SSD Companies - 2015 Q1
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
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.
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
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.
|If they survive manufacturing|
survive customers too.
|Virtium gets growth
|Editor:- August 5, 2015 - Virtium today
it has received an (undisclosed amount) growth investment from
L Squared Capital Partners which the
company says "will be used to enhance Virtiums product portfolio and
strengthen its application engineering and SSD firmware development teams."|
comments:- In the past year or so Ive spoken to a bunch of investors
who said they were looking at
I cant tell you who they were or if this was one of them. But
the general impression I got was this.
Adding together a lot of small
rational investments in
long term relationship markets like industrial SSDs is an alternative
strategy to gambling on a small number of risky big technology bets.
The big bets are risky because bigger monolithic market opportunities for
standard products attract and suck in more competitors - which - with low
entry barriers and customer churn - can tend to rapidly invalidate the
initial investment assumptions.
|bath tub curve is not the
most useful way of thinking about SSD failures|
|Editor:- June 15, 2015 - A recently published
research study which analyzed failure rates of
PCIe SSDs used in Facebook's
infrastructure over a 4 year period - yields some very useful insights into the
user experience of large populations of embedded flash. read more in storage
reliability - news & white papers|
fail safe file system for tiny memory IoT|
|Editor:- May 5, 2015 - Datalight today
a preview version of
Edge, a power
fail-safe file system for FreeRTOS
which allows developers building IoT devices to reliably store and quickly
access data in embedded
SSDs. It requires as little as 4KB of RAM and 11KB of code size.|
|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 |
|Hyperstone brings 100x
attenuation to industrial USBs
|Editor:- February 19, 2015 -
When I see an assertion about 100x better flash endurance - I smile and
think back to an article
my SSD care scheme is the
best - in May 2012 - which discusses this marketing idea and some of the
unerlying technologies. So why mention it again today?|
release from Hyperstone
(about their new flash management technology for
contains this exact phrase.
by a factor of more than 100 in fragmented usage pattern and for small file
random writes. Thereby, the reduction in effectively used write-erase-cycles
results in higher performance, longer life and shorter random access response
times. As a result, in many applications hyMap together with Hyperstone
controllers and MLC flash enables higher reliability and data retention than
other controllers using SLC. hyMap does
any external DRAM or SRAM."
In the same announcement - Dr. Jan Peter
Berns, Managing Director of Hyperstone - acknowledges that while these
issues have already been discussed intensively for several years in the
enterprise market. Hyperstone's new hyMap controller technology brings this
kind of improvement into smaller, low power SSDs such as SD/MMC and USB which
don't have the same kind of budgets for DRAM and CPU power as enterprise SSDs.
especially in the Internet of Things (IoT) are being created from emerging and
existing applications (automotive, medical, telecommunications,
industrial/retail, consumer/connected home, and aerospace/military) that are
rapidly transforming this market segment."|
|Web-Feet sizes 2015
industrial SSD market (January 4, 2015)|
|...they are at the core of
a document called - non-volatile memory program/erase endurance, data retention,
and operating life test - which is part of a set of standards for automotive
electronics - from an ORG called the AEC.|
new auto compliant SSDs - November 4, 2014|
|"M.2 will become the
next popular form factor for industrial applications.|
SATAe is designed
for desktop PCs now, and industrial designers may use it in the near future."
|C.C. Wu, Embedded
Flash VP of Innodisk-
in his paper -
in Industrial Applications (pdf) (August 6, 2014) - which among other things
includes an authoratative timeline of form factors and interfaces used in the
market in past decades.|
|Just as having a stable BOM
to reduce the cost of requalification and redesign is a desirable service
offering for drive level industrial SSDs - so too can having a stable - no
frills array design - for industrial systems users too.|
hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs - (May 28, 2014)|
|"We have to keep
abreast of all technologies - and have had early access to 3D-nand. Our
characterization suggests that the endurance of 3D nand is 3x to 4x better than
MLC (at similar line widths)."|
| Dave Merry,
FMJ Storage -
(March 17, 2014)|