Flash Storage Solutions for Embedded Designs

High Reliability Flash SSDs, Cards and Modules for Industrial Applications


One of the most memorable phrases that my mother used when I was growing up was – “Don’t trust the book by it’s cover !”. This was meant for me to look beyond the flashy advertisement and glorified promotional specs and really understand the value and the promise the product or relationship had. The same proverb could be well used to warn the prospective customer about the Industrial SSD products.

A customer is typically barraged by multiple factors when evaluating an Industrial Solid State Drive purchase. The price point, cost per gigabyte, data transfer and IOPS speeds and type of NAND flash memory used are all vitally important when assessing the value of an SSD drive. However, there is one item typically business customers frequently take for granted during the evaluation  process: the bill of materials. It’s not surprising why this checklist would not get more than a cursory check. After all, it is common sense that manufacturers should be using the best materials and components when producing the end products. In addition, any sale production should put a major focus of product quality and consistency of operation. This, unfortunately, is not always the case.

At the lowest level, the bill of materials is nothing more than a list of the approved subsystems and components that make up a larger product. End users may not feel that this is of importance and should not be concerned with this kind of minor detail, but issues with a product’s BoM can directly affect its performance and reliability.

BoM problems are typically defined by three gauges : completeness, consistency or correctness.
1) Completeness refers to the total number of components and process steps that are required to manufacture the end product.
2) Consistency refers to the specific quality of components and process steps that are required to manufacture the end product.
3) Correctness refers to the correct number and sequence of process steps that are required to manufacture the end product.

Prospective SSD customers should be especially vigilant of consistency in manufacturing when selecting a solution. Many manufacturers, especially that pursue low cost strategy, have shown an inability to procure the same components, control their manufacturing process or issue corporate communication highlighting changes to the component/process in product manufacturing.

The Drawback of Flexible BoMs
Recently, TweakTown’s Chris Ramseyer described some of the most outrageous examples of manufacturing companies knowingly changing their product BoMs.

OCZ Technology, for instance, once made an alteration to the BoM on one of its products, changing out the NAND flash used for another similar device. Because of the change, some volume consumers had significant technical issues with the new batch of manufactured SSDs. Similarly,. Kingston experienced the same fate, quietly replacing the 25nm synchronous NAND flash originally included with its original V300 SSD series with an inferior component approximately one year later.

PNY Technologies had a similar issue in the past, manufacturing the same part number SSDs with changing BoMs. One of TweakTown readers contacted Ramseyer and stated that the purchased SSD did not contain a BoM that matched the one that was previously reviewed on the website. According to Ramseyer, that the reader bought the identical PNY SSD because of the high marks  given due to its performance. However, because of changed BoM, that individual’s product did not exhibit the same performance benchmarks.

PNY later admitted that the company had shipped out the same SSD model number with multiple BoMs, approving this strategy by noting that all of its products fall within “minimum advertised performance levels.” However, the BoM change was easily noted by the end customer in their simple benchmark verification.

It is evident that when manufacturers neglect to lock down the components within their BoMs, consumers and business users may wind up with a product that doesn’t meet their expectations. Ramseyer lamented that companies would choose to take such liberties and fail to adhere to full transparency with their BoMs.

“Sadly, we no longer have faith in PNY or Kingston SSDs as both companies have acted with poor judgment and misled SSD product reviewers, our readers and the buying public,” Ramseyer wrote. “Even though both product changes should meet the advertised specifications, they are not in line with the products we and others tested. Hopefully other companies will not follow their lead.”

Ramseyer’s reaction to these incidents – especially when his own stellar review was the prime cause of the purchase – highlights the importance of consistency and transparency in the product creation.

Fortasa Memory Systems, Inc. Solid State Storage products, including SSD drives have always featured locked BoMs . Fortasa specifically locks the five most critical items – Connector, PCB, Flash Controller, Flash Component and Firmware, giving end customers’ peace of mind knowing that any ordered item will offer the same performance and compatibility as the originally qualified product.

With Fortasa SSDs, customers can be fully confident that they receive exactly what they had experienced in the past.

Please contact Fortasa for our Industrial Solid State Storage Product Information.

Contact Sales For Information about Fortasa Industrial Product Information

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Usage of NAND Flash COPYBACK Command Causes Drive Corruption and Data Loss

One of the “Beneficial” features that was added into NAND Flash operation was the COPYBACK Command.

Also known as the INTERNAL DATA MOVE (IDM) operations, Copyback was promoted by the NAND Flash vendors as a performance increasing feature which enabled the data page to be copied from one memory location to another within a NAND device without transferring the data off-chip to a Flash controller.

Copyback Command

Copyback Command

As the Copyback operation required only was a fraction of time compared to a full data page move and reprogram sequence, it quickly became a favorite choice to enhance the Wear Leveling or Garbage Collection operation within SSD execution.

However, because the data was copied directly from one memory location to another all associated errors (bad bits, etc.) and Error Correction (ECC) codes we copied verbatim to the new location. In the event where the old memory location had bad bits, the data and the ECC codes would be copied exactly as they were read, without any error correction.

In a regular SSD operation, when data is read by the host, the Flash controller transparently corrects any detected errors through an ECC engine.Once a level of bit errors approaches a theoretical maximum that the ECC engine is capable of correcting, the Flash controller re-writes the corrected data page to a new location, zeroing out the accumulated errors.

For a small subset of the customers, whose drive usage model involved heavy data writes and infrequent reads, the Copyback command feature proved to be a real Trojan Horse. While the performance improvement was noticeable due to frequent data moves the drives started to fail after lengthy field deployment.

Extensive Failure Analysis was required to determine the cause of drive corruption. After looking specifically at each memory block it was evident that the high rate of bit errors was a direct cause of the overused Copyback command.

Fortasa Memory Systems Flash Controllers have DISABLED the usage of the Copyback command. While our products are not fully optimized for top performance, we guarantee that our end products will not fail due to uncorrectable ECC errors consitututed by the Copyback command usage. Fortasa Solid State Storage Solutions are the highest reliability memory devices guaranteeing many years of dependable and reliable operation.

Please contact Fortasa for reliability information of any Fortasa product.

Contact Fortasa For Information about our Solid State Storage Products

 

 

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DOD seal

DoD 5520.22-M Security Data Purge

Another ubiquitous and popular data sanitization method to safely and securely erase sensitive data from a storage device, including Flash SSDs, is DoD 5220.22-M.  This method was initially defined by the US National Industrial Security Program (NISP) in the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM) and is one of the most commonly used data sanitization methods used in data destruction software. Another item to note is that the NISPOM does not define any US government standard for data sanitization. The Cognizant Security Authority (CSA) is truly responsible for data sanitization standards.

The DoD 5220.22-M data sanitization method is implemented in the following way in Fortasa Flash SSDs.:

  • Pass 1: Erases fully all data
  • Pass 2: Programs a random character and verifies the write
  • Pass 3: Erases fully all data

Utilizing the DoD 5220.22-M secure data scrub method will destructively erase all the stored data on the Flash SSD or module. While not as elaborate as some other software data sanitization methods that are independently defined by various government organizations, the DoD 5220.22-M is fast to execute and achieves a materially complete purge of previously stored information.

Fortasa Flash SSDs and modules include multiple popular data sanitization methods in addition to DoD 5220.22-M.

 

Please contact Fortasa to discuss the security requirements of your Solid State Storage needs.

Contact Sales For Security Functionality Implementation in Fortasa Flash Storage Products

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NSA Logo

National Security Agency
Media Sanitization Manual

A more detailed and elaborate data sanitization method to purge resident data from the storage media, including Flash Storage, quickly and securely is defined in NSA Manual, Section 130-12. Currently, the Manual 9-12 supersedes NSA/CSS Manual 130-12.

The NSA method requires the destructive sequence below to overwrite existing information on a hard drive, SSD, Flash card or other storage device. The NSA data sanitization method is defined to be implemented in the following way:

  • Pass 1: Erases fully all data
  • Pass 2: Programs a random character and verifies the write
  • Pass 3: Erases fully all data
  • Pass 4: Programs a different random character and verifies the write
  • Pass 5: Erases fully all data
  • Pass 4: Programs a specified character and verifies the write

Erasing and re-writing a Solid State Drive using the NSA Manual 130-12 data sanitization method will prevent all software and hardware based file recovery methods from re-creating previously stored information from the drive. While this method requires multiple erase/program passes across the whole storage device address space, it is one of the more thorough algorithms to remove the magnetic remnants of the previously stored information. Fortasa Memory Systems Military SSDs incorporate purge sequences that adhere to multiple government standards for secure removal of stored data.

Please contact Fortasa to discuss your security requirements in your Solid State Storage needs.

Contact Sales For Security Functionality Implementation in Fortasa Flash Storage Products

 

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NAVSO Seal

NAVSO P-5239-26

Another commonly used data sanitization method to securely and efficiently purge all stored data from the Flash storage device is NAVSO P-5239-26. Defined originally in Navy Staff Office Publication 5239 Module 26: Information Systems Security Program Guidelines, published by the US Navy.  This method requires the destructive sequence below to overwrite existing information on a hard drive, SSD, Flash card or other storage device.

The NAVSO P-5239-26 data sanitization method is defined to be implemented in the following way:

  • Pass 1: Erases fully all data
  • Pass 2: Programs a random character and verifies the write
  • Pass 3: Erases fully all data

Erasing and re-writing a Solid State Drive using the NAVSO P-5239-26 data sanitization method will prevent all software and hardware based file recovery methods from re-creating previously stored information from the drive. Fortasa Memory Systems Military SSDs incorporate purge sequences that adhere to multiple government standards for secure removal of stored data .

Please contact Fortasa to discuss your security requirements in your Solid State Storage needs.

Contact Sales For Security Functionality Implementation in Fortasa Flash Products

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