Globally, there is a growing movement to make society “smarter” by embracing digital technologies like IoT, AI, and big data. In a smart society, electronic devices in all fields—including industrial equipment, infrastructure, and IoT devices—will likely contain some form of high-capacity storage, and reliability requirements will be higher than ever. Expected to play a significant role, especially in these industrial and infrastructure areas, are highly reliable Solid State Drives (SSDs) equipped with flash memory controllers designed for 3D NAND.
Technical Challenges Facing High-Capacity Storage as Industries and Infrastructures Turn Smart
The Industry 4.0 initiative proposed by the German government strives to bring IoT to manufacturing, exemplified by smart factories, while the Society 5.0 initiative launched by the Japanese government aims to solve society’s problems collectively by leveraging digital technologies. These are two examples of a trend around the world to make society smarter. By processing vast amounts of data collected from the environment, equipment operation and human activity through sensors installed in all types of industrial and infrastructure equipment, it is believed that new value will be created for society and industry. This is expected to accelerate with the advent of 5G.
To utilize digital technology, electronic devices need to be equipped with storage to record and process all the collected data. Today, SSDs*1 are widely used for data storage in industrial and infrastructure applications because of their high speeds and high reliability. SSDs are composed of NAND flash memory*2 that stores the data, and flash memory controller ICs*3 that control the reading, writing, and erasing of the data. Three-dimensional (3D) stacking technology for NAND flash memory has been developed in recent years to accommodate the insatiable demand for capacity. Here, multiple cells are stacked vertically, in contrast to the conventional method of building them out horizontally, enabling capacities exceeding 1TB.
As capacity keeps increasing, so do the needs for advanced technologies that ensure data reliability. Industrial and infrastructure equipment require very high levels of durability and long-term stability, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For example, storage in edge terminals used in industrial and IoT equipment often contain operating systems and applications, necessitating higher reliability for not only the devices themselves but for the protection of user data as well.
Highly Reliable SSD Solutions Featuring 3D NAND-Compatible Flash Memory Controllers Developed In-House
The performance of the flash memory controller IC has a major impact on the reliability and longevity of an SSD. TDK has created its own flash memory controller, TDK GBDriver®, which achieves industry-leading reliability through its proprietary NAND flash memory control technology. The GBDriver series builds on nearly 20 years of expertise accumulated through development and is designed to meet the needs of the industrial and infrastructure sectors, where outages are unacceptable.
Additionally, to remain aligned with the evolution of 3D NAND flash memory technology, the new TDK GBDriver GS2 has been introduced to support increasingly large capacities. TDK GBDriver GS2 is a highly reliable 3D NAND-compatible flash memory controller developed specifically for industrial and infrastructure applications. The hardware and firmware were both created in-house. TDK’s proprietary technology enables faster access than ever, while retaining the ability to prevent data corruption through enhanced power interruption tolerance capabilities. This makes it a powerful tool for improving the performance of 3D NAND SSDs without compromising data reliability.
TDK offers five series of SSDs equipped with the 3D NAND-compatible GBDriver GS2, with a wide range of capacities from 8GB to 1.6TB. They are expected to play major roles in a variety of industrial and infrastructure sectors, including transportation, manufacturing, energy, IT/financial, lifestyle/entertainment, science and medical. We asked Atsushi Utsunomiya, a Flash Memory Applied Device Business Division manager, about future prospects.
Flash Memory Applied Device Business Division
“The data that customers write to SSDs involve running robots, traffic, weather and disaster prevention. They are all critical, and the data sizes grow every year. In manufacturing, for example, there is a movement to reduce loss and improve productivity by connecting and utilizing data from production plants, distribution, transportation and sales, optimizing supply and demand and easing human workloads. We believe TDK’s highly reliable SSDs can contribute to many settings like these that make people’s lives more convenient.” In the future, TDK’s SSD technologies will help form a smart society that will engender new benefits by recording increasingly valuable data with high reliability.
- SSD: Abbreviation of Solid State Drive. A storage device that can read and write data to memory chips, similar to a USB memory stick, and stores data in a storage medium called NAND flash memory. SSDs have several advantages over HDDs, including faster processing and lower power consumption.
- NAND flash memory: There are two types of flash memory, NOR and NAND, and NAND is used for high-capacity data storage.
- Flash Memory Controller IC: An IC that controls writing to flash memory and corrects errors, etc.