Technical Success Stories: Industrial and Commercial Flash Storage
Because of how common consumer flash storage products are, some OEMs in need of an embedded solution for industrial applications consider them first. However, there are many reasons that opting for consumer storage for industrial flash storage is not always the right fit. Instead, engineers and OEMs can benefit from considering the usage model of the storage first when they are looking for a solution.
Consumer storage products prioritize things that are right for consumer products, such as capacity and speed at the most affordable price point. On the other hand, industrial embedded storage products prioritize environmental and electrical ruggedness—including the ability to tolerate shock, extreme temperatures, and vibration—as well as data integrity. When price is allowed to drive a decision about storage, it is either because the application in which it is being used is not industrial or because the developer is unaware of the differences between consumer and industrial products.
The customer decided to place a recognized brand of SSD from a NAND flash company in their embedded product. They were not concerned about speed, because their application writes data to the driver offline, when the user is not waiting for it to finish. The customer was pleased with the fact that multiple retailers offered the SSD, which allowed them to shop based on the best pricing and delivery agreements. They knew that the SSDs were being used in consumer applications that they believed to be more intensive than their own.
Soon, problems developed when the drives switched to read-only without warning. When the drive went offline, data could not be written, but previous data was preserved. As they searched for a solution, the failure rate began to reach 10%, affecting older drives in particular, which was when they realized their situation was untenable.
How Delkin Responded
Consumer memory is perfectly suited to consumer devices that need high speed, high capacity, and low costs, such as laptops. Industrial applications have different needs, because they are not used in the same way that consumer devices are.
Industrial embedded storage prioritizes data integrity and ruggedness over other needs. Most industrial applications rely on SLC flash, in which only one bit of data is written per cell, which increases data security. They also include wear leveling algorithms and other internal features that monitor the way the memory is being used and optimizing the way information is stored, so that the device can last for the maximum number of P/E cycles.
For this customer, the ways in which the drives were being used resulted in high levels of P/E cycles without any wear leveling. Consumer grade storage often utilizes triple-level cell flash, so the numbers of P/E cycles were further constrained. The nature of the customer’s application meant that drives were wearing out too quickly—in as few as 800 P/E cycles, compared to the tens of thousands that are possible with industrial grade SLC flash.
Delkin helped the customer find a small-capacity SLC drive, which allowed the customer to increase the reliability of their drives and accommodate the number of P/E cycles required. In this instance, going for a well-known consumer memory product was disruptive and costly. The SLC drive was still affordable and much better suited to the customer’s needs.
Do you need help with your host storage? Delkin is ready to answer your questions about industrial flash storage solutions for your industrial applications.