Industrial Flash Storage in Aerospace
How can the aerospace industry manage massive amounts of data in extreme environmental conditions? Using industrial flash storage in aerospace systems is the answer. A jet can produce hundreds of gigabytes of data every minute it is in operation. It is necessary to not only have storage that is capable of handling that amount of data, but that can do so in conditions with extreme temperatures and high levels of shock and vibration. For the aerospace industry, industrial flash storage has been the solution that allows companies to harness the power of the IIoT. Some within the aerospace industry are, however, attempting to manage their storage needs with off-the-shelf flash memory. This storage isn’t designed for rugged conditions, and thus puts critical data and safety features at risk. Here is what you need to know about using industrial flash storage in aerospace systems.
The Problem with Off-the-Shelf Flash Storage for Aerospace
A mistake that many people make when considering flash storage options is that they only think of things like capacity and form factor compatibility when making a selection. This leads them to buy COTS—commercial off-the-shelf—flash memory products. Although this kind of flash memory is ideal for many applications, it may not have the other features that industrial users need.
In the aerospace industry, you can find flash memory in everything from black box recorders to unmanned air stations and inflight entertainment systems. When used for these purposes, flash memory cards need to be able to withstand rugged operating conditions. Otherwise, data loss and card malfunctions may occur, resulting in major complications and dangerous situations. In order to ensure the best possible safety and reliability, those relying on the IIoT in the aerospace industry should select SLC, or single-level cell, flash memory—which is the highest grade available—and consider flash memory customizations.
SLC Industrial Flash Memory Features
In SLC flash memory, only one bit of data is stored per cell. This design offers the highest level of protection for data, the lowest available risk of error, and the fastest operations. Industrial SLC flash memory is also designed for operating in rugged conditions. It has an extended temperature range of -40 degrees C to 85 degrees C. In addition, it can withstand high levels of shock and vibration. These are critical features for the aerospace industry.
SLC industrial flash memory also has a locked BOM, or bill of materials. This means that none of the critical components that could affect compatibility will be changed on a memory card without advanced notification for existing customers and a new product number. This is not true of COTS memory, in which components are frequently changed in order to lower costs. These changes could lead to unexpected flash memory failures in the field. For aerospace applications, these types of failures may not just be disruptive—they could also be dangerous.
Flash Storage Needs for the Aerospace Industry
The aerospace industry has specific needs for flash memory. This is another reason why choosing SLC storage rather than COTS memory is important. One of the major factors to consider is workload. The sheer amount of data that is generated within aerospace applications that must be stored and read is enormous. All flash memory has a finite lifespan, but SLC storage has the longest available life. This kind of memory also comes with built-in features that help to extend its life and maximize its efficiency, including wear-level management. Customizations tailored to the specific devices that memory is being used in can also help.
There are also unique environmental conditions to consider for industrial flash storage in aerospace systems. Take, for example, memory being used in a jet. During takeoff, when the engines are running full throttle, a significant amount of heat is generated, raising temperatures to extremes. When the jet is at cruising altitude, extreme cold temperatures can impact memory. Then, when landing occurs, heat is generated by the brakes while the outside temperature fluctuates rapidly. COTS memory is not designed to operate in these kinds of conditions.
Industrial flash memory has other features that make it appropriate for the aerospace industry as well, including built-in power loss controls. This means that mission-critical data are very unlikely to be lost due to power issues. These features also ensure that dirty power caused by surges, spikes, brownouts, or outages will not impact the operation of the aircraft.
Customizations for Industrial Flash Storage in Aerospace Applications
One of the critical things the aerospace industry should look for in flash memory is customizations. Rather than purchasing COTS memory, industrial users can benefit from working with a flash memory company that can create customized products. By working with a custom memory supplier from the beginning, aerospace companies can get flash memory that is specifically designed to work with their applications. Customizations can include things like specialized testing—so customers get a look at how the memory will behave in their actual design—and features that improve efficiency and increase the lifespan of the memory cards based on how they will be used in the real world.
These improvements make it easier for companies in the aerospace industry to manage their memory needs, anticipate when memory cards will need to be replaced, and plan for smooth transitions when it is time for an update. Not only do these benefits save money, but they are also important for safety reasons.
Let Delkin help you get the right embedded memory for your aerospace application. We offer industrial flash memory products with a wide range of available customizations. Our team will work closely with you on testing and custom designs to ensure you are getting the best possible memory for your needs. We’re experienced in testing industrial flash storage in aerospace applications. In addition, we understand the unique operating conditions that flash memory must withstand. Talk to one of our team members today to learn more about our rugged, embedded memory solutions. Engineering samples are available.
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