Good things really do come in small packages, especially memory cards

January 14, 2016 OpenSystems Media

I was just thinking about the good old days when you could get all of 5 Mbytes of data in a 5-1/4-in. MFM hard disk drive. I’m sure some of you remember those days, too. Now, you can get orders of magnitude more memory in an extremely reliable Industrial microSD form factor for industrial embedded OEM designs.

The SD Association officially adopted the microSD standard in 2005 and it’s now the leading form factor for consumer electronics items like mobile phones. But what many people aren’t aware of is the availability of highly reliable versions of microSD.

Typical microSD cards are based on the lowest cost TLC NAND and are designed for consumer applications. Embedded OEM designers who don’t know the difference will sometimes design industrial systems running an operating system on these consumer cards.

As with most things, there is a good and bad side to this.

The bad side: consumer microSD cards weren’t designed to run an operating system. They were made to provide a low-cost, medium to high performance storage for images, video, and a few contacts, for example. If used to run an OS, there will eventually be issues.

The good side: microSD cards are modular. If the wrong decision is made up front to use a consumer version in an industrial application, the quick remedy to this situation is to swap it out with an Industrial Grade microSD built with SLC NAND, the most reliable.

Industrial microSD are available in relatively low capacities since the density of SLC NAND is much lower than TLC. At 1-, 2- and 4-Gbyte densities, they tend to be sufficient for a small embedded OS, application, and a little data storage.

Another advantage of Industrial microSD is the wider operating temperature option, -45°C to +90°C. With a good locking, hinged connector on the host system, microSD cards based on SLC NAND can meet most embedded industrial application requirements.

Steve Larrivee is VP Sales & Marketing for Cactus Technologies Limited and has over 30 years of experience in the data storage market, including ten with SanDisk and five at Seagate Technology.


Steve Larrivee, Cactus Technologies Limited
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