reliability difference in industrial SSDs|
|Editor:- July 14, 2017 -
Reliability is one
of the concerns which got me interested in SSDs in the late 1980s, and the other
factor was raw speed
- sometimes - but not always - both in the same project.|
different ways of looking at reliability is one of the recurring themes which I
notice in stories about the industrial SSD market.
Earlier this year I
had noticed a statement in one of the
customer case studies on
the web site of Cactus
Technologies which talked about having delivered 200,000 high
reliability flash storage cards to a customer "without a reported failure".
And from time to time I wondered what did that really mean?
week I asked Steve
Larrivee, VP Sales & Marketing at Cactus what was the time period
behind the story?
Steve said - "The 200,000 cards were delivered
over a 2 year period over 5 years ago without one reported failure."
my way of thinking this is one of the differences in high quality embedded SSD
customer care which we don't hear enough about. And the quality of such designs
is one of the reasons that customers can still design affordable products which
(unlike datadenters) don't rely on live-in service engineers to keep them
If you've got more stories like this just ping
me and let me know
grandfather's industrial SSD market|
|Editor:- June 13, 2017 - For the past 11 years
one of the safest assumptions you could make about the SSD market was that if
you were looking for excitement and big revenue growth opportunities then the
last place you should be looking was the industrial SSD market.|
an important part of flash SSD history is that it started in industrial
applications and only became mainstream and interesting - from a
point of view - when flash SSD designers turned their gaze towards other
directions like the consumer
In fact a good rule of thumb in the exciting days of
disruptive change in the SSD market during 2004 to 2016 was that if you knew the
capabilities of leading edge industrial SSD products in any one year the
picture was probably the same the next year too.
There were many good
reasons for this. And the predictability and calm, careful approach to new
technology adoption in industrial SSDs was widely regarded as a virtue compared
to other brasher markets.
there are many reasons to believe that the industrial SSD market will soon
become a new focused melting pot of innovation and architecture.
describe some of the indicators which brought me to this surprising
conclusion in a new blog -
your grandfather's industrial SSD market - on the home page of StorageSearch.com.
| interesting observations
about this market
- Although latterly known for its "world's fastest" enterprise
SSDs (which became IBM FlashSystems) -
Texas Memory Systems'
first SSD in 1978 was designed for the seismic data capture market. SSD history
- The ability to work in hostile environments was the oldest sustainable
value proposition for buying SSDs. why buy SSDs?
- Industrial SSDs cost more than consumer and enterprise drives - because
they include more coping circuits and implement solutions to a wider range of
anticipated stresses. where does all the money
- Within a few shrink generations SLC will require similar controller
techniques to MLC. 2012 market summary
- Designers have chosen the pragmatic reality of excellence in selected
niches above the unfeasible goal of having the best technology roadmap for all
sudden power loss|
|Why should you care
what happens in an SSD when the power goes down? |
This article will
help you understand why some SSDs which (work perfectly well in one type of
application) might fail in others... even when the changes in the operational
environment appear to be negligible.
|SLC like a legendary blend
of Don Quixote and Geronimo has staunchly defied many siren calls to surrender.|
|SSD news - June 2017
the big SSD ideas which emerged in 2016?|
|Editor:- November 10, 2016 -
I've been asking SSD companies this question.|
viewpoint of your company what were the big SSD, storage and memory architecture
ideas which emerged and became clearer in 2016?
Here's what some
industrial SSD makers said.
"I think definitely it is NVMe" -
said a manager at a leading rugged SSD company (who didn't want to be named in
"...page-based-FTL running on DRAM-less controller
architectures..." - said Susan Heidrich,
Sales & Marketing Manager - Hyperstone
advanced remote-monitoring software... SSDs for Industrial Internet of Things"
- said Scott
Phillips, VP Marketing, Virtium Solid State Storage
But some interesting sanity checks came in these
who is Managing Director at Flexxon
said - "Hi Zsolt, Basically we are not the technology leading
company. Instead where we are focusing is on continuing to provide legacy
product to industrial, medical, automotive customers We support a lot of
EOL SSD products
worldwide. Most of our customers are facing the problems of discontinued
products and we are the ones who support them."
Limuel Yap VP
of Global Business Operations - V&G
said that many of V&G's efforts in 2016 have been in enhancing previously
designed and conceptualized products.
See what others have been saying
were the big SSD ideas which emerged in 2016?
changing face of the industrial SSD market|
by Zsolt Kerekes,
editor - StorageSearch.com
|One of the oldest
markets for flash SSDs is the embedded industrial market - where rugged
flash SSDs have been used since the
Some of the pioneering companies which shipped those early industrial flash
drives are still in the market today. And you could say that the industrial SSD
market has remained a constant factor in the fast changing world of the SSD
market. But during the past 5 years - the vendor definitions of what makes
an "industrial grade SSD" - have changed.
which were once safe and universal - can no longer be taken for granted.
assumptions have stayed the same.
- standard operating temperature range - from -40C to +85C. (Note - some
vendors offer an extended range - from -45C upto 90C too.)
- rugged operation:- industrial SSDs must be capable of operating and
surviving in a range of vibration conditions typically found in vehicles - and
sometimes upto specific MIL standards.
considerations:- unlike the
server SSD environment (in which individual disks can be backed up,
RAIDed or repaired) and
unlike the notebook
SSD environment (in which
flaky firmware can be
fixed by downloads and reboots) - reliability and stability constraints on
industrial SSDs are much higher. In many embedded applications the assumption
is that the SSD lifetime is the same as the equipment life. Industrial SSDs
have to be "fit and forget".
- electrical power:- industrial SSDs are available with a vast range of
power consumption envelopes (more than 20 to 1) - and in many applications the
SSD wattage is a key starting point for selecting a product.
SSDs need more complex designs to protect
when there is a
loss - because they are used in a wider range of power supply systems than
typical computer systems.
- physical size:- if it doesn't fit in the space then it can't be used.
That's one reason why industrial SSDs are available in very small form factors -
which I've lumped together in the
1 inch SSD directory.
- OS driver support:- industrial SSDs have to support operating systems
which are additional to those used in the computer market - such as real-time
Subtle feature creep divergence has crept into the
industrial SSD market in the past 5 years as its needs have grown apart from
the military storage market. There used to be nearly 100% overlap between
companies which marketed industrial SSDs and military SSDs - and the main
differences between many industrial / military product lines used to be in
their operating temperature range and testing processes. That's no longer the
case. The differences have widened due to memory usage (true mil SSDs only use
SLC flash) and the need for
fast purge in
- EOL (end of life) issues. Companies which use industrial SSDs for use in
equipment and embedded systems need to be confident that they can
continue obtaining these
products during the lifetime of their programs - which are typically 3 to 5
- but can also be more than 7 years (see article below). That's dramatically
different to the consumer and enterprise SSD markets where product lifetimes
are typically in the range 6 to 24 months.
The reason is that
industrial SSD customers want to minimize the amortized costs of
requalifying new products and doing redesigns in what are typically low
volume markets. Consequently industrial SSD companies have to manage their
technology roadmaps and customer service interfaces in a different way to
computer market SSD makers. This is similar to the requirements in the military
Some important assumptions in industrial SSD product
families have changed since this market began.
- use of MLC flash memory. Not that long ago - it would have been
unthinkable for industrial SSDs to be offered with anything other than SLC flash
memory. The industrial SSD market was slower in moving to an
market than the enterprise SSD market because of the need to qualify other
associated components - not just the flash chips - over the wider temperature
- Integrating SMART-like controller metrics back into the equipment design
loop. Most industrial SSD makers offer tools to help equipment designers
understand - the on-board SMART-like data collection features in their
SSD controllers - and
how use this info to model system life.
Until recently - the fastest industrial SSDs used to lag 3 years or so behind
similar form factor SSDs in the computer market. Not anymore. They are now
available with speeds which are similar.
- Encryption and
security. The range of
security options and the associated economics in the industrial SSD market are
as diverse as the markets in which they are used. For example the storage
zones which hold the programs and other critical data can made unreadable
outside of defined conditions to prevent competitors reverse analyzing the
How does the
industrial SSD market compare in size and importance to other segments in the
- Industrial SSDs used to be replacements for
hard drives. But in new
designs we're seeing embedded SSDs replacing functions which were once done by
vanilla flash memory.
Why's that? It's because when memory capacity gets above a certain size - then
the only reliable way to manage it is with SSD-like controller technology. So
designs which once used bunches of flash chips are morphing into slots for low
end SSDs - simply as a pragmatic way of using flash without equipment designers
needing to peek inside unreliable flash chips.
Industrial SSDs are 1 of the 5 main SSD user value
proposition groups described in
SSD market penetration model. But this isn't a market which shouts
loudly about the latest technology fashions. And it's fair to say that because
of the conservative and largely hidden nature of the market - it rarely grabs
the storage news
headlines. But the industrial SSD market has great potential. One
SSD analyst -
Web-Feet Research -
said recently they thought that "the embedded flash drive market would
approach $17 billion annual revenue in 2015."
related companies, products and related articles - see the list on this page.
articles and white papers
|If they survive manufacturing|
survive customers too.
Top SSD Companies
on a chip / M.2 SSDs /
3D nand fab yield,
shortages and the nth layer tax
farewell to reassuringly boring industrial SSDs
|"The Internet used to
be a one-way flow of information. Systems were only required to enable websites
to provide information feed to the consumer. Today, with more and more
user-generated content and uploads online, storage methods have also become
|Kevin Wang, VP
Sales - Longsys
in a press release -
needs in the IoT and IoV era (June 5, 2017)|
|"IoT storage must be
distributed. You can't think about a single storage device but, on the
contrary, a multitude of devices with a small amount of storage can easily be
part of a large distributed storage system.
It's a compelling idea but this approach has its challenges. Thousands
of nodes for just hundreds of terabytes of storage?
It means massive
scalability, a lot of node rebalancing when a node disappears, complex node
discovery and management that could impact performance."
|Interesting ideas from the blog -
ready for the post cloud era - by OpenIO.
(January 10, 2017)|
| Some industrial SSD
suppliers will quote you higher DWPD at a specific temperature range than
their competitors who use exactly the same memory and controller chips.|
the state of DWPD?|
|Like good software a well
designed custom SSD can greatly benefit from the analysis of expensive functions
which can be reduced in scale or avoided. |
|some thoughts about SSD
|I noticed that whenever I
repeated the power off and power back on again cycling (into what we'd now call
a "cold boot" condition) most of the contents of the RAM looked
similar to what they had been before, instead of scrambled which is what I
memory pose new new security risks?|
|Re industrial SSDs -
designers have refocused and chosen the viable reality of excellence in selected
niches above the unfeasible goal of having the best technology roadmap for all
|12 key SSD
ideas which emerged or clarified in 2014 |
|For embedded users who
need predictable rackmount SSDs over a multi-year period - the instability
of constantly evolving "fool's gold" functions which are bundled
into many systems and deemed by marketers as "adding value" to
traditional enterprise users - are seen instead as negatives to be avoided
instead of positives to be sought out.|
hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs|
still rule in industrial SSDs?|
|Editor:- May 3, 2012 - I've
been talking this week to a reader who has been looking for high capacity
industrial 2.5" MLC SSDs for a project which - because of where it's
used - really does need the full industrial temperature range.|
he'd been having difficulties. Anyway I suggested he look at the
directory (this page) and contact all the companies to see who did have
such a product and after a lot of work he has found some possible suppliers -
but the success rate comes out as about 20% - or 1 in 5 industrial SSD
oems actually having a useful MLC product in this category. So this is still a
part of the SSD market where SLC reigns supreme - regardless of what you hear
about in the
markets. (And the other SLC SSD bastion is
said - I think that one of the problems in finding cheaper MLC SSDs for
industrial temperature apps is that the few companies who really have the IP to
be able to design such a product from the
controller stance -
mostly pursue bigger markets - like consumer. And even if the consumer guys
do have the controller technology for extended temperature MLC - they don't
cope well with other factors - like
sudden power loss. But it's good to know that some companies can do it -
even if it's less than you would expect.
A few hours after posting the
above - I got this helfpful comment from another reader (on a different
Kindl, Managing Director at Solid State Storage Consulting in
Germany emailed me to say -
Hi Zsolt, I'd like to comment on your
today's news "SLC still rules in industrial SSDs" and your
industrial grade SSDs.
The most critical criteria for industrial clients is neither of
technological nor technical nature, but a process management topic:
industrial clients expect a true fixed BOM management by the supplier, in order
to get exactly the same product, that they had qualified for their system.
Fixed BOM has become a sales & marketing argument and is being misused. Many
suppliers allow "minor" changes, i. e. F/W updates or even dye changes
under their "fixed BOM" definition, which can cause severe integration
issues at the client's site.
Digging deeper into that subject, fixed BOM suddenly turns out to be
marketed the same as so called controlled BOM for certain suppliers, whose core
business is still the commercial or client SSD market.
In addition, it's my experience, having been in that market since
2005, that the typical life time expectation for SSD product is closer to 7+
years - at least with most German industrial clients (telecom, IPC and
industrial automation). And in many cases, you start the evaluation with a
current product generation, that will be almost EOL by the time the client has
finished his qualification.
Therefore, sharing the product roadmap and migration plan becomes
an important issue, in order to minimize re-qualification cost. This is also
becoming a major challenge as most Asian suppliers are hesitant to even talk
about current technological matters like NAND flash supplier and lithography
being used in the product as well as the NAND flash controller manufacturer.
The top tier industrial clients in Central Europe have a certain
expectation by history of the past 5-8 years and new comers don't seem to
understand the market requirements when they enter that market. At this year's
Embedded World in Nuremberg, Germany it became very obvious, that many new and "old"
suppliers (Kingston!?) want to get a decent piece of that tasty cake.
Best regards - and keep up the good work at storagesearch.com