With higher reliability, greater capacity, comparable effective lower costs and faster read/write speeds, solid-state storage devices (SSD) are fast moving into embedded applications, leading both to more alternatives as well as a move toward standardizing interfaces. Robert J.C. Lee, Apacer senior director of R&D, remarked on three major factors that consumers and industrial-grade applications can consider when deciding to implement SSD solutions. They are reliability, performance and endurance.
While the quality and durability of successive generations of flash memories have tended to drop, how an SSD device is tested is becoming a very important matter for developers and electronics device makers.
Taking the performance test of SSD as an example, SSD controller needs to manage multi-channel NAND memory access and consider internal or external DRAM cache memory operations. The performance is decided based on how an SSD's random IOPS (Input/output operations per second) requirements have improved. The core issue of performance is speed. And the same scrutiny applied to reliability is also used for data integrity; endurance is the main concern of product life.
Talking about Apacer SSD solutions in 2015 at the recent Digitimes Embedded Technology Forum (DTF), Lee introduced the company's full product lineup covering network storage, server, embedded systems and smart devices. There are several unique Apacer features to enhance the product's functionality. The first one is HyperCache technology. HyperCache enables data written in SLC page first and ensures the optimized write performance. It then moves data to an MLC area when the device is idle. The leverage of SLC and MLC memory makes the best fit for SSD solutions.
Industrial customers are often only willing to use costly SLC memory, which limits SSD capacity for industrial control applications. Apacer has incorporated SLC-Lite memory technology which is 3-10 times more durable than MLC, as well as key technologies that can maintain and monitor program/erase (P/E) wear leveling. This technology also integrates data security features such as SATA link CRC, ECC on DRAM, data plus ECC code on buffer memory, stored data plus ECC code on NAND memory. It allows the SSD to be integrated into lightweight industrial control applications, while SLC-Lite memory will become the new darling of industrial control applications.
The next important consideration is that power matters. Unexpected power failure will cause data loss and raise a direct impact on SSD operations. To deal with unexpected power failure situations, Apacer provides a feature of power failure mechanisms with implementing protective CorePower circuits to guarantee all cache data will be flushed into flash memory safely.
Apart from the above technologies, Apacer provides enterprise SSD products with high capacity up to 2TB, supporting both UltraSpeed SATAIII and PCIe interfaces and other traditional connections. For server solutions, Apacer also provides small form factor Disk on Modules for 1U servers with a cableless design for fitting operating system backup or cache operating purposes.
Lee also highlighted Apacer's patented 7+2 pins power socket design, eliminating the power line of the socket in motherboard layout. This patented technology has been implemented to the Intel Grantley server board family covering the Intel S2600CW Family, Cottonwood Pass, Taylor Pass and Kennedy Pass motherboards.
Non-volatile Memory is another area where Apacer's unique designs combine SSD and DIMM technologies together. There is one DIMM memory equipped with SSD and DDR memory altogether, or a Non Volatile DIMM, which is best suitable for backup or for restoring DRAM data.
The operation procedures are using DRAM memory addresses visible to the host during the power on state and the NAND memory keeps data for persistency during the power off state. Once the power returns the data will be restored from NAND memory immediately. These products are trying to enhance the reliability of DIMM product lines to create a special purpose memory solution in the embedded systems. Apacer is committed to providing flexible memory solutions to service IoT and embedded solution providers.
Robert J.C. Lee, Apacer senior director of R&D