Next Generation Storage Paradigms - Solutions for Solid State Drive Systems

Technology/Domain Context

We believe that storage solutions based on Solid State Drives is going to be the order of the day and for some time to come. We are investing in building solutions in the adjacency area that enables our storage product customers in accelerating innovation and bring SSD based products faster to the market.

Solid State Drive (SSD) started off as a storage device that incorporates solid-state memory and emulates a hard disk drive to store data. In that sense, early SSDs used hard disk drive interfaces and protocols such as Parallel ATA, Serial ATA, Serial Attached SCSI and Fibre Channel. However, today, we have SSDs with non-HDD interfaces as well like USB and PCIe.

SSDs are already being applied by vendors where performance and reduced latency are important. SSDs are replacing and complementing HDDs in many application areas.

Background

NAND flash memory has expanded its reach into once-exclusive domain of hard disk drives and DRAM in the form of Solid State Drives (SSDs). SSDs require a powerful controller to be able to manage the limitations of Flash Memory as well be able to provide a Host interface for SATA, AHCI, NVMe. Validation of SSDs needs to be performed at multiple levels viz. Host interface Protocol, Firmware level back-end tests as well as at the integrated level where endurance and retention factors come into play.

Agiliad Experience

Agiliad has leveraged its expertize working with conventions disk based storage and protocols and is engaged on creating a test automation framework for validating conformance of SSD drives to SATA, AHCI and NVMe standards. The framework includes evaluating the SSD drives on parameters of reliability, protocol conformance, data integrity, endurance and retention. The framework has been jointly developed ground-up and allows vendors to perform parallel and remote execution of tests on multiple SSDs drives concurrently. The framework also provides interfaces to plug-in the system into customer’s existing test database framework. We are also working on creating a platform for JEDEC 218A/219A evaluation of SSD drives that enable the endurance and retention capabilities of SSD drives.

Road Ahead

Scaling-up Flash technology does have problems. At 45 nm level, the electric fields required for programming and erase Flash memory are so high that materials begin to fall apart. Flash will continue to scale, but it will be a game of diminishing returns. Until that happens, Flash memory and SSDs are here to stay and need solutions that check for their performance, data retention, conformance parameters.