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Press Release: Latest Datalight Flash File System Brings 20 Millisecond Mount Times to Linux through Kernel Versions 2.6.33

Bothell, WA, – May 5, 2010 – Today Datalight announced support for Linux kernel versions up to 2.6.33, the most recently released Linux versions available. FlashFX Tera, the file-system independent flash memory manager and Reliance Nitro, the highly-reliable, high-performance file system offer much faster mount times than UBIFS, YAFFS, or JFFS2. In addition, the Datalight products boost write speed over the standard file systems and provide out-of-the-box support for over 300 different flash memory parts from all the leading suppliers. Linux is finding its way into more devices such as smart phones, automotive infotainment, and industrial equipment which require both responsiveness and 100% data reliability.

“With the growth in adoption of Linux for data-intensive embedded devices, OEMs need a flash file system that better supports their reliability and performance requirements.” said Roy Sherrill, Datalight CEO. “By supporting the most recent kernel versions of Linux we’re filling that gap in the market with a robust, commercial-grade solution backed by our reputation for responsive, high-quality support.”

FlashFX Tera supports the full range of flash technologies including NAND, NOR, and MLC NAND flash in a single driver. Its patented wear-leveling and bad block management extend the useful life of devices using flash. While FlashFX Tera can be used with virtually any file system, pairing it with Reliance Nitro provides an optimized data storage software stack to simplify system development.

FlashFX Tera 1.2 and Reliance Nitro 1.2 are available immediately from Datalight and the Datalight worldwide network of channel partners. Please visit us at http://www.datalight.com/partners/worldwide-sales-partners to find a reseller near you.

The Reliance family of file systems and FlashFX family of flash media managers comprise the Datalight flash file system solution. Reliance was designed from the ground up for high reliability applications. Dynamic Transaction Point™ technology gives developers full control over performance and data protection characteristics, protecting users from file system corruption, even after unexpected system interruption. Embedded applications can benefit from faster boot times that remain consistent for the life of the product, regardless of disk size. FlashFX™ Tera features pre-written support for over 300 flash parts, works with virtually any NAND controller, and features wear leveling, bad block management, and background compaction for unrivaled performance.

For information, contact:
Kerri McConnell, Director of Marketing
425.686.1069
kerri.mcconnell@datalight.com

 

Michele Pike | May 6, 2010 | Flash File System, Flash Memory Manager, Performance | Comments Off

Digital Payment: Come for the Flash Management, Stay for the Reliability

We recently had the opportunity to work with Digital Payment to solve a NAND flash corruption issue by using the validation tools that come standard in FlashFX Pro. You’ve probably seen their shiny parking meters around town, including many remote locations that have no permanent power and no easy access to service. That’s why when Digital Payment learned of the reliability benefits of Reliance, they saw an opportunity to improve up-time and lower service costs. Reliability is just one of many reasons their parking meters are popular with parking lot owners and municipalities looking for dependable, user-friendly machines. Be sure to check out the full case study for more information about Digital Payment’s experience with FlashFX Pro and Reliance.

Michele Pike | April 14, 2010 | Flash File System, Flash Memory Manager, Industrial, Reliability | Comments Off

Psst! Datalight is the “secret sauce”

Customers tell us the performance and reliability benefits of our products are important competitive advantages for them. So with hundreds of Datalight customers shipping millions of products, why don’t you see more glowing reviews and fact-driven case studies on our website? As one top-tier consumer OEM recently told us, “If our competitors know that we use Datalight, they may use it too, and we don’t want to lose that advantage.” What a fantastic endorsement – Datalight is an ingredient of this customer’s “secret sauce!” Just last week an OEM building a metering product expressed reluctance to have us publish a case study. They were concerned competitors googling their name would find it and learn about the problem Datalight solved for them. One the one hand, it’s wonderful that our products are a factor in customers beating their competition; on the other hand it’s frustrating to not be able to tell the world about the role we’re playing in market leading devices. For now, our solution is to take the “Dragnet” approach and change the names to protect the innocent. And now you know the rest of the story: behind each example we use in marketing our products sits an organization driving fantastic innovation in the embedded industry with a real-world problem that Datalight solved.

Here are a few case studies that we are allowed to share:

Datalight FlashFX Pro Helps WAGO Build a Faster PLC

InHand Preserves Reputation of Reliability

Boot Time is Cut in Half for LG Navigator

Michele Pike | April 7, 2010 | Datalight Products, Product Benefit | Comments Off

Datalight Simplifies Reliable Data Storage for Linux-based Devices

Bothell, WA, – March 18, 2010 – Datalight announces support for Linux kernel versions up to 2.6.29 with new versions of FlashFX Tera, the file-system independent flash memory driver and Reliance Nitro, the highly-reliable, high-performance file system. FlashFX Tera version 1.2 offers out-of-the-box support for over 300 different flash memory parts from all the leading suppliers, expanding the choice for OEMs using flash memory. Linux is finding its way into more devices such as smart phones, automotive infotainment, and industrial equipment which require both responsiveness and 100% data reliability, by adding Reliance Nitro 1.2, OEMs can ensure rock-solid reliability of their systems without paying a performance penalty.

“Datalight continues to raise the standard in delivering advanced file system features for MontaVista Linux,” said Dean Misenhimer, Director of Marketing at MontaVista Software. “Our partnership provides our customers the option of a pre-integrated professional flash file system solution to speed their development of flash-based devices. This ultimately leads to faster time to market with superior performance and reliability.”

FlashFX Tera supports the full range of flash technologies including NAND, NOR, and MLC NAND flash in a single driver. Its patented wear-leveling and bad block management extend the useful life of devices using flash. While FlashFX Tera can be used with virtually any file system, pairing it with Reliance Nitro provides an optimized data storage software stack to simplify system development.

Reliance Nitro version 1.2 also adds support for extended file attributes. Most commonly used to designate file permissions, extended attributes are important to customers using special Linux distributions like SMACK. As data quantity and complexity in devices grows, extended file attributes can also be used for storing additional metadata (data about the data), such as digital rights information, GPS location or any information that makes finding and using the data easier. The ability of Reliance Nitro to serve as the root file system for Linux can simplify the data storage stack for these devices by allowing them to operate with a single file system.

“With the growth in adoption of Linux for data-intensive embedded devices, OEMs need a flash file system that better supports their reliability and performance requirements.” said Roy Sherrill, Datalight CEO. “By migrating our flagship products to Linux we’re filling that gap in the market with a robust, commercial-grade solution backed by our reputation for responsive, high-quality support.”

FlashFX Tera 1.2 and Reliance Nitro 1.2 are available immediately from Datalight and the Datalight worldwide network of channel partners. Please visit us at datalight.com to find a reseller near you.

The Reliance family of file systems and FlashFX family of flash media managers comprise the Datalight flash file system solution. Reliance was designed from the ground up for high reliability applications. Dynamic Transaction Point™ technology gives developers full control over performance and data protection characteristics, protecting users from file system corruption, even after unexpected system interruption. Embedded applications can benefit from faster boot times that remain consistent for the life of the product, regardless of disk size. FlashFX™ Tera features pre-written support for over 300 flash parts, works with virtually any NAND controller, and features wear leveling, bad block management, and background compaction for unrivaled performance.

 

Michele Pike | March 22, 2010 | Flash File System, Flash Memory Manager, Reliability | Comments Off

Increase Capacity, Reduce Cost: Benefits of NAND Flash -Wind River and Datalight Webinar

Join us March 18th at 11am PDT as Datalight CEO Roy Sherrill and Wind River Product Manager Bill Graham weigh the pros and cons of switching to NAND. Maximize the usability and efficiency of your device memory by understanding all the considerations that go into integrating a NAND flash with your device’s software. Learn more and reserve your spot today as space is limited.

Michele Pike | February 19, 2010 | Cost Savings, Flash Industry Info, Flash Memory | Comments Off

Reliability on Windows CE 6.0

Watch Rob Hart demonstrating the Datalight flash file system on the Beagle Board with Windows CE 6.0

Michele Pike | October 1, 2009 | Flash File System, Performance, Reliability | Comments Off

Doing In-Place OS updates for Embedded Devices

Palm just announced the 1.1 update to its popular WebOS that runs on the Palm Pre device. Apple released the 3.0 update to its Mac OSX for the iPhone and iPod touch. Microsoft is expected to launch Windows Mobile 6.5 soon and users are hoping that they will be able to update their 6.1 devices to 6.5. Google last month updated Android OS to 1.5. These events point to a recent and very fast growing phenomena: embedded devices are becoming more and more like PCs where users expect to be able to update their device long after it has been released. This was not always the case; OEMs refrained from updating embedded devices unless in cases of high severity bug fixes. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Updating embedded devices is more difficult than updating PCs from a distribution standpoint
  2. Because of #1, updating devices is also expensive
  3. Potential of bricking devices (device does not boot anymore) due to user error is very high leading to high risk of warranty returns

Today’s blog post focuses on #3 because it has very real technical risks and solutions. Before we begin discussing risks of bricking device, let’s talk about 2 different types of updates

  1. Update to application code – This is usually much simpler and does not typically involve changes to the bootloader or the boot image
  2. Update to system code/OS image – most of the times when OEMs have to update devices, it is due to some severe error. In our experience it usually involves changing system files. If the entire OS is stored as a single image on disk/flash, then entire image has to be correctly replaced with the new one

If the update is of type 1, then the process has less likelihood of bricking the device. In most cases even if the update fails, support can help user start the device in “safe” mode and restore. Updates of type 2 are by nature riskier because any failure is likely to stop the device from booting up, negating any remote debugging options. Note that It is also possible that for some devices, the application and system code is stored in single boot image. In that case, the distinction of types made above are irrelevant for this discussion.

OS/System Updates

Here is how devices typically partition the data storage for boot and application data

Data Storage Partition

Note: Some devices may not use the file system for the boot partition and instead directly talk to the block device. In that case, the remainder of this discussion is not applicable.

During an update process involving system code, the boot image has to be replaced with a  new one. Typically the update process will overwrite the existing image. The problem happens when the update process is interrupted due to erroneous circumstances such as

  1. Device battery dies before the update process is completed
  2. The user pulls out the USB cord connecting the device to host

In these cases, the OS image will get corrupted and the device may not be able to boot back up, leading to a bricked device.

One of the features of Reliance (and Reliance Nitro) file system is that it never overwrites live data. It will always use free space on disk or in case there is no space, it will give “disk full” error back to the application. Reliance also has a special transaction mode called “Application-controlled”. In this case, Reliance only conducts a transaction point when asked by the application. Here is how these 2 constructs help Reliance provide a fail-safe means of in-place updates

  1. The OS image is stored on a Reliance partition
  2. The update application calls Reliance API to disable all transaction modes. Reliance will now execute a transaction point only when specifically called by the update app
  3. The update app starts “overwriting” the existing OS image. Because Reliance never overwrites live data, it will start copying the new image to free space on disk
  4. In case power is interrupted, Reliance discards the new image and device can still boot back to the old OS image and restart the update process
  5. Once the entire update process is completed, the update app calls Reliance to execute a transaction point. Reliance, in one atomic operation, updates its committed state to now use the new image. When the device boots back up, it now uses the new image. The old image is now marked as free space by the file system

Using Reliance for boot partition can thus help in providing a safe in-place update process. It also has the advantage of using Reliance extreme fast mount times, which can help in speeding device boot speeds.

Note that the obvious caveat of the above is that there has to enough free space for the new OS image. With disk storage being cheap (compared to device cost) and always increasing, this becomes less and less of an issue. OEMs should strongly consider going this alternative (whether they use Reliance or not) in order to ensure that the device update process will go smoothly for the end users.

admin | July 24, 2009 | Cost Savings, Flash File System | Leave a comment

I HEART Reliance Nitro

With the release of our new file system this week, Reliance Nitro, we asked our Account Managers what they liked most about our new product. Their answers of course included reliability and high performance. Wes Johns and Phillip Allison were so excited they decided to make a video…  watch the youtube video

Michele Pike | June 22, 2009 | Datalight Products, Flash File System, Performance, Reliability | Leave a comment

Reliance Nitro Demo Video

We’re totally psyched about Reliance Nitro, our newest file system (yes, we’re file geeks), and we’re always on the lookout for opportunities to show off the performance and reliability attributes it adds to Windows Mobile and Windows CE. When we discovered the relatively-new Beagle Board, it occurred to us that a small, low-cost platform might be just the thing to demonstrate Nitro’s amazing benefits. As you’ve probably heard, the Beagle is making waves with its low cost (around $150) and diminutive size. It uses an OMAP 3530 processor and 256MB of NAND. Though they are most commonly used with Linux, we lucked out in having a partner (MPC Data) who has already developed a Windows CE BSP for it. After a few phone calls, the wizards at MPC Data were able to develop a slick video playback demo app, and presto, the Reliance Nitro Beagle Demo was born! Amateur videographers that we are (ok, REALLY amateur), we recently videotaped John Burnham, who has been working on this project on the Datalight side (and who is a really good sport, btw) showing what happens when power is interrupted during a file write and the extra reliability factor of Reliance Nitro on Windows CE. Be sure to check it out here.

Michele Pike | May 21, 2009 | Datalight Products, Flash File System, Flash Memory, Performance, Reliability | Leave a comment

Durability: The Next Killer App

Sea Change Hits Consumer Electronics as Customers Demand Long-term Value

For the first time in more than a decade, people are saving again. In 2007 and years prior, the savings rate hovered around zero as we maxed our credit cards and lines of credit, driving the savings rate into the red and giving the world’s manufacturing base an almost unbelievable boom. In January 2009 though, something unexpected happened; the US savings rate suddenly moved above 5%, the highest in decades. As news of our cloudy economic picture has emerged, consumer behavior is shifting away from status-seeking luxury purchases toward more value-based buying patterns, forcing manufacturers around the world to take notice. And after decades of excess, the shift to thrift is looking like a lasting trend.

But what does this mean for Embedded? As consumers focus on needs over wants, they will increasingly seek out products that are proven durable and reliable.

This will have broad implications for manufacturers of everything from cars to clothing, refrigerators to embedded devices. Today’s consumers are choosing efficiency, durability and value over gee-whiz gadgetry. Consumer mobile OEMs too must focus on delivering value and fewer, more targeted features. Rather than packing devices full of a laundry list of apps and expensive hardware, this means streamlined offerings and more segmented products, while making sure the consumer doesn’t feel like they’re missing out. Motorola’s new EM330 is a prime example of this kind of pared-down, demographic-specific approach. The phone, called the MOTOROKR STAR is marketed specifically toward music lovers, offering a basic clamshell with music recognition software and download-on-the-go at a price point in the sub-$200 range.

As OEMs scramble to add value and enhance their reputations for durability and reliability, Datalight responds with products that support those goals. The combination of flexible flash management that lowers bill of material costs, wear-leveling algorithms extend flash life by several times, and the rock-solid reliability of our file system become essential components of a strategy to provide value to customers.

Many have remarked that markets are driven by a combination of fear and greed. Though the pendulum has recently taken a dramatic –and we believe temporary– move in the direction of fear, ultimately we know a move away from excess is good for all of us and good for the world we live in. Here’s hoping the trend toward value and quality is a long-lasting one.

Michele Pike | March 25, 2009 | Cost Savings, Extended Flash Life, Flash Industry Info, Flash Memory Manager, Performance, Reliability | Comments Off