in fact the only SSD products Mushkin Enhanced offers right now, although most other companies that collaborate with SandForce give you a choice of three SSD varieties with the SF-2281 controller: with asynchronous flash, with synchronous ONFI flash and with NAND flash with Toggle DDR interface.
The Chronos deluxe is the faster of the two series and employs NAND flash memory with Toggle Mode interface. The Chronos is a more affordable alternative with asynchronous flash. It features a more attractive cost per gigabyte and offers high performance, although not as high as with the Chronos deluxe. Mushkin provided us 240GB models from both series.
The SSDs have identical packaging. They are packed into blister wraps along with their accessories and are shipped in small cardboard boxes. Besides marketing slogans and promotions of the company’s memory kits and USB flash drives, there is no useful information on the box.
The accessories to each model are identical: a 3.5-inch adaptor for installing the 2.5-inch SSD into a 3.5-inch disk bay and some mounting screws. There are no software or user manuals here.
The exterior design is ordinary enough, yet stylish in some ways. The case has a rough coating and lacks warranty stickers. Besides the product name, barcode and part number, the label informs you that the SSD was manufactured in the United States.
So, the Mushkin products have rather appealing looks. Let’s now see what’s inside them as that’s far more important for end users.
The Mushkin Chronos deluxe contains 32nm flash memory from Toshiba with Toggle Mode DDR interface. Marked as Toshiba TH58TAG7D2FBAS9, these are 128-gigabit chips with four 32-gigabit semiconductor dies. Thus, the SSD owes its high performance not only to its fast flash memory but also to the 8-way interleave in each channel (there are 64 flash devices per eight controller channels).
So, the Mushkin Chronos deluxe features the fastest version of the second-generation SandForce platform. It’s similar to such products as OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS or Patriot Wildfire. An interesting fact about the Chronos deluxe is that its controller modification is SF-2282. The chip has a slightly different packaging than the standard SF-2281 and supports up to 128 NAND devices, therefore Mushkin has the opportunity to offer a unique 480GB model in this series.
The second hero of our today’s article, Mushkin Chronos, didn’t have any surprises for us up its sleeve. Take a look, this is the PCB we found inside this SSD:
As we have expected, Mushkin Chronos is equipped with inexpensive memory supporting asynchronous interface. In our specific sample we found sixteen Intel 29F16B08CAMEI chips, although we believe there are also units using similar memory from Micron. Each chip like this is a 128 Gbit chip with two MLC flash dies inside manufactured using contemporary 25 nm process. It means that despite the limited bandwidth of the asynchronous flash memory, the eight-channel SF-2281 controller in Chronos can use four-way interleaving, which may in a way make up for the low performance of the NAND-devices. So, in terms of hardware configuration, Mushkin Chronos is similar to such SSDs as OCZ Agility 3 or Corsair Force 3.
Both the ordinary and deluxe versions of the Chronos reserve 14% of their total storage capacity for RAISE technology (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements), so the user-accessible capacity is 240 gigabytes. Although SandForce allows increasing the useful capacity to 256 GB with the latest firmware, ADATA is so far the only manufacturer to use this opportunity.
The Mushkin SSDs have firmware 3.3.2 which is supposed to be free from the problems the SF-2281 controller used to have in Windows.
The following table lists the official specs of the 240GB Chronos and Chronos deluxe:
Take note that Mushkin claims its products, especially the Chronos with asynchronous memory, to be indecently fast. It doesn’t mean that these SSDs are indeed faster than other SandForce-based products. It’s just some bragging from the company’s marketing department.
Like the majority of SSD makers, Mushkin provides a 3-year warranty for its SSDs.