Flash Storage Solutions for Embedded Designs
High Reliability Flash SSDs, Cards and Modules for Industrial Applications
Posted by Samuel Nakhimovsky on Monday, 14 Jul 2014
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.