Technical Success Stories: Delkin mSATA Parts Allow Longer Application Life Cycle
“Our host uses mSATA, and has for years. We were in trouble when our supplier notified us our part had been discontinued”– True Customer Stories
Most new memory standards and form factors used in embedded products start out as solutions for consumer driven markets. mSATA was designed to be used in tablets, laptops and other mobile devices that require a small replacement for a disk drive or SSD. While mSATA is technically an SSD, its small size and connector are made to fit in mobile devices.
2008- 2009 gave birth to mSATA, with the proliferation of tablets and inexpensive smaller laptops having a growing market share compared to desktop computers. As tablets and laptops got smaller, there became the need for a small, fast, SATA based storage solution that could fit easily in the host. Many embedded host manufacturers expected mSATA to have longevity as a standard, and designed them into their hosts. With large industry players like Intel supporting the standard, it seemed like a safe and long term bet. Industrial hosts, however, have longer life cycles than consumer products, and when the winds change in the consumer space, the memory standards and requirements often change too.
“The mSATA (MO-300) standard was introduced around 2009, so we chose to design it into our embedded host. Our thinking was that since this standard was new, and used in so many consumer hosts, it would have some longevity, and we would be able to get them for more than 10 years.”
So, we were shocked when we were told in early 2016 that the mSATA form factor built by our supplier was being discontinued. The electronics distributor we were using at the time was able to arrange a last time buy and delivery, so we had some time to look for another supplier, or another solution”
Delkin has for more than 31 years supplied many trailing edge technology products in addition to staying ahead of the trend with new standards and form factors. With our focus on the embedded market, we quickly learned that once a standard is designed in, sometimes that standard may be used for 10, 15 or even 25 years in some cases. In contrast, the life cycle for consumer products is often measured in months. How long was your last laptop computer relevant, before a faster CPU or some other feature prompted you to upgrade? The average life cycle of a laptop is in the range of 18 months.
Many Industrial or embedded products, due to the nature of the upgrade path, testing and approval, or cost, have a life cycle that is much longer. Medical products sometimes take years for FDA testing and approval, as do aviation products for testing and approval by the FAA. Then there is the nature of some products like locomotives or oil and gas exploration equipment, where, due to no major new technological advancements, may go through evolutionary changes, rather than revolutionary changes. Even some hand-held devices have a product life cycle of more than 5 or 10 years, depending on the function of the device.
When the customer contacted Delkin, they were pleased to find that the mSATA form factor was alive, well, and available for order. The new positive dilemma was to choose between the wide range of solutions offered. Delkin’s line of rugged controlled storage like the Industrial SLC mSATA is the longest lasting and most robust industrial mSATA on the market. The Delkin line of Utility mSATA is still intended for industrial products, with a controlled BOM, but uses the more cost effective MLC flash to give OEM’s a choice of cost alternatives dependent on the application requirements. Extended temperature “Itemp” options provide the customer the choice to choose the solution that best fits their embedded product.
The customer was also thrilled to find out that all design, test, manufacturing and support for the mSATA product they chose was done in the USA, in one location. The Delkin Devices Customer Applications team was also available to help them clearly define their usage model, and choose the right industrial mSATA solution for them.
You have to choose carefully when designing in an industrial storage solution for your embedded device. Besides finding one which meets your requirements for physical size, capacity, temperature, cost, functionality, and your usage model, you need to choose a standard that will still be supported for the lifetime of your product. Consumer based standards come and go, so consult with Delkin to help you make the right choice on an embedded storage solution that meets your needs.
Lean on Delkin’s Technical Team
Have you had a problem with your host storage? The Delkin Customer Applications team stands at the ready to be your trusted advisor for your host critical storage. We have solved hundreds of complicated host failures and look forward to understanding your usage model for flash based Rugged Controlled Storage.
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