The past decade has seen a rapid rise in the use of Secure Digital (SD) cards. GPS devices, smartphones, cameras, video game consoles, blue-ray players, and almost all electronic devices today are equipped with SD cards. Their availability in several capacities and sizes has made them the go-to storage solution for manufacturers. Because SD cards have a plug-and-play feature, users don’t need any specific software for them to work.
What is a Secure Digital Card?
An SD card is a tiny, card-shaped storage device that uses flash memory to provide an enormous capacity for storage. These nifty cards can store media recorded through electronic devices such as camcorders, cameras, audio, video players, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.
They were explicitly designed for high-capacity memory and other portable devices (like smartphones, digital video camcorders, and car navigation systems) way back in 1999. SanDisk Corp., Toshiba Corp., and Panasonic Corp (previously known as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd.) came together to create the SD card technology. Since then, SD cards have been modified several times regarding their memory card format, capacity, size, and shape. For example, the first ever SD card was only capable of 32 Megabytes of storage, and now, as of 2022, we have cards with a capacity of more than 128 Terabytes!
All SD cards follow the parameters of Secure Digital Association; that being said, not all SD cards are created equal. For example, using the same SD card in industrial applications that you’d find in commercial or consumer-grade devices is not a good idea. This is because these types of memory cards are usually not capable of meeting the demands of critical industrial operating conditions while maintaining the same level of function.
So, if you are an OEM or an engineer working with industrial applications, make sure you choose SD cards made specifically for that application. Industrial SD Cards have unique features that enable them to work on devices facing extreme conditions without compromising the vital data they store.
Benefits of Using Industrial SD Cards
Backing up important data has always been a difficult task. No business entity or an individual – can afford to lose their data in this day and age since it could lead to significant monetary losses. It could also mean years of hard work going down the drain if that data were to be lost/damaged. And this could be someone’s job going down the tubes-not good!
Industrial SD cards are incredibly sturdy and invulnerable to most environmental and physical elements. These cards can withstand temperatures ranging from -25 degrees Fahrenheit to +185 degrees Fahrenheit in addition to high levels of vibration and shock. In addition, they offer non-volatile storage, which means you don’t need the power to access the data stored in them. This makes industrial SD cards extremely popular among manufacturers in transportation, healthcare, automation, and defense/military industries.
Another great benefit of industrial SD cards comes from SLC NAND Flash. Single-Level-Cell NAND refers to Flash memory that stores 1 bit of data in each cell. This minimizes the risk of data loss that usually comes with power failures. It also allows the memory card to function at lightning-fast transfer speeds.
The locked bill of materials (Locked BOM) feature in these cards is also worth mentioning. It ensures that the SD card’s flash controller, firmware, and other components can’t be altered in any way as long as the product number stays the same. If for some reason, you need to change a component, you’ll need to be issued a new product number. You will, of course, have a chance to place your final order of SD cards before any changes are made. This is helpful for OEMs as it prevents the risk of unanticipated failures in the field and ensures that they can easily manage the transition to the new card design.
How to Choose the Right Industrial SD Cards for Your Application
When choosing industrial or rugged SD cards, some manufacturers need to consider only their short-term cost savings. Considering the overall impact on your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and business processes would be best. Here are the different factors enterprise owners need to think about when picking an SD card:
Reliability and Endurance
Industrial equipment and devices generally operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Depending on where they are located inside a facility and the surrounding environment, these machines might be exposed to humidity, extreme cold/hot temperatures, shock, movement, dust, electrostatic discharge, electromagnetic interference (EMI), and even water seepage.
That’s not all – SD cards are subjected to a lot of bending during insertion and removal into tiny spaces. Whichever card you choose must be able to tolerate this level of rough use and intense conditions for a certain period (i.e., the guaranteed period) without breaking down.
Speed Class and Capacity
Not all industrial applications require super-fast data transfer or high storage capacity. But, as with any storage medium, size and speed remain the proper benchmarks for an SD card’s performance. So, depending on the size of your files and the type of data you need to store/process, you should look into rugged SD cards that use 3D NAND Flash technology in different densities and speed classes.
For rugged SD cards, high-speed data transmission is no longer a “nice add-on to have.” Accelerated Memory Production, Inc is a pioneer in this area by providing high-performance pSLC options for the automotive industry, specifically for the infotainment system and vehicle recording camera manufacturers. These applications call for a low error rate and high performance to ensure safety, and our industrial SD Card lineup is the perfect fit for them.
Considering the extensive usage applications for SD cards, please ensure that the card you pick is the right one for your particular workload. In addition, it should be compatible with each machine or device in which it will be embedded. For example, in data processing, you may want to pre-load consigned data of your customers and conduct validation on 3rd party systems and devices.
Accelerated Memory Production, Inc offers various customizations for memory cards, including packaging, branding, and serialization. We also provide the conformal coating option to make your SD cards even more resistant to elements like corrosive gases. If you are looking for customized embedded memory solutions – from embedded USBs to rugged SD cards – for your industrial application, our team can help you find something that fits your needs.
Flash memory comes with a limited lifespan and can be used only a certain number of times. You don’t want a dying SD card to catch you off-guard and halt your operations. To prevent this, a good storage technology vendor will offer you real-time monitoring of health parameters, like remaining life, spare block count, bad block count, and erase count. This is so you can avoid losing data and plan for the card’s replacement as it reaches the end of its lifespan.
Our SD cards come with “SMART” monitors, which maximize their functionality and lifetime and protect the data integrity of the entire system. You also get features like Auto Read Refresh that inspect data blocks in the background and avert read-disturbance errors without interfering with the ongoing read/write speeds tasks.
Protection Against Power Failure
A power failure can wreak havoc on critical processes in any commercial or industrial setting, resulting in a loss of reputation and revenue. We can’t stress enough the importance of protecting your mission-critical data against sudden power shortages or spikes. Our industrial SD cards have an enhanced firmware backup mechanism that ensures data integrity during frequent/sudden power cuts and voltage fluctuations. Once the power comes back on, this sophisticated algorithm detects and recovers any data that wasn’t saved earlier.
Can you imagine driving a driverless car with an SD card that has corrupted data? Just think about the implications – it could fail to identify pedestrians crossing the road or decide not to stop at a red light. Data corruption and read-disturb errors created by frequent reading of the same blocks in an SD card can lead to this disaster.
Data integrity and reliability in an industrial card are of utmost importance. When choosing one, ask the vendor if the card can observe the error bit level at every step and alert you when the error bits in a block go over the threshold value (and move the data to a robust block).
In appearance, it’s tough to distinguish between an industrial SD card and a consumer one. Both will fit into any device (such as a camcorder with SD card) with the right-sized SD card slot. With that said, there is a good chance they won’t work. This is because of the various proprietary settings and standards with which the host systems and -devices are configured.
More often than not, you need to customize the application settings and firmware before you can use them. At Accelerated Memory Production, Inc., our firmware comes with the most updated function at all times. We also proactively conduct functionality and compatibility tests on different systems and devices to spot and minimize any problems that might come up in production environments.
Compliance with Industry Standards
Unlike consumer SD cards that can get away with using low-grade NAND Flash, industrial SD cards have to meet performance standards and comply with industry regulations. As a result, even the slightest error can lead to fatal consequences in industries like automobiles, aviation, and healthcare.
Some of the standards that govern the manufacturing and operations of SD cards are:
- IEC 60529 (waterproof/dustproof): microSD IP57 and SD IP67
- ISO 14001, ISO 9001, ISO/TS 16949
- Select AEC-Q100 test items and conditions
Our SD and micro SD cards meet all the necessary certifications, which are available to clients for verification upon request.
Accelerated Memory Production, Inc. SD & Micro SD Cards: Maximum Reliability and Endurance
At Accelerated Memory Production, Inc., our industrial memory card formats deliver superior longevity, reliability, endurance, and extended temperature range for industrial applications across a wide range of applications, including network equipment, servers, gateways, home surveillance, action cameras, and drones.
Designed and tested to hold up to the harshest environments, our industrial micro SD cards leverage the power of advanced flash storage technology. In addition, the super-fast read/write speed performance allows for high bit-rate video streams for industrial IoT and surveillance imaging applications.
Applications and Workloads
- Home Surveillance Cameras
- Dashboard Cameras
- Digital Signage
- Operating temperature range: -25˚C to 85˚C and -40˚C to 85˚C
- Broad portfolio: 8GB to 512GB
- Extended Product Life Cycle
- Advanced features to enhance utility and reliability: health status monitor, bad block management, programmable ID, Host Lock, memory field error correction, and secure FW upgrade.
- Compatible with SD adapter
- Compact form factor
If you have any questions, please call us at 714-460-9800 or contact us online.