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SMART High Reliability Solutions


SMART Modular Technologies

SMART High Reliability Solutions is a provider of current and next-generation ruggedized, high-performance and high-capacity solid-state storage solutions.

Leveraging its deep expertise in Flash and in defense storage technology, SMART HRS combines leading-edge, defense focused design with proven world-class support, to deliver high quality and high reliability solutions to a focused customer base, primarily ruggedized and defense OEMs.

SMART High Reliability Solutions is part of the SMART Global Holdings family of global companies.
SMART is a leading independent designer, manufacturer and supplier of electronic subsystems to OEMs engaged in the computer, industrial, networking, telco, aerospace and defense markets.

SMART's product line includes DRAM and Flash memory technologies across various form factors.

SMART's presence in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Latin America enables it to provide its customers with proven expertise in international logistics, asset management, and supply-chain management worldwide.

SMART - 2.5" SATA SSDs for defense (pdf)

SMART - SSDs (eUSB / mSATA / M.2)

who's who in SSD now? - SMART HRS

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - - February 2017

This month I had an update Q&A session with Jim Piroli, Strategic Marketing Manager SMART High Reliability Solutions.

The notes below are some of the things we discussed.

Zsolt - re the endurance ratings shown in the model comparison chart (2.5" SATA SSDs for defense ) - have you thought about also offering a DWPD equivalent figure?

comparison chart - click to see more

Jim - We have done it in the past. It is a good way to measure the drives.

Zsolt - I realize that the arbitrary 5 years used in enterprise systems for DWPD may be disconnected for embedded products which sometimes have much shorter (or longer) operational deployments. But for some types of applications it might help systems engineers relate back to something they see in other contexts. And enterprise architectures have often found a way of being used in mobile settings.

Jim - We have a library that dates back over 30 years. The tribal knowledge base in our group is massive. Even though the interfaces and capacities have changed the basic concept of storage has not. We use our expertise to ensure we truly understand what the customer is trying to accomplish. We are pretty good listeners.

Zsolt - The 2.5" (standard) products obviously demonstrate some of your capabilities – but how important is custom?

Jim - Some customers need conformal coating, staking, and leaded process. It all depends on the application. We have made sure we can accommodate all these requirements as it is an absolute must for some.

Zsolt - And which directions do you prefer stretching towards with this?

Jim - The custom work differentiates our products. We do not want to be in the commodity business. Not fun and the big players just tell you to buy another drive. Mission critical folks think the data on the drive is the most important component so we need to treat with a high level of importance.

Zsolt - Same interface but different form factor?

Jim - SATA III dominates now, but U.2 should be taking market share by mid next year.

Zsolt - What would you say are your key strengths when talking to customers? - (compared to all the other rugged 2.5" SSD makers which everyone sees on the web).

Jim - We have the largest most experienced support structure in the military space. We have flown engineers and tech support folks all over the globe. We can tweak firmware, adjust performance and do a complete FA when a drive comes back. There are literally hundreds of tests including temp cycling, power cycling and a whole host of other test suites that we have. We are still supporting drives that have been in the field for over 10 years. Engineering is on the phone daily with customers. The interaction is huge. They really value that. (See the customization slide below for more about this).
re custom SSDs
Editor's comments:- This shows a side of the SSD business which readers rarely get to read about as they aren't the kind of things which can be neatly packed into a press release. But this kind of thinking and commitment is an important ingredient in the formula of what makes a military SSD company?

See also:- a simple list of military SSD companies (how hard can it be to compile one?)

Later:- in March 2017 - Jim told me that their 8TB 2.5" MLC drive (shown in the tables above) "a hot commodity right now."

who's who in SSD? - SMART group

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - - October 29, 2014

SMART Modular operates in the industrial SSD market (with an emphasis on smaller and tiny form factors), and also in the hybrid DIMM and RAM markets - whereas SMART High Reliability Solutions provides SSDs (mostly 2.5") aimed at the military market.

The current SMART product ranges were based on an earlier company SMART Modular Technologies - which was reorganized by its owner Silver Lake during 2011 - 2012 into 2 parts:-
  • a memory and rugged embedded SSD business - which was the core of the current SMART activities
That still left the current SMART in possession of a strong heritage in enterprise memory IP and rugged SSD design - but without the adaptive R/W flash management technology which enabled SMART Storage to use consumer grade flash in enterprise systems - which had been the prime motivator behind that acquisition by SanDisk.

In a recent conversation with key product managers in SMART Modular - the company told me...

"We don't use TLC flash and have no plans to do so. The only flash we use is SLC or MLC from known good die and from sources we trust and processes we have characterized."

Coping with the reality of what the company acknowledges is a very fragmented industrial market - SMART Modular also does custom design work - and for those customers who want extra confidence in their embedded memories and SSDs - they can be screened via burn-in - and made according to agreed BOMs which specify the exact original source of critical parts such as memory.

SMART mentions in SSD market history

April 2001 - Centennial (a leading supplier of PATA flash) changed its name to SMART Modular Technologies.

In February 2008 - SMART acquired Adtron - which had been one of the Top 10 SSD companies in Q4 2007.

In August 2011 - SMART Modular Technologies was acquired by private equity company Silver Lake.

In September 2012 - SMART Modular Technologies announced that it had commenced litigation for patent infringement against Netlist against its HyperCloud DIMM products (flash backed DRAM DIMMs)

In October 2013 - SMART Modular announced that its DDR3 Non-Volatile DIMMs (NVDIMMs) were fully compatible with and automatically recognized by the BIOS on new Supermicro X9DRH-iF-NV server boards.

In November 2018 - SMART Modular demonstrated a 96GB Gen-Z Memory Module at SC18.

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fast purge / erase SSDs
military SSDs - news and guide
DRAM's indeterminate latencies
a simple list of military SSD companies?
some thoughts about SSD customization
EOL and the mythical "standard" industrial SSD
the ups and downs of hold-up caps in MIL SSDs
SSD ad - click for more info

SMART gets patent for autonomous NVDIMM save/restore
Editor:- January 8, 2018 - flash backed DRAM NVDIMMs aren't new but an interesting subtlety in the design emerged in a press release today from SMART Modular Technologies who announced that its (optionally encryptable) DDR-4 NVDIMMs (8GB to 32GB) now feature Autonomous Self Refresh - the new thing being that a patent is involved.

"SMART's patented ASR feature (patent number 9,779,016) allows SMART's NVDIMM to independently initiate a backup after an event which results in a system freeze or "hang" without power loss. Active data in the NVDIMM is saved and recovered in events such as an OS crash, CPU fault, MCU fault, BIOS hang, blue screen, or other motherboard failures."

As I understand it - the patented issue is that the NVDIMM system itself detects that power has failed or recovered to a critical threshold - and that the save and restore operations are performed "without any intervention from outside the memory unit".

Among other things - the advantage is that the data in the NVDIMM can be trusted to a higher level of confidence than if the power disturbance was detected at one location in an array of chips on a motherboard - which may have happened after the power event had already corrupted data in a DIMM elsewhere - or if the external event was detected too late for the attached controllers to shut down writes in a guaranteed manner.
is data remanence in persistent memory a new risk factor?

SSD ad - click for more info

If you've ever watched the movie Black Hawk Down - there's a memorable scene in which Super 64 has its tail hit by an RPG and becomes the 2nd chopper to go down. From that moment it's clear to viewers that whatever the pilot does at the controls - '64 will hit the ground real soon. Inside the brain of the SSD - a nerve ending tugs to say - forget your other priorities pal - the power rail is going down.
Surviving SSD sudden power loss

Many of the important and sometimes mysterious behavioral aspects of SSDs which predetermine their application limitations and usable market roles can only be understood when you look at how well the designer has dealt with managing the symmetries and asymmetries which are implicit in the underlying technologies which are contained within the SSD.
how fast can your SSD run backwards?

One of the things which demonstrates the extraordinary range of diversity in thinking about the SSD market is the different answers you get to these 2 simple questions.

what's the best way to design a flash SSD?

where's the best place to put it?

Nowhere else in computer architecture will you get so many industry experts disagreeing on such fundamental questions.
the SSD Heresies

"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 - Storage ready for the post cloud era - by OpenIO. (January 10, 2017)

If you could go back in time and take with you a load of memory chips and SSDs from today (along with compatible adapters so they could plug and play) how would that change the world?
What if you could bring back SSDs from the future?

SSD ad - click for more info

ArmourDrive, FerriSSD , Full Metal Jacket , TuffServ ... etc
Inanimate Power, Speed and Strength Metaphors in SSD brands

There was a young lady called Prudence
Was worried 'bout flash's endurance
She met an IP Who said - stick by me
My software will be your ensurence
the limericks of SSD endurance is published by ACSL