Industrial Grade Flash Storage Devices - Needed for Mission Critical Applications

Recently the Opportunity Rover, which has been exploring the Martian environment for over 10 years, began experiencing issues with one of its flash memory devices. Although it looks like a work around will be successful, it points out the importance of using the best memory for Mission Critical Applications and understanding how long do solid state drives last. Industrial Grade Flash Storage Devices provide the best solution when there can be little chance for failure. When the cost of field repairs is not feasible or economically possible the decision to design with the more expensive parts is a simple one.When a field failure requires a technician to make a service call or the system must be returned for service, the cost of the repair and OEM’s reputation should be a consideration.

What are Industrial Grade Flash Storage Devices?

Industrial Grade products are built using the most reliable SLC NAND. SLC NAND has substantially higher endurance cycles and is much less susceptible to power and environmental issues than the lower cost MLC and TLC NAND based products.

The vast majority of flash storage devices are based on MLC and TLC NAND, since most OEM systems are targeted at the consumer marketplace. Consumer products are generally short lived and in many cases disposable in nature.

For OEM applications such as Industrial Computing, Avionics and Networking which require more reliability, the added cost of Industrial Grade is justified.

In addition to SLC NAND, the Controller technology used is of vital importance. The fastest controller on the market usually had design compromises which favored performance over reliability. Industrial controllers lean toward reliability over cost/performance when these inevitable compromises arise.

The firmware which runs the controller should be highly reliable in an Industrial product. Focus on Industrial Grade Wear Leveling, Defect Management and ECC as well as other techniques are key.

Wide temperature ranges and solid physical device construction are other attributes of Industrial devices.

SLC NAND used in Industrial Grade devices is the most resistant to temperature extremes. Extended temp SLC can withstand operation from -45C to 90C for a decade+ in most applications.

Physically rugged package construction ensures shock and vibration do not cause mechanical breakdown in-application.

Finally, the OEM flash storage supplier is important. In addition to making a device, that is rugged and reliable, there should be no changes to the Bill-Of-Material (BOM) for 4-5 years and any changes should only occur after a Product Change Notification (PCN) and tested/approved samples.

Cactus focuses on the Industrial Flash Storage market and would appreciate the opportunity to serve your OEM needs. For more details, Talk 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.