Flash Storage Solutions for Embedded Designs

High Reliability Flash SSDs, Cards and Modules for Industrial Applications


Fortasa Industrial eMMC device

Fortasa Industrial eMMC device

As the rapid pace of innovation of technology drives products to become lighter, smaller and cheaper, the same principal drives the storage products. In the last few years the commonly utilized CompactFlash card form factor was surpassed by the SD card standard, later to be overtaken by an even smaller microSD card. In the embedded industry, the 2.5″ HDDs were overtaken by a smaller form factor Flash Modules and now rapidly replaced by a single chip SSDs.

eMMC is the most common choices in the single chip SSD offering. Benefiting the customer by a universal standard, small footprint, fast performance and multitude of suppliers, the eMMC is being rapidly designed-in not just consumer, but Industrial applications.

eMMC standard is managed by JEDEC, an independent authority for developing specifications and standards. All the product technical features, command set, package layout and ball positions are all defined in the JEDEC specification. The standard also defines compliance testing and issues certification to conforming, approved and tested products.  The eMMC certification insures compliance and ubiquity of supply.

Most Flash memory manufacturers, also offer an eMMC product for their customer base. However, their offering is targeted for the highest volume, consumer applications, such as cellular phones or tablet products. The manufacturing goal of the memory suppliers is to have the lowest cost product with the acceptable rapid changes for immediate cost reductions. This is contrary to the Embedded Customer needs of having a consistent product for the longest duration.

Fortasa Memory Systems, Inc.offers an Industrial Grade eMMC product where the product content is specifically identified and restricted. The Flash Controller, Flash Component, Package manufacturer and Controller Firmware are specifically locked to a unique marketing part number that the customer uses to order the device. A Fortasa eMMC customer ordering that specific part number will receive the exact same product manufacturing content as he had used in the qualification.

Please contact Fortasa for our Industrial eMMC Product Information.

Contact Sales For Information about Fortasa Industrial eMMC Product Information

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The CompactFlash (CF) card form factor has been in use since the early 1990′s. Originally embraced by the consumer devices such as Digital Cameras and MP3 players it has more recently migrated to the industrial and embedded platforms.

The CompactFlash card has many distinct advantages: common interface, installed base of manufacturers, specification stability and minimum innovation. In recent years, however, Parallel ATA (PATA) systems and respectively, CF cards have been slowly replaced by SATA interface systems and multiple form factors they incorporate.

Industrial CompactFlash card

Industrial CompactFlash card

As the demand for CF cards and PATA SSDs has been dropping, many storage product manufacturers are promoting the migration to SATA and dropping support for CF and PATA. In reality, there still is a sizable installed base of OEMs and platforms that would prefer to continue using the existing PATA SSDs and CF.

Many legacy PATA designs with CF cards as a storage choice are performing perfectly for their end applications. CF usage, while on a decline, is still significant in volume and will be around for a long time.

Concurrently, the storage industry had seen a high level of corporate consolidation and reallocation of resources.  Just in the last year alone, long-time suppliers like Western Digital (WD) and STEC completely exited the industrial embedded SSD space. This unexpected exodus has left many long-time CF card customers without their qualified suppliers.

In this tumultuous time, Fortasa is more than ever committed  to manufacturing and supporting its Industrial line of CompactFlash cards and PATA SSDs. In addition to the legacy PC ATA Cards, CF and PATA SSDs form the basis of Fortasa legacy product group.  Our sales and engineering group  have substantial experience in Flash Storage Products and can assist any customer with the product migration and qualification of the Fortasa devices.

Fortasa Industrial Grade CF cards are manufactured using high reliability SLC NAND Flash or cost effective MLC NAND Flash components and feature sequential read/write speeds of up to 115/80 MB/s. The cards come in commercial and industrial temperature configurations and meet MIL-810 standards for humidity, altitude, shock and vibration.

Available in capacities ranging from 128MB to 32GB, Fortasa CF cards offer the industry’s longest product lifecycle of over 5 years.

Please contact Fortasa for Information about our CompactFlash card and PATA SSD products.

Contact Sales For Information about Fortasa CompactFlash card and PATA SSD products

 

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CompactFlash Card with Write Protect Switch

CompactFlash Card with Write Protect Switch

Recently a gaming OEM customer has contacted Fortasa to investigate and evaluate our CompactFlash card solution for their Video Poker Machine. What attracted this customer was the specific features we offered that were very beneficial to the application:

Write Protect Switch

Fortasa offers a variant of our standard CompactFlash card product with a built-in hardware Write Protect switch. Typically customer loads the data image onto the Flash card and then sets the WP switch to an on position. With the WP switch in place any destructive host command to the card such as Write or Erase would be ignored by Flash controller. Because the controller ignores the destructive command and not gives an error message, the host can continue to execute code for Flash card access and not be halted by any error messages relating to Write/Erase ignored commands. Even though with the WP switch in the on position all Write/Erase commands are ignored, the Flash controller continuous to monitor the Flash usage and could transparently move around the stored data in case of high bit error rate due to affects of Flash media from read disturb.

Protection Zones

The poker video game system has three different storage requirements:

  • Store and manage various validation codes mandated by regulatory agencies
  • Store the game code and graphic images
  • Store and retrieve player tracking statistics for casino marketing promotion programs

In the past, this customer needed to have three different storage devices to accomplish these requirements:

  • Secure One Time Programmable EPROM for validation codes
  • DVD-ROM for read only access to game code and graphics
  • Persistent storage for storing and updating player tracking information

With the Fortasa CompactFlash card all three of these functions can be addressed in a single product with multiple memory zones.

  • Zone 1 would be setup to provide restricted (password protected) access to the validation codes
  • Zone 2 would be setup to provide Read-only access to the game code and graphics
  • Zone 3 would be setup to provide unrestricted Read/Write access to monitor player statistics

Please see related article about the Protection Zone capabilities in Fortasa CompactFlash cards.

Please contact Fortasa for any specific features of our Industrial CompactFlash card products.

Contact Fortasa For Information about our CompactFlash Card Product Features

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Many of our industrial and military customers have a high level of interest to protect the critical information that is stored on their SSD or Flash card. A typical solution is to purchase a shrink wrap Encryption software application package that will encrypt the stored data. This level of encryption uses only the private key (password) to encrypt the stored files.The encrypted files can be copied and drives duplicated, but regardless of the storage medium the files will only be decrypted and useful to the owner of the encryption key.

Secure Encrypted Files

Secure Encrypted Files

This solution works well as long as the private key is not publicly shared. If, however, the encryption key is released in the public domain, the SSD can be easily duplicated, files decrypted and easily shared.

A more robust solution is integrated into the Fortasa Memory Systems, Inc. Flash Card and SSD products.  Our Industrial Storage Devices have the capability to be uniquely identified at manufacturing with any proprietary non-repeating serial number of upto 20 characters long. During drive production these custom serial numbers are added to the Drive ID structure as an additional manufacturing step. Once the drives are serialized, a specific encryption software can be developed to utilize not only the private user key, but also the serial number of the storage device  as part of the encryption key.

With this approach any duplicated file will not be able to be decrypted even if the user private key becomes public. Utilizing unique hardware serialization can prevent unauthorized duplication of the secure information.

Please contact Fortasa for any information about additional security features of our Flash storage products.

Contact Sales For Information about Fortasa Security Features

 

 

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SATA-connectors-2

SATA Interface Standard Connectors

Many embedded motherboards have integrated a smaller 7-pin female SATA connector over the much more common 22-pin connector. The 22-pin connector, long a standard for HDD or SSD interface in PC motherboards, is actually quite sizable.

While the connector size oftentimes is not important in a high functionality desktop PC, for single board computers with dedicated specific task application, everything, including the SSD connector needs to be miniaturized.  The embedded industry quickly converted the motherboard design to a 7-pin SATA connector variant. Given that the Flash Memory Modules can be manufactured in a very small physical sizes, the memory modules also sized down near the size of the new connector.

7-pin SATA Modules

7-pin SATA Flash Modules

It is also worthwhile to mention that the standard 7-pin SATA connector only contains active signals and requires a separate Power Supply dongle to connect to the power rails. Fortasa Memory Systems, Inc developed an innovative 7-pin connector and respective memory module that doesn’t require a separate power connection. Instead, the power signals are passed to the module through connector attachment clips. The system mother board needs to be specifically modified to route the power signals to the Fortasa connector, but with this modification, the system will no longer require a separate power cable. Fortasa offers multiple SATA Module designs with four different 7-pin connector locations.

Please contact Fortasa to discuss your solid state product requirements.

Contact Sales For Fortasa Specific Product Information

 

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