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storage news - April 1, 2010

the Top 10 SSD Companies
Reaching for the petabyte SSD
Data Integrity Challenges in flash SSD Design
MLC flash lives longer in my SSD care program
Adaptive flash care management IP (including DSP) for SSDs
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XLC promises "enterprise" hybrid x4 SSDs

Editor:- April 1, 2010 - XLC Disk announced details of a paper it will discuss later this month at the NV Memories Worskhop (UC San Diego) called - Paramagnetic Effects on Trapped Charge Diffusion with Applications for x4 Data Integrity.

The company says its findings could have applications in the enterprise storage market by solving the data integrity problems in x4 MLC SSDs within a new class of hybrid storage drives.

Editor's comments:- I spoke to XLC's CTO - Dimitri Sholokov - he started by saying he was a "great fan of the mouse site" - but got the impression we were editorially biased against the use of MLC flash in enterprise apps.

"Sure - it's well known there are many problems to be solved to get x4 integrity up to the levels needed" said Sholokov. "Most designers are looking at improving quantization errors and ECC. These are necessary to be fixed - but do not go to the heart of the problem - which is charge diffusion - in the steady state - and charge dumping and disturb effects. Even with perfect ADC and a long chain EC - they only tell you that the data has already gone. You can't get it back. Our technology shows a way to reduce this charge corruption before it makes a data error."

XLC says it has experimentally verified that attaching x4 flash chips distributed around a spinning platter (5,400 RPM) - with the same diameter as a 2.5" hard drive - can in his words "make the charge diffusion behave better." Orientation is apparently important, and so too is the presence of a strong magnetic field. Dimitri joked "Your readers may think this is kind of centrifugal force stopping the charges falling out of their wells - but Newton's physics is not known in these places - it's paramagnetic force that tips the charge tunneling probabilities."

I asked Dimitri if that meant his company was planning to set up a factory making "rotating SSDs".

He said "No - that would be ridiculous - then we risk being sued out of business like Cornice - because of some patent we didn't know about for gluing chips to a spinning platter. Let's get serious - the hard disk companies are the experts at making small mechanical things cheaply. We would love it if they license our IP. We need them and they need us to get x4 into the enterprise."

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