Anyone following the storage-industry news lately has observed there’s attention on SSD speeds, capacities, form factors, and other commonly referenced metrics. Those characteristics are all well and good for many applications in which data isn’t generally considered mission-critical. So, it makes sense that such measurements are standard for general, consumer-grade SSDs.
But SSDs for the industrial-embedded space are different animals. In contrast to those consumer-grade SSD, several less-visible but crucial determinants provide the real measure of embedded/industrial SSDs’ value, in terms of how they perform in their designated applications.
While key parameters such as physical size, form factor, capacities and performance do come into play, especially for space-limited designs, there are other equally important metrics that seasoned embedded/industrial system designers look for. For example; a higher premium is typically placed on reliability, especially in application harsh environments where temperature/humidity and shock/vibration are prevalent and product deployments are challenging, e.g. cellular base stations in remote or hard-to-reach locations. Product longevity, both in terms of endurance (how long the SSD will last under a given workload) as well as availability (how long the identical product can be sourced), is also very important as it relates to longer-term support costs and customers’ quality reputations.
Many industrial applications, by definition, mean that SSDs face harsh conditions: extreme temperatures, frequent shock, vibration and read/write cycles that far exceed those demanded of consumer or even enterprise-grade SSDs. Neither grade of SSD is designed for extreme temperatures, whereas true industrial-grade components that can withstand -40C to 85C temperatures. Also, neither is designed for high shock/vibration, as are straddle-mount (industrial), versus surface-mount (consumer/enterprise), connectors or extra gold thickness on connector plating.
Consumer and enterprise-grade SSDs also focus on highest performance and rely on system cooling or ultra-low power modes to manage the heat generated. Industrial-grade dives, in contrast, put high emphasis on reducing heat because the typical industrial application has no system cooling (or even airflow) and must withstand higher operating temperatures for a prolonged period of time. So, if lower-priced, consumer-grade storage is used for such harsh conditions, the initial cost savings quickly evaporate when the drive becomes unreliable and loses data.
If a design’s SSD fails because and another must be qualified, that added time compounds the consequences well beyond a simple one-time expense; whichever company designed or marketed the system faces potentially taking a hit taken to its market position. Similarly, consumer and enterprise-grade SSDs are typically moving at breakneck speeds to the newest technology, leaving system designers requiring 5-year (or more) product support in a bind. These often-unplanned, or at least poorly communicated, changes can cause great supply continuity disruption while also requiring precious technical resources to qualify the new/replacement part. Avoiding such a scenario is where Virtium products excel. In addition to their rugged durability, our industrial/embedded SSDs deliver the industry’s longest product life cycles.
While there are many other aspects to consider with industrial-grade SSDs, including robust power-fail data protection, advanced error checking and correction, and efficient flash management algorithms, suffice it to say that all are second nature to Virtium customers, who understand how crucial it is to ensure that SSDs remain operational and data remains safe and accessible for a significant period of time. These are the designers and manufacturers who’ve chosen our StorFly and TuffDrive SSDs, which are supported by our advanced vtView software. They’ve selected Virtium solutions not just for the SSDs’ wide range of form factors, capacities and unmatched drive-monitoring software, but also for their assurance of durability, reliability and data protection.
Our new StorFly XE Class SSDs, for example, bridge the gap between single- and multi-level-cell based SSDs, enabling up to seven times greater read/write endurance than standard multi-level cell based SSDs. Additionally, XE Class drives support industrial temperature (-40C to 85C) operation, making them ideal for customers’ harsh-environment applications. The XE Class line of industrial-grade SSDs is just another in a long history of Virtium offerings providing solutions to customers’ challenges, in this case, providing the right reliability versus cost fit for specific applications.
Yet, in light of the “speeds and feeds” that tend to command lots of today’s storage press coverage, one truth bears repeating: There’s simply no substitute for SSD integrity.