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SSDs for Industrial Use

In notebooks and PCs, as well as in servers at data centers, SSDs (Solid State Drives) are replacing traditional hard disks in many areas today.

In industrial applications, SSD is also increasingly gaining acceptance as a storage medium. However, there are some special features to be considered here.

Data on industrial processes offer numerous control and optimization options. For this purpose, more and more devices are equipped with sensors and networked. In many cases, the data is transferred to a central station where it is summarized and evaluated. However, this is not always the case for industrial applications.

Firstly, it is not always possible to have a sufficiently reliable Internet connection. Secondly, the runtimes of the signals to central data centers and back add up. The time is too long for the control of plants, in vehicles or machines. So data has to be processed on-site and, if necessary, decisions made on-site. This requires computing power and storage capacities.

Advantages of SSDs
Storage space has been a problem for mobile devices and in industrial environments with traditional magnetic hard disks. An HDD (Hard Disk Drive) is susceptible to shocks, vibrations and dust due to its design and components. This is often the case in the industry, or at least it cannot be ruled out.

SSDs (Solid State Drives) do not require mechanical parts and are therefore less sensitive. Due to their design, they also allow applications to access the data more quickly. These two advantages led, for example, to the success of SSDs in notebooks. The production in larger quantities also resulted in price reductions. The falling prices, in turn, attracted buyers' interest in SSDs with larger storage capacities.

Lastly, flash memories such as SSDs can store more data in less space. This either saves space during device design or allows you to work with much larger amounts of data – depending on what’s more important. Power consumption is also important, especially for use in small, mobile and fanless devices. This is also lower for SSDs than for hard disks.

Different Flash Technologies in SSDs
Today, SSDs are equipped with NAND flash memories. However, there are several variants. They are called single-level cells (SLC), multi-level cells (MLC) and triple-level cells (TLC). Each of them has features and advantages that make them more or less suitable for specific applications.

As Advantech's long-standing sales partner and system integrator for embedded computer technology and with over 25 years of experience in the design-in of embedded computing modules, boards and systems, Aaronn Electronic has the know-how to provide customers and prospects with comprehensive advice on the selection of SSD technologies for their applications.

Take SLC-Flash, for example: it is fast, offers a long service life in general, is very reliable and allows a high number of write/read cycles. But the costs are higher. MLC Flash enables higher storage capacities than SLC and is more attractive in price. However, reliability and lifetime are lower than SLC. Compared to planar flash technology, TLC offers the advantage of higher memory densities, but the write/read cycles are shorter.

The Choice of the Right SSD
In addition, the expected number of writing cycles also plays a role in the selection of the right SSD and the appropriate storage technology. These in turn depend on the application. Is it about machines' logs or control data, or multimedia files and large blocks of data written all at once? Or, can irregular writing processes be expected as with kiosk systems or at sales terminals?

By choosing the right storage technology for your applications with the help of Aaronn's experts, you can avoid unnecessary downtime or system problems later in production.

Apart from storage technology, other factors also play a role in industrial applications. For example, an SSD model selected as a suitable one should be available for as long as possible. And if the manufacturer makes changes, they should be completely traceable. At Advantech, all SSDs are available at least three years after launch, and every change, no matter how small, is documented through Product Change Notifications. Another important criterion when selecting an SSD can be its power consumption.
Aaronn Electronic also provides its customers with customer-specific adaptations of the SSDs or firmware modifications at the manufacturer if required. Furthermore, with regard to data security, the offer goes far beyond the standard. Features such as Flash-Look, Security-ID and Emergency-Erase make it possible to meet the highest security standards in terms of data loss in the event of power failure and protection against unauthorized data outflow.

Conclusion
SSDs offer a number of advantages over traditional hard drives for industrial use, for example because they are less sensitive to shock, vibration or dust. Due to mass production, flash memory prices have generally fallen. This makes the use in more and more scenarios possible. The versatile, available interface technology and the specified temperature range from 0 to +70 C or from -40 to +85 C contribute to the success of the SSD.

However, when it comes to the enthusiasm for the new possibilities, it should not be forgotten that there are considerable technical differences. What perfectly fulfils its purpose when used with a notebook in a private environment is not necessarily also suitable for embedded computing. Even with products that are basically suitable for industrial use, it depends on the planned application, which is the optimal flash technology.

Last but not least, in many application scenarios, customer-specific adaptations can be used to achieve better overall results and implement functions that make your own product unique on the market. As a sales partner and system integrator for Advantech, Aaronn Electronic can competently support you in all these areas.

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