This report covers the TeleCommunication Systems (TCS) Galatea line of ultra-rugged SLC SSDs.
Adhering to the MIL-STD-810 military specifications governing a multitude of ultra-ruggedized requirements, this SSD is designed for ultimate reliability in the harshest of environments. Designed and tested with the most hostile environments imaginable in mind, these SSDs are surely amongst the toughest storage mediums available.
This SSD evaluation takes us into new territory, as this SSD is unlike anything that we have ever laid our hands on. The qualifications that are required for a Ruggedized SSD are long and arduous, and we will cover some of these tests on the following pages.
These SSDs are truly a special sort of storage designed for special applications. Military and defense applications in Ground, Sea and Air are par for the course. Tanks, helicopters, drones, robotics and space applications are just a few among many varied applications that these SSDs will thrive in.
Sporting a SATA II revision 2.6 connection paired with a LSI SandForce SF-1565 controller, it certainly isn’t among the fastest of the consumer SSDs that are out on the market today. Speeds of 279MB/s read and 270MB/s writes and random read/writes of 27,700/17,800 IOPS are expected values from this generation of LSI SandForce processors.
For the market that this SSD is designed for, the latest cutting edge speed is not the most desired attribute. Most commercial and enterprise SSDs released today are obsolete within a year. For the Militarized segment, the design and testing phase alone for these SSDs takes roughly a year. This approach guarantees 100% reliability, and that any and all bugs are worked out. A stable platform is the key. In the applications this is designed for, failure can literally come at the cost of human lives.
Providing forward compatibility with future generations of NAND is also important, as this proven controller will not change appreciably over the course of time. Utilizing Micron SLC for 100,000 P/E cycles is a great start. Guaranteeing data retention for 10 years is also very impressive. This staggering retention period goes hand in hand with a 20,000 Terabyte lifetime write capability. With a 19.5 Petabyte write tolerance, this SSD ranks amongst the most endurant SSDs ever built.
A whole host of data security and protections are built in, with AES-128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and a Bit Error Rate (BER) of less than one in 10(14). The MTBF is conservatively rated at 1.45 Million Hours.
From the moment we unboxed this SSD and lifted it out, we knew it was special. With a heft not experienced with other SSDs, this case is obviously designed for rough handling. The machined anodized aluminum is very sturdy and the words “Trident Space and Defense” are prominently milled into the face of the SSD. Clicking onto the pictures will bring them up to size, and note the fasteners used on the rear of the SSD to hold the device together. These are security bits, and they are definitely not garden variety. Four trips to local hardware stores finally resulted in finding the correct hardware to open the device, as this is definitely not normal stock.
Finally gaining access to the device was exhilarating in itself, after the lengths we went to finding the correct hardware to open the SSD. We weren’t prepared for the surprise inside, more fasteners! With our experience with hundreds of SSDs in both commercial and industrial varieties, this was certainly different, as the case and the custom PCB are unlike anything we have ever seen.
Eight more fasteners later, and we were able to free the custom PCB from the case. We have never witnessed a PCB so securely fastened, and the interior of the case is a story in itself. Milled to high precision, each of the internal fasteners is tightly secured into very thick aluminum. This PCB surely is not going to move under even the most extreme circumstances.
The custom milling also speaks to some of the underlying options that users can order with these SSDs. Conformal coating and Silicone Fill are available for customers with the need for enhanced protection. TCS has even demonstrated silicone filled SSDs running underwater at tradeshows!
In the center of the PCB we can see the LSI SandForce SF-1565 and the 8 25nm Micron SLC modules on the top, with an additional 8 to match on the bottom. Both sides of the PCB have Tantalum-based capacitors, which allow extreme flexibility over a wide temperature range. These will flush the data to NAND in the event of power loss, or complete secure erase in the event of power loss as well.
BGA underfill of the components on the PCB provides advantages over solder which has very little flex, especially in the case of thermal expansion and vibration. This underfill adds additional rigidity to ensure the solder points do not fatigue, and significantly limits the risk of additional failure. There is also an available option for staking around the components for an even higher level of protection.