- editor mentions on StorageSearch.com
|who's who in SSD? - Flexxon|
editor - StorageSearch.com
- October 2017|
|Inevitably most of the factors which grab
the attention of SSD technology
analysts are "gee
whiz" advancements which push the boundaries of what is possible to the
next generation level:- making devices run faster, smaller, have higher
capacity, lower cost, greater
But I became increasingly aware in recent years - as the whole SSD market has
become greater in its reach and revenue - that particularly with regard to
customer service oriented angles (for example -
products, and manufacturing adaptations which flex in line with customer needs
- such as contiuity of supply or predictability of logistics) that a significant
subset of SSD manufacturers were being under reported - or for other reasons
were not so prominently visible - in the SSD news media.|
acutely sensitive to the fact that almost everything I have written about in
the past 25 years of my
(from RISC servers
and enterprise storage
began first as a niche market - which my readers (by their actions) have
helped to grow - it was interesting to see that significant niches were now
developing within the SSD market itself.
I have written
about how difficult it has been to correctly anticipate and create products for
new niches even in the headline grabbing enterprise flash segments. And
changes have been
down the pipeline in industrial markets too. But some of the changes in
embedded markets which were seldom written about were changes in SSD company
business models - services to help customers with proven technology - rather
than the tick tock adoption of new stuff.
So when I first started
talking directly to Flexxon in 2015 I knew this was one of those companies which
fitted into that category of being more difficult to compartmentalize because it
wasn't gee whiz (quite the opposite in some respects because some of their
strategic products are deliberately low storage capacity and good enough
performance (rather than
meeting systems needs which have long been abandoned and EOLed by mainstream
memory system companies). Flexxon's industrial SSD approach was solving
similar problems to other
makers but it seemed to me as if the medical and automotive needs were
pulling the design spectrum into a subtley different shape to the conventional
pattern I expected to see.
I confess it took me a while to appreciate
the differences because I was still learning for myself (by speaking to other "difficult
to catagorize but noteworthy" SSD component companies) a new vocabulary of
customer service attributes which such companies share in common - even
when their product lines and customers may be entirely different or rarely
To give you an example. The special behaviors of military
SSD companies are well understood in SSD analyst circle because that was one of
the birth places of the SSD market itself. We understand that there's something
special about military SSD companies - even if it's
to write a list of what those elemental things are.
I could pick
out a factor like BOM or
SSD product continutity and tell you about one or two MIL SSD companies
which are still supporting SSDs they made 15 years and 3 company name changes
And in that longevity of support area I learned that Flexxon
has similar aspirations but aimed at other markets.
When I spoke to
Flexxon about this recently - Camellia Chan
who is Managing Director at Flexxon
"Yes, we support the longest life cycle fixed BOM
solutions. For example, we are still supporting 64MB SLC memory card, 1GB/2GB
MLC memory card. 64MB SLC CF Card..etc And we can support eMMC version 4.2,
4.3, 4.41 those legacy interface."
"For same form factor- we could guarantee more than 10-15 years,
for Fixed BOM with fixed controller, Flash and firmware version, we could
support 2-3years for MLC and 5years for SLC...
"But for medical customer who need to go for FDA approval, we
could extend product life on top of guarantee years by buffering supply of the
flash or even controller before it go EOL. We have medical customer go with us
for like 7-10 years fixed BOM order."
"We are so successful
for our memory strategy because we are serving niche market where our customer
pool sharing same requirements, their requirements long life/ high
reliability, high endurance/ more on medium size to lower size of the capacity.
As 100% of our customer require long life, so that we could buffer NAND flash
and share across the customer pool, we dont have pressure on the flash
Editor:- in that respect the medical market is similar
to the industrial market. But these markets can differ greatly in their
environmental and cost
And the environmental differences show up in the memory
usages and power
fail data integrity strategies in these different application markets too.
So Flexxon offers pSLC - as well as SLC and MLC within its embedded
I discussed the extremes of capacitor holdup in military
SSDs in an
I was interested to see a note of realism in a datasheet
from Flexxon talking about their DCS (Data Clone System) which said this.
is no method or program that guarantees 100% data integrity during sudden power
The choice of
SSD controllers and
internal architectures is another way of looking at the differences between
embedded SSD companies.
In its new
SSDs family Flexxon says it's transitioning to LDPC which corrects more
errors than BCH for the same ratio of user data to ECC parity. These
generation controller techniques have been used for many years in consumer
and enterprise SSDs but are never used in military SSDs and only in a small
number of industrial SSDs due to their CPU and wattage footprints. Flexxon says
its LDPC design uses 10x less power than traditional designs.
Fast secure sanitization of
SSDs is seen in all SSD markets (although more frequently in some markets
rather than others.) This type of
security is an
alphabet soup of standards - which is why no single SSD can meet all needs - and
why customization - for the intended market is a necessity.
today's SSD market it can be surprising to learn that some vendors are still
comfortable making new, low capacity 1GB SSDs - when the headlines are
biased towards the 60TB SAS
drives or petabytes
in U. That's why companies like Flexxon can find it harder to get noticed.
If you're someone who needs the less glamorous sounding products
you already know how how frustrating it can be wading through vendor web
pages which emphasize the biggest and fastest products when that's what
you're looking for.
|Even industries which
weren't expecting to use the newest generations of highest density 3D flash -
such as the industrial and military markets - have been hit by shortages in
mature planar (2D) memory. |
of the 2017 memory shortages|