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Cactus Technologies

Cactus Technologies, founded in 2005 and headquartered in Hong Kong, is the designer, manufacturer and marketer of Industrial Flash card products using industry leading controller technology and industrial strength flash memory.
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industrial grade Compact Flash cards
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Cactus - addresses and links ....
Cactus corporate HQ

Cactus Technologies Limited
Suite C, 15/F, Capital Trade Center
62 Tsun Yip Street, Kwun Tong,
Kowloon, Hong Kong

Cactus USA

3112 Windsor Road, Suite A356
Austin, Texas 78703

tel:- +1 (512) 775-0746

worldwide distribution

see also:- Cactus Technologies - editor mentions on, Cactus's blog

Who's who in SSD? - Cactus Technologies

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - April 8, 2014

Cactus Technologies - founded in 2005 - markets SSDs for industrial and embedded markets in a variety of form factors and interfaces.

The company's founders include:- Joseph Chang who - while previously at SanDisk - worked on the world's first PATA SSD and managed the design of the first single chip CF controller.

The company offers standard industrial temperature operation SSDs and also some extended operation devices (for example mSATA) which can operate from -45C upto 90 degrees C.

In April 2014 - I asked Steve Larrivee, VP Sales & Marketing at Cactus some questions about their controller technologies, market issues related to SLC and MLC, and customer awareness of SSD and reliability issues.

Often when I talk to an SSD company about their business I ask questions like
  • what's your best selling product?, and
  • what are your main markets?
I didn't have to ask Steve those questions - because the answers are already contained on their web site. Uniquely (as far as I can recall) they list the 2 best selling SSD types for each customer segment they operate in.

Here's what I did ask.

Zsolt - Can you tell me more about your controllers - who designs them? where they come from?

Steve - We work closely with Hyperstone (similar to how SiliconSystems/WD did it), but have custom firmware versions to meet our specific needs, including custom feature sets as well as additional circuitry for added for improved Industrial functionality (write abort handling, etc.). We also work with NovaChips and SMI on as well.

Zsolt - Are you seeing a difference in understanding about SSD concepts between the traditional industries (classical hard industrial, mil) and newer embedded markets?

Steve - My belief is many industrial and embedded markets which should be using SLC based SSD are using MLC products due completely to price.

Some are willing to spend $40-50 on a 4GB SLC part for reliability, but when they are looking for 64GB/128GB they are shocked by the $100s-$1K prices and opt for lower cost MLC.

I'm not saying every industrial/embedded application needs SLC... some may be OK with MLC.

I am saying many companies roll the dice on the reliability of their overall systems with MLC SSD in applications where failure can't be tolerated for 3-7 years. There will be some fallout.

Zsolt - Or does the SSD education tilt another way – with younger designers thinking they already know a lot about SSDs from their reading in other markets (computer) and not appreciating the subtle differences which life in a wild box can introduce to requirements?

Steve - This is absolutely an issue. The SLC vs MLC SSD market is similar to the Consumer vs Industrial flash cards.

For example, people look at retail ads for microSD cards and see a 4GB card for ~$5, whereas an industrial grade part is many times that amount.

Many, younger designers (and some older ones too) think you are trying to pull a fast one on them because the parts look identical and function in the same socket.

At the end of the day, SLC/Industrial flash gives you reliability and endurance that MLC/TLC will never touch.

Another key point from our SLC vs MLC White Paper (pdf) is the trace width of the NAND flash.

The older the technology, the more reliable – and costly.

The newest technology is less reliable and less costly.

MLC at <20nm is currently 2-3 generations ahead of the SLC we're using in many of our products (43nm Toshiba SLC) – this makes the MLC product much less costly, but much less reliable.

Zsolt - I like the threshold graphs in your SLC/MLC pdf. I know you published this paper some time ago - but I only saw it last week and I think it illustrates the concept well.
Cactus Technologies - selected mentions in SSD market history

In January 2010 - Cactus Technologies launched a rugged 32GByte industrial grade CF form factor PATA compatible SLC flash SSD in an extended height (6.4mm) form factor. The 303 Series offers high endurance (>2M write cycles per block), wear leveling, defect management and 4M hours MTBF.
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Cactus SSDs helped over 100,000 drivers find home
Editor:- January 6, 2015 - Cactus Technologies today disclosed it has shipped over 100,000 units of its 210 Series (32GB MLC) - 2.5” PATA SSDs - to a German automotive OEM company for use in their infotainment (integrated audio entertainment and GPS navigation) systems.
"Cactus Technologies believes that only SLC NAND provides the superior performance, endurance and long term reliability required for operation in an industrial environment. Hence we use SLC NAND exclusively in our industrial grade flash storage products.

Currently, Cactus uses 4X/3Xnm technology SLC NAND for our industrial grade products whereas mainstream MLC NAND is currently at 2Xnm or 1X/1Ynm."
Joseph Chang, VP of Engineering Cactus Technologies in his classic white paper SLC vs MLC NAND and the Impact of Technology Scaling (pdf)
click to read article

Cactus looks at thorny issue of embedded flash TCO
Editor:- April 2, 2014 - Cactus Technologies today published a blog - Solid State Storage Total Cost of Ownership versus a Really Low Price Today - aimed at designers in industrial markets - which discusses 4 sources of cost they should consider when selecting an SSD.

When looking at eol considerations - the author Steve Larrivee - warns that although designers may be counting on being able to delay requalifications by mining obsolete SSDs as unsold inventory from channels and brokers "for a considerably higher price... this introduces the possibility of counterfeit parts as well." the article

Editor's comments:- Although these raw headline factors are the same for designers in all industries - the weightings are often different in embedded markets due to the smaller sizes of equipment production runs - which means that design-centric related requalification costs are more significant as a factor in each system shipped than is the case in higher volume markets.

The big iconic saguaro cactuses which you see today - standing like tree statues - can be hundreds of years old. So you can see how that idea might work in the market today for an industrial SSD company - like Cactus Technologies.
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DWPD (Diskful Writes Per Day) for 5 years - has become an established part of SSD jargon in the writings of enterprise SSD makers in recent years.
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