Cactus Industrial CompactFlash (CF) for Rugged Embedded OEM Designs

CompactFlash (CF) cards are used in diverse Embedded OEM designs for applications in fields such as Oil & Gas Exploration, Mining, Commercial & Military Avionics and Process Controls systems. On a regular basis we are contacted by OEMs who are having issues with a current CF supplier or design.

The typical reason for the issues are the use of non-Industrial Compact Flash cards in Industrial applications. In many instances, a legacy design is transferred to an engineer or procurement person who is not aware of differences in CompactFlash market.

Many of the key differentiators of Industrial Grade Flash Storage are listed here – Why Industrial Grade?

For this post, I will touch on a couple of key items associated with Industrial Compact Flash cards – Write Abort and High Shock and Vibration.

Write Abort – Unexpected Power Interrupt

Write Abort is closely associated with Unexpected Power Interrupt Handling. If you’re writing to a CF card and there is a loss of power, it is highly likely you will lose the data in transit which has not been stored to the NAND memory. But, what is another common occurrence in non-Industrial CF cards is the corruption of the firmware and metadata of the CF card.

Corrupted firmware and/or metadata in most cases means the CompactFlash card will no longer operate. Any data stored on the card will no longer be accessible.

For Industrial Grade CF cards, and in particular the Cactus Industrial CF cards, we have designed them with circuitry, special firmware and use other techniques to make them as immune as possible to write abort situations. We perform extensive testing on our cards to ensure they are the best in the industry against unexpected power interrupts.

High Shock & Vibration Environments

In high shock & vibration environments it is important to use a rugged connector design and solid physical packaging design of the CF card.

The CompactFlash connector specification is extremely rugged and has been the work horse in Industrial applications for decades since its introduction in 1995. The friction of the 50 pins in the CF connector is acceptable for almost all applications.

But for those concerned with extreme shock and vibration environments, there are CF connector clips available from some connector vendors which allow the CF card to be locked into place. The card cannot back-out of the connector even in the most severe situations.

We’d be happy to assist with your OEM design. Please contact us if you would like more information.

Steve Larrivee has over 30 year's experience in the data storage market, including 5 years at Seagate Technology and 10 years at SanDisk. He joined Cactus Technologies Limited as an equity partner and Co-Founded Cactus USA in 2007 with partner Tom Aguillon. Learn more about Steve on LinkedIn.