Greenliant Enters SSD Market for Embedded Applications

News Analysis: Greenliant Systems is the latest company offering SATA-based solid-state drives for embedded applications used in portable computing and automotive systems.

Startup Greenliant Systems rolled out its first SATA-based embedded flash solid-state storage drives for the embedded applications market on Nov. 9.

The NANDrive GLS85LS product family is based on the company's own SATA NAND controllers and comes in six different sizes, including 2-, 4-, 8-, 16-, 32-, and 64-GB of storage, the company said.

With the new NANDrive, Greenliant Systems is not targeting the already crowded market for SATA-based SSD for PCs, which includes the likes of Intel and Toshiba. Instead, Greenliant is joining companies such as SanDisk in aiming at the more specialized market for embedded devices in enterprise, industrial, automotive and networking applications, said the company.

Based on serial ATA (SATA), the tiny SSDs are currently available to select customers only. Greenliant declined to name those customers at this time.

Greenliant is currently developing an industrial-grade SATA NANDrive for data-critical applications that need SSDs to withstand extreme temperature conditions, said Bing Yeh, Greenliant's CEO. The current NANDrive is commercial-grade, he said.

With a sustained read performance of up to 120-MB/second and a sustained write performance of up to 60-MB/second, the drives are well within industry parameters.

The tiny NANDrives measure a little over half-an-inch by an inch and are merely .08 inches-or 2-mm-thick. The SSDs will be available to embedded systems designers in a small multichip package, Greenliant said. Offered in a 145-ball grid array and 1-mm ball pitch package, the NANDrive is ideal for data storage applications in portable computing and set-top box products, said Greenliant.

The SATA NANDrive also focuses on energy efficiency and is ideal for battery-powered applications, said the company. With active-mode power consumption as low as 500mW, the SATA SSD also has a power-down mode that drops consumption further, to 10mW, the company claimed.

Greenliant has included some security features, including a unique device ID, password protection, and four independent trust zones with different levels of protection. The SATA NANDrive also offers the capability to "instant erase" sensitive content on selected areas of the drive instead of scrubbing the entire drive, said Greenliant.

The firmware also addresses data retention and data integrity during power interruptions, the company said. An integrated graphical monitoring and analysis tool sends customized alerts to indicate the "remaining useful life" of the SSD, according to Greenliant.

Greenliant has its roots in Silicon Storage Technology. Yeh, SST's one-time chairman and CEO, left to form Greenliant after SST was acquired earlier this year by Microchip Technology for $273 million, following a bidding war with a private equity firm.

Greenliant acquired from Microchip the NANDrive product line, the integrated NAND controllers it uses, and specialty flash memory, including Smart Card ICs, Combo Memory, Concurrent SuperFlash, Small-Sector Flash and many-time Programmable Flash memories, according to Microchip. The sale also included inventory, equipment and associated intellectual property. About 100 SST employees and assets in Sunnyvale, California; Hsinchu, Taiwan; and Shanghai and Beijing were transferred from Microchip to Greenliant as part of the deal.

The three product lines form the core of Greenliant's solid-state storage product portfolio for embedded systems, data centers, and mobile Internet markets, according to Greenliant.

The NANDrive has been tested to meet "reliability demands" of industrial and automotive applications and are compatible with new chip sets from AMD and Intel, according to Greenliant's spokesperson.

OEM partners in networking, industrial, automotive, defense, aerospace, and digital consumer markets can use NANDrive for secure storage of data, whether it's operating systems, applications, or user information, Greenliant said.