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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Jon McNeill, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez

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ONFI Announces Publication of 4.0 Standard, Enabling a New Generation I/O with Lower Power and Higher Bandwidth

The Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI) Working Group, the organization dedicated to simplifying integration of NAND Flash memory into consumer electronic devices, computing platforms, and industrial systems, has published the new ONFI 4.0 standard. The ONFI 4.0 standard introduces the next generation of high-speed switching to the ONFI standard, NV-DDR3. The NV-DDR3 interface increases the maximum switching speed from 533 MB/s to 800 MB/s, providing a performance boost of up to 50% for high performance applications enabled by solid-state NAND storage components.

ONFI 4.0 not only increases the I/O switching speeds but does so with less I/O power by reducing the I/O switching voltage from 1.8V for NV-DDR2 to 1.2V nominal for NV-DDR3 (evolutionary center-terminated technology). The NV-DDR3 standard also lowers I/O capacitance further reducing the frequency component of I/O power. A comparison of I/O power consumption at 400MT/s between NV-DDR2 and NV-DDR3 shows that DDR3 draws an estimated one-tenth the power. This power reduction will greatly benefit systems with large flash arrays.

Striving to maintain interoperability across all NAND vendors, ONFI 4.0 was aligned with material discussed and published (JESD230A) under the JEDEC/ONFI Joint Task Group. ONFI 4.0 continues to provide a superset of features beyond the features that ensure interoperability.

ONFI 4.0 brings higher speed I/O and power reductions to the development community while also maintaining backward compatibility with prior ONFI signaling standards.

“As NAND Flash density increases and reduces the total die count in solid-state drives, the ONFI 4.0 specification enables our LSI SandForce Flash controllers to further increase performance as we expand from SATA to PCIe solutions,” said Jeremy Werner, Sr. Director of Marketing in the Flash Components Division of LSI. “The ONFI 4.0 ability to support a lower I/O voltage and capacitance will greatly help lower the overall power consumption of solid-state drive solutions, which is critical for mobile computing environments.”

“The ONFI 4.0 interface was designed to reduce latencies and improve sequential NAND performance while at the same time reducing power consumption. These features should provide impetus for quick adoption,” said Terry Grunzke, Principal Engineer at Micron Technology, and ONFI technical chair.

“NAND interoperability is critical to creating cost-effective flash storage solutions,” said Gary Gentry, Seagate’s Senior VP and Director of SSDs. “The ONFI 4.0 feature set is perfect for anyone who wants to create high-speed flash storage designs.”

About ONFI

The ONFI Working Group is dedicated to simplifying integration of NAND Flash memory into consumer electronics (CE) applications and computing platforms. Before the advancements made by the working group, use of NAND Flash in these end-use applications was hampered by the lack of sufficient standardization. To support a new NAND Flash component on a platform, host software and hardware changes were often required. Implementing these changes was extremely costly due to the new testing cycle required – which led to slower rates of adoption for new NAND Flash components. ONFI aims to remedy that problem and speed time to market for NAND Flash based applications.

The ONFI Working Group was formed in May 2006 and currently has more than 100 member companies. ONFI’s founding companies include Intel Corporation, Micron Technology, Inc., Phison Electronics Corporation, SanDisk, SK Hynix, Sony Corporation, and Spansion.

Please visit www.ONFI.org to download the standard or for more information on the initiative and how to become a contributor.

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