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Silicon Motion's FerriSSD Enhancing the Safety and Reliability of Computer On Module Designs

The Computer On Module (COM) is the most widely adopted hardware format for embedded computing within the military, transportation, medical, entertainment, networking, and industrial equipment markets. The popularity of the COM format is the consequence of its several benefits, including faster embedded system development, risk and price reduction, and also the freedom a customized system. Utilization of a COM in a standard form factor also makes it simple to upgrade or replace the technology on backplanes and carrier boards.

Because from the small footprint of the standard COM form factors, COM manufacturers take great pains to select a compact data storage technology. A chip-scale device such as a BGA SSD is really a miniature and attractive format, however in the past, the relatively high and volatile price of BGA SSDs deterred manufacturers from using them. Instead, most manufacturers embedded an outlet or added a connector for an SD or CompactFlash (CF) card appropriate towards the group of functions running on the boot disk.

More recently, serious doubts about the utilization of SD and CF cards in embedded systems have emerged. In military, medical, automation, transportation, and other fields, huge investment is created in the development of software to run on embedded systems. Which means that it is very expensive to replace an existing COM board with a brand new design – product life cycles of Two decades or even more are typical.

As a result, embedded system manufacturers pay great attention to data security and longevity, and take steps to counter any factors which might hinder the integrity of information stored on the COM. Addititionally there is considerable alarm concerning the risk of the theft of residual data left behind within the buffer memory of scrapped devices. Tries to counter this risk by marking devices having a warning about data security on disposal have proved unsuccessful. This has consigned the use of removable media such as SD and CF cards towards the past.

At the same time, the cost-per-gigabyte of NAND Flash storage has fallen in recent years, making NAND-based storage technologies such as the BGA SSD and eMMC more attractive to COM vendors than they were before. In fact, BGA SSD and eMMC storage devices are already being used in various types of embedded computer format, including COM Express Basic, COM Express Compact, COM Express Mini, Qseven (Q7) and ETX. Rising demand for the latest computing technology to operate high-level industrial edge-computing algorithms has additionally spurred the increased manufacture of COM-HPC products, which can make the most of high-performance SSD technology.

Sustained increase in interest in onboard BGA SSDs

Right up to the present time, then, demand for onboard BGA SSDs in COM systems continues to be increasing for a number of reasons.

The first is that COM vendors are turning their focus to costs, and the return on their investments in technology. When SSD technology first reached the market, the price of SSD devices was relatively high -the cost of NAND Flash storage was as much as US$40 per gigabyte. Additionally, this price was volatile because of swings within the cost of NAND Flash. This made vendors unwilling to embed an SSD because the standard storage option for the module board.

Over time, the price of NAND Flash fell to a smaller amount than US$1 per gigabyte. This made the price of, for example, an 8GB SLCmode or perhaps a 32GB SSD affordable, encouraging vendors to embed a BGA SSD in a COM board.

The other reason for the development sought after for SSDs within the COM market is customer demand. In industrial-grade applications, for example, robust hardware and knowledge protection are crucial requirements. SD cards or CF cards are often removable, which makes the private data on them susceptible to theft.

Equipment which are operating in military or industrial applications should also satisfy strict requirements for tolerance of high temperatures, shock and vibration and other environmental phenomena. The pc host and each component inside the equipment have to be rated for operation on the wide temperature range, typically from -40°C to 85°C. This is applicable equally, obviously, to storage devices, but SD and CF cards rarely support a large operating temperature range.

In addition, once the connector to an SD or CF card is used in harsh conditions for a long time of your time, its performance can be impaired, resulting in reduced alt width=\”700\” height=\”302\” >

Figure 1: End-to-end data path protection ensures the information transportation points inside the SSD are totally free of errors.

Why is it that, when there is a mistake inside the data, FerriSSD's file recovery algorithm is immediately able to detect it? The main reason is that once the data is written, a parity set is produced. If this batch of information will be read, FerriSSD will, once again, calculate its parity. If the former parity doesn't complement the latter, it will pass an error flag towards the host for appropriate recovery processing. In comparison, conventional SSDs pass faulty data towards the host with no error flag, exacerbating the first problem by neglecting to alert the host to the requirement for error recovery processing.

Active Protection: IntelligentScan & DataRefresh

These two technologies are ways of self-testing and self-monitoring. The execution of \”write\” and \”read\” commands on the NAND cell is basically a procedure of electrical discharging and charging. Let's assume that a new NAND cell stores 100 electrons when written to. With time, repeated write and erase events will volatilize the cell, reducing the cell's capacitance, so the quantity of electrons stored by a write command may fall from 100 to 80, then 70, then 60, and so much it falls below a critical threshold, the controller won't be able to read the data correctly, leading to data loss or corruption. The IntelligentScan function accounts for checking whether the stored charge has declined below its threshold value. Whether it has, it reads out the data bit and rewrites it via the ECC engine, and DataRefresh recharges the cell to restore the NAND cell's voltage to the correct level (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: IntelligentScan & DataRefresh functions can detect high-risk factors prior to the data is lost.

Passive Protection: Using NANDXtend Parity to fix ECC Technology

FerriSSD combines the high-performance LDPC Error Code Correction engine patented by Silicon Motion and also the RAID function, which provides multiple benefits. First, it enhances the reliability of the product, and 2nd, it greatly extends the Program/Erase (P/E) cycle rating, and prolongs the life from the SSD's NAND Flash storage medium. In addition, NANDXtend can help boost the data storage capability and lower data errors brought on by operation at hot temperature (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Silicon Motion's patented NANDXtend has the capacity to increase the toughness for SSD products.

User Data Protection

Silicon Motion is deeply invested in strengthening data security to counter the chance of hacking. It doesn't only apply its own methods or follow public data protection regulations on the market (such as Full Disk Encryption/ TCG Opal 2.0) since it's operational benchmark. Clients having a higher need for sensitive data protection often worry that public data protection regulations are often hackable. They prefer to produce their own security protection measures, such as the inclusion of a customized auxiliary chip (see Figure 4). This controls the flow of communication and cooperation with FerriSSD, authorizing the hard drive to accept, receive, or send data while keeping complete security.

Figure 4: Customized companion chips are put into enhance the safety of sensitive data.

Robust Firmware Protection with Secure Digital Signature

FerriSSD supports secure digital signature verification systems. This function is identical towards the addition of Silicon Motion's security passphrases for client equipment. Once the firmware has been updated, it enables for involved parties to go through your password verification process using FerriSSD's algorithm to produce a set of verification codes that are inaccessible to hackers (see Figure 5). If hackers produce a malicious program to make a firmware update in the end product, it is unable to produce the verification code and the malicious update attempt fails.

Figure 5: FerriSSD maintains boot security via secured digital signature.

100% Assessment to make sure Low dPPM

COM manufacturers need a wide operating temperature selection of -40°C to 85°C. Before FerriSSD products ship from the warehouse, a strict temperature test happens as specified by clients (see Figure 6). This leads to really low dPPM rates, consistent with client requirements for high reliability.

Figure 6: To reach the cheapest dPPM, FerriSSD products are susceptible to a strict temperature test.

In summary, the cut in NAND costs, the increase in interest in data stability and knowledge protection, along with COM vendors' increasing need to integrate high-value products in to the COM board, imply that the BGA SSD has become a favorite product in today's COM market. This is also true of SSD items that include data protection and storage reliability features.

The inclusion of end-to-end data path protection and active/passive protection for users' data as well as firmware offers great benefits in embedded computing systems.

Silicon Motion's FerriSSD has now established itself because the ideal storage component for embedded computing modules through its implementation of comprehensive temperature testing and also the resultant low dPPM rates. FerriSSD storage has become the preferred choice for COM products for military, transportation, medical, entertainment, networking, industrial automation, and lots of other applications.

  • For more details about Ferri Family, please go to

https://www.siliconmotion.com/product/Ferri-Embedded-Storage.html or send email to [email protected]

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PCIe NVMe FerriSSD https://www.siliconmotion.com/download/3HC/a/PCIe_NVMe_FerriSSD_PB_EN.pdf

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Jason Chien may be the Embedded Storage Product Marketing Director at Silicon Motion. He has a lot more than 13 years in product planning and worldwide marketing promotion, managing Silicon Motion brand Ferri family products. He holds a B.S degree from University of Washington.