When is Industrial Grade Flash Storage Needed?

After a recent embedded trade show we were talking about how a person would know they need an Industrial Grade Flash Storage device in their system. From our experience with the visitors to our booth, people fell into two camps. They either completely understood the value of Industrial Grade SLC NAND based parts or didn’t understand the significant differences internal to flash cards.

A typical example is a customer who designs a Compact Flash or SD Card slot into their system because it is supported by their chosen processor. The Operating System and Application will be stored on the card. At this point, many designers may not understand different CF or SD Cards will be the key factor in determining their system reliability.

Although form factors look the same and generally operate the same functionally, it’s what’s under the hood that really determines a cards characteristics over the life of an Embedded or Industrial system. A thorough review of the differences can be found in our Commercial and Industrial-Grade Products White Paper.

The lowest prices card available is certainly built from components to meet the light duty cycles of Consumer Electronics. These cards are generally made with the lowest spec TLC (Tri Level Cell) NAND flash to meet an aggressive retail price point.

For an Operating System running from the flash card as in the earlier design example, the consumer card will cause issues – if not immediately, over time. Some common failure modes are catastrophic - such as the card no longer functioning – making the embedded/industrial system unusable until replaced. Other failure modes could be loss of data or data corruption.

Hopefully any issues are found during the design or qualification process because the consequences of field failures can be costly to repair and to an OEM’s reputation.

For any Embedded or Industrial OEM designs running an Operating System, Cactus highly recommends Industrial Grade Flash Storage Devices, based on SLC (Single Level Cell) NAND should be used. Cactus Technologies has industry leading Industrial CF and Industrial SD Cards for this purpose.

If uncertain about your design, feel free to Contact a Cactus Expert to review your application.

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.