Flash Memory Solutions for Factory Automation

September 07, 2018
By Brian Donovan

When is on-board memory storage a design requirement?

Usually, when designing a device that runs firmware or data logging function, chances are that there’s a requirement for on-board memory storage. Typically, with Factory Automation applications, SD Cards and eMMC are used. For example, in PLC designs, SD Cards are often used for the transfer and storage of general program files, quality control data, and production information. Having a convenient and portable form of storage gives the machine operator the benefit of backing up data to a PC for later use or loading new programs for the controller to run on. Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) with built-in SD Card slots also have the ability to load PLC project files for efficient operator control.

SD Cards can be used in a human machine interface (HMI)

Panasonic SD Cards used for a human machine interface (HMI) application

Now, you’re wondering what kind of storage solution can handle heavy usage in a limitless amount of applications? Panasonic’s line of Industrial SD Cards and eMMC offer the robustness in question. With a proprietary controller and firmware included in each of the Industrial SD Card Series, offering high reliability 2D SLC & MLC NAND flash. With this combination, Panasonic assures users that they will be getting the most efficient wear leveling algorithms, error correction, and power fail protection on the market.

What are your options?

There’s lots to consider; some of Panasonic’s storage options include the FX Series, a standard size SD Cards which is rated for 60k program/erase cycles and is available in either Speed Class 6 or Class 10. The FX Series also features UHS-I speed grades for certain capacities and has a wide range of capacities from a mere 512MB up to 16GB, which provides versatile selection for the user. The SC Series of microSD Cards is another 60k program/erase cycle rated card, providing the same amount of reliability but in a smaller package. The SC Series is now available in a 1GB capacity option, an addition to the existing 2GB, 4GB and 8GB capacity models with Speed Class 6, Class 10, and UHS-I grades.

FX and SC series of SD and microSD cards

Panasonic's FX and SC Series of SD and microSD Cards

On another end of the storage spectrum, Panasonic also offers Industrial/Automotive Grade eMMC featuring high reliability MLC NAND flash. The MC Series are a fitting solution for engineers that may want to design-in an embedded card that is a bit more secure than removable media and has improved vibration resistance. They include a 153-BGA package with a 0.5 mm pitch and program/erase cycle capability of 2,000 cycles. These would be most suited for loading any type of program code with the occasional logging of data, but they would not be recommended for extensive writes or high frequency writes of small data files. A key benefit of Panasonic’s eMMC is that they are fully AEC-Q100 qualified, and the fact that they adhere to this standard should give any Design Engineer the peace of mind that memory failure is almost never a concern.

MC series of eMMC

Panasonic's MC Series of eMMC storage

In summary, here are the key features and advantages when considering Panasonic’s Flash Memory Solutions for your on-board storage requirements:

FEATURES

  • Static Wear Leveling for Long Life
  • Compatible with All File Systems (FAT, exFAT, EXT, etc.)
  • Wide Capacity Range from 512MB to 32GB
  • Power Fail Robustness to Protect Integrity of Data
  • -40°C to +85°C Standard Operating Temperature

KEY ADVANTAGES

  • In-house Controller and Proprietary Panasonic Firmware
  • Strategic Partnership with NAND Flash Suppliers
  • Sample Analysis Offered for Recommended Panasonic Storage Media Product