A very unusual press release crossed my desk last week. London-based SecureDrives has introduced a 2.5″ self-encrypting SSD that takes security one very large step further by physically destroying the flash chips within the SSD by remote command.
The flash chips are actually fractured, as is shown in the accompanying photo, which SecureDrives sent me to illustrate. Click the thumbnail to enlarge.
SecureDrives calls its product the SDSRDD which is short for Secure Drive SSD, Remote Data Destruction.
My first concern was that the product used some sort of explosive. The company put me at ease by explaining that the fracture process uses a rapidly propagating shock wave via a patented technology. They said that the fracturing process creates no safety issues at all.
The destruction command is initiated through a GSM receiver internal to the SSD. When destruction is required (i.e. the drive is lost or stolen) the SSD’s rightful owner sends a user-defined message or phrase to the drive from any phone in the world. The drive flips the encryption key and then fractures the NAND flash and security processor. The drive then returns a confirmation message to the phone. The destruction process is executed in milliseconds.
Readers may recall a post that I published two years ago about an external SSD from Runcore that over-writes the data in the SSD via a GSM command. The Runcore product uses over-writing, which can take minutes to perform, rather than a self-encrypted drive which is effectively erased in a few milliseconds. The Runcore product also differes because it does not physically damage the flash, and, as an external drive, it cannot be incorporated into a notebook PC’s housing as can the SecureDrives product.
It seems that secure SSDs are getting increasingly sophisticated over time. I eagerly await hearing about the next imaginative step designers will take to make their SSDs more secure.
On Wednesday OCZ announced that its bank accounts had been seized by one of its creditors and that the company would file for bankruptcy, but it did not commit on which of two courses of action it would take:
- To file for bankruptcy and sell itself as an ongoing business to Toshiba
- To file for bankruptcy and liquidate
If the company is sold to Toshiba the bankruptcy court will require an auction to be held to assure that the price that Toshiba pays is the best price that the company can get. This means that there is still the possibility of another company actually acquiring OCZ. Although Seagate was rumored to be interested there are certainly others who are also preparing bids.
OCZ has good technology and a loyal retail customer base, but one year ago Continue reading
SSD spec sheets, might lead you to believe that power is just not an issue. For example, Samsung lists the power use for a 512GB 830 SSD at 0.127W (typical) for “Active Power Use”. This implies very low demands on the system power supply.
If you do some more research, you find that the peak power usage is a lot higher. AnandTech, in a review article reports sequential write power draw at 5.14W and random write power draw at 5.8W. In that 2.5” SSDs use the 5V power rail exclusively, this is more than Continue reading
In his Flash Memory Summit keynote on Wednesday, Micron VP and Chief Memory Systems Architect Ed Doller made a compelling demonstration of the power and performance advantages of a new approach to computing.
With true showmanship, Doller had his co-workers hand out buttons with LED lights to the entire audience. The LEDs in these buttons were either green or blue, with the colors randomly dispersed among the crowd. Doller asked the entire audience to turn on their lights, then called one row of the audience to file up to the stage so he could determine whether each person’s button was blue or green.
He pointed out that this was like having a single CPU check the contents of a drive. He then asked why things should work this way – wouldn’t it be more sensible to Continue reading
Seagate this week updated its SSD portfolio with four new product families and now claims to have the broadest portfolio of storage products in the industry. This announcement squarely places the company in all the key SSD markets: SATA, SAS, and PCIe.
Here’s Seagate’s new lineup:
- Seagate 600 6Gb/s SATA, a drive that Seagate calls: “The ultimate laptop upgrade”. The company claims that this is the first Continue reading
Jim Pappas of Intel, a fellow member of SNIA (the Storage Networking Industry Association) shared a really intuitive way to understand storage delays at the last Storage Developer Conference (SDC). It’s very simple. First consider these two facts:
- The difference between the speed of system memory and that of a hard disk drive (HDD) is roughly 6 orders of magnitude, or 1 million times
- SSDs split the gap. An SSD is about 1,000 times faster than an HDD, and is about 1,000 times slower than system memory. Memory access times are measured in nanoseconds (ns), SSDs in microseconds (µs) and HDDs in milliseconds (ms)
The problem with understanding this (ns, µs, ms) is that Continue reading
TCO has been used as an argument for buying anything from compact fluorescent bulbs to Jaguar automobiles.
The argument usually revolves around an item whose initial price is higher, but which has lower ongoing (or operating) costs, and when these costs are combined, the higher-priced item proves to cost less to own over the long run. In the case of a compact fluorescent (CF) bulb, the bulb may cost $7, versus $1 for an incandescent bulb, but it consumes 18 Watts compared to the 75 Watts consumed by the incandescent bulb it replaces. In addition the CF bulb lasts ten times as long (10,000 hours vs. 1,000 hours.) This works out to a savings of 470 kWh – or about $50 – plus $3 in bulb costs. Continue reading
At last week’s International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) Shuhei Tanakamaru, a researcher from Japan’s Chuo University, detailed a scheme to reduce MLC SSD bit error rates (BER) by 32 times over conventional techniques. The approach used an impressive combination of mirroring, vertical and horizontal error correction, and a deep understanding of the most likely kinds of bit errors flash will experience.
This is a very novel and well-conceived technique that may find industry adoption in future SSDs.
The steps included in the paper are used in addition to the Continue reading
SNIA (The Storage Networking Industry Association) has conferred a great honor upon the SSD Guy by bringing all of the blog posts in the series How Controllers Maximize SSD Life into a single printed volume of the same name.
Readers can either ask for a print copy from SNIA, or can download a pdf rendition by visiting the SNIA SSSI (Solid State Storage Initiative) education web page.