SSD prices on the rise due to NAND flash shortages

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The NAND flash supply shortage that has endured this year is expected to continue throughout the fourth quarter, and all signs point to ongoing supply issues well into 2017.

According to TrendForce, strong smartphone demand is the main reason for the NAND flash shortage.  However, higher than anticipated SSD adoption rates in the industrial, enterprise, and consumer markets have also contributed to the severe shortages.  We have already seen factory lead times increase nearly two-fold over the past few months, and price increases affecting certain SSD product lines are not far behind.

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Have you felt the impact of flash?

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We’ve seen a more dynamic change in the storage of data on Flash in the past few years than ever before. NAND flash used to only be “trusted” (using that term loosely) in two areas: laptops, and non-critical entertainment such as storage for cameras. Before DIGISTOR was big in the flash storage arena, we would scrutinize every detail of a 2.5” SSD drive for our desktop PC’s, comparing how much data per day we copy, use, and write to be sure we wouldn’t run out of NAND P/E cycles before a standard HDD would.

Over time we came to trust the technology, and even work closely with several global chipset manufacturers that let us in on the deep inner workings of how the NAND is used and how the chipset can, in fact, protect your data. Now we’ve scaled far beyond standard SSD storage for PC’s, and Cinema SSD drives. The more we improve industrial grade high speed flash storage, the more critical applications appear that benefit from improved speed and ruggedized design of solid state storage.

One area that was fairly surprising is the way cloud storage uses flash to improve the response time of any given search for your data. Usually we assume this bottleneck, our ISP, will mean that our remote files can be stored on big spinning disk drives out in a server farm where no SSD’s would really be of use. However, have you noticed that search results appear as you type these days on Google, and Facebook? Yes, that is the result of having some parts of the cloud built to use the high speed dependability of solid state storage.

The area that was more expected, but slower growing, is the IoT. The Internet of Things category has been looking for its day in the sun for some time. Now, something amazing is happening due to the improvements in controller tech, NAND flash, and testing for industrial applications. These little devices can finally have the ability to be truly smart because of the capacity, speed, and reliability of the integrated solid state storage, and improved SoC IC all packed into a small footprint.

The more IoT devices can prove themselves as necessities in our lives, the more innovation will grow from the next generation of devices. In order to do this though, the main requirement is usability. A close second is reliability. IoT devices are usually low power, and always running. Perhaps you don’t even use a particular device every day, but when you need to use it, it must be reliably functioning. There is no room for off-the-shelf consumer flash storage when you have a critical control system in place, perhaps monitoring the security of your home, or granting access to your front door.

We all got used to flash with cheap SD storage for our point-and-shoot cameras, and maybe we have had some experience with SSDs in our laptops. Now that flash storage is used for more critical components in our digital life, there’s no other choice but to be sure your storage of choice is high quality tested NAND and built by a trusted manufacturer. DIGISTOR is always willing to help you in this endeavor. If you’re working on any project, large or small, IoT or enterprise storage, and want to take storage concerns out of the equation, just contact us and we’ll be able to help.

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What You’re Paying for When You Buy SSD Drives Designed for Professional Video Shoots

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Sure, you can get an SSD that looks as though it ought to fit your video camera for fairly cheap on eBay or off the shelf. So what makes a “professional video” SSD, well, professional?

To begin with, not all SSD drives are compatible with a high-end video camera like that from Blackmagic Design.

Some don’t fit the camera; a standard 7mm SSD can make enough difference to either keep the drive from going in at all or making it slip around unforgivably once it’s been put in place. Most newly released SSD’s don’t have cameras in mind and are designed to be as thin as possible. This extra space within the camera can cause rattling, and additional wear on the SATA connection.

Others have firmware that just doesn’t work with your camera, interrupting your workflow with inability to record, or cause you to drop frames every time you try to shoot an important video.

That’s why brands like Blackmagic supply their customers with a list of approved SSDs that have been tested and been found to work.
These are higher-end SSDs that have been rigorously tested to ensure you can depend on them—and we’re proud that our DIGISTOR Professional Video SSD series is included on that list.

But they aren’t just one of the numbers. We’ve built them to be something special.

What is it that sets DIGISTOR Professional Video SSD Drives apart?
DIGISTOR Professional Video SSDs aren’t just compatible with your Blackmagic camera; they’re made to function with the camera as if they were born together. You can take your DIGISTOR Professional Video SSD Drive straight out of the box, stick it in your camera, and expect it to work immediately. Contrast that with the formatting, reformatting, and extensive fiddling you can expect if you use another SSD drive and you’ll already start to appreciate the synergy we’ve worked for.

Additionally, here’s an SSD series that’s all about video. (In fact, it’s the first and only!)

See Also: Top 5 things cinematographers love about our Professional Video SSDs

DIGISTOR Professional Video SSDs aren’t just a possible co-opt for filming needs, they’re designed for filming in 2.5K RAW and 2.5K and 4K ProRes along with our special 1TB SSD designed for 4K RAW & ProRes (HQ) 422 format. Extensively tested for Blackmagic Cinema and Production Cameras, our SSDs do more than support the equipment preferred by professional filmmakers.  Powerful, reliable and durable, DIGISTOR Professional Video SSDs aim to make a difference in your filming experience.

Bottom line? Made-for-PC or bottom shelf SSDs may save you a few dollars up front, but there’s a chance you could be throwing the entire cost away (not to mention the price of lost work!) if one fails to meet your needs.

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Industrial SSDs on the Frontiers of Science: Using SSDs at the International Space Station

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It’s not only high-end business and heavy-duty applications that rely on the power of Industrial Solid State Drives (SSDs) these days. Besides powering most of our earthly communications and industry, Industrial SSDs are also pushing the frontiers of science beyond the limits of our atmosphere. They have become the storage medium of choice at the International Space Station, allowing reliable, high-volume data collection like never before.

Data storage in space comes with its own set of special challenges. Not only does whatever storage medium used need to be compact, taking up a minimum amount of space, it also needs to be light; as every ounce in the journey to space counts. Limitations also demand that it should have low power consumption.

Finally, any storage system used should have high reliability, and an extreme temperature operating range, the ability to function without gravity, and the ability to withstand a high dose of radiation and remain uncorrupted.

Industrial strength SSD systems are all good as far as most of those criteria go. Radiation alone is a potential problem area. Down here on earth, we’re protected from cosmic radiation by the ozone layer and our atmosphere. This covering is effective in shielding us from most debilitating radiation.  Out there in space, they’re going (figuratively) naked.

Off-the-Shelf and Into Space
NAND flash memory tends to have a vulnerability to radiation; ionizing effects have the potential to do a number on the individual cells that hold the information bytes, resulting in voltage shifts and data corruption. But NASA scientists have discovered that while some memory chips fail dramatically under radiation pressures, others have the capacity to perform reliably.

This means that high quality industrial SSDs can be used after a rigorous test-and-retest procedure in which the highest performers are selected.

That’s why the International Space Station (ISS) now has the capacity to send a large volume of data and video images down to us here; shouldering past the old limits of knowledge and understanding in a way that’s never before been possible.

And it’s only getting better. While the switch from older operating technologies to SSDs began several years ago, just last week astronaut Tom Kelly switched out the old-fashioned Columbus Video Cassette Recorders (VCRs) from the starboard end of the ISS and replaced them with new Solid State Drive recorders.

As the transition to SSDs continues, we can expect to see a much larger volume of higher quality images and information beamed down to us directly from the outer frontiers of scientific exploration.

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What Went Wrong With TLC NAND

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When Samsung pushed the envelope and introduced their TLC-NAND flash memory for general use, it had the makings of a landmark innovation. TLC (triple-level cell) NAND is cheaper to manufacture than either SLC or MLC NAND, as it works by fitting more data  into the same NAND cell—three bits per cell, rather than the one bit or two bits that single level (SLC) and multi-level (MLC) NAND can put away in one cell space.  You’d think TLC NAND would take over the market in short order; no reason to waste resources manufacturing more expensive SLC or MLC NAND.

When introduced the new TLC-NAND solid state drives seemed to have conquered all previous difficulties of TLC NAND with some state of the art firmware. Read speeds looked pretty; Samsung SSD 840’s 500MB/s is nothing to sneeze at and reliability was a non-issue.

But, mounting excitement over the potentially cost-effective storage innovation waned as performance problems were discovered.

In fact, it wasn’t long before users began reporting a new and extremely debilitating challenge. Those pretty read-speeds, that near 100% reliability: those only counted for new, freshly written data. Data that had been sitting on the drive for, say, all of eight weeks, would have deteriorated to a level that it could only be read at much slower speeds.

Meaning, by the time you had data sitting static on your drive for six months or a year, those previously high read-speeds would have been reduced to processing at a snail’s pace.

It turns out that this is a problem inherent in the TLC system. Although there’s a voltage drift that happens in every NAND drive over time, in SLC and MLC NAND, this drift is small, consistent, and can be accounted for in the reading algorithms. When you lock three data bits in a cell, though, data deterioration speeds up immensely. What’s worse, there’s no longer a generalized algorithm that can take all the shifting into account, so the old data is simply blurred.

Samsung has introduced two firmware updates in an attempt to smooth over the problem. The first, a fancy algorithm that was meant to take account of the voltage drift and factor it in where necessary, completely failed at solving the issue.

The second, while more successful, offers a somewhat unpleasant workaround: The drive is set to rewrite all data regularly, so nothing ever is old.  It does manage to get around the problem: if all data is new data, it will all be readable and quickly accessible. However, since every NAND SSD has a finite number of writes or rewrites, this isn’t an ideal fix.

What does this all boil down to?
Simply that TLC NAND is not the future of data storage, and it doesn’t even have a good seating in the present. If your data matters in the long term, you’ll want to go with a higher-quality NAND: MLC-NAND for your basic SSD needs, or SLC-NAND for industrial use or super-sensitive data storage. There’s no other way about it.

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Top 5 things cinematographers love about our Professional Video SSDs

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Cinematographers and filmmakers love our Professional video SSD drives. After much discussion on the how and why we developed a series of SSD drives focused on video capture, primarily aiming towards certification for Blackmagic recording hardware, we have found the top 5 things that get cinematographers excited about our drives.

 

1. It’s the first and only SSD series made exclusively for video capture.
DIGISTOR set out to build the SSD line up specifically focusing on video capture rather than designing an SSD for computer use. Where other brands build SSDs for a wide variety of computers, we focus on what works well with your video recording hardware.

From the locked bill of materials and firmware, to the NAND flash, controller, and even the physical size of our SSDs, our Professional Video Series was built from the ground up to meet the unique needs of professional filmmakers.

2. Our Professional Video Series SSDs are sized for a snug fit.
Your Blackmagic Camera has a 9.5mm size slot — shouldn’t your SSD be designed to sit securely inside?

While the industry continues to move towards more compact drives, the Professional Video Series remains a standard 9.5mm to avoid shaking, rattling, flexing your connector and possibly dropping frames.

3. Our locked BOM ensures long-term compatibility with Blackmagic.
Once approved by Blackmagic, we lock our bill of materials — both physical and firmware. Before any changes are made, our SSDs are again extensively tested for re-certification by Blackmagic.

For our customers, that means every DIGISTOR drive that has been listed as Blackmagic compatible will remain so, regardless of movements in the market for new NAND or updated controllers.

4. Your workflow, made more efficient by editing straight from the disk.
Stuck on site or don’t have the time to transfer your footage to local storage?

Made to go directly from your Blackmagic recording hardware into the HyperDeck Studio, Blackmagic MultiDock, or connect with a Thunderbolt adapter, our powerful SSDs allow you to smoothly transition from shooting to on-site editing.

5. Our Professional Video Series comes ready to shoot.
Unlike off-the-shelf SSDs that require formatting before use, our Professional Video Series SSDs are made to support recording hardware right out of the box. Compatible with exFAT and already formatted, you can go straight to shooting.

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SSD Dos & Don’ts

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SSDs are quickly replacing mechanical, magnetic hard drives thanks to their speed, ruggedness and lightweight, compact form (among a host of other reasons!) Because SSDs are relatively simple to set up, most new users don’t put much thought into long-term care.

Still, there are certain “dos and don’ts” every SSD user should be aware of to extend the life of their drive. Here’s a quick rundown to keep your SSD operating at peak performance:

Don’t Defragment Your SSD
Unlike magnetic drives, fragmentation isn’t going to hurt your SSD’s speed. In fact, fragmentation is a requirement for maximum SSD performance!

SSD controllers can access multiple channels simultaneously. This means that sprawling data across several flash chips allows your SSD to access information with more speed, instead of slowing it down.

Do Check That Auto-Defrag is Disabled
Defragging your SSD is not only unnecessary, but it could shorten the life of your SSD.

SSDs have a lifespan that’s determined by how much they’re used. While it’s designed to last much longer than you’ll ever need it, defragmenting your SSD involves writing data unnecessarily, which will shorten your SSD’s lifespan. OS X and Windows should both be able to detect when an SSD is in use and turn off defragmentation automatically, but just in case be sure to check that the auto defrag option in your OS of choice is turned off.

Don’t Use for Archived Files
SSDs offer uncompromising speed, making them the ideal choice for operating system files and other programs that must be accessed frequently and quickly.

However, due to size limitations and cost-per-gigabyte, SSDs are less efficient for storing large or seldom-used files that simply take up space. If you require a large amount of storage for archiving purposes, optical drives and Blu-ray recordable media provide a scalable and low-cost solution.

Do Enable TRIM
When a block is written to, the entire block must be erased before it can be used to store new data. But the process of erasing blocks can slow the SSD’s performance if it’s managed on the fly.

TRIM is a command that extends the life of your SSD by preventing the drive from overusing certain blocks. The command does so by stepping in a little ahead of time and instructing your operating system (supported by Windows 7 onward) to erase the blocks that are no longer considered “in use” and can be wiped internally.

Windows 7 and 8 should detect an SSD and enable TRIM automatically, but it’s a good idea to check anyway.

Don’t Use Old Operating Systems
Old operating systems like Windows XP and Windows Vista don’t include support for the TRIM command, leaving deleted file data on your drive.

Unerased sectors slow down performance, forcing your operating system to first erase the residual data before writing a file into the free space.

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Why Digistor’s Professional Video SSDs Rock Blackmagic User’s Socks Off

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Our SSDs have been described as the “best choice” by filmmakers and here’s why…

1. We streamline your workflow.
We design our SSDs to use the latest NAND flash controller technology, focusing specifically on in-camera use, which means they work well under pressure, no need for OS level optimization that a standard PC SSD may need. The Professional Video Series SSD drives arrive shoot ready, so you can unbox, plug-in, and start filming.

2. Were the most reliable.
Have to shoot a long presentation? Our Professional Video SSDs work flawlessly shooting nonstop, filling the entire drive and never dropping a frame. 4K RAW recording requires massive storage, so we’ve specially developed the 1TB Professional Video SSD for 4K capture in RAW format! To ensure your Digistor SSD goes the distance, our developers employ improvements that extend the endurance of our SSDs with intelligent block management and wear leveling, as well as advanced garbage collection techniques.

3. We build with a locked BOM for quality and consistency with every drive.
What goes on your SSD isn’t just your creative vision, it’s your whole team’s hard work. Digistor knows that filmmakers need the peace of mind that comes from an SSD that’s tailor made for Blackmagic cameras and recorders. Unlike off-the-shelf SSD brands with flexible bill of materials (BOM), which means they can change controller manufacturers, NAND flash, or Firmware with any given batch, we have a locked BOM, giving you reliable, glitch free performance every time. Once our drives are certified by Blackmagic, that certification locks our build.

Have more questions about how Digistor Professional Video SSDs can enhance your Blackmagic experience? Give our team a call or drop us a line at sales@digistor.com.

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How SSDs Have Taken Industrial Applications by Storm

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Many rugged industrial SSD applications owe credit to the innovation that was brought about by consumer demand for more powerful electronics, such as iPods, digital cameras and smart phones. It’s thanks to huge adoption within consumer devices that the cost per gigabit has become affordable for the masses and enticing for industrial innovators.

The first adoptions of SSDs outside of consumer electronics were primarily made by high-end industrial and military system designers that required a better solution for rugged tasks than offered by hard disk drives.

Those initial applications were limited to flight and mission data recorders, field computers for troops, GPS communication systems and other industrial applications where devices were required to withstand high vibrations or extreme temperatures.

As the merits of SSD technology increased, the drives became an attractive option for single board developing computers, and were integrated into everything from edge routers and switches in netcom applications, industrial automation, control equipment to ATM machines and other forms of interactive kiosks and medical devices.

Because of their lower power consumption and long product life in applications that require 24/7, or “always on”, capability, SSDs also offer dependability in tasks that require the highest endurance – making modern generations of SSDs true drop-in replacements for hard drives.

The implementation of SSDs in the industrial market continues to rapidly increase thanks to unparalleled flexibility and new dimensions of applications. Because they only require a fraction of the system power of hard drives, SSDs are an appropriate choice for onboard storage even in the most space-constrained designs. Adding to their advantages, new generations of SSDs ingrate voltage detection technology to eliminate potential drive corruption in case of a power disturbance.

The advanced SSD technology offered by Digistor’s industrial drives have been developed and designed to excel in a range of innovative applications that require unique specifications and features. Whether the application demands enhanced temperature, security, maximum performance or extended duty, there is a right Digistor storage solution for every industrial storage need.

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Blackmagic’s MultiDock Helps Better Wrangle Data in a Busy Environment

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The popularity of using DIGISTOR Professional Video SSD’s for filmmaking shows no signs of slowing down, offering a perfect storage solution for media in television production. Thanks to their superior speed and extremely large storage capacity, even a single SSD is beats out multiple hard disks, due to instantly accessible storage without any mechanical lag. Despite fast, reliable video recording capabilities and effortless playback of compressed or uncompressed video, using a single SSD device can be too limiting in a busy broadcast or post-production environment without the peripheral attachments necessary to streamline your workflow.

Since SSDs were not initially designed for external on the fly storage cartridges, the market has offered limited solutions for attaching SSD devices to your computer.

Enter the Blackmagic MultiDock: Designed to provide an efficient data wrangling solution that meets the needs of busy broadcast and post-production environments.

Edit Directly From Your Disks
Available in two models, the Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2, the Blackmagic MultiDock allows users to transfer from up to four 2.5” SSD devices simultaneously, and is perfect for editing, color grading, or any task that requires large video files to be stored on multiple drives. With the MultiDock, you’ll even be able to “edit in place” without even having to copy your material across.

An attractive and compact rack mount design, the four disk docking solution installs in seconds because it uses the disk drivers built into your Mac OS X and Windows Thunderbolt computer.

Although Thunderbolt is a rare sight in the PC world (upgrade cards are available) it’s now pretty much universal in the Macintosh domain. Which means that if you’re an Apple user you now have access to a staggeringly fast, but easy to use, way to connect storage to your computer.

Massive Performance & Volume
But there’s more to the MultiDock than that – it can also be part of a RAID system.

You can not only RAID up to four SSD devices within a single MultiDock, users can also daisy-chain up to six MultiDocks together (there are two Thunderbolt 2 connectors on each dock) for a total of twenty four disks on a single connection.

By minimizing the time spent swapping external SSD drives and transferring media, the Blackmagic MultiDock aims to allow professional filmmakers and photographers more time to focus on what matters – their work.

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