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Proton Digital Systems

Founded in 2011, Proton Digital Systems provides advanced strategic IP for the Flash Memory market. The company is based in Silicon Valley and has brought together the best and brightest in the fields of mathematics, signal processing, digital design, and high volume manufacturing to deliver its cutting edge suite of IP Products.

editor's comments:- September 2013 - Proton Digital Systems operates in the SSD controller / flash management IP market.

Its technology approach can be summarized as LDPC based ECC, large controller architecture and adaptive DSP.

  • editor's earlier comments:- December 2012 - Proton which has - until recently - been in stealth mode - has developed technologies which have been optimized for use in ECC and life stretching in flash memory systems.

    You can view this as an important part of the "DSP part" within the technologies which I've grouped together as adaptive R/W DSP IP for flash.

    Proton outlined the capabilities of its technologies in a paper presented at the Flash Memory (in August 2012) called - LDPC Compiler For NAND Flash and SSD Controllers (pdf).

    Their IP set can be implemented in ASIC, eASIC or FPGA and supports (among other things) simultaneous support for several LDPC codes and on-the-fly switching from one code to another - which has been tested in flash geometries down to 1Xnm. It provides high performance - suitable for enterprise SSDs as well as having applications in other markets.

    What's this LDPC stuff you might ask? - I found the most helpful introduction and guide to Low-Density Parity-Check codes was a doctoral paper Design and Implementation of a message passing decoder for LDPC codes (pdf) published in June 2000 by Jeremy Thorpe which is one of many resources on his site www.ldpc-codes.com

    As in the case of DensBits - Proton's most similarseeming competitor - these new technologies have value for memory makers as well as designers of SSDs who want to get the most efficient designs out of currently available and future memory.
Proton mentions in SSD market history

In December 2012 - Proton Digital Systems announced the immediate availability of its LDPC flash IP (a variant of adaptive DSP IP) for enterprise storage applications compatible with implementation using eASIC which enables enterprise storage vendors to double the throughput performance at approximately half the power that can be achieved using state-of–the art FPGAs.

In February 2013 - Proton announced the completion of its $2 million seed round to support continued development and expansion of its LDPC-based flash read channel IP products.

In August 2013 - Proton Digital Systems announced details of its new LDPC based FlashPro platform which supports 1y-nm/1z-nm MLC, TLC and 3D Flash memory from all major NAND Flash manufacturers. FlashPro has upto 8 flash channels each supporting 533MBps and up to 32 Chip Enables per channel. Each media manager can support data transfer rates from 50MBps up to 4.27GBps.
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Proton Digital launches new controller platform
Editor:- August 12, 2013 - Proton Digital Systems today announced details of its new LDPC based FlashPro (a large architecture, adaptive DSP, controller ) platform which will be demonstrated this week at the Flash Memory Summit.

Proton says its error recovery technology enables reliable deployment of next generation 1y-nm/1z-nm MLC, TLC and 3D Flash memory from all major NAND Flash manufacturers. FlashPro also features a micro-programmable sequencer that supports Toggle and ONFi interfaces and addresses all flash commands, including customer-specific commands.

FlashPro has upto 8 flash channels each supporting 533MBps and up to 32 Chip Enables per channel. Each media manager can support data transfer rates from 50MBps up to 4.27GBps and multiple instantiations can be integrated to achieve the desired capacity and performance.
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Proton's enterprise flash controller IP now available on eASIC
Editor:- December 17, 2012 - Proton Digital Systems today announced the immediate availability of an LDPC ( Low Density Parity Check) NAND FLASH read channel for enterprise storage applications compatible with implementation using eASIC which enables enterprise storage vendors to double the throughput performance at approximately half the power that can be achieved using state-ofthe art FPGAs.

The Proton Digital Systems LDPC read channel enables enterprise FLASH storage system companies to leverage low cost MLC flash devices and increase its longevity to 45,000 program/erase cycles, compared to only 5,000 program/erase cycles with traditional BCH algorithms.

We were keen to work with eASIC as we are increasingly seeing eASIC devices being selected as platforms for enterprise grade customized flash controllers, said Dr. Andrei Vityaev, CEO at Proton Digital. In enterprise storage systems, production volumes are often not high enough and the market changes are too dynamic to justify cell-based ASICs but performance and low power requirements are beyond the capability of FPGAs. This makes an eASIC flash controller solution ideal for this space.

Editor's comments:- this adaptive flash DSP technology enables oems to do the kind of things which SMART and STEC already do in SAS SSDs, and which Skyera does in its rackmounts.

This type of technology will become essential for fast-enough SSD makers to remain efficient and competitive in the next few years. The only other game in town for licensing something similar right now - is DensBits.
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