In embedded devices, achieving a comprehensive understanding of the storage stack can be a crucial step in managing the flash lifetime risks caused by write amplification.

For embedded devices that operate in demanding field conditions, system integrity and data reliability are critically important. From a connected vehicle with a modern IVI system to an industrial handheld device – the use cases are varied.  For the device to have a long lifetime, it is important that the data on the device remains uncorrupted, in a good state, and accessible when needed. This is what we mean when we talk about system integrity, and it is at risk of disruption by factors like write amplification.

As we have written about before, write amplification can cause havoc to the flash memory of an embedded device. The lifetime of the media is gradually eroded, leading to lost or corrupted data and device malfunction. In industries where data integrity and reliability are critical, the risks brought by write amplification can result in significant costs for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), as well as disastrous end user experiences (as seen in some cases over the last few years) such as the device simply shutting down.

Putting the brakes on write amplification with flash memory testing

To tackle write amplification, it’s important to understand the needs and limits of the flash memory of your embedded device. This is important due to how the flash memory can vary – the lifetime of the flash memory device depends on many factors, and are often unique to a given device while also dependent on the specific use case. This means that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to tackling write amplification.

Testing for those storage stack differences is important for understanding the system and improving its longevity.

The goal of flash memory testing is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the storage stack of the device. When executed correctly, flash memory testing can help to minimize issues like write amplification by providing an image of how the system functions under specific customer workloads over the lifetime of the device. In addition to helping with mitigating write amplification, testing can check the data integrity of the flash by simulating power loss, and estimate the maximum lifetime of the device through controlled aging of the storage device. Such tests are designed to simulate the kinds of demands that will be placed on the flash memory device while in the field.

Carefully planned flash memory testing can also provide useful information to help in developing future cutting-edge devices. For customers looking to move away from specific technologies (such as eMMC), data that is gained from testing the flash can provide insight into how such a move could affect the lifetime of that device, or future devices like it.

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Discover more about the methods used for improving embedded device reliability and lifetime in our whitepaper, “Understanding system integrity and how testing can help in preventing field failures.”

Achieving optimized and customized flash memory testing

For flash memory testing to be most effective it needs to be tailored to the specific use case. Tuxera Flash Memory Testing Service provides comprehensive and comparative testing, analysis, and reporting of the impact of complex use cases on the lifetime and performance of a customer specified selection of flash devices. We have worked with the leading OEMs, Tier-1 suppliers, and car manufacturers to determine their embedded flash storage needs, help save on BOM costs, identify possible storage failures, and lower testing overhead for their teams.

Our experts will do the same for your team. We have decades of experience in improving flash memory lifetime in embedded devices. Tuxera works with each customer to create tests that accurately reflect the demands placed on a device in the field. Our test packages are customized to your needs, combining performance, lifetime, and power fail-safety testing. Regular status updates give you on-time information about the progress. And once the testing is complete, we provide a detailed report of the findings to guide you in choosing the best storage solution for your systems.

With the help of our advanced flash testing, you are able to develop a more extensive understanding of how your flash memory fits into your storage stack. You gain guidance in the selection of storage technologies that meet the requirements for cost-effective and strong performing products. This guidance helps OEMs calculate real-world usage of flash storage, potentially saving in bill of materials costs while lowering testing overhead. System level test cases provide insights beyond standardized testing and identify possible failure points early in the development phase.

Final thoughts

Ensuring optimal system and data integrity remains a crucial factor in preventing device failures in the field. A factor like write amplification can cause issues with flash media, potentially decreasing the lifetime of the device, risking a loss of precious data, and increasing resource costs – hindering new product development and time-to-market.

Effective long-lasting data storage requires planning. Customized flash memory testing and analysis can provide a comprehensive picture of the behavior of the flash device over the lifetime of the system. This knowledge can help embedded device manufacturers understand how their device can function – and potentially fail – in the field.

Embedded device manufacturers, let’s work together to build the most comprehensive picture of your flash memory possible.