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Qualification Testing Ensures Industrial Flash Storage Performance

By Del Williams I

ndustrial OEMs, especially those in automotive, aerospace and transportation, often have chal-

lenging requirements for flash mem- ory storage. It must be designed and tested to provide mission-critical reli- ability, despite being regularly sub- jected to vibration or temperature ex- tremes in harsh environments. Failing to do so risks costly fail-

ure in the field that can involve lia- bility if safety is jeopardized, along with serious field service and war- ranty costs. In manufacturing au- tomation, data device failures can cause machinery to malfunction, po- tentially causing safety issues, pro- duction slowdowns or stoppage. Although industrial flash stor-

age is designed to be rugged, differ- ent applications have different oper- ating requirements. Customizing flash storage to ensure mechanical

ruggedness is necessary to ensure re- liability, while providing applicable memory capacity and form factors. While most of the flash storage

industry promotes testing to ensure product performance within specified temperature ranges, industrial flash storage manufacturers that are com- mitted to high reliability will exceed minimum standards. When industrial product OEMs

experience flash storage card fail- ures, one of the most common issues is that previous testing did not ap- propriately replicate real-world con- ditions for qualification testing. “The only way that industrial

OEMs can be assured that their products will withstand real-world vibration and temperature abuse is to put the flash storage components through the paces with accelerated tests, like HALT and HASS,” says

Tony Diaz, product manager, Delkin Devices, a supplier of non-volatile flash storage solutions in a variety of SSDs, cards and modules. HALT and HASS techniques

shortcut and avoid the problems of slower traditional methods that only test to minimum specifications and nothing more. The accelerated tech- niques quickly expose any weak links in a product by testing well beyond minimum specs, so that any reliabil- ity problems can be fixed before they become expensive field service, warranty or liability is- sues.

Accelerated Qualification Testing

According to Diaz, during

finding production flaws and defects in products, is often used after HALT, as the two are complementary. HASS is performed on a compo-

nent based on the results of the pre- ceding HALT. The HASS screening stresses are based on the limits iden- tified through HALT, and combina- tions of stresses are applied simulta- neously. The screening pushes the product beyond its operating limits until product failures are caused and

“The only way that industrial OEMs can be assured that

their products will withstand real-world vibration and temperature abuse is to put

HALT, products are exposed to the kinds of extreme environ- mental conditions that they might be subjected to after they are installed. The temper- ature is raised and lowered repeated- ly and the memory device is exposed to high levels of vibration. The exact conditions used during HALT can be adjusted to meet specific OEM needs. “There are four steps to HALT:

the flash storage components through the paces with accelerated tests, like HALT and HASS...”

any inherent defects are revealed. The stresses during HASS are

thermal step testing, rapid thermal cy- cling, vibration step testing, and com- bined environment testing,” says Diaz. “One computer manages the testing conditions, while another runs the host application in which the memory will be used to emulate real operating con- ditions as closely as possible.” Diaz says that the results are

analyzed in-house, so any necessary design changes can be made effi- ciently and effectively, before the flash storage is used in any industri- al OEM devices. HASS, which is a screening

method used to monitor the quality and uniformity of manufacturing by

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more rigorous than those rendered by conventional approaches, acceler- ating the detection of design issues. “Product can often be improved be- fore design release by testing to fail- ure utilizing HALT and HASS,” says Diaz. “Typically, these tests are used to ensure when a design goes to pro- duction that it exceeds its promised specifications, whether in tempera- ture, vibration or other areas.” According to Diaz, often with

such testing improvements can be dis- covered that allow a product’s design to exceed the specifications listed. For example, traces can be modified or pad sizes reduced or increased to improve soldering when breaks or bad electri- cal connections are found. Alternative- ly, connectors can be changed or repo- sitioned to improve overall part per- formance or longevity. “The test process up to the re-

lease of a new design for production is often like a test of all the parts in the chain,” concludes Diaz. “The most likely weakest link is improved or replaced, then testing is resumed. Then the second weakest link is de- termined and improved. This process continues until a part well exceeds its specifications, so we can be sure the design and material are solid, and that the part in mass production will exceed the promised specifica-

tions in all areas.” Contact: Delkin Devices, 13350

Kirkham Way, Poway, CA 92064 % 858-391-1234 E-mail: Web: r

July, 2020

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