Consumer, Enterprise & Industrial Storage

Consumer, Enterprise & Industrial Storage

Consumer, Enterprise & Industrial Storage Systems

Flash memory is used in billions of products worldwide from mobile phones and personal computers, to server farms and industrial control systems. These products are designed with an array of different flash storage formats, such as USB flash drives, SD Cards and SSDs (just to name a few).

As the cost per GB of NAND flash has gone down as the technology has advanced, SSDs have been replacing traditional HDDs in a growing range of applications, mainly because of their higher performance, lower power consumption and reliability.

Each storage device based on NAND flash is designed to meet the requirements of a specific market, which may be consumer, enterprise or industrial (or prosumer). The requirements of these markets differ dramatically and include parameters such as price per GB, read-write performance, error rates and reliability. The right trade-offs need to be made between these to suit each market or application.

What are the characteristics of consumer products?

Consumer products are designed with price per GB as the main driver. They provide good “headline” figures for sequential performance fresh-out-of-the-box (although, even if achievable in practice, that performance is often not maintained for very long). Consumer storage generally use QLC flash to reduce the cost. But this also means lower write endurance and a shorter life. These devices will use a basic flash controller with a limited scope for optimising the performance and lifetime of the flash memory.

What do I need for an enterprise system?

Enterprise storage drives (SSDs) are mostly used in servers and data centres. Here the focus is on performance, particularly for continuous writes. These drives are usually based on MLC and TLC flash technology, which can provide a good balance of performance, cost and lifetime. Enterprise drives are often paired with a high performance flash memory controller to manage the intense write workloads the drive has to carry out.

How about industrial applications?

For industrial applications, the main requirement is reliability. These are often systems where reliable data storage and security is vital. This includes 5G networking systems, autonomous vehicles such as self-driving cars, and black boxes for trains and planes. These applications demand high standards of safe data storage and retention that can last in some instances, upwards of a decade.

Most people assume that industrial systems only use SLC flash technology. However nowadays, due to high quality flash memory controllers managing the data transfers in these industrial systems, the more cost efficient MLC and even TLC flashes are now attainable.

Ultimately, it’s the flash memory controller that really makes the difference when it comes to reliability, not the flash technology. This is because the right controller can make even TLC flashes reliable enough to manage data in systems that have incredibly stringent requirements.

How do I know what components are best for my application?

Depending on whether you are designing a module and sourcing all the components individually, purchasing a module from a design company or a finished product online, your drive has to support your workload.  

To better understand your workload and the requirements of your system, you can use the tools from Hyperstone to help you best identify and analyse your systems unique requirements. Our Use Case Tracker allows you to understand the system workload and access patterns so that the flash controller can be optimised for those requirements. The Lifetime Estimation Tool will enable you to identify the best flash memory type and configuration for your unique workload. Finally, the hySMART™ Health Monitoring software lets you maintain an overview of your systems health and performance over its lifetime. This can help avoid unexpected device failures and unplanned downtime.

By choosing the best type of flash memory, and pairing it with the right controller and tools, you can differentiate your products by providing a higher level of performance and security.