The Exhibition Floor has grown a bit from previous years, and the traffic in the space reflects that. This year’s biggest booth award goes to Smart Modular.
Congratulations to vendor Micron whose 16nm NAND flash wins the Best of Show award for Most Innovative Flash Memory Technology.
Micron wins for Most Innovative Flash Memory Technology
The exhibition floor is open one more time today for just a few hours. After you visit there, I encourage you to stick around and sit in on the Software session, chaired by yours truly. Todays topics will include Optimizing F lash with Software Built Specifically for Solid State; The Modern Age of Software Defined Storage; Storage Virtualization Technology for SSD and Flash Memory; and All I/O is Random I/O.
Thom Denholm | August 15, 2013 | Flash Industry Info, Flash Memory |
Flash Memory Summit continues to grow, the organizers are expecting record attendance levels.
Brian Berg hosted a great session on Flash Memory Based Architectures. This technical discussion covered NAND Lithography trends, PHY Units for advanced design, and Solving the Power Cycling Challenge. The nearly full audience was eager for more.
The lead-off keynote saw Jason Taylor explain just how Flash is used at Facebook. It is amazing to hear that in just a few years they have gone from Hard Drives to Flash Cached Hard Drives and now to pure Flash SSDs for storage. No rotating media!
The Beer and Pizza chat with the experts on Tuesday evening had an attendance of over 400 people, and plenty of tables and topics. I co-hosted the Software table with Amit of Skyera. Each company does software, but each at different ends of the spectrum, if SSDs are right in the middle.
SSDs were less of a direct focus at the show, with more attention paid to the underlying Flash technology once again. This is the reason Datalight attends the show, and I for one was happy to hear about breakthroughs in latency, throughput and security.
Speaking of breakthroughs, the exhibition floor opens today at noon. I expect to see some 3D NAND, and Smart Modular has a large booth this year.
Thom Denholm | August 14, 2013 | Flash Industry Info, Flash Memory |
Design West 2013 was held last week in San Jose. The phrase of the show was “Internet of Things”, and plenty of new hardware was in evidence.
The Design West keynotes this year were full of fascinating applications of technology and blessedly devoid of the usual product pitches. Luke Dubord shared his experiences in autonomous systems development for the Mars Rover. Thirteen point eight minutes to receive acknowledgement of a command sent to the space vehicle serves to emphasize the importance of getting things right the first time and provides a valuable perspective that really brought home the definition of “mission critical” systems design. I missed the Wednesday keynote, but heard good things about Mayim Bialik’s talk on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education. The percentage of women at the show was noticeably increased from prior years. It is inspiring to see the progress made in our industry. Thursday’s keynote had me in awe of how technology is changing lives for the better with advances in prosthetic design. The potential to integrate electronics into the human body to replace missing limbs takes me back to my childhood of watching the Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman.
Although the convention center was under construction, there was plenty of space to contain this Embedded Systems Conference. All the usual platforms and environments were in evidence, with Freescale’s i.MX6 a popular target. AMD announced the new G series System on Chip, and Wind River announced their new Multiple Independent Levels of Security (MILS) platform.
The BeagleBone Black and Raspberry Pi were also in evidence, of course. One unusual platform this year was the Programmable Beanie. These sessions were all held on the first day, and were packed with excited programmers.
Mentor Graphics had an eye-catching series of displays. These consisted of a see-through LCD panel in front of a rotating car, which made this automotive panel display look truly 3D. Mentor has made some big moves into the automotive environment recently, with online presentations and web seminars. At Design West, they also announced their latest Sourcery CodeBench Virtual Edition.
Mentor Graphics display at Design West
As mentioned earlier, security was a big theme at this show. Two conference tracks were directly related to secure embedded, including the Black Hat summit. With secure hardware, the next step is secure software, such as the support for Secure File delete in Datalight’s Reliance Nitro.
Security a big focus
Next year’s show is earlier in the calendar, starting the end of March. Datalight will be in attendance at the next big Bay Area embedded show, Flash Memory Summit in August.
Thom Denholm | May 1, 2013 | Automotive, Flash Industry Info |
If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve probably noticed a lot of discussion and analysis around eMMC. We’ve written about the reasons we are so excited about eMMC, but also why the Write Amplification issues caused by eMMC parts are a problem that needs more attention by the industry.
As more and more device manufacturers use eMMC in their devices, product reviews are beginning to highlight some of the limitations of eMMC that we have been discussing. A case in point is this recent review of Google Nexus 7 by Anand Lal Shimpi and Brian Klurg.
As the review points out, the performance downside of using eMMC parts is that they are “optimized for reading and writing large images as if they were used in a camera.” Also, eMMC was never designed to be used by a “full blown multitasking OS,” and therefore can cause major problems with device responsiveness. This is mainly because multi-tasking (i.e. any other action performed while download is in progress) effectively “turns the IO stream from purely sequential to pseudo-random.” This corroborates with our view that many eMMC parts are not equipped for optimal performance for random reads and writes. The authors’ benchmark results (below) underscore the severity of the problem:
So, how can device manufacturers get better performance from their eMMC parts, and continue to leverage the simplicity of programming and consistency of design parameters that eMMC offers?
Simplistically put, the eMMC driver is responsible for flash-aware allocation of data to flash memory. The combined layers of the driver and the file system, sometimes known as the flash file system, is the level at which hardware behavior can be translated to software behavior in a way that enhances performance without compromising the endurance and data integrity. Also, the complementary interaction between the driver and the file system layer can bring further benefits to the device performance, endurance and reliability. Getting this part of the system right goes a long way to solving eMMC’s write amplification problem.
Here at Datalight, we have been researching the most efficient way of doing this, drawing on our decades of experience of developing driver and file system software for a wide array of flash parts. Stay tuned for more in-depth explanations on how we’re doing it, but for now we are very excited about the early test results we’re seeing in our lab, especially enhancements combining an optimized file system with our new eMMC driver.
AparnaBhaduri | December 19, 2012 | Datalight Products, Flash Industry Info, Flash Memory |
Last week’s Flash Memory Summit did not disappoint. As one of the early sponsors of the conference, it was awe-inspiring to stand in the middle of the exhibit hall and see how the show has grown, in both number of booths and attendees. It really hit home for me – The Summit is all grown up, and so is the flash industry. It was also good confirmation on our decision to launch our newest eMMC product, FlashFXe at the show. The release of our new test data showing its effect on IOPS (5-21X!) and up to 40% power savings definitely caught attention at the show, along with our splashy new banners (and Thom, below).
Some of the other highlights of the show were:
The SK Hynix Keynote speech was full of interesting tidbits, such as the endurance differential between SLC NAND vs. MLC NAND, at just under 50,000 and just under 3,000 program/erase cycles respectively. The difference is of course increasing as die sizes shrink.
LPDC seems to be the heir apparent to BCH so far as error correcting algorithms go. At least one company presented a new “lattice” ECC scheme which is better than either of those (patent pending).
There was a general feeling, expressed in at least a few of the 11 (eleven!) keynotes, that SSDs have not grown in market share as much as was anticipated.
We were amazed at the number of people still doing CF cards.
In the mobile applications session, it was good to see confirmation of market trends we’ve been hearing about all year:
- Demand for Notebooks/Netbooks has leveled off, while tablets, ultrabooks, and ultraportables are growing fast
- The X86 and ARM architectures are overlapping, especially in tablets
- The hottest design attributes for mobile phones are performance, form factor, power consumption and security
- eMMC is running into performance limitations when it comes to smartphones
- UFS is the future for mobile devices, due to lower active and standby power.
The Consumer applications session was full of good information, focused primarily on optimizing the user experience:
- Windows RT delay will push out eMMC adoption
- The failure rate of SSDs is multiplied by high capacity applications
- SATA-SSD do not need power failure protection
- Data compression in SATA drives can help balance the endurance issues for small write applications. However, Media files cannot be compressed, and are therefore best stored in hard drives
- Bandwidth cost is becoming an important design factor, as it is having increased impact on user costs.
RobHart | August 31, 2012 | Flash Industry Info, Flash Memory |
Today’s embedded applications such as digital cameras, smartphones, and tablets almost always store their content on flash memory. In the past, this has required a dedicated controller to manage the reading and writing of data, driven by the application CPU. However, as semiconductor technology has evolved to allow vastly increased storage density, it has become inefficient for the controller to manage these functions from outside the flash memory die. Hence, eMMC was developed as a standardized method for bundling the controller into the flash die. As eMMC has improved, the standard has also provisioned for features such as secure erase and trim and high-priority interrupt to meet the demand for high performance and security. So while the eMMC standard was created to improve data rates and throughputs for high-density chips designed to store high-resolution video, newer generations are doing more for more applications, and each generation of the standard will include additional new features for a richer end-user experience.
AparnaBhaduri | June 25, 2012 | Customer Industries, Flash Industry Info, Flash Memory |
The new chief executive for Research in Motion Ltd., Thorsten Heins, mentioned recently that 80 to 90 percent of all BlackBerry users in the U.S. are still using older devices, rather than the latest Blackberry 7.
Longevity of a consumer device is something that we at Datalight know belongs firmly in the hands of the product designer, rather than being limited by the shortened lifespan of incorrectly programmed NAND flash media. Both Datalight’s FlashFX Tera and Reliance Nitro incorporate algorithms which reduce the Write Amplification on all Flash media. These methods are especially important on e-MMC, which is at its heart NAND flash. In addition, the static and dynamic wear leveling in FlashFX Tera provides even wearing of all flash for maximum achievable lifetime.
Shorter lifetime for some consumer devices, such as low end cell phones, may be found acceptable. However, many newer converged mobile devices that command a higher price, such as tablets, are expected by consumers to have a much longer lifetime. These devices may be replaced by the primary user with some frequency, although since they are viewed as mini-computers and therefore less “disposable,” they will likely be handed down to younger users rather than being discarded or recycled. Consumers will protest in if they discover their $500 tablet only has a lifespan of 3 years, and they will be even more upset if due to flash densities and write amplification that the next version they purchase may have even a shorter lifespan.
How will flash longevity affect your new embedded design?
Thom Denholm | March 6, 2012 | Extended Flash Life, Flash Industry Info, Flash Memory, Flash Memory Manager |
Thom Denholm | December 5, 2011 | Datalight Products, Flash Industry Info |
A recent article by Doug Wong compared performance characteristics of eMMC and ONFI specification EZ-NAND, specifically Toshiba’s SmartNAND here: http://www.eetimes.com/design/memory-design/4218886
One consideration I would add to this quite excellent summary is about the availability of drivers. Raw NAND has been around for quite a while and the market supplies a large range of drivers. Many of these will utilize the basic functionality of SmartNAND and other EZ NAND chips with only small modifications. Drivers for eMMC, on the other hand, are much harder to find. Only Linux has a freely available driver, which Google’s Android has taken advantage of in recent releases.
At Datalight, we continue to be excited by both of these new technologies. From the JEDEC eMMC parts, the cool features such as Secure Delete and Replay Protected Memory Block are very exciting. On the other hand, the sheer performance of Toshiba’s SmartNAND and other EZ NAND solutions is very much in demand.
Thom Denholm | November 8, 2011 | Flash Industry Info, Flash Memory, Performance, Uncategorized |
The hot topics in the consumer electronics segments today are Android, installable applications, sexy user interfaces, sensors like GPS receivers, gyroscopes and accelerometers and larger capacity/smaller size storage. Ever since I read Roy’s blog post on CES, I’ve been asking myself when we’ll start seeing the impact of trends in consumer electronics on the more general embedded market. Just as buying a car causes you to see that model everywhere, it seems like asking the question has made it so. In the past few weeks we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of customers considering a move from traditional RTOS’s to Linux – more specifically, Android. Many are in the “tire kicking” stage and may never make the switch, but the tide has clearly turned in that direction. The appeal seems to be a combination of user interface – which becomes more important as data use, which has also taken a leap skyward on embedded devices, increases – and ease of application development, perhaps even leveraging the burgeoning application marketplaces that have developed around smartphones. Then again, much of what’s happening in the consumer electronics space is old hat in embedded systems: working in resource constrained environments, power efficiency and dealing with ruggedness requirements.
I guess the real migration is that consumer electronics are combining technologies proven in embedded into multifunction devices, smaller packages with slicker form factors to meet the trendy demands of consumers.
Michele Pike | April 8, 2011 | Flash Industry Info |