SLC NAND Flash is NOT all Created Equal

For a long time, Industrial Grade flash storage products were considered anything made with SLC NAND. But as the generations of newer geometry SLC NAND arrive in the market, there are significant differences in reliability.

Cactus Technologies focuses our efforts on the 43nm and 32nm SLC NAND. The larger the trace width, the more area there is for the NAND cells, which means a larger oxide layer which is needed to maintain a specific charge (data) in the cell. As cells are erased over time, this oxide layer is degraded and eventually will no longer hold a charge. The larger the cell/oxide layer the better.

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There are only a handful of major NAND flash producers since the cost of entry is billions of dollars’ capital expenditure for a Mega Fab. Depending on the manufacturer, there are several different trace width geometries available.

Today the largest and oldest trace width from a major NAND manufacturer is 43nm. Largest trace width can also be equated to most reliable, but unfortunately most expensive. In addition to 43nm, the other SLC trace widths available from the major NAND suppliers are 32, 24, 21 and 14nm.

At less than one third the trace with geometry of the 43nm SLC, the 14nm SLC is nowhere near the reliability of the earlier 43nm NAND. In fact, the 14nm SLC NAND component is made with a finer trace width then the current 15nm MLC NAND which is prevalent in the Commercial and Consumer marketplace today.

Truly Industrial Grade products designed for the highest reliability are designed with the oldest, widest trace width SLC NAND geometry. We are planning to produce a more detailed technical marketing paper covering this subject in the next few months.

What's an OEM Designer to Do?

At this point it makes sense for any OEM designing an Embedded Industrial application to really understand the trace width of SLC NAND they are qualifying in their system. In addition to the controller, firmware and company supplying these parts, it is a key indicator of reliability.

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact us for 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 Google+