Delkin Blog

Customer Success Story: The Advantages of Industrial CF Cards for the Power Industry


At Delkin, we operate with the understanding that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution for embedded storage, especially for power industry applications. The most important goal we have with every customer is finding the best storage solution for their unique needs. Though we know our memory cards inside and out, no one can predict exactly how a storage device will behave inside a host device until it is actually used in a real-world setting. Differences in designs of host devices and environmental operating conditions all have impacts on how drives act and function. For this reason, we work closely with each customer to understand their devices and offer many different options for testing and customizations. That way, every customer can get an embedded storage solution that is as efficient and reliable as possible.


Our commitment to this goal was demonstrated in a recent experience we had with a customer in the power industry. This customer was experiencing an unusually high rate of failures of the CF cards they were using for embedded storage. They were unable to uncover the problem on their own, so they asked Delkin for assistance.


Customer Story

When this customer came to Delkin for help, they explained that they initially hadn’t had any issues with their CF cards. However, they were shocked at how quickly the storage was wearing out. The cost of replacing CF cards so frequently was becoming a challenge. In addition, they began to notice higher rates of failure than they could tolerate for their devices.


They tried to get assistance from their current CF card supplier, who was unable to determine what the issue was. Despite the supplier not finding a problem with the CF cards, the customer still suspected that the issue was with the cards, rather than with their application. They decided to see if Delkin could determine what was happening. The customer explained to Delkin that they have a strict budget for memory cards. In fact, they could no longer sustain the cost of such frequent failures. They needed a solution that was cost-effective and reliable.


Delkin Discovery

Delkin found out from the customer that they were using MLC CF cards. Our team immediately suspected that this could be the problem. This customer’s devices were being used in extremely hot conditions, which may have been too extreme for MLC flash memory.


The problem was unlikely to be the fact that the customer had chosen CF cards for memory. These kinds of memory cards have been used for more than two decades in countless devices without any significant issues. With their connectors that mimic hard disc drives (HDDs), CF cards are extremely popular for their reliability and compatibility. Instead of being a CF card problem, the issue was likely the MLC grade of flash being used.


MLC stands for multi-level cell and refers to flash memory that stores two bits of data per cell. This design is ideal for many applications because it allows for large-capacity storage in a small form factor. However, MLC flash memory is not appropriate for all operating conditions. Customers in need of industrial embedded storage are typically better off choosing SLC—single-level cell—flash memory. SLC flash memory can tolerate extreme operating conditions, including temperatures that range from -40 degrees C to 85 degrees C. Since this customer’s devices were used in extreme conditions, Delkin suspected that the MLC flash was failing because of exposure to high temperatures.


The team at Delkin tested this idea by using the customer’s current CF cards in a variety of different conditions. The cards worked fine in the accepted temperature range for MLC flash, but as soon as conditions exceeded that range, failures began to occur. Although not every MLC CF card failed in extreme temperatures, enough of them did to be unacceptable.


Delkin Recommendation

Delkin suggested to the customer that they consider using SLC CF cards, rather than their current MLC cards. After testing the SLC CF cards in operating conditions similar to the customer’s, the team at Delkin was able to prove that the cards would not fail. In addition, because SLC cards have a significantly longer lifespan than MLC cards, making the switch would solve the problems the customer was having with the need for frequent card replacements.


The customer had not used SLC cards in the past because they didn’t think they would fit into their budget. However, we were able to show them that the longer lifespan and greater reliability of SLC cards would actually save them money. After all, they wouldn’t be dealing with such frequent failures and card replacements. They would also avoid costs associated with device downtime. After evaluating the evidence from Delkin, the customer agreed that making the switch to SLC CF cards was in their best interest from both a budgetary perspective and an operational one.


Lessons Learned

When it comes to choosing the best embedded memory card, there is much more to consider than just the price tag. If the card you’re using doesn’t work efficiently in your device, then downtime and card replacements will ultimately drive your costs up. Instead, focus on getting the best value for your specific application’s needs. Embedded storage that works as expected in your application and that has a long lifespan is likely to save you money in the long run, even if the initial purchase price may be more than that of a different grade of storage.


Delkin’s customer applications team is available to help you test embedded memory solutions in conditions that mimic how your device will actually be used. This ensures that you can find the best possible fit for your needs. Contact us today to discuss your device and your priorities for embedded storage. We can help you find a solution that works for your application and your budget. We also offer a wide range of customizations to ensure you get the best storage for your unique needs. Reach out to us today to learn more.


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