The latest NAND flash generally offers the highest performance and best cost per GB, but it comes with limited endurance and is not suitable for applications where failure can be catastrophic or expensive to remedy.
Long Life Cycles & Locked-BOM Control:
The strategy for the mainstream flash storage suppliers is getting the latest memory into the market as soon as possible. The company that wins this battle has a cost advantage until the next competitor leap frogs them.
In the Industrial world, locking the BOM (i.e. not making any changes to the firmware, controller or flash silicon) ensures stability of the production process which was put through extensive qualification testing for 6 - 18 months in some cases. In addition to locking the BOM, this same BOM (Bill-Of-Material) must be held for as long as possible without change. In many cases, Cactus is able to hold the BOM for 5 – 10 years on our Industrial Grade products.
Integrity of Components and Production Processes:
Controllers manage the NAND flash inside the flash storage devices. There are controllers designed to offer the lowest cost needed to meet a retail price point and there are controllers designed for extreme reliability across any condition. A true Industrial supplier always uses the highest reliability controller available for his design.
I-temp SLC NAND is offered by a couple NAND manufacturers for a premium price. A supplier with integrity will only use these memory components in their Industrial Grade devices sold as extended temperature. This is the Cactus policy. What we see as a common practice by some suppliers is to use non I-temp NAND components and sell them as extended temp.
For MLC NAND, there is limited supply of I-temp parts direct from the NAND manufacturers. In these cases a burn-in process must be in place to ensure operation at extended temp. 100% of the parts need to be pass through this process as is the Cactus policy.
Sales & Technical Support:
For applications which need to last many years in harsh environments, a real support team including sales to help the OEM choose the right product and configuration for their application and pre/post sales technical support to ensure everything is working ideally in the system are paramount.
The sales person for a consumer flash card may not be aware of any of the attributes of his product. In many cases it’s, “What is the part number? Here is your price.” Technical support from the consumer guys is usually limited to “It should work in that camera.” What happens when an issue presents itself?
Industrial suppliers provide custom labeling, Mfg ID, configurations and other unique features when the situation makes sense. Timely support and providing second to none service is also important.
At Cactus Technologies, we live and breathe Industrial Embedded applications. If you are an OEM requiring the best supplier for your embedded application, please contact a Cactus Technologies’ Expert.