Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Heat Can Heal Dead NAND Flash Cells and Extend Life

By - Source: IEEE Spectrum | B 31 comments

Few users may have ever reached the end of life of a flash drive, yet we know that mainstream drives can, realistically, not exceed 100,000 read/write cycles and many cheap flash drives are even rated well below that.

If you are willing to spend money for a high-end drive and a focus on durability, you can approach up to 1 million cycles. However, that's not so much on for a server drive, which may endure more than 1,000 cycles each day.

For extreme cases, there may be a new technology that claims to extend the lifetime of a flash drive to more than 100 million cycles. Even if you were to write and erase data 1,000 times per day, such a drive would last 274 years. Engineers from Macronix developed the technology and said that even 100 million cycles is not the real end. They simply didn't have the resources to test the memory for 1 billion cycles as it would take several months.

The improvement to flash lies in adding onboard heaters to small groups of memory cells, which can in turn heal flash memory cells that degrade over time. In fact, flash memory makers are facing a substantial challenge as this degradation accelerates with smaller cells. However, Macronix said that briefly heating the cell to 800 degrees Celsius can entirely heal the cell, prevent degradation and returning the cell to full operation.

There was no information when the technology could be commercialized.

Contact Us for News Tips, Corrections and Feedback          

Discuss
Display all 31 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    djscribbles , December 10, 2012 2:29 PM
    warezmeIs this like all those Nvidia owners with laptops that had the faulty video chips and if they put the mobo in the oven at a certain temperature it would remelt the solder and the chip would start to work again. I had a friend who did it and it worked for a few months and then it quit again and he put it back in the oven a second time and got it work one more time but then the mobo had started to warp and quit after a few more months.


    No, it's nothing like that.
  • 18 Hide
    freggo , December 10, 2012 2:47 PM
    Good to know. Next time the wife bakes cookies I'll slip some old SSD in with 'em.
    Fresh cookies AND fresh memory... perfect :) 
  • 11 Hide
    WyomingKnott , December 10, 2012 3:05 PM
    So it's freeze a hard drive and bake an SSD?
Other Comments
  • -2 Hide
    warezme , December 10, 2012 2:26 PM
    Is this like all those Nvidia owners with laptops that had the faulty video chips and if they put the mobo in the oven at a certain temperature it would remelt the solder and the chip would start to work again. I had a friend who did it and it worked for a few months and then it quit again and he put it back in the oven a second time and got it work one more time but then the mobo had started to warp and quit after a few more months.
  • 6 Hide
    friskiest , December 10, 2012 2:27 PM
    And I thought heat is not good for electronics! If heating really does deal flash memory, then that would be great.
  • 5 Hide
    memadmax , December 10, 2012 2:28 PM
    NICE.
    Thats something you would prolly never think of because you think of heat as the number one enemy to silicon.
  • 20 Hide
    djscribbles , December 10, 2012 2:29 PM
    warezmeIs this like all those Nvidia owners with laptops that had the faulty video chips and if they put the mobo in the oven at a certain temperature it would remelt the solder and the chip would start to work again. I had a friend who did it and it worked for a few months and then it quit again and he put it back in the oven a second time and got it work one more time but then the mobo had started to warp and quit after a few more months.


    No, it's nothing like that.
  • 5 Hide
    bucknutty , December 10, 2012 2:33 PM
    hmm... to bad the oven in my home only goes up to 450.
  • 1 Hide
    milktea , December 10, 2012 2:36 PM
    800 degrees Celsius is not something I want in my computer or anywhere in my house that I might accidently touch!
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , December 10, 2012 2:39 PM
    Do not use microwave oven! :D 
  • 9 Hide
    bison88 , December 10, 2012 2:43 PM
    Finally, something other than super read/write speeds are being addressed in the NAND/SSD sector. The biggest problem has always been reliability and those write cycles have steadily been dropping from SLC > MLC > TLC. Even though controllers have become more advanced it isn't comforting knowing such extremely low limits compared to HDD's, this should help if it ever comes to fruition. Only problem is how the hell you're going to heat it to 800 degrees as this is currently being done cell by cell. There are billions of flash cells.
  • -1 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , December 10, 2012 2:46 PM
    bucknuttyhmm... to bad the oven in my home only goes up to 450.


    From Wikipedia: "...with a typical melting range of 90 to 450 °C (190 to 840 °F). It is commonly used in electronics and plumbing, and when manually applied is often done so using a soldering iron or soldering gun. Alloys that melt between 180 and 190 °C (360 and 370 °F) are the most commonly used."

    So your oven should be good, though I've heard that you shouldn't heat the card about a certain temperature like 90 °C anyway unless you want to damage the parts that were not rated for higher temps. I probably should do it myself, got an old 8800GT that looks like re-soldering could help it.
  • 18 Hide
    freggo , December 10, 2012 2:47 PM
    Good to know. Next time the wife bakes cookies I'll slip some old SSD in with 'em.
    Fresh cookies AND fresh memory... perfect :) 
  • 9 Hide
    fudoka711 , December 10, 2012 2:58 PM
    freggoGood to know. Next time the wife bakes cookies I'll slip some old SSD in with 'em.Fresh cookies AND fresh memory... perfect


    This made me laugh! =D
  • 2 Hide
    MKBL , December 10, 2012 2:59 PM
    It sounds like the said heater is engineered to provide isolated heat to the cells in short time, not propagating excessive energy too broadly, which should be key claims in its patent. Oven-baking is a little bit ambitious imagination.
  • 11 Hide
    WyomingKnott , December 10, 2012 3:05 PM
    So it's freeze a hard drive and bake an SSD?
  • 3 Hide
    mikenygmail , December 10, 2012 3:22 PM
    WyomingKnottSo it's freeze a hard drive and bake an SSD?


    Placing old hard drives on their side, or upside down also works well, along with a nice low level format. If the motor dies, try "spanking" the hard drive (in a safe place) with the power on, it will jump start the motor again and the drive will once again start chugging along. This may sound like a joke but it actually works great! Use extreme caution, of course.
  • 0 Hide
    samanosuke47 , December 10, 2012 3:41 PM
    That's pretty neat. I'm interested in seeing how they progress with this.. would be neat to have a SSD that could theoretically live forever.
  • 7 Hide
    sammual777 , December 10, 2012 3:53 PM
    mikenygmailPlacing old hard drives on their side, or upside down also works well, along with a nice low level format. If the motor dies, try "spanking" the hard drive (in a safe place) with the power on, it will jump start the motor again and the drive will once again start chugging along. This may sound like a joke but it actually works great! Use extreme caution, of course.


    And after the spanking, the oral sex.
  • 2 Hide
    Mathos , December 10, 2012 4:04 PM
    *Voices of several young women* Ooh a spanking, a spanking!
  • -1 Hide
    danwat1234 , December 10, 2012 4:04 PM
    SSDs, at least 34nm MLC ones are more durable than you may think. Hundreds of Terabytes is very realistic. My trusty 34nm Intel G2 ought to last about 15 more years.

    http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?271063-SSD-Write-Endurance-25nm-Vs-34nm/page216&post#5380


    Putting heaters inside of an SSD, you'd think it would have a hard time getting that hot with the power that a laptop SATA port could output, unless it used a capacitor.
  • 2 Hide
    CaedenV , December 10, 2012 4:31 PM
    lol, how do you rate the power usage of that drive?
    New:2-5W
    End of life: 250W
  • 5 Hide
    bucknutty , December 10, 2012 5:07 PM
    Quote:
    From Wikipedia: "...with a typical melting range of 90 to 450 °C (190 to 840 °F). It is commonly used in electronics and plumbing, and when manually applied is often done so using a soldering iron or soldering gun. Alloys that melt between 180 and 190 °C (360 and 370 °F) are the most commonly used."

    So your oven should be good, though I've heard that you shouldn't heat the card about a certain temperature like 90 °C anyway unless you want to damage the parts that were not rated for higher temps. I probably should do it myself, got an old 8800GT that looks like re-soldering could help it.



    I know this is unrelated but:

    I have personally baked a 8800gt a 8800gts and a 8800gtx. They all came back to life and worked again. The 8800gt died again about 6 months later, but the 8800gts and the 8800gtx are still going strong now 2 years after thier trip to the oven. I also baked a HD4850. That card had plastic capacitors that all popped and filled my house with a wonderful smelling fog.
    My wife was very unhappy.
Display more comments