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November Volume 1, Issue 2

Understanding wear leveling for solid-state disks

Flash memory provides fast, inexpensive and non-volatile storage, and has become an essential enabling technology for a huge array of electronic devices, like simple flash thumb drives and digital cameras. More recently, it’s made its way into data centers in tier-one solid state drive (SSD) products. But after repeated write cycles, flash memory cells wear out. To protect against that, manufacturers have developed wear-leveling techniques that distribute newly written data evenly across the entire memory device—and make sure that data isn’t corrupted or lost. The Problem with Flash All of today’s flash memory cell designs suffer from a limited number of write cycles. Saving new data involves changing the bit pattern in a flash memory device, which first requires the bits to be zeroed and then rewritten with new data bits. Each write cycle puts stress on the physical memory cells. After about 5,000 write cycles (depending on the design and manufacture of the flash memory), the physical memory cells can become unreliable. This ...

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