A Case Study in Flash Endurance and SMART Commands
At Delkin, we don’t just pride ourselves on our state-of-the-art flash memory and storage SSDs needed by OEMs for embedded and industrial applications with high endurance. Besides our quality USA-designed rugged flash storage options, we offer first-rate service via our customer applications team, which can provide invaluable insight on industrial flash memory storage solutions.
Our customer assistance is comprehensive and wide-ranging, including application support, product life cycle development, in-house testing, and product customization. Regarding the latter, the Delkin team expertly navigates the fast-paced technology industry to maintain our standard of excellence when helping each client.
Such was the case in this particular example regarding one specific client, who stated:
“Our product sells for under $200, we could not afford an expensive card; we just assumed we had to have some failures.”
When it comes to industrial applications, the latest and greatest technology isn’t always the best route for a functioning and profitable product. OEMs with cards at lower price points don’t have to accept defeat, as Delkin learned.
The Customer Success Story
According to the client, card failures usually occurred a minimum of once annually in each of their products due to the short life cycles on their SD cards. However, the failures seemed acceptable, considering that the client’s customers would use thousands of their inexpensive data-collecting devices annually. A data success rate of about 98% seemed reasonable.
The reason the SD cards wore out so fast was the non-stop data writing around the clock. The MLC-based cards would exceed the TBW standard, which would gradually cause them to become read-only. Furthermore, the cards operated in high-heat locations (e.g. Texas) and fluctuating temperature sites (e.g. Venezuela). The temperature changes wore down the cards prematurely. As the client established a budget of $10 per card, they continued to replace them repeatedly after each failure.
After stumbling upon a white paper on flash endurance published by Delkin, this client decided to reach out to our team to address their card failures and explore the possible steps for solving the problem moving forward.
The Delkin customer applications team quickly began searching for a solution. First, they asked probing questions about the application to gain an understanding of the full scope of the situation. They inquired about the environment the cards operated in, the OS systems, the application software, and the card’s workload.
As expected, the cards were quickly wearing down due to a program/erase cycle that exceeded the flash rating and the consumed spare blocks. This caused a “bricked” card situation. There were no surprises in the fact that the MLC-based product was failing in the aforementioned environment. Delkin couldn’t magically make the usage model function in conditions where it was meant to fail. However, our team can come up with innovative solutions outside the box that result in functioning products within budget.
The first issue Delkin addressed was the card’s end of life failures. Predicting these failures would be invaluable for the client. Luckily, Delkin’s SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) dashboard and library allow users to extract card data when needed. Included in the data provided by the SMART system are the estimated percentage of life left for the SD card, the erase counts, and all the remaining spare blocks. This information allows the client or their customers to properly and effectively manage the card through regularly scheduled maintenance or before the device gets released to the field. By catching devices with under 10% of life remaining, the client could reduce the number of card failures.
Delkin’s solution proved to be highly effective for the client. They promptly scheduled regular maintenance intervals to inspect the device’s components and, in doing so, reduced their failures in the field to nearly zero.
What Delkin Learned
Delkin knows that working as a team is key to solving a problem, and that fully understanding the client’s system, problems, and goals is essential to getting to the root of an issue. Information such as the host’s usage model and environment is vital when finding a substantial solution for OS systems.
Also, Delkin understands that reaching a solution doesn’t require a one-way street, but rather several different attempts to understand the bigger picture and come up with an out-of-the-box solution. Sometimes, cost-effectiveness is the answer, while other times, as in this case, it’s predicting failures that proved to be most important. No two systems are alike—some allow a certain level of defects while others have a no-tolerance failure policy. What’s ultimately important is finding a supplier who takes the time to dig into the details and work around known issues to come up with a custom design, featured controller, or whatever else is required for each unique case.
You Can Count on Delkin’s Technical Team
Are you experiencing problems regarding your host storage? Delkin’s customer applications team boasts expert knowledge and unrivaled client care to successfully solve host failures for flash-based controlled storage in rugged conditions. Contact us today for a consultation.
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