[Fwd: [Fwd: Flash reliability]]

Vipin Malik vmalik at danielind.com
Mon Dec 6 18:22:39 EST 1999

Bjorn Eriksson wrote:
>  I found Bob's comment right on target; The "20K+ power cycles"-test
> describe is interesting but not really applicable to real-world<tm>
> embedded systems <snip>

Sorry if I gave someone the wrong impression. The problems I was having
with the flash disks was not once in 20K cycles. I did a TOTAL of about
20K+ cycles for aLL my tests.

The problems I was seeing were occuring about once in 250 cycles in the
case of M-systems IDE2000 flash IDE drives and about 1 in 5(!) (power
down) cycles for hitachi and sandisk compact flash!!!!

For me (and hopefully a lot more embedded designers out there) any file
system integrity problem that happens once in 250 power cycles is
serious enough. Imagine 10K or 20K of these devices out in the field.
Just by probability and statistics one may encounter a couple of these
problems per week!
Not acceptable, and pretty "real world" for me.

>- they are not (IIRC) designed to withstand sudden
> powerfailure and Bob's analysis as to why the two flash technologies
> described faired worse than the magnetic media seems reasonable. I didn't
> see him say that "this problem cannot be managed" or "reboots/crashes are a
> way of life, get used to them", but then again, I didn't follow this very
> closely :-)
>  Re: Linux latency problem you're describing - You're talking about a
> user-space process, right? Anyway, 'My' hardware designer says I've got
> approx. 10 seconds from the point of powerfailure till blackout and we
> didn't have to be very clever to make such provisions.

NOPE! I was talking kernel ISR latencies. I used a hardware gizmo that I
rigged up to measure the time that the inetrrupt request line on an
external UART would be active, as a direct indicator of the latency for
a random interrupt to the system. Then I did about 14 million interrupts
to the system and binned the latencies into a PC database (that my gizmo
was connected to).

> //Regards, Björn. Please, lets not start a flame war here...
Not at all. My pure and simple (and vested :) interested here is to
guage if others have any interest in power down reliability in linux in
embedded systems. If so, then lets start a discussion on the topic and
see how the MTD layer software can serve in this capacity also. Pure and
simple technical discussion.

> Original message, for reference:
> From:   Vipin Malik [SMTP:vmalik at danielind.com]
> Sent:   Tuesday, November 30, 1999 5:10 PM
> To:     MTD
> Subject:        [Fwd: Flash reliability]
> Bob Canup wrote:
> >
> > Vipin Malik wrote:
> >
> > >
> > > *(subscript).Actually, I'll disagree with the statement that "regular"
> > > disks suffer from these same issues (to the same extent). To test the
> > > effect of power fail under ext2 under Linux, I have done some extensive
> > > (20K+) power cycles on various media.
> > > The media used were the M-sys IDE2000 flash IDE disks, a "regular"
> > > desktop harddrive, and a compact flash card.
> > > Now, both the compact flash and the IDE (m-sys) suffered from a
> > > catastrophic failure of (some) particular block suffering from some
> sort
> > > of "low level" failure (that mainsfested itself as a CRC error or
> sector
> > > unreadable error in trying to read it). e2fsck, nor any other utility
> > > was successfull in recovering from this problem, as the low-level IDE
> > > block driver bailed out due to this problem.
> > > The "regular" hard drive did NOT suffer from this problem. I never had
> a
> > > situation in which e2fsck -f -y /dev/hdaxx did not manage to repair the
> > > file system to a usable state.
> > >
> > > I did manage to come up with a way to "repair" this system, but that
> > > would result in a completely blank block of 512 bytes. If this block
> > > contained 4 inodes, I could (and did) loose upto 4 files or even
> > > directories and everything under them. Obviously not acceptable.
> > >
> >
> > I think that expecting ANYTHING to function properly during power failure
> is
> > wishful thinking....
> Hmm, why do you say that? I've designed embedded systems that worked
> just fine under power fail conditions. Mostly the CPU is held in reset
> once power falls below a certain threshold. Same with SRAM. Writes to
> SRAM are gated through a power good signal. Of course since the writes
> are asynchronous wrt power fail, any data that takes more than one bus
> write cycle to complete can never be guaranteed. But that is solved at a
> higher logical level by CRC'ing the block you want to protect etc. Of
> course the determination needs to be made by the software designers as
> to how critical protection is for a particular of data, and whether
> detection is adequate or a backup must be required (recovery).
> But to say that this problem cannot be managed is to take the desktop
> mentality- "reboots/crashes are a way of life, get used to them".
> I refuse to fall into that camp!
> > ...I also suspect that the fact that the rotating media did not
> > exhibit the failures that the flash based system did has to do with
> probabilities;
> > because flash writes take much longer to occur than writes to a rotating
> disk the
> > probability of randomly encountering a condition where a failure occurs
> is lower on
> > a faster writing medium.
> I'll buy that for now. I was just pointing out that flash is definitely
> *worse* than rotating media, not that rotating media is acceptable!
> >
> > Even battery backed up static ram can be trashed if power loss occurs
> during a
> > write to the chip.
> See my comment above.
> >
> > The only ways that I see to handle the problem are: 1. Run the flash as a
> Read Only
> > system.
> Not always possible/acceptable. But an (obvious) limited possibility.
> >2. Have a power fail detect signal which detects that the power is going
> > down , signals the system to flush the buffers, and holds up the power to
> the
> > system long enough for that flush and subsequent ordered shutdown to
> occur.
> >
> Unfortunately this does not work for Linux (the stock kernel) as worst
> case latencies are quite high. On a 486DX2-66, with quite a good load
> (ethernet, ~4 serial ports going), i've measured typical interrupt
> latencies less than 100 micro secs, but worst case of ~40msec! Of course
> this is just what I have managed to measure. Could be worse. But even if
> one does get an advanced warning (and the warning alert margin would be
> system dependent, and may not always be possible), what does one then
> do. One has to signal to the lower layers (the flash driver etc.) to
> finish the pending writes, but not take on new ones? Could get quite
> messy.
> Well there is a third solution. It was mentioned by someone else a few
> mails back. And that is to inherently make the flash file system
> reliable. This could be done by (as suggested by them) to have a "poor
> man's journalling" where data is written in a redundant manner and a
> "flag" is then flipped as to which is the later data or valid data etc.
> This is the solution that I am most interested in, as it does not
> require any special hardware solutions of advance warning etc.
> And this is the solution that I would most like to see a discussion on.
> Any one else interested here about this?
> > To unsubscribe, send "unsubscribe mtd" to majordomo at infradead.org
> To unsubscribe, send "unsubscribe mtd" to majordomo at infradead.org
> To unsubscribe, send "unsubscribe mtd" to majordomo at infradead.org

To unsubscribe, send "unsubscribe mtd" to majordomo at infradead.org

More information about the linux-mtd mailing list