Flash Management and FPGAs Pave Way for Reconfigurable SSD
Increasing the life expectancy of the NAND array reduces the total cost of ownership of the system. Also, the ability to reconfigure the controller to implement improved algorithms, or to adapt to a new generation of flash chips, extends the system life.
by Robert Pierce, Altera, Conor Ryan and Joe Sullivan, NVMdurance
has revolutionized the computing markets by improving ease of access to and availability of data from the data center and your mobile device. Although the rate of geometry shrink (reduction in the size of structure in silicon) has slowed, the industry continues to find innovative ways to increase the capacity and reduce cost. This is often at the expense of reliability which is particularly problematic at the enterprise level. Solid State Disk (SSD) controller design has lagged behind and also has been unable to solve the issue of reliability without introducing other limitations to the system as a whole.
The life of NAND Flash can be extended and new viability for SSDs can come from today’s FPGA-based implementations for SSD that have overcome the limitations of controllers, permitting virtually all their operations to be conducted in hardware. The reconfigurable nature of FPGAs enables manufacturers to change and tune their controllers on the fly in hardware.
SSDs are superior to traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) in almost every way. They are much faster, smaller and consume less power. They produce less heat and noise as they have no moving parts. However, an area in which they are not superior to HDDs is the average lifespan; flash memory is the cornerstone technology in SSDs but wears rapidly through usage.
This is known as the endurance problem. Similarly, there is a retention issue in that although flash is non-volatile, it isn’t permanent storage, and data effectively “leaks out” over time.
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