Last week I visited an OEM which designs equipment for process automation in factories. Their application needs less than 32Mbytes, but they’re using 2 and 4 Gbyte CF and SD cards as they believed these were the smallest capacity cards available.
This OEM is experiencing the consumer flash card capacity treadmill. NAND component capacities double every 9 to 12 months as new generations of consumer NAND flash technology are released.
For the lowest capacity cards in the consumer market this translates into two times the capacity for the same price point. This is great for consumer electronic devices, but not a good thing for industrial applications.
The side effect of this process is the previous lowest capacity cards are discontinued, while newer, less reliable flash replaces the previous generation.
Over a 5 to 10 year period, 128MB, 256MB, 512MB, 1GB and 2GB capacity consumer cards have been discontinued. The latest consumer NAND used in these higher capacity consumer cards is not capable of meeting the demands of the Industrial applications.
These parts are designed for reliability over cost and offer >2 Million Endurance cycles per block versus hundreds in some of the newer memory technologies.
Other advantages are the long life cycles of the 128MB Industrial products which can last for 5 or more years without a change in controller, NAND or firmware. Follow-on generations of these 128MB parts have similarly long life cycles as well.
Long Life cycles eliminate the chore of requalifying parts or worst yet taking a risk the most recent part will work in the application without extensive testing.
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