Flash drives, or solid state drives (SSD), are available for a variety of interfaces, including (e) SATA, (e) USB, eMMC, CF cards, SD / micro SD cards, and PCIe drives. There is talk in the industry of flash disk manufacturing that they can also be used in DIMM slots. For the purpose of this discussion, we will use SSD to refer to flash drives that use either of those interfaces.
SSDs come in three general types: consumer, business, and industrial, each prioritizing different characteristics. Consumer SSDs, found in cell phones, tables, and laptops, focus primarily on cost, followed by performance, and lastly, quality. Since smartphones generally have a retail price of about $ 125, the cost of storage must be kept low to allow for a competitive amount of flash storage and to meet BOM cost limits. For consumer applications (be it a cell phone or laptop), if the flash memory is malfunctioning, a reboot or firmware update can sometimes fix the problem. If data is lost, a customer may become irritated, but the consequences are unlikely to have a high business impact.
Enterprise SSDs used in data centers are first concerned with performance, then quality, then cost. Servers using enterprise SSDs exist in controlled environments, with a UPS to manage unexpected power loss and a backup system that keeps data mirrored for recovery from unexpected failures. Enterprise workloads are often dominated by database queries, so performance, measured in transactions per second, is the key factor in selecting SSD storage. If business SSD failures do occur, there is usually the ability to quickly switch to a backup drive with minimal downtime or data loss.
Industrial SSDs, or rugged SSDs, are used in applications that have a high cost of failure and operate in harsh, often uncontrolled environments. Examples of these devices include a programmable logic controller (PLC) that manages operations in a nuclear power plant or on a high-speed factory assembly line; a flight data recorder in an airplane; or a pipeline monitoring system in an oil field. Therefore, the main focus of industrial SSDs is quality to ensure the longevity of the device despite operating in harsh environments. While there is broad agreement on the relative priority of requirements for industrial SSDs: 1) quality, 2) performance, 3) cost, there is no consistent definition for specifications. Change from provider to provider. Some believe that the only flash that is reliable enough for industrial use is single-level cell (SLC) flash. Others claim that its multi-level cell (MLC) flash can deliver industrial-grade reliability. Some industrial flash vendors show that the operating temperature range is the only differentiator between consumer grade and industrial grade. Other industrial SSD manufacturers have a wide range of features beyond the extended temperature range.
Cost is a more obvious differentiator between consumer SSD and industrial SSD. On the DRAM Exchange (www.dramexchange), the median retail price for a 256GB SSD is $ 173, or 68 cents / GB. For comparison, at Digikey (www.digikey.com) a 64GB Virtium SSD costs $ 460, or $ 7.18 / GB. While not all industrial SSDs have such a large cost difference compared to consumer SSDs, the price is notably higher for SSDs with specifications that include long life, a wider temperature range, and other industrial requirements. . So how do higher prices explain the differences?