Anyone in the market for high capacity 8 TB M.2 drives has so far only had one choice on the market. Today Mushkin is coming in as the second vendor to offer an 8TB M.2 NVMe option, with its new ALPHA series of drives. These drives use the same Phison E12S controller and high capacity NAND as those also available on the market, but Mushkin rates its drives slightly differently to the competition.

One of the ways the storage market has amazed me in the last few years is capacity. While physical rotating spinning rust is at 16 TB  or 18 TB and perhaps approaching 24 TB next year, we’ve seen storage drives in similar form factors reach 64 TB and 100 TB without too much trouble. The enterprise is where we see some of those crazy SSD capacities using TLC and QLC, hence the existence of NimbusData and competitors, but the nous that goes into these products trickles down into the prosumer space, where there is demand but at a more palatable cost/GB ratio.

The question is always one of control and cost, and NAND is still more expensive than rotating iron oxides. Consumer grade NVMe SSDs are hovering around the $100/TB mark, depending on the brand, performance, and if it’s in a sale, making high-speed storage a very attractive offer. For the high-capacity prosumer NVMe options, we’ve historically seen this come down as well, from $1000/TB to $500/TB, and now with these new 8 TB drives, we are solidly looking at below the $200/TB mark. This new Mushkin Alpha 8 TB is going to be available for $1300, which puts it at $162.50 per TB.

Here Mushkin is pairing the Phison E12 controller with QLC NAND, and the PCIe 3.0 x4 interface should allow maximum sequential speeds of 3300 MB/s read and 2800 MB/s write, or up to 550K IOPs read and 680K IOPs write. The fact that this is all within the standard M.2 2280 form factor to me is still amazing, whether it’s from Mushkin or anyone else.

Mushkin ALPHA Series
AnandTech 4TB 8TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 Double Sided PCIe 3.0 x4
Controller Phison E12S
NAND Flash Micron 1TB 96L 3D QLC ?
Sequential Read/Write (MB/s) 3200 / 3000 3300 / 2800
Random 4K IOPs Read/Write (MB/s) 550K / 640K 550K / 680K
Power Consumpton Idle/Max (W) 0.3 / 6.5 0.3 / 6.5
Warranty 3-year Limited Warranty
Write Endurance 900 TB
0.2 DWPD
900 TB
0.1 DWPD
Retail Price $650
16.3¢ per GB
16.3¢ per GB

The drive has a 3 year limited warranty, and is rated to 900 TB written, which equates to 0.1 drive writes per day, or 800 GB of writes per day in that timeframe. For those working with 4K video, this is probably not enough, but for business users that need a high capacity drive for their laptop or mobile workstation, it should fit the bill. Mushkin rates the drive at 0.3 W at idle and 6.5 W max. It is worth noting that the 900 TB rating is half of what Sabrent rates its 8TB drive for. This rating is only for the warranty period cover - the drive will still work after these numbers, but it just won't be replaced by the manufacturer.

The 8 TB drive (and 4 TB variant) will go on sale near the end of January in the US, but the listings are already up on Amazon, with stock expected on January 23rd.

Source: Mushkin

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  • shabby - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    Let's increase the size and double the price 🙄🙄🙄
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    It also costs almost double to produce it. The main cost factor is the NAND, and you need twice as much of it. The controller and assembly cost is dwarfed by the (current) cost of 4 TB NAND. I'm not saying it costs 650$, but in principle I think it's fair.
    This is in contrast to HDDs where the fabrication cost increases sub-linearly with capacity, because additional platters and heads are not the dominant cost factor.
  • HyperText - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    Out of personal curiosity: what is the driving factor for the cost of HDDs?
  • quorm - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    I am also curious about this.
  • Samus - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    Actually platters ARE the single most expensive part of a hard disk so I'm not sure what you are on about. It doesn't help there are fewer producers of platters in the storage world than there are hard disk manufacturers (much like most SSD makers, most hard disk makers don't even make their own platters.)

    Heads, however may start to eclipse platter costs as MAMR\HAMR materialize but Seagate has stated they intend to trickle this tech down to smaller capacities to save on cost of platters (fewer platters) which will help offset the development costs. This is indicative that platters will remain the dominant price component of hard disks.

    All that said, there is no manufacturing reason that SSD prices more than double in cost for capacity density. They aren't using some mythical "high density" NAND here, they're simply using more physical NAND, ie, 8TB M2 drives are double sided. This is simply a niche product and the initial costs are going to be astronomical because 'some' people will actually pay it.
  • Samus - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    "...much like most SSD makers, most hard disk makers don't even make their own platters."

    Pointing out before someone gets their panties in a bunch I am pointing out most SSD makers don't make their own NAND.
  • Valantar - Thursday, December 10, 2020 - link

    Platters are definitely the most expensive part of a HDD, but the base cost (motor, controller+PCB, housing) is significantly higher than for an SSD, and are also more variable as higher platter counts, HAMR/EAMR etc., and things like helium-filled drives all affect the total BoM. For SSDs the variables are essentially down to SATA/low-end PCIe/high end PCIe controllers and DRAM or not, and the effects of those choices are only visible at low capacities - once you reach something like 2TB the cost of the flash is utterly dwarfing the rest of the components.
  • FullmetalTitan - Thursday, December 10, 2020 - link

    There is also a small BOM adjustment for higher capacity drives that use an 8 channel instead of 4 channel controller, just for the development cost and lower volume of the part (unless they are surplus from some enterprise design). The main driving force for the cost of high capacity drives is definitely niche use case. Lower volume part + boatloads of NAND and virtually no competition means anyone making a 4-8TB consumer SSD can ask what they want for it, for now
  • icebox - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    It's actually not bad - usually you pay a premium for density. For many manufacturers 2 x 2TB ssd's are cheaper than a 4tb ssd - even if you pay for two enclousers, pcb's and controllers.
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - link

    I don't have a problem with double the price for double the capacity. My issue is with the price premium for NVMe over SATA drives at the same capacity, and the premium of PCIe 4.0 drives over 3.0.

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