| 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.
|That 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.
SSD" (site search)|
SSDs on a chip
memory channel SSDs
fast purge - secure erase
reliability model issues in SSDs
|A3CUBE will use military
connectors in datacenter fabric|
Editor:- August 4, 2014 - A3CUBE today announced that its
compatible 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.