Bad block management (BBM) is a critical component of NAND flash drivers to improve the reliability and endurance of the flash. NAND is shipped from the factory with “mostly good” cells, meaning there are some cells that are non-functional even when the flash is new. Blocks can also go bad over time, causing loss of data stored in the flash memory or even a bricked device. To prevent flash memory corruption, the Datalight line of FlashFX products employs patented bad block management technology to map bad sectors and avoid storing data in those areas. Using Datalight FlashFX flash memory drivers makes bad block management worry-free, making NAND flash reliable and reducing warranty returns.

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Whitepaper: Optimizing a Flash Manager for NAND and Managing Bad Blocks (BBM)

While the process of preparing and writing images to NOR flash is a straight-forward implementation, creating images for NAND is much more complex, making a uniform programming strategy arduous without the proper flash media management tools. Under the crunch of a product development schedule, it may seem practical to use a hardware simulator to capture an image of a file system, and then write that image to new flash by reading only a part of the flash that is thought to include all of the files. Flash experts would tell you that this is not as simple as it sounds, and is not likely to work reliably.

This paper explores the use of tools within the Datalight FlashFX Pro flash media manager for creating a flash image and initializing fresh NAND flash from this image. We also discuss best practices for high volume production programming of NAND flash… …BBM is Datalight's method of working around the bad blocks that are generally present in NAND flash. Even a brand new flash chip from the manufacturer may have some erase blocks that do not meet specifications for reliable data storage, and further blocks may go bad after extended use. BBM is responsible for allocating replacement blocks and remapping addresses from bad blocks to their corresponding replacement blocks.

 

Datalight FlashFX Pro Helps WAGO Build a Faster PLC

 
The Challenge

In the world of programmable logic controllers (PLC) and remote I/O systems, speed and responsiveness are the ultimate measures of performance. Built for such applications as controlling complex industrial automation processes and building automation, split-second timing and fast response time are crucial to the success of WAGO’s customers. WAGO PLCs use the Mentor Graphics NUCLEUS operating system, an OS popular with the industrial segment for its small footprint and simple license structure. WAGO needed a flash file system that could meet their requirement for fast writes to the flash.

 
The Datalight Solution

In their search to find the right flash manager, WAGO discovered FlashFX Pro by Datalight. Engineers on the project were immediately impressed by the simple integration process. FlashFX Pro comes standard with drop-in support for over 300 well-known flash parts, a feature that enabled the WAGO team to integrate the FlashFX Pro solution quickly. What really impressed WAGO engineers however, was that the write performance to the flash was 40-95 percent faster than the other solutions they had tried. “We were impressed by the seamless integration of Datalight FlashFX Pro into the existing software,” said Jurgen Gorka, WAGO Product Manager. “That combined with the superior performance of the Datalight product makes it an easy choice for both WAGO and our customers.”

 
The Customer Payoff

Using Datalight FlashFX Pro, WAGO was able to design a more responsive PLC than is available anywhere else on the market. WAGO customers have the assurance of knowing that the system will not bog down due to slow flash writes, remaining available and highly responsive no matter what demands are placed on it. Customers also benefit from the added endurance provided by FlashFX Pro, with features like bad block management and advanced wear-leveling algorithms.

Flash Memory Drivers for Bad Block Management

The Datalight line of FlashFX products provide a flash management solution that frees developers from the volatility and constraints of single-source flash memory software. Versatility allows fast integration with over 300 flash chip part numbers. Dynamic chip select provides run-time flexibility of using just one driver image, saving money and lowering supply-line risks during production.  Pre-written support includes SLC and MLC NAND and NOR parts from top manufacturers (Intel, Micron, Samsung, Toshiba, Numonyx and Spansion), fusion flash (such as Samsung OneNAND, FlexOneNAND or Spansion OrNAND), and application processor flash controllers (like Freescale MX and Texas Instruments OMAP). Our high performance, multi-threaded flash drivers provide superior wear-leveling, bad block management, garbage collection and fast read/write speeds.

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