MILPITAS, Calif. -- Silicon Motion has expanded its Ferri portfolio with embedded memory products aimed at industrial and commercial applications that must withstand extreme temperatures and require longevity and reliability over high performance.
Silicon Motion’s Ferri-eMMC is compliant with JEDEC-standard eMMC 4.5 and intended for use in a wide range of embedded applications, including handheld and portable devices, automotive infotainment systems, test instruments, and military equipment. Robert Fan, Silicon Motion’s VP/GM US, said Ferri-eMMC’s 100-ball 1.0mm pitch BGA package allows for more flexible PCB design and low-cost manufacturing.
Ferri-eMMC is designed with reliability in mind for long-term use with little servicing required, Fan said, and includes Silicon Motion’s advanced NAND management technologies such as error correction, bad block management, and health monitoring. It is available in both commercial (-25°C to 85°C) and industrial temperature grades (-40°C to 85°C).
Silicon Motion's latest FerriSSD product is a single-package SATA 6Gb/s SSD that includes a NAND flash controller, industry standard NAND flash memory in a small 90-ball, 1.0mm pitch BGA package. It is aimed at similar applications to Ferri-eMMC and also includes embedded DRAM for better storage efficiency and performance, said Fan. It is upgrade of the company’s FerriSSD line, a series that also includes PATA and SATA 3Gb/s models with densities ranging from one to 64GB. In addition to including DRAM, the new FerriSSD includes health monitoring and remote firmware update features. Similar to the Ferri-eMMC, it is available in both commercial (0°C to 70°C) and industrial temperature grades (-40°C to 85°C).
FerriSSD can deliver up to 80,000 random IOPs; Fan said random write performance is particularly important for industrial applications. Customers would choose Ferri-eMMC or FerriSSDs based on the CPUs they are using and specific applications. FerriSSD makes sense for those that just want to upgrade storage rather than retrofit everything to support eMMC. And while random write performance is important, having something robust that will last a long time in rugged environments is critical for commercial and industrial customers.
Jeff Janukowicz, research director at IDC, said that as the cost of flash has come down, it’s become more viable option for commercial and industrial applications. “It’s really a perfect match.” Because of the flexibility of the form factor, its reliability and the number of interfaces that can be used, he said, this market is starting to grow, and the advanced flash management technologies such as those offered by Silicon Motion adds to the appeal of flash in these markets.
While eMMC is expected to be supplanted with UFS in the next few years due to its better performance and high transfer rates, Janukowicz said there are still a lot of markets for eMMC today and in the future that don’t require that level of performance, particularly in the industrial and commercial space, such as equipment, robotics, and digital signage that require the temperature specifications and endurance of flash. “They don’t need the performance that you would typically see in a lot of the enterprise applications.”
Gregory Wong, principal analyst with Forward Insights, said one of the advantages of eMMC devices is it’s a single package including a controller which takes pressure off the host system. “Everything is managed within that package,” he said. “It takes the burden off managing the NAND from the host system.”
Unlike the consumer segment, there’s not a new product in the industrial space every six to nine months, said Wong. “You’re not changing products and the processors are not being as updated as frequently, so if you can have a controller that can access some sort of storage device that’s a standard, even if you change the NAND storage, it’s transparent to the host system.” This allows the host system to take advantage of newer devices, he said.
Ultimately, the economics in industrial and commercial applications are different from consumer and enterprise uses, said Wong. “They require reliability, not necessarily the fastest performance.”