Embedded Flash Storage requirements for the Industrial Internet of Things

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) encompasses a large number of applications and can be thought of as the backbone for industry.Diverse applications are considered IIoT, such as control of city parking meters, intelligent power grid, factory automation and city infrastructure automation.

Elements IIoT applications have in common are the need for highly reliable electronics, firmware and software which can excel in harsh environments for decades.Many specific design considerations come into play but one that is often overlooked is Embedded Flash Storage needed for IIoT applications.

The vast majority of Flash Storage in the market today is designed for consumer applications. Common devices such as mobile phones, tablets and consumer notebooks are designed for great functionality and cost. These devices are NOT designed for extremely harsh environments or heavy duty cycles. They generally have a limited product life requirement of 2-3 years, until the next consumer “must-have” device comes along.

Industrial Grade Flash Storage Matches Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Memory Requirements

Industrial Grade Flash Storage Devices have key attributes making them ideal for Industrial IoT applications. A few of them are:

  • Long Life Cycles without Bill-Of-Material (BOM) Change
  • Wide Operational Temperature versions
  • High Endurance Memory to last decades in harsh environments

Long Life Cycles without BOM Changes:

Industrial Grade products are not focused on the latest form factor, but rather on maintaining the most reliable flash storage solution for as long as possible.

A prime example of this is the CompactFlash form factor.CompactFlash was introduced in 1995 and still is in significant use for IIoT applications. The original Cactus CF product from 2005 is still in production today and we plan to produce Industrial CF Cards for at least another decade.

For new Industrial Designs with greater performance needs, Industrial CFast or Industrial mSATA are available. For small and low pin count interface Industrial Designs, Industrial microSD and Industrial SD Cards fit the bill.

Wide Temperature Operation:

If you want certainty of operation at temperature extremes of -45C to 90C for a decade+ without fail, Industrial Grade Flash Storage Products, based on SLC NAND, are a must. The additional guard band available inside the NAND cell makes SLC the most reliable solution.

In addition to the SLC NAND cell architecture, it is also made using older semiconductor geometries. The older the trace width, the more reliable from a memory perspective. An example of this is the Cactus 303 Series CF cards which are build using 43nm SLC NAND versus current consumer devices using MLC and TLC NAND at 15nm.To explore a more detailed explanation. See the following White Paper: SLC vs MLC NAND and The Impact of Technology Scaling.

High Endurance Memory to last decades in harsh environments:

One of the primary reasons for use of Industrial Grade Flash is the use of the SLC NAND. For IIoT applications performing data logging, database management, running 24/7 duty cycle or in mission critical environments, SLC NAND is a necessity.

SLC NAND is >20 times more reliable than MLC NAND. SLC is >100 times more reliable than TLC NAND which can have as little as 200-300 raw endurance cycles per block. The right memory is needed to properly support the application.

Cactus Technologies is focused on Industrial Grade:

Cactus Technologies has been offering Industrial Grade Flash Storage devices for use in harsh environments since our inception 10 years ago. Prior to Cactus, we were working in the early development and marketing of flash cards since the early-1990s.

We understand the Industrial marketplace and memory needed to properly address the unique environmental issues it presents. We have worldwide sales and technical support and are available to assist OEMs with their Embedded Industrial Designs.

If you would like to discuss your requirements further, please feel free to reach out to a Cactus Expert.

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.