For ongoing OEM programs which require a Locked-BOM (Bill-Of-Material) for every component in the system, there is a need for a long life cycle embedded flash storage device which has a life of 5 – 10 years.Cactus Industrial CFast and Industrial mSATA are examples of these long life storage devices.
But, if you’re using a Consumer or Commercial part and receive Product Change Notifications (PCNs) from your supplier every time they make a BOM change, then you’re probably doing several requalifications during even a short product life cycle.But, most Consumer and Commercial flash card suppliers do not issue PCNs.
Flash storage products found in retail channels and even many industrial distribution channels can, and regularly do, change the BOM.A common occurrence is for the part number to stay the same, but the firmware, controller silicon or NAND flash silicon change.It’s not really a breach on the part of the flash storage manufacturer because many customers are not concerned about a consistent BOM.
But, if you are manufacturing an embedded OEM system in the Casino Gaming, Medical Device, Military or other market where BOM control is important, it is crucial you understand what flash storage device you are receiving over time in production.Using the same part, with the same BOM, in production ensures your qualification efforts during the design phase are valid throughout the life of the product.
The importance of BOM control is often overlooked.Many times a change in the firmware, controller or NAND silicon making up the flash card will not make a difference.However, on a regular basis, a slight change in the silicon or firmware of a flash card will cause an issue.
The issue can cause a system to be incompatible, which is probably the best case, since at least you know for sure there has been a change and there is an issue.
More disturbing are intermittent issues caused by firmware changes which show up as field failures after some time in operation, or when reliability is compromised by use of lower endurance NAND flash.
At the end of the day it is important to consider your Industrial Flash Storage vendor, their real commitment to locking the BOM as well as their Product Change Notification policy.
At Cactus Technologies, industrial flash storage devices are not an afterthought or small segment of our business. If you are an OEM looking for a solid partner for your embedded application, please contact a Cactus Technologies’ Expert. We’d love to help.