- mentions on StorageSearch.com,
|Cactus Technologies and the
Top SSD Companies List
|Who's who in SSD? - Cactus Technologies|
Kerekes, editor - April 8, 2014
Cactus Technologies -
founded in 2005 - markets SSDs for industrial and embedded markets in a
variety of form factors and interfaces.
The company's founders
Chang who - while previously at
SanDisk - worked on
the world's first PATA SSD and managed the design of the first single chip CF
The company offers standard industrial temperature
operation SSDs and also some extended operation devices (for example mSATA)
which can operate from -45C upto 90 degrees C.
In April 2014 - I
Larrivee, VP Sales & Marketing at Cactus some questions about
their controller technologies, market issues related to SLC and MLC, and
customer awareness of SSD and reliability issues.
Often when I talk to
an SSD company about their business I ask questions like
I didn't have to ask Steve those
questions - because the answers are already contained on their web site.
Uniquely (as far as I can recall) they list the 2 best selling SSD types for
each customer segment they operate in.
- what's your best selling product?, and
- what are your main markets?
Here's what I did ask.
- Can you tell me more about your controllers - who designs them? where
they come from?
Steve - We work closely with
did it), but have custom firmware versions to meet our specific needs, including
custom feature sets as well as additional circuitry for added for improved
Industrial functionality (write abort handling, etc.). We also work with
SMI on as well.
Zsolt - Are you seeing a difference in understanding about SSD
concepts between the traditional industries (classical hard industrial, mil) and
newer embedded markets?
Steve - My belief is many industrial and embedded markets which should
be using SLC based SSD are using MLC products due completely to price.
Some are willing to spend $40-50 on a 4GB SLC part for reliability, but when
they are looking for 64GB/128GB they are shocked by the $100s-$1K prices and opt
for lower cost MLC.
I'm not saying every industrial/embedded
application needs SLC... some may be OK with MLC.
I am saying many
companies roll the dice on the reliability of their overall systems with MLC SSD
in applications where failure can't be tolerated for 3-7 years. There will
be some fallout.
Zsolt - Or does the SSD education tilt another way with younger
designers thinking they already know a lot about SSDs from their reading in
other markets (computer) and not appreciating the subtle differences which life
in a wild box can introduce to requirements?
Steve - This is absolutely an issue. The SLC vs MLC SSD market is
similar to the Consumer vs Industrial flash cards.
people look at retail ads for microSD cards and see a 4GB card for ~$5, whereas
an industrial grade part is many times that amount.
designers (and some older ones too) think you are trying to pull a fast one on
them because the parts look identical and function in the same socket.
the end of the day, SLC/Industrial flash gives you reliability and endurance
that MLC/TLC will never touch.
Another key point from our
vs MLC White Paper (pdf) is the trace width of the NAND flash.
older the technology, the more reliable and costly.
technology is less reliable and less costly.
MLC at <20nm is currently 2-3 generations ahead of the SLC we're
using in many of our products (43nm Toshiba SLC) this makes the MLC
product much less costly, but much less reliable.
Zsolt - I like the threshold graphs in your
pdf. I know you published this paper some time ago - but I only saw it
last week and I think it illustrates the concept well.
believes that only SLC NAND provides the superior performance, endurance and
long term reliability required for operation in an industrial environment. Hence
we use SLC NAND exclusively in our industrial grade flash storage products.|
Cactus uses 4X/3Xnm technology SLC NAND for our industrial grade products
whereas mainstream MLC NAND is currently at 2Xnm or 1X/1Ynm."
Chang, VP of Engineering
Cactus Technologies in
his classic white paper
vs MLC NAND and the Impact of Technology Scaling (pdf) |
- Cactus Technologies
launched a rugged
32GByte industrial grade
CF form factor PATA
compatible SLC flash SSD in an extended height (6.4mm) form factor. The
303 Series offers high
write cycles per block),
defect management and 4M hours
|The big iconic saguaro
cactuses which you see today - standing like tree statues - can be hundreds of
years old. So you can see how that idea might work in the market today for an
industrial SSD company - like Cactus Technologies. |
|Power, Speed and
Strength Metaphors in SSD brands||..
|"I thought this was an
impressive retrospective story and for customers with applications where the
reliability of each solo SSD is critical it's a more convincing positioning
statement about the design and manufacturing capabilities of the SSD creator
than any forward reaching promises can be."|
commenting on a customer story in the blog -
Memory Failure be Catastrophic to your business? (July 19, 2017) - by
|Cactus clarifies role of
pSLC etc in embedded SSDs|
|Editor:- June 22, 2017 - I had to read a new
twice just to make sure I grasped its meaning properly. |
pSLC, MLC and TLC Differences - Does Your Flash Storage SSD Make the Grade?
My did they really say that? moment came when I got
the distinct impression Cactus said something nice about Pseudo SLC.
remember that in the past Cactus has been critical of competitors who offer
pSLC for use in industrial
SSDs - so did I misread something or is it the case that Cactus is now
offering pSLC in its SSDs too?
Yes... to pSLC in Cactus SSDs.
this isn't a reversal of their previous statements.
pSLC is being offered as a memory option for oems who need a high
reliability SSD but don't have the budget for SLC and don't need the full
industrial temperature range either.
Cactus says its "OEM Grade
products are based on pSLC NAND, which is the same MLC NAND as used in
Commercial Grade. The difference is the MLC NAND is set in a mode which only the
top and bottom states are used, thereby cutting the capacity in half but
increase the endurance by 6x the MLC." ...read
|Cactus has been asked over
the past few years for MLC NAND based Flash Storage Devices which could meet an
Industrial Operating Temperature range of -40C to +85C. After significant
efforts in R&D, weve developed a production screening process which allows
us to offer extended temperature using MLC NAND on select products... for
applications which do not have high write endurance requirements.|
Cactus proprietary production process involves a custom built burn-in chamber
with many slots to screen large numbers of flash storage devices at a time.
Now Offering -40C to +85C MLC Flash Storage Products (May 9, 2016)|
safest time to perform garbage collection?|
March 16, 2016 - while there's often no single correct answer to SSD design
questions (see the
SSD design heresies
for examples) a recent blog -
SSD Controller Design Compromises the Best NAND Memory by Cactus Technologies
reveals an interesting insight into the design philosophy of its embedded SSD
lines. Among other things:- |
"On-the-fly Garbage Collection many
flash products do garbage collection during IDLE time to maximize performance
when the device is active; however, this increase the likelihood of write abort
data corruption as the host system may remove power during IDLE time while the
device is still doing program/erase operations internally. Cactus Technologies
industrial grade products performs on-the-fly garbage collection; while this
will reduce performance slightly, it ensures that the host can safely power down
the device during IDLE time."
Editor's comments:- While
SSD designs still have to mitigate against
sudden power loss (which like most
- the Cactus products do) it's interesting for system designers to know that
there can be multi-layered approaches to power protection designed into some
SSDs. (Instead of single shot silver bullets.)
Actually the main point
of the Cactus blog is something else entirely - the difference in correctable
ECC in different geometries of SLC. Nice graphs if you're interested.
isn't a fan of pSLC for industrial uses saying - "There is not
substantial data to back up pSLC as any more reliable than using the full
capacity of the MLC component with 2x the cells to perform wear leveling."
most reliable 2.5 inch MLC SATA III SSD" |
paves way to new budget
military SSD - from Cactus
|Editor:- February 23, 2015 -
the release of a new military 2.5 SATA SSD - the 230S PRO series - a
adapted variation of the company's proven
commercial grade family which Cactus describes as "the most reliable
MLC based 2.5 SATA III SSD on the market."|
Chang, VP of Engineering said that -it meets the price budget for
applications where intense writing or extreme temperatures are not prevalent.
- hardware AES256 Encryption
- Jumper Triggered Write Protect,
- NSA 9-12 or Quick Erase
- 64GB to 640GB MLC capacities
- Altitude spec of 100,000 feet
- 3,000G Shock; 20G Vibration
- Powerful Industrial ECC and Defect Management
helped over 100,000 drivers find home|
|Editor:- January 6, 2015 -
it has shipped over 100,000 units of its
Series (32GB MLC) - 2.5"
PATA SSDs - to a
German automotive OEM company for use in their infotainment (integrated audio
entertainment and GPS navigation) systems.|
looks at thorny issue of embedded flash TCO|
|Editor:- April 2, 2014 - Cactus Technologies
today published a blog -
State Storage Total Cost of Ownership versus a Really Low Price Today -
aimed at designers in industrial markets - which discusses 4 sources of cost
they should consider when selecting an SSD.|
When looking at eol
considerations - the author Steve Larrivee
- warns that although designers may be counting on being able to delay
requalifications by mining obsolete SSDs as unsold inventory from channels and
brokers "for a considerably higher price... this introduces the
possibility of counterfeit parts as well."...read
Editor's comments:- Although these raw
headline factors are the same for designers in all industries - the weightings
are often different in embedded markets due to the smaller sizes of equipment
production runs - which means that design-centric related requalification costs
are more significant as a factor in each system shipped than is the case in
higher volume markets.