| leading the way to the new
| Military &
by Zsolt Kerekes,
|Military projects started using SSDs as
early as the
because they were faster, more rugged and more
hard drives. |
the late 1980s SSDs with standard 5.25"
hard disk form factors
and interfaces such as SCSI
were easily available in the market (and evaluated for projects by the editor)
but those were RAM SSDs
rather than flash SSDs.
the late 1980s some military manufacturers had started to offer special
modules which could cushion hard drives from vibration. But wide deployments of
HDDs in mobile
applications were precluded by their unreliability (much worse than today),
their inability to operate over extended temperature ranges or at high
altitudes without significant data corruption.
Although flash memory
products were widely used in embedded military systems - they were mainly used
as arrays of chips which were directly compatible with the processor bus -
rather than as virtualized hard drives.
By the end of the 1990s true
flash SSDs (mostly
with a parallel SCSI
interface) were more commonplace (for those who could afford them) - and
companies such as
M-Systems had been
evolving flash SSDs to directly replace hard drives in rugged and
In 1999 -
BiTMICRO launched an
18GB 3.5" flash SSD and in the years which followed military flash SSD
makers expanded their capabilities with respect to capacity, performance,
encryption and sanitization. And at price tags of $10k to $40k per unit they
definitely weren't consumer products.
From about 2003 business managers
in military SSD companies could see
which suggested that the market for SSDs would eventually be much bigger as the
declining price of memory brought these products within the budgetary reach of
more enterprise SSD
users and later became
cheap enough for
Although there are many similarities in the
architecture and technology of consumer SSDs and military SSDs - because of a
shared design heritage - there are important differences too. These go far
MLC vs SLC
and data integrity
issues which affect some heavy duty (high
commercial server apps.
What can be confusing, is that some
manufacturers offer products for
Because there is no standard method for defining
what is an SSD
and what features are included and what others are not - it's important for
specifiers in this market to understand as many of the
constituent parts of
SSDs as they can - and what part they can play in a successful deployment. That
should include a tick list of important features - most of which are not
I've long held the view that when it comes to
technologies - where the military leads- the commercial markets follow typically
5 to 10 years later.
Many of the techniques which are now widely used
in enterprise flash SSDs such as
wear leveling were
pioneered by military and industrial SSD companies.
such as SSD
power management, thermal and EMI compatibility are lessons which came from
rugged industrial and military markets and have a value and utility which
many commercial systems designers don't yet fully appreciate. But I'm sure they
will when they learn
more about SSDs.
|This SSD rack smells
|extracted from - an SSD
conversation between StorageSearch.com and the founder of Texas
Memory Systems - re fast high availability SSDs|
suggested that the SPOF concept (no single point of failure) in this (and
competing systems) was in some ways misleading.
I said - "I bet
if you immersed the whole rack in a tub of water - it would fail. And that's a
single point of failure."
Holly Frost agreed that SPOF doesn't
cover disasters like that.
But that reminded him of something that
happened with a customer in the early 1990s.
They returned one of
TMS's rackmount SSDs and aked for it to be replaced under warranty.
was unusual so he was curious to see what they would find when they opened the
He sniffed around - expecting to get a whiff of burnt
components (fast chips ran very hot in those days).
There was a funny
smell. It was strong and damp - but not a living smell.
As it happens - the customer was the Navy.
Frost said - when salt water gets into a system like this - it's not going to be
reliable even if youi change the faulty chips.
So TMS replaced the unit
Returning to my suggestion about the tub of water -
Holly said - take care to unplug the cables first.
nand flash and alt nvms
was it so hard to compile a simple list of military SSD companies?
|SST qualifies NOR
SuperFlash on mixed signal platform|
July 12, 2016 - SST
qualification and availability of its low-mask-count embedded
NVM on GLOBALFOUNDRIES' 130 nm
advanced analog, mixed-signal and RF technology platform.
embedded SuperFlash memory solution requires the addition of only 4 masking
steps to enable cost-effective, high-endurance embedded flash for demanding
battery-powered applications such as drones, intelligent motor control, and
normally-off mobile computing.
How Flash Arrays Help US DoD and DHS protect against threats
July 2, 2016 - A new blog by Zophar Sante,
VP of Business Development at BiTMICRO -
Help US DoD and DHS outlines how the roles of solid state storage have
changed in US government defense and security agencies in the past 20 years.
Among other things: - Zoph says - "The DoD and DHS are using
what they learned from SSDs in field and applying the same technology to their
data centers." ...read the
comments:- From the
perspective BiTMICRO was a pioneer of high performance flash SSDs for the
military market and one of the earliest advocates of flash in enterprise arrays.
the onset of the flash SSD era, however, DoD was already using rackmount
SSDs in the late 1980s for mobile data capture and analysis. In those days
the SSD memory technology in such boxes was inevitably
read recollections about that in the 2010 retrospective paper -
TMS History of
Working With the US DoD (pdf) by the founder of
Texas Memory Systems.
We just made the first tri-state DRAM chip in the world
June 2, 2016 - In his recent linkedin note -
chip gonna rock the DRAM industry - Wayne Zhang,
President and CEO at Encrip
enthuses about his company's new tri-state DRAM technology which he says
can work with any standard process - even 10nm.
Wayne says - "For
the same capacity DRAM chip, with using our patented technologies, we could
reduce the memory array area up to 36%, we could reduce the power consumption up
to 40%, we could also increase the chip access speed." ...read
DRAM news in an SSD context
Recadata shows military SSDs at CIDEX 2016
May 14, 2016 - Recadata
this week at the 10th
International Defense Electronics Exhibition (CIDEX 2016) in
Editor's comments:- the range of options, such
as conformal coating, data destruction etc is conveniently shown on a model by
model basis in Recadata's
military SSD overview page.
One of the interesting new things I
noticed on Recadata's web site is that the company talks about its "10
years experience in the SSD market". That refers to its key people who
worked at other SSD companies before the company was founded in
my recent article-
simple list of military SSD companies I discussed some of the complex
factors like this which makes it difficult to create a simple list of "experienced"
military SSD companies.
what goes on inside AES encrypted SSDs?
6, 2016 -
SSDs with AES Disk Encryption - by C.C. Wu, VP - Innodisk - is a
new article published on Electronic
Among other things in this very detailed and
educational article Wu cautions readers about the limitations of encrypted
"As strong as the 256-bit AES encryption is on encrypted
SSDs, it only protects data at rest, i.e., when the system is turned off. To
protect data in flight, data-loss-prevention (DLP) techniques, use of secure
communication protocols, and other security measures must be taken." ...read
a simple list of military SSD manufacturers
April 15, 2016 - Nowadays web pages like this one inevitably deliver a
blend of related content (news, article links and ads) some of which you
need and find useful - and other parts of which you don't.
thinking back to the simpler web pages of 20 years ago and wondering - should I
just create a new minimalistic list of military SSD companies for those who
just want a supplier list which they can follow up in their own way?
I'm quick to decide such things... A simple list... military SSD makers - hard
can that be?
You can see the tangled mess of thoughts I waded
through - in my new blog -
simple list of military SSD companies.
Microsemi's secure SSD business to be acquired by Mercury
March 23 , 2016 - Mercury
agreed to acquire the secure
SSD business of Microsemi
as part of a $300 million deal which includes several other business units
focused on the defense
electronics market which altogether employ approximately 275 people based at
facilities in Phoenix, Ariz., Camarillo, Calif., San Jose, Calif., and West
Renice announces pSLC military SSD
22 , 2016 - Renice
the imminent availability of a 2TB 2.5" SATA MLC SSD family for the
military market. The
new X9 R-SATA uses the company's own controller. Interesting aspects of this
- Renice says the drive can be used in pSLC mode - which halves the
capacity but "achieves nearer SLC performance and reliability".
Editor's comments:- Renice has a completely
different view about the efficacy of pSLC in this type of SSD - than
Cactus which dismissed
the notion that it was worthwhile in a recent
about memory geometries and ECC.
- the new SSD uses rugged SATA connectors which are work more reliably in
I've asked Renice to say more
about their reliability claim for pSLC.
Until I hear more I think the
difference between the 2 companies stems from different approaches to
In this context I think the key differences in SSD design are:-
versus classical flash management and also
regular RAM flash cache ratio.
As we know from SSD history - the
you measure is just as dependent on the controller architecture as the
intrinsic flash. So once you steer a course for your product line down these
permutation avenues (due to past experience or convenient access to you own
related IP) then the consequences you get - in terms of product envelope - are
not necessarily reproducible by competitors who chose a different road.
the rugged SATA connector issue:- the first time I recall seeing that being
mentioned in a rugged military SSD news story was
April 9, 2012.
worst case response times in DRAM arrays
March 8, 2016 - Do you know what the worst-case real-time response of your
electonic system is?
Yes - I'm sure you do. In most military
applications this is where the design specifications begin.
the interesting trends in the computer market in the past 20 years is that
although general purpose enterprise servers have got better in terms of
throughput - most of them are now worse when it comes to latency.
It's easy to blame the processor designers and the storage systems and those
well known problems helped the
SSD accelerator market
grow to the level where things like
PCIe SSDs and
hybrid DIMMs have
become part of the standard server toolset. But what about the memory?
memory based on DRAM isn't as good as it used to be. The details are documented
in a set of papers in my new home page blog -
loving reasons for fading out DRAM in the virtual memory slider mix.
you're designing fast response computer systems with large amounts of data -
then DRAM chips may become
a smaller part of your external component mix in the future - especially after
we get new types of
being architected with SSDaware tiering. But that's another story. ...read the new
home page blog
how fast is fast erase?
Editor:- January 26, 2016 - When it comes to
SSD security - how
fast is fast erase?
Over the years I've reported
examples of this (erase) and also other methods of
destruction the rule of thumb has been:- the bigger the capacity of
the drive - the more time in seconds it takes (and more electrical energy
release today from Foremay suggests a
fast and scalable sanitization route may come from what they call "crypto
erase" - which renders all data scrambled, scattered and useless.
fast. Takes only a second to complete the crypto erase of a Foremay SED SSD with
capacity of up to 20TB.
This erase can be triggered by a command or a user presettable
threshold of failed access attempts.
Commenting on the benefits of
intrinsic hardware encryption instead of relying on software and aside from
the obvious performance - Foremay says hardware encryption is far more secure
because software can be corrupted...
"Information security on
SSD drives has become increasingly important to all users, particularly in
government, defense, financial and medical industries," said Jack Winters, Foremay's
CTO and cofounder.
Editor's comments:- The effect - I guess -
is a bit like the accidental predicament of needing
data recovery for
a damaged and unsupported encrypted SSD. But a deliberate erase like this
will be more systematic and probably doesn't have a single mode recovery
Avere bridges NASA to the cloud
19, 2016 - NASA has selected Avere Systems to
help consolidate legacy storage and migrate research datasets created at the
Ames Research Center
over to the Amazon's
AWS - it was
Avere says that cloud related latencies will be mitigated by
its FlashCloud (SSD ASAP) architecture.
NSF funds project to progress in-situ SSD processing
December 16, 2015 - NxGn
Data today announced
it has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1
(about $150K) from the National Science
"We've made great strides in developing our
fundamental SSD technology, with a working prototype (of in-situ SSD processing)
now running in our lab," said Nader Salessi,
CEO and founder of NxGn Data.
The grant application says - "This
project explores the Big Data paradigm shift where processing capability is
pushed as close to the data as possible. The in-situ processing technology
pushes this concept to the absolute limit, by putting the computational
capability directly into the storage itself and eliminating the need to move the
data to main memory before processing."
Themis ships rugged mobile datacenter platform
November 17, 2015 - Themis Computer
immediate availability of a rugged
rackmount SSD system - called
integrates scalable SDS architecture software from Atlantis Computing
with 4 ruggedized, 8 hot pluggable SSD drive, RES-XR5-1U rack mounted servers
(MIL-STD-461) to run virtualized applications for rugged mobile datacenter
"With the Hyper-Unity solution, Themis and Atlantis
Computing are changing the way that the DoD buys and consumes storage" said
Bill Kehret, president and CEO of Themis Computer. "The DoD
requires enhanced reliability, ultra-fast, cost-effective storage from a trusted
source on hardware built to survive the rigors of demanding
toughening up DWPD
Editor:- October 28, 2015 - DWPD ratings have become
a useful shortcut to filter enterprise SSDs because there's consensus that the
number should somehow map into
application zones and price bands.
Now we're seeing more military SSDs
wearing DWPD badges too.
Toughening up DWPD
- is my new blog about this trend.
Solidata ships military grade 2.5" MLC SSD with IOPS attitude
October 16, 2015 - Solidata
recently announced shipments of a new rugged 2.5" SATA military
grade industrial SSD with 1TB raw (972.5GB usable) MLC SSD - for high
capacity, performance demanding applications in harsh environments. R/W for 4KB
blocks is approximately 70K IOPS.
Solidata says the new
which has regular
RAM cache (1GB DDR) and
seconds capacitor hold up time is available with all the features you'd
expect from a military grade SSD (such as full drive auto
erase in under 18S)
but - as it uses MLC instead of SLC - it can be a more cost-effective
alternative for many applications such as airborne/ shipborne digital
recording systems, pipeline inspection and remote DVRs.
Microsemi fills key gap in TRRUST-Stor military SSD line
August 14, 2015 - Microsemi
recently added a low power MO-300 mSATA SLC SSD to its
family of secure
/ military SSDs.
can be sanitized according to the NSA 9-12 protocol in less than 2 minutes.
the advanced deep sleep low power mode, the SSD is only using 150mW and can be
'instant on.' said Bill Sorrentino,
tactical marketing manager for Microsemi's Memory and Storage business.
feature will enable longer field life for battery powered applications. In
addition, it will cut down on cooling required for products where heat is a
...Later:- 2 weeks later - Microsemi expanded their
secure rugged SSD range still further with a new XMC form factor SSD -
- which has upto 512GB SLC in an air cooled or conduction cooled XMC
mezzanine. Details include:-
- XMC x2 PCIe interface per ANSI/VITA 42.3-2014
- XMC SATA interface (configurable)
- R/W speeds upto 185 MB/s
- Continuously running built-in self-test
rugged COTS NAS case study - real-time helicopter data - case
study by Curtiss-Wright
Editor:- July 21, 2015 - Curtiss-Wright
recently published an
note (pdf) which describes an 8TB rugged flash SSD based data recorder
providing real-time sensor recording and playback capabilities (with multiple
200MB/s channels) for a helicopter platform which uses the company's COTS
network storage boxes. ...read
the paper (pdf)
Editor's comments:- The most useful thing about
this paper is it gives you an idea of the physical size and throughput if
you've got something similar in mind.
The main thing which has changed
with this type of application for SSDs in
decades is the size, storage capacity, power consumption and price.
(Sensors stay pretty much the same.)
For a comparison (of memory types
and interfaces in rugged "mobile" SSD based data recorders) take a
look at this story from 1988 -
of Working With the US DoD (pdf)
Microsemi announces availability of 900GB usable 2.5"
military SSDs in 9.5mm for those who loathe supercaps but love SLC
July 16, 2015 - Designers of
systems for whom SLC is the only
flash memory good enough
- but who also needed higher capacities in their 2.5" SATA slots have -
until recently - had little choice but to consider SSDs with significant
holdup for their toughest designs. And that, in turn means a complex
qualification process and really getting to know the internal ad hoc internal
details of SSD
architectures and related firmware which might well change considerably
over the lifetime of their projects.
Meeting the need for those who
prefer a simpler and more predictable controller architecture roadmap Microsemi today
the availability of a new enhanced capacity model in its TRRUST-STOR line of
provides 1TB raw (900GB usable) SLC NAND flash in a 2.5" 9.5mm high
package in a US made product with all the features you'd expect from this
established military SSD product line.
- no super caps or batteries:- thereby improving reliability and enabling
reset-to-ready time of 1.5s
- fast purge:-
TRRUST-Purge clears encryption key in less than 30mS.
- Hardware based fast erase, erasing the entire drive in less than 10 seconds
Microsemi says that because this SSD family uses its
own Armor memory processor technology this also enables long-term availability
to its customers. Facilitating the promise of "no forced EOL from
firmware/controller availability issues."
16 petabytes written (equivalent to 8.7
DWPD for 5 years - as a
comparison for the curious - although 5 years is a short stretch for this
class of SSD).
Nantero gets $31 million funding for 300º C retention
Editor:- June 2, 2015 -
a $31 million Series E financing round for its
NRAM technology which the company
says is scalable to below 5nm and which has >1,000 years retention at 85º
C or more than 10 years at 300º C.
Nantero was founded 14 years ago, and the last time I wrote about them was in
But the size and educational sophistication of the SSD ecosystem
today means that designers
(and investors) can
appreciate the nuances of difference which might be useful in extreme boundary
Offering a scalability roadmap below the current
commercial limits of flash,
and ruggedness way beyond flash - Nantero's technology has attractive features
which might lure SSD designers out of their 40 year comfort zone of
trapped charges in semiconductor cells.
repairable vertical architecture could result in bigger ReRAM
Editor:- May 27, 2015 - ReRAM has already been promised for delivery in
military SSDs (see
Jan 2015 news
below) but forthcoming advances in repairable vertical architecture could
increase the density to the point where it's attractive as an intermediate level
of memory in servers too...
In various interview clips in a recent
NAND, MRAM, RRAM: Emerging opportunities and challenges in
Solid State Technology - the author
reports how some of the contenders to
flash memory see their
roles within the SSD ecosystem. ...read
Adesto has 16Mbit flash for +125 degrees C operation
Editor:- March 30, 2015 - Adesto
new serial flash products available upto 16Mbit densities which are designed to
operate between -40 to +125 degrees Celsius.
Serial Flash chips have ultra-deep power down which operates at <300nA
and (as you'd expect in a low capacity device) small 256-byte page erase.
0 to 3 S - aspects of extreme diversity in SSD design
March 23, 2015 -
to three seconds are 2 numbers which demonstrate some of the extreme
diversity in SSD design.
The examples in my new blog today are the
hold up times inside 2 different 2.5" SATA SSDs designed for the
military market. ...read
Microsemi's new BGA SSD
Editor:- March 17, 2015 -
its 2nd generation highly secure, rugged 64GB BGA SLC SSD - the
- TRRUST-Purge clears encryption key in less than 30ms
- hardware-based self destruct - renders media data forensically
unrecoverable in less than 10 seconds
- anti malicious attack technology
- no super caps or batteries
computing applications have increased the need for compact small form factor,
highly secure and trusted data-at-rest protection," said B J Heggli, GM
for Microsemi's memory and storage business. "We introduced this latest
64GB SSD in our BGA package to expressly meet the data security and extreme
reliability requirements of a growing number of embedded applications. And
because Microsemi owns the processor technology, customers are also assured of
critical long-term availability."
- write protect option for read-only applications
"the most reliable 2.5 inch MLC SATA III SSD"
paves way to new budget military SSD - from Cactus
February 23, 2015 -
the release of a new military 2.5" SATA SSD - the
PRO series - a
adapted variation of the company's proven
commercial grade family which Cactus describes as "the most reliable
MLC based 2.5" SATA III SSD on the market."
Chang, VP of Engineering said that -it meets the
price budget for
applications where intense writing or extreme temperatures are not prevalent.
- hardware AES256 Encryption
- Jumper Triggered Write Protect
- NSA 9-12 or Quick Erase (can eliminate 512GB of data in <15 seconds)
- 64GB to 640GB MLC capacities
- Altitude spec of 100,000 feet
- 3,000G Shock; 20G Vibration
- Powerful Industrial ECC and Defect Management
Waitan launches secure self destructible SSDs for drone and other
hostile military zone deployments
February 19, 2015 - It's rare for me to hear about a new company in the
military SSD market (I
thought I knew them all already) - but an exception to that is Waitan which this week
launched a 2.5" SATA SSD with 4TB capacity with special security options
to protect and purge
data if the SSD gets into the wrong hands - the
believe the remote controlled secure erase and self-destruction functions are
highly valuable for UAV, drone, and other remote controlled and unmanned systems
where data on the systems' storage drives is confidential, which needs to be
destroyed from afar during accidents or emergency scenarios" said James
Zheng, Waitan's CTO.
Editor's comments:- Remotely triggered
data destruction isn't a new idea in secure SSDs - but it hasn't really taken
hold in the past due to the disruptive effect of false positives - such as when
a security perimeter has been incorrectly set up or when a pacifier signal is
lost for a short time for innocent reasons.
For those reasons
Waitan's StellaHunter is triggered by 2 or more preset conditions. Users can
also choose whether the SSD should be reusable after the secure erase or whether
the SSD should have a destructive erase.
MSS wraps 2.5" SSDs snugly for surveillance drone flights
February 3, 2015 - Mountain Secure Systems
it has recently shipped an order of hot swappable 2.5" SATA SSD modules
to a leading defense contractor, which will be integrated into a pod system for
Reaper Drone - for use by the U.S. military to monitor U.S. borders and
gather video surveillance intelligence.
The removable 2.5" SATA memory devices mate with a customized
docking bay and are environmentally sealed for protection against rapid
decompression, EMI, humidity, dust, salt fog, immersion and condensation.
swappable device (pdf) includes mini mil-circular connectors (rated for
100,000 insertion cycles), +28VDC power, EMI filters, and captive thumb screws
"Mountain Secure Systems is proud to be a part of this important
program," said Ken Dickson,
GM of Mountain Secure Systems. "Our ruggedized data storage solutions have
been extremely dependable for both commercial and military customers."
Microsem licenses DPA countermeasure technologies from Rambus
January 29, 2015 -
will serve as reseller in the government and military sectors for certain
power analysis (DPA) technologies developed by Rambus's cryptography
Among other things - this agreement includes DPA
Resistant AES cryptographic cores that offer chipmakers an easy-to-integrate
solution to protect against side-channel attack vulnerabilities.
the first major FPGA company to license
countermeasures, Microsemi has identified DPA as a significant vulnerability
in chip security, specifically for the mission-critical applications found in
government and military settings.
designing ReRAM military SSDs
Editor:- January 23, 2015 - Tezzaron Semiconductor
it will use Rambus's
ReRAM technology in forthcoming storage-class 3D memory devices for military,
aerospace and commercial applications. The first of these designs is
scheduled for production in 2016.
See all SSD news in
"military SSD feature sets" - as distinct from "industrial"
Editor:- December 19, 2014 - What are the essential requirements
of SSDs in military applications? You may think it's obvious. But if you're
trying to summarize this in a list of attributes - you soon find that
must-have assumptions which seemed safe a few years ago or in another project
are starting to get a bit slippery. And when you're researching possible new
suppliers of military SSDs - you may get attracted by one feature you saw in a
news story or search result - and then later have to drop it from your list
because of another (less advertised) feature - which is missing.
know you're safe with hard military suppliers - who don't do anything but
military SSDs - but many
makers offer some products which also suit military applications too. But
navigating through their product lines with your military needs filter - isn't
always as easy as it should be.
That's why I was interested to see a
new guide -
SSD Feature Sets - from Cactus Technologies
which is a clear set of statements about what the company can offer in the
way of military variants adapted and enhanced from its embedded 2.5"
SATA SSD product lines.
Within its industrial SSD product line - Cactus
uses 43nm, 32nm and 25nm SLC NAND devices - more than are mentioned in its
educational whitepaper -
vs MLC NAND and the Impact of Technology Scaling (pdf). The company told me
they are going to update it - and when the new edition is available I'll let
you know - but the original still makes good reading.
XES says FPGA based controllers are better for delaying EOL
December 8, 2014 - For SSD specifiers in
- the biggest pressure on BOM stability has always come from obsolete
made some interesting comments about this in a
press release related to
the SSDs used in the company's rugged flight proven secure SSD based storage
XES says "An important feature of these high-density,
high-performance storage products is that they use an FPGA-based storage
controller. This directly addresses EOL and Obsolescence issues commonly
associated with foreign-designed and manufactured storage controllers, which
often are discontinued before a system can go into production."
See all SSD news in
Foremay says MIL designers can now have 8TB in a 2.5"
secure, rugged SATA SSD
Editor:- November 19, 2014 - How much
capacity do you need in a
depends on the economics of your application and what other alternatives you
have. But 2.5" SATA is emerging as a safe roadmap form factor for
high capacity embedded projects in the
rugged / military market
- and if you are a designer with a mission critical app you can now
stretch your capacity beyond the tame limits of the consumer and enterprise
markets with a COTS (or soon to be off the shelf) SSD.
Jack Winters, CTO -
Foremay said "When
we asked our customers what we should do for the next step in SSDs, most replied
with capacity, capacity and capacity."
That's why Foremay
this week it is now offering 8TB as a variation in its encrypted, secure rugged
Editor's comments:- I spoke to Foremay yesterday to
clarify the availability versus "unveiling" status of the new 8TB
Foremay said - We are accepting orders for small quantites now.
Mass production is expected in Q1'2015
Skyera's skyHawk and the mobile center
October 29, 2014 - Size weight and power (swap) savings and new opportunities
for using efficiently designed high capacity
in the mobile data center (specifically - hundreds of terabytes of flash in a
Hummer for example) were among the things
I discussed recently
CEO - Frankie
Roohparvar. You can read more about it in archived SSD news -
Skyera's new skyHawk
A3CUBE will use military connectors in datacenter fabric
August 4, 2014 - A3CUBE today
announced that its emerging
distributed shared memory architecture - the
RONNIEE Express -
is supported by a military grade rugged connector technology. A3CUBE teamed
with a specialist connector manufacturer AirBorn
Inc on this aspect of the implemenetation.
A3CUBE says that
RONNIE RIO is the first network adapter card designed with carrier-grade and
military-grade reliability and is designed to bring mission-critical features to
the standard data center interconnection network and data plane.
is there a market for I'M Intelligent Memory inside SSDs?
June 4, 2014 - Are there applications in the SSD market for DRAM chips which
integrate ECC correction inside the RAM chip - and which plug into standard
That was the question put to me this afternoon by Thorsten
Wronski - whose company MEMPHIS
Electronic AG distributes I'M Intelligent Memory in
Thorsten told me he's had a good reaction from the SSD
companies he's spoken to - which is why he phoned.
But in a long
conversation about the economics and architectures of end to end
in SSDs and the different
ratios of RAM cache
to flash in SSDs - I told him that my initial reaction was he should look
at embedded applications - which depend on the
reliability of a
single SSD - rather than enterprise systems in which the economics analysis for
arrays point to a system wide solution rather than a point product fix.
interesting thing is he said he's done tests on the new I'M memory as drop in
replacements for unprotected memory designs- in which he accelerated the likely
incidence of error events by increasing the interval between refreshes and
raising the temperature.
Here's what he said.
assembled a standard 1GB unbuffered DIMM with 8 chips of 1Gbit ECC DRAM. Then we
put this into a test board and ran RSTPro (a very strong memory test software).
No error found.
Next we put the whole board into a temperature chamber
at 95°C, which normally requires the refresh rate to be doubled (32mS
instead of 64mS). No error found.
Finally we wrote a software to change the refresh-register of the CPU
on the board, so we were able to set higher values. The highest possible was
750mS, so the DRAM did almost not get any more refreshes. Still it continued
working in RSTPro without a single error for 24 hours.
We tried the same with Samsung and Hynix modules, but none of them
came even close to those results. Most failed at refresh-rates of 150 to 200 mS,
which is not bad indeed. Many more tests will follow."
Editor's comments:- the reason I mention this - is because
adapting the refresh rate was one of the things mentioned in my recent blog -
Are you ready to
However - most of the leading SSDs in
don't have RAM caches for other reasons (to reduce the physical space, power
consumption, hold-up time, or because don't need the performance). So I told
Thorsten I don't see an industry wide demand inside SSDs. But some of you
might already have thought of applications.
I'M ECC DRAM product
Virtium promises 4 years "no requals"
May 14, 2014 -Virtium
that its new 2nd generation
(SATA 3 compatible) can deliver upto 4x the read performance of its 1st
They're available in in 2.5", 1.8", M.2,
mSATA, Slim SATA, and CFast form factors.
Commenting on the high
amortized cost per
unit of requalifying SSDs in embedded industrial markets Scott Phillips,
director of marketing at Virtium (who
joined the company from HGST)
said about the issue - "With its 2nd generation StorFly SATA SSDs,
Virtium is able to guarantee that its SLC-based StorFly PE class products will
not cause a requal for at least 4 years."
Cactus adds write disable switch to industrial CFast
April 10, 2014 - Cactus
that it has introduced a new security option - of having a physical
write protect switch - in its
series of industrial SLC CFast SSDs.
It works like this. When
the write protect switch is in the disabled position, the CFast card reads and
writes as normal. When the switch is enabled, the card will read as normal, but
all write attempts are ignored. Data already stored on the card is safe from
"This write protect feature has already been
successfully implemented in the gaming, military and other markets" said
Ng, President of Cactus Technologies.
we killed SLC faster than MLC
Editor:- March 14, 2014
- I've been talking to the experienced founders of an SSD company which is
currently emerging from "under the market radar".
had some interesting things to say about the reliability aspects of SLC, MLC
and 3D nand in the context of designing rugged and reliable SSDs.
more in my article -
Who's who in SSD? - getting to
know a Full Metal Jacket SSD maker
Conduant's new 3U 8TB PXIe SSD
Editor:- February 10,
2014 - Conduant
launched a 3U
single slot PXIe module which can be populated with upto 8 mSATA SSDs. The
DM-8M-3U has a PCIe
Gen 2 interface which connects to the flash array via an on-board
See also:- test
EOL and gone-away SSD news
Editor:- January 20,
2014 -Eventually - for every new SSD product which gets launched and every new
startup which enters the market in a blaze of news glory there comes the day
(maybe without the same fanfare) when the product is end of lifed, or the
happens then? Or long after... Some of you still need to know.
years ago in
March 2005 - if
you were in the market for
and looking for a supplier of
PATA SSDs or PCMCIA
SSDs designed for embedded applications - then obtaining such products was
about to get much easier - because Bell
Micro had just announced a distribution agreement for SiliconSystems
But - if you've still got legacy systems installed - which use
those products where would you look today in 2014?
One of the
companies which services those needs for plug compatible functional replacements
of this kind is PCcardsDirect
which recently published an alternative parts numbers list for
Type II ATA SSDs.
Director of Sales at PCcardsDirect told me recently he collaborated with
some former engineers from SiliconSystems to design a guide which enables you
to locate competitive new replacements for many of those old hard to get
SBU NAS SSD from Curtiss-Wright
Editor:- September 30, 2013 - I learned a new (to me) acronym
today in an incoming email: - SBU (Sensitive But Unclassified) - used
to describe a
rugged NAS file server made by Curtiss-Wright
for transporting removable military data between a base station and aircraft
or mobile vehicle.
The product concept itself isn't new, and it
looks like "SBU" itself has been around for a while too - but it
shows there's still a lot you can learn - even when you think you already know a
The different degrees of
classification are one of the many signs of multiple use-case inspired product
segments within SSD
markets which outsiders mistakenly regard as being simpler and
homogeneous. It's not just the
enterprise SSD market
which is growing in SSD product diversity.
military acronyms A to Z
WhipTail announces new channel for defense customers
July 24, 2013 - ViON
announced it will now serve as an authorized provider of maintenance and
support services for the entire WhipTail product
"This partnership took off primarily due to the great
success at WhipTail with the
intelligence communities and ViON's clearance and track record of successfully
providing first level support for other vendors." said Dan Crain,
CEO of WhipTail.
Microsemi's new SSD for vetronics can erase 256GB in < 8S
May 23, 2013 -
today announced that
it has secured multiple design-wins for its new Series 200 TRRUST-Stor (rugged
self encrypting, 2.5" SATA SSD with 256GB SLC capacity and
company says a full hardware-based erase takes less than 8 seconds. The 200
model has R/W throughput which is twice as fast as the company's earlier
TRRUST-Stor due to a new generation of the company's Armor processor.
to endure harsh environments the new SSD - which has hardware-implemented AES
256 encryption - can withstand up to 3,000G shock and 30G rms of vibration.
new SSD module for mobile military systems
April 22, 2013 - Curtiss-Wright
the availability of conduction cooled secure 1TB SATA SLC SSD modules
for use in its rugged 4 port NAS module which is designed to fit on an ARINC
SSD - designed for applications such as helicopters, UAVs and mobile
radar systems - is certified to FIPS 140-2 and provides 4 modes of key
Crocus gets funding for x8 multibit magnetic semiconductor memory
April 8, 2013 -
announced it has
been awarded a contract from IARPA
to develop an 8-bit per cell memory based on its Magnetic Logic Unit
This will greatly reduce the energy consumed per
written-bit compared to any other memory technology, including DRAM, Flash,
SRAM and MRAM.
Lee, VP, product development at Crocus compared the 8 bits per cell
which the company thinks it can get from its MLU technology with the
state-of-the-art in nand flash - which is 3-4 bits per cell and also compared
to alternative magnetic semiconductor technologies like MRAM - which is
still only 1 bit per cell storage (SLC).
here's some context.
If it were possible to do x8 MLC flash - then
840 SSD would have 16TB capacity instead of the 512GB which it has using
x3 (TLC) - which is the state of the art bits per cell shipping in a
regular 2.5" SSD.
But don't get too excited by this comparison as
currently exists only in the realm of science fiction.
multibit capability in a magnetic semiconductor cell will undoubtedly be a
breakthrough for that type of non volatile technology. But the density of such
x8 MLU memories would still be 100x smaller than today's flash. The good
news is that unlike flash - MLU will operate at very hot ambient temperatures -
past 200 degrees C.
experimental technique eliminates flash endurance limit
December 2, 2012 - An article in IEEE
Memory Survives 100 Million Cycles - summarizes a recent research paper by
which described an experimental technique to redesign flash cells to improve
technique - which StorageSearch.com does not think is feasible to scale for
commercially competitive memory densities - involves designing addressable
heaters in the memory array which can pulse upto 800 degrees C for a few
milliseconds. This thermal "refreshing cycle" anneals the chip
material and heals common wear-out defects while also enabling the cells to be
"Afterward, we realized that there was no new physics
principle invented here, and we could have done this 10 years ago" said
the project director at Macronix
temperature related data rot in flash SSDs... a blog by WD
July 26, 2012 - A good analysis of temperature affects on flash data integrity
can be seen in a recent blog - about
temperature related data rot in flash SSDs - by Eli Tiomkin,
Director, Business Development,
WD Solid State Storage
who says (among other things) - "Over time, NAND cells may lose enough
charge and flip enough bits to overwhelm the ECC capability of the drive
controller and cause data loss."
Eli Tiomkin's useful table lets
you look up the SSD storage temperature and see how much more quickly the
native flash will corrupt - if a suitable
controller or healing
process isn't in place to detect changes and fix them....read
CWCDS offers 5TB version of SANbric SSD JBOD
June 19, 2012 - today Curtiss-Wright
Controls Defense Solutions announced a new version of its
FC compatible SSDs the
which supports just under 5TB and weighs about 5 lbs and is designed for
deployment in high speed rugged
data streaming apps such as on-board wide body aircraft, and helicopter
Microsemi eliminates weakest link in high capacity SATA SSDs
April 9, 2012 -
today announced it is
offering a new type of ruggedized SATA connector option for its its
TRRUST-Stor SSDs which
provides a complete vibration-resistant solution which eliminates pin fretting
and intermittent disconnects to assure long-term dependability.
weakest link in many embedded applications is the connector, which can sabotage
the operation of critical hardware," said B J Heggli, VP
of Strategic Development for Microsemi. "Our new connector family protects
against the effects of severe shock and vibration, which safeguards the flow of
data. As a result, we can now offer customers what is perhaps the most secure
and rugged SSD available on the market."
TCS ships 200GB fast erase MIL-STD-810 2.5" SSD
January 24, 2012 -
announced shipments of a rugged 200GB 2.5" SLC SSD which has has been
verified by outside labs to meet MIL-STD-810 requirements for shock, vibration,
temperature range, temperature shock, humidity and altitude.
SSD has 40K IOPS performance, includes 128-bit AES
encryption and can
fast erase the full
drive in less than 15 seconds.
"Few solid-state drives combine the
quality, data capacity and ruggedization features of Galatea," said Michael
Bristol, senior VP and GM of TCS' Government Solutions Group. "It
is ideal for a wide range of extreme industrial and defense applications,
including oil and gas exploration, avionics and data logging in a variety of
air, land and sea vehicles. Galatea combines superior access latency and power
consumption performance with long-term reliability."
Editor's comments:- I hadn't heard of TCS before in the SSD
market - and I feel uncomfortable when I see a significant new SSD product pop
out from seemingly nowhere. But then I recognized one of the legacy products
names - Triton and sure enough TCS is the new identity for
Trident Space &
Defense - which was acquired a year ago.
I googled "Galatea"
- and I'd like to think it was named after one of the
Harry Potter characters
- who taught defence against the dark arts.
Charlie Cassidy who
is Director of the Advanced Products Group at TCS contacted me to say - "I
thought I would let you in on the "secret" of the Galatea name. No
Harry Potter involved, we didn't even realize that connection. Our SSDs (Triton,
Proteus, Galatea) are named after themoons
of Neptune - paying homage to the Trident heritage."
Conduction cooled rugged NAS SSDs find seats in war-planes
November 1, 2011 - Curtiss-Wright
today announced that it has received a contract from Lockheed Martin
Aeronautics to provide its rugged conduction cooled NAS SSDs -
products - to the U.S. Air Force's
Super Hercules aircraft program.
The initial order is valued at
$800,000, with a potential lifetime contract value estimated at $7.5 million.
Editor's comments:- using ethernet connected rugged SSDs
on-board transport is a well established idea. Back in 2002 we ran ads for
an early NAS flash SSD - a product called the
of the SSDs used in military
projects nowadays are very sophisticated network devices as well as being very
rugged. For example the TuffServ
480 - an iSCSI SSD system designed by
if you're talking about luggable SSD storage for real-time data capture -
Texas Memory Systems
offers a 4U specially shielded variant of their enterprise rackmount SSDs for
airborne applications - called the
the other end of the weight scale -
Removable DTU's are small
enough to be panel mounted in cockpit systems.
SMART samples new MIL SATA 3 SSD
26, 2011 - SMART
imminent sampling of a SATA
3 version of its MIL-STD-810
compliant 2.5" SSD family - which includes encryption and
new Xcel-200 provides from 60GB to 240GB
500MB/s sequential R/W speeds and 60K/40K random R/W
operates at standard
temperature ranges and is certified for operation at altitudes up to 80,000
Fusion-io can do secure erase in less than 60 seconds
September 15, 2011 - Fusion-io
that its new SureErase data
sanitization tool has been confirmed as meeting Department of Defense
sanitization standards by the Defense Information Systems Agency.
enables users to securely remove/erase all data on any ioMemory-based
technology, following DoD/NIST standards, regardless of capacity, in less than 1
Editor's comments:- although that sounds like a long
time - relative to fast
purge SSDs (and it is too long for some applications) nevertheless when you
take into account that many of Fusion-io's PCIe SSDs have multi-terabyte
capacities - it's impressive. See also:-
I wish I had an SSD in Iraq
Editor:- August 23, 2011
- the problems caused by
sand blowing into hard drives in
the context of a desert war - is the subject of a recent blog by Mark Flournoy,
VP of Government & Defense at STEC.
other things this article shows the consequences of data storage failures. It's
the best blog I've seen so far on STEC's previously anemic SSD blog site.
...read the article .
Emphase launches 2.5" MIL SSD family
May 11, 2011 - Emphase
launched a new
range of rugged, MIL-STD-810F compliant 2.5" SATA SLC SSDs - which are
currently available with upto 128GB capacity.
SSD has R/W speeds upto 170 / 90MB/sec respectively and
fast erase. Should
the drive lose power during a protect, erase, or destroy command, the device
will resume the operation as soon as power is restored. Standard product has
high tolerance for high altitudes, shock, vibration, temperature, and humidity -
options include conformal coating.
CWCEC launches new rugged XMC/PMC SATA SSD
December 3, 2010 - Curtiss-Wright
launched the XMC-552
- a rugged 256GB XMC/PMC form factor
SATA SSD with 200MB/s
throughput, fast purge
(in 4 seconds), bad
block blocking and 128-bit AES encryption - for
defense and aerospace
Dataram's SSD ASAP accelerates rocket defense science
November 18, 2010 - ever since the first
SSD ASAPs came to
market just over a year ago - I've been curious to know what type of real
customers would get a benefit from this new type of technology.
Dataram this week
provided a clue. It
that Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab has purchased and
installed Dataram's XcelaSAN
acceleration appliance for use in its missile defense research. Dataram also
provides server and workstation
memory products to JHU/APL.
Texas Memory Systems' founder writes about 20 years of DoD SSDs
September 20, 2010 - Holly Frost founder of Texas Memory Systems
has written a paper (pdf)
which describes how variants of the company's newer SSDs like the
RamSan-630 have been used
recently by the US DoD and Intelligence Community.
another article he
describes some features of their 1st DoD SSD in 1988. The company launched its
1st commercial enterprise SSDs in 2001 - but has continued evolving its
defense based array processing capabilities.
Update on the smallest PATA SSD
Editor:- August 18,
2010 - Micross
Components indicated that a future version of its
(the world's smallest PATA
SSD - which has a footprint of 14 x 24 x 1.3mm and weighs only 0.8 grams)
may be offered with extended operation upto 105 degrees C.
new directory of old style (parallel) SCSI SSDs
July 10, 2010 - StorageSearch.com
today published a new directory of
(parallel) SCSI SSDs.
SSDs aren't exactly a new topic in the
the SSD market. I benchmarked a SCSI SSD 20 years ago for use with an
embedded SPARC server. And there was a time when 95% of SSD manufacturers
made SCSI SSDs. Today that figure is 8%..
This is a market which has
resisted the upward suction of the
SSD market bubble.
Despite that - I know from many reader inquiries that customers with legacy
servers, and equipment designers with legacy products still search for SCSI
drives - and in many cases SSDs
are replacing HDDs -
simply because the original hard disk manufacturers have end of lifed SCSI
models. But many of the new SCSI SSDs available today aren't simply fossilized
versions of old designs. They include new security, performance and reliability
As an editor - creating a new SCSI SSD list has been low on
my priorities - because I thought the market had nearly gone away - and I
hoped I wouldn't have to do it. I was wrong. More SCSI SSDs are being shipped
today than at any time in the past. It's never going to be a huge market - but
for those of you who have been looking -
here it is.
flash SSD integrity architectures for space-craft
April 13, 2010 - for those interested in
flash SSD data
integrity issues - Phil White, President of ECC Technologies has
released a white paper -
Memories for Spacecraft (doc).
Phil has been working with ECC for
almost 37 years and his company is developing future ECC designs to
allow systems architects to develop
NAND flash memories that
are highly reliable
and fault-tolerant even if the NAND flash chips themselves are not so reliable.
NASA is using ECC Tek's designs in
multiple missions. 2 of the designs are in space at the present time and are
working perfectly. Phil White recently wrote a document for NASA and
JPL which outlines how to design NAND
Flash memories for spacecraft. The 22 page "preview" document
excludes confidential data but gives a taste of the technology available for
licensing. ...read the
Radar buffs get 8GB XMC
Editor:- March 25, 2010 -
today announced it has
doubled the memory from 4GB to 8GB on its
buffer memory XMC card - which is designed to provide volatile, deep storage
for a wide range of military applications including RADAR, signal intelligence,
and image processing.
Editor's comments:- customers always want more memory for
this type of application. In one project I managed in 1991 - we designed a
system which captured radar data and streamed it continuously to 16 x 6U of the
fastest COTS memory cards then available at the maximum operating speed of the
VMEbus. That required weeding out badly designed backplanes and memory cards -
and playing with early generations of
It was similar projects streaming to hard disk arrays (and analyzing the data
ASAP) where I learned a lot of useful things about storage too.
Viking's DOM MIL certified
Editor:- March 3, 2010 -
Viking Modular Solutions
that its SATA Cube3 128GB DOM
(launched in March
2009) has successfully completed tests pursuant to the
Aitech's new XMC SSD
Editor:- February 18, 2010 -
a new model in its family of
M224 has 128GB capacity, and
hardware RAID options
which support the onboard flash array. Sustained sequential R/W speeds are
170MB/s and 120MB/s respectively. The M224 is available in air-cooled and
conduction-cooled versions as well as in 3 levels of
depending on shock, vibration and humidity requirements. OS support includes
VxWorks, Windows and Linux.
|That's not quite it yet|
note:- Due to length considerations - I had to truncate this page somewhere -
but my buyers' guides covering military peripherals and systems go back to 1992.
narratively driven chronologial highlights try these resurces...
- the Internet Archive gives good results
for most of the pages on this site (including this military page).
- other resources (including before 1996 when my publications went on the web
- try contacting the publisher
||Killerbyte had a |
when it came to attacks on
her personal data
|SSD DIMM wars|
SSD testing & analyzer news
FITs and reliability models re
endurance - myths and legends
upside and downside of hold-up caps in MIL SSDs
for fading out DRAM in the virtual memory mix
|The willingness to offer
customization and professional design engineering support opens doors to
valuable customers who are leaders in their own vertical markets but whose unit
volumes are too small to be of interest to high volume standard SSD vendors.|
|some thoughts about SSD
|Optimizing processors for
SSD can significantly speed up operations. Examples discussed in these notes
include Lempel Ziv compression and AES encryption.|
|the SSD Bookmarks -
FBI locked iphone tussle |
demonstrated the difficulties of
SSD data recovery
|Encryption can be defeated
by brute force methods and also by master keys being stolen. These are
unacceptable risks for captured miltary SSDs.|
|autonomous data destruct
|a guide to data
compression techniques and where to use them for designers of SSDs and memory
May 26, 2015 - Inside the
SSD controller brain
the compressibility of data is one of the tools which can go into the mix of
optimizing performance, endurance and competitive cost. |
A recent paper
Survey Of Architectural Approaches for Data Compression in Cache and Main Memory
Systems by Sparsh Mittal
and Jeffrey S. Vetter in
IEEE Transactions on Parallel and
Distributed Systems - reviews the published techniques available and places
their relevance in the context of real and future memory types and applications.
The survey covers applications from embedded systems upto
In addition to being useful resource directory of
related papers the article gives you a brief description of many compression
techniques, where you might use them and what benefits you might expect.
list of articles and
books by Sparsh Mittal which among other things covers caching
techniques, reliability impacts and energy saving possibilities in a
wide range of server architectures.
|"the defense or
medical industries have a limited market share of the overall market pie, in
terms of the consumption of components. So if there is a substantial demand for
newer technology and competitive pressures, the older (smaller) piece of the pie
has to be EOLed since long term support takes away valuable resources that can
be focused on the latest innovative products from the OEMs."|
|from GDCA's blog -
EOL and Manufacturing, Obsolescence (June 2013)|
|Are you looking for really
hard to find military storage drive suppliers or unusual form factors?|
sometimes think - yeah I know I read about that somewhere (and maybe even wrote
about it) - but maybe it was 5, 10 or 20 years ago - which means that Google
search (which is biased towards consumer pop subjects) is absolutely useless.
- another thing you can try is archived versions of this military storage page.
The formatting from those earlier times can look embarrassing - due
to changes in web thinking - but the raw data is still there and might help
Good luck. -
- 2000 to 2014 in the wayback machine -
web archive |
|When the socket fits...
but the datasheet doesn't. What are the roots of the problems in sourcing
modern replacements for once popular but now end of life and obsolete embedded
|what's a standard SSD?|
suggested articles and directories
1" SSDs - includes
SSDs on a chip
the fastest SSDs
SSD buyers guide
style parallel SCSI SSDs
fast purge / secure erase
tolerant / high availability SSDs
unexpected SSD power loss
endurance - the
forever war in flash SSDs
adaptive DSP is
going inside flash controllers
|Soft errors can be
disastrous for systems with large memories, critical applications, or high
altitude locations. For example SRAM tested at 10,000 feet above sea level
will record SERs that are 14x the rate tested at sea level.|
|Soft Errors in
Electronic Memory (pdf) |
by Tezzaron Semiconductor
|"To avoid obsolescence
in military systems, the design team must ensure that the die will perform at
extreme temperatures and conditions. Therefore data from external silicon
manufacturers isn't assumed to be dependable and instead parts are
diligently characterized in sufficient quantities over a wide temperature range."|
Product Application Manager, Microsemi in his
obsolescence problems before they start (September 2013)|
sea level - cosmic rays can create silent errors in flash memory - which are
harder to detect and fix than in RAM."|
|...from - Radiation Hardness of Flash and
Nanoparticle Memories - cited in
the SSD reliability
|What's the best way to
design a flash SSD? |
and other questions which split SSD opinion
|More than 10 key areas of
fundamental disagreement within the SSD industry are discussed in an article
here on StorageSearch.com called
the SSD Heresies.|
||Why can't SSD's true believers agree upon
a single coherent vision for the future of solid state storage? ...read the article|
|Power, Speed and
Strength in SSD brands|
|Does what marketers call
their SSDs impact who SSD buyers will call?|
This article surveys
how vendors have played with awesome and mundane words to make their SSDs
sound better - with examples from across the whole spectrum of the SSD market
- the good, the bad and you know how this goes - because a
movie made 45 years ago is still better known than any SSD today.
||And that's the challenge
which wannabe T-Rexes in the SSD market have to meet.