General Product Questions


Q: What does a flash manager do?

A: FlashFX Pro and FlashFX Tera are flash media managers that let applications access flash memory just as they would a hard drive. The flash media manager combines a block device driver with sophisticated algorithms to simplify the complexities of working with flash memory in a system.

Q: Why do I need a flash manager?

A: A flash manager makes flash reliable through its wear-leveling, bad block management, and error correction and detection algorithms.  Flash memory is considerably more complex to program and read than other types of storage media:
• Flash memory requires complex algorithms for erasing; while it can be programmed bits or pages at a time, it can only be erased in much larger blocks often over 128KB in size;
• Flash memory bits can only be programmed from 1 to 0, an intervening erase is required to turn 0’s to 1’s;
• Over the lifetime of the flash chip, some blocks become bad and cannot be reliably written to;
• Flash memory contains pre-existing and future error conditions which must be handled at run time

Q: How are FlashFX Family products different than what I get with from the flash manufacturer?

A: Most flash driver software available from flash manufacturers only supports that manufacturer’s parts. FlashFX Family supports over 300 different flash parts from leading manufacturers and can automatically detect which part is used in a system. This ability allows changes in production based on parts availability without having to rework the software.

For more information on flash parts supported, see our Supported Hardware List

Q: Don’t most operating systems already have support for flash memory?

A: Many modern operating systems have some level of support, although it is often limited to just one flash technology (NOR or NAND) or does not offer the versatility and completeness of a full flash manager.  (see the functional comparison between the Microsoft FAL and FlashFX Pro for more details).

Q: Can you use FlashFX Family without a file system? …an operating system?

A: Yes. Because FlashFX Family has a block-oriented read/write interface that is similar to most block device drivers, it can be used without a file system or operating system.

Q: What operating systems do you work with?

A: We have FlashFX Family SDKs for Wind River VxWorks, Windows CE, and Linux.  We also have an RTOS kit which can be used to port FlashFX Family to any proprietary or other 32-bit OS.  This is a process that has taken customers as little as 2 days (or as much as 2 weeks) to complete, and is supported by user documentation as well as our technical support team.

Q: Does Datalight work with bulk programmers to ensure compatibility when programming using FlashFX Family?

A: Yes; Datalight has a close partnership with Seattle based Data I/O and can provide documentation to help other bulk programmers to work correctly with our formatting.

Q: What are the main feature differences in FlashFX Pro and FlashFX Tera?

A:
FlashFX Tera supports the following:
   1. Support for raw MLC Flash
   2. Support for large flash arrays (>2GB)
   3. Support for large page sizes (>32K)
   4. Support for higher ECCs (4-bit) and pluggable ECCs (hardware maximum)

Q: What MLC flash parts are supported in FlashFX Tera?

A:

The most current list of supported flash parts may be viewed here.

 

Performance


Q: What performance can I expect to see in my system when using FlashFX Family?

A: FlashFX Family products are highly efficient and configurable driver for flash memory. There are hundreds of variables that affect the final performance of your system. Depending upon configuration settings, you can achieve performance that nearly as fast as the theoretical maximum of the flash hardware.  Please contact us at info@datalight.com for more details on FlashFX Family performance.

Q: Does flash management software reduce the usable flash memory?

A: In a typical system, FlashFX Family uses 3-6% of the total disk size to manage its internal structures.

Q: How much system RAM does FlashFX Family require?

A: The amount of RAM required depends on the FlashFX Family configuration. Typically, NOR flash support requires 22KB and NAND about 30KB. Stack size requirements are between 2-4KB.

Q: What is the code footprint?


A: Typical code footprints are configurable and range from 60KB to 120KB.

Q: What is the power consumption of FlashFX Family products?

A: While the flash part you choose will have an affect on power consumption (i.e. 1.8V vs. 3.3V), FlashFX Family does not have any affect on power consumption.

Support for Flash Parts


Q: What flash parts do you support?

A: FlashFX Family supports over 300 flash parts from all leading manufacturers. You can find the most up to date list on our website here.

Q: How often do you add support for new flash parts?

A:FlashFX Family is architected to make implementing support for new parts relatively simple. That said, Datalight has a reputation for providing high quality products and to do so requires extensive testing. In general, each release of FlashFX Family will include new parts support and depending upon market demand, new parts support may be added between full product releases.

Q: What if the part I’m considering is not on your supported hardware list?


A: FlashFX Family is architected to make implementing support for new parts relatively simple and you may be able to do it yourself. Our technical support team will help you determine the closest match among the already-supported parts and guide you through making any modifications needed to an existing FIM (flash interface module) for your specific requirements.  If the part you need support for requires more complex modifications to the FIM, contact your Datalight representative to determine when support can be added.

Testing


Q: What kind of reliability testing do you do?

A: Datalight testing involves functionality, performance and compatibility testing across a spectrum of boards and flash chips. Thousands of power interrupts are conducted and must be successfully recovered from before any version is allowed to be released.

Q: Is Datalight ISO 9001:2000 certified?

A: Datalight uses software development life cycle process and procedures modeled after industry-standard practices.   While we are confident that our methodology and results reflect best practices of the software industry, Datalight has decided to invest in enhancement of our products rather than the infrastructure required for ISO certification.  If ISO 9001:2000 certification became a requirement for a critical mass of customers in the future, Datalight is confident that certification would be achieved.