Blog Post: Pros and Cons of NVMe
NVM Express is the leading interface technology for the modern SSD. What makes NVMe such a powerful technology is that it enables SSDs to read and write at the full speed that they are capable of. Compared to its predecessor, the SATA, the latest PCIe Gen5 products enjoy up to 26 times the transmission speed. Without getting too technical, we will explain why NVMe operates faster and better for large volumes of data. NVMe accesses non-volatile memory, as its name suggests, via the PCIe bus. Unlike SATA, PCIe connects directly to the application device, whereas SATA uses an intermediary. This design allows for lower latency and thus better data processing. The NVMe interface is also compatible with multiple form factors, which makes it ideal for many different application devices. Especially in servers where space is limited, an M.2 form factor would be ideal for the space constraint and the NVMe the optimal choice for processing server-volume data. Of course, there are drawbacks to such a high level of performance. Namely, such fast operations can quickly lead to overheating and thus questionable reliability. This is really where, like most choices to be made in tech, customers must choose: high performance versus high reliability. Like we usually say with most products or technology, it really depends on the customer’s application needs. For servers, cloud computing, or other high-volume processing needs, we would recommend NVMe interface. To address the issue of overheating, Cervoz offers a number of heat dissipation features and mechanisms. These firmware and hardware solutions ensure that users can take advantage of the speed of NVMe without sacrificing on reliability.
Blog Post: IC Shortage Update
This is not the update we thought we would be sharing with you, but multiple sources are reporting that the IC shortage is getting worse. Due to a resurgence in Covid cases and the spread of the Delta varient in Asia since we first wrote about the supply shortage, the situation will be continuing into 2022, and maybe even 2023. The prolonged problem spells disaster particularly for the automotive industry which requires more semiconductors per car than ever before. According to consulting firm AlixPartners, the shortage is expected to cost the industry an estimated US$210 billion in revenue in 2021, with a forecasted 7.7 million units of production being lost this year. While the auto industry and its financial losses have been heavily covered by the media, we cannot forget that many other industries rely on IC chips for their products. In fact, the number of industries affected is 169, according to Goldman Sachs, and the three worst affected industries, other than automotive, are consumer electronics, appliances, and LED lighting. In other words, the global supply shortage has had and will continue to have very palpable effects on the lives of everyday people. It is not all bad news though, as many chipmakers have already invested billions in increasing their production capacity and construction for some of these plants are already on its way. While demand may continue to outpace supply well into 2022, the shortage may ease as countries regain control of the pandemic and open back up their plants. If there is anything that we as a global community have learned, it is that we use chips in most of the products, gadgets and tools we rely heavily on every day. This lesson will make us prioritize innovation in chip design and investment in production capacity that can better serve all industries.
Blog Post: SSD vs HDD
A lot has been written comparing solid state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs). Both have their pros and cons, and even if forced to choose, no one can really say one is better than the other for every application. As the newer storage device, an SSD differs from an HDD primarily in how it stores data. Instead of using moving parts to store and access data, SSDs use memory technology in the form of chips, also known as NAND Flash. This difference (i.e. the lack of physical moving parts) is what gives SSDs the edge when it comes to speed, form factor, and ruggedness. Compared to each other, the SSD can be anywhere from 4 times to 20 times faster than the HDD depending on the product. The SATA III SSD, one of the earlier SSDs, is nearly 4 times as fast in operational speed as the HDD, while the NVMe SSD (Gen 3 x 4), a newer model, is nearly 20 times faster. As for form factor offerings, the SSD comes in a lot more shapes and sizes than the HDD. The SSD can come in a 2.5”, mSATA, M.2 2242, M.2 2280 and Half Slim version to name a few, while the HDD only comes in 2.5” and 3.5”. Unfortunately, for all of the SSD’s advantages, its NAND Flash controller ICs are also more expensive, and as we have witnessed this past year with the global shortage, more difficult to produce. In other words, where HDDs have their advantage is in price and cost per capacity. Even as SSDs have become cheaper, HDDs will always cost less per gigabyte. This is the main reason HDDs are not being phased out of the market anytime soon. In fact, the trend now is to adopt a hybrid approach, using both SSDs and HDDs for different parts of the application system. For instance, we can use SSD’s strengths for storing an operating system. The SSD’s speed will shorten booting time and make accessing data faster. Meanwhile, we can use the HDD and its cost-effectiveness for storing large volumes of information that a business may need to archive for recordkeeping. While both SSDs and HDDs are storage solutions, it might be more helpful to look at them as different storage tools. Based on your business needs, you can mix and match the different SSDs and HDDs on the market to achieve the most optimal set of solutions.
Blog Post: The Future of VR
Major broadcasting and telecom companies once again turned to VR technology during this year’s Tokyo Olympics to give viewers an immersive viewing experience. With the “no spectator” rule firmly in place to contain the spread of Covid-19, it was a good thing that VR was available to give diehard Olympic fans the feel that they were right there at the sidelines of the games, cheering their athletes on. One thing we have witnessed in this pandemic is the role technology can play to both keep us safe and to keep our daily routines as close to normal as possible. In the case of VR, this technology, which has been around since the mid-1900s, has made house viewing, fashion shows, and training and simulation all possible and feel as “in-person” as possible during the pandemic. Earlier in the late 2000s and early 2010s, tech companies developing VR seemed to focus heavily on its application in video games, but as such application carried over to other forms of entertainment (e.g. concerts, museums, etc.), different industries began rethinking the possibility of adopting VR. Now, with the rollout of 5G, the possibilities have become infinitely more. Just last month, Samsung Electronics America, Inc. and GBL Systems Corporation announced they had begun deploying “5G testbeds for Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality at U.S. Army military bases.” These testbeds would enable the testing and verification of AR/VR applications over 5G networks in mission planning and training. The goal, as noted by GBL CEO Jim Buscemi, is ultimately to improve the 5G network intended to support “new DoD 5G-enabled AR/VR training capability.” VR training is by no means a new use of the technology, but with 5G, the scenarios can be more real and more diverse. According to a Forbes article from late 2020, VR, as it transforms and evolves, is going to impact “our work, education, and social lives. Looking beyond the pandemic, VR is being treated and predicted as an important tool for different industries and businesses. Everything from cooler retailtainment to better health care, VR is promising a new way of experiencing the world.
Blog Post: Child Rearing & Tech
A lot of people around us are having babies right now, so this is a post for the parents. Whether you are a first-time parent or you already have some experience under the belt, raising a child is work. As the popular saying goes, it takes a village. And, in this day and age, the village may consist of smart devices as well. The original baby monitor, a radio system, allowed parents to monitor the crying of their baby from the next room or even downstairs. Nowadays, with WiFi-enabled devices, parents can monitor, both in an audio and visual capacity, their newborn wherever they are. As new parents fret over the baby’s every noise and movement, technology is becoming the much-needed babysitter to watch the baby when parents need a nap and sound off alarms when babies need tending to. Not only do modern baby monitors provide the audio and visual state of the baby, but some smart monitoring devices can also track the environmental conditions in the infant’s room. These conditions include in-room temperature, air quality and humidity. All this data can be useful when speaking to the baby’s doctor at routine checkup appointments. Monitoring is really only half of what the smart device ecosystem can do; the other half is actually taking care of the baby. Products like the smart cribs help with detecting when the baby is fussy and automatically rocking back and forth to soothe. Many of these devices incorporate AI and machine learning technology so they recognize distinct signs or patterns in the baby’s actions and respond accordingly. As we continue to make our homes smarter, parents, both current and expecting, can use smart devices to add one more layer of care for their babies.
Blog Post: Cervoz Updates
A lot happened in the first half of 2021. In case you missed it, we recapped the major headlines in our industry in our previous post. Now that we are officially halfway through the year, here are a few exciting things to look forward to from Cervoz in the second half. An updated SSD enclosure design Cervoz released a Product Change Notification on June 7th announcing that we had begun phasing in a new enclosure design for the 2.5" SATA SSD Titan Series. The new enclosure adopts a completely black exterior with a sandblasted finish and the outlines of the signature Cervoz yellow and blue stripes. The sleek new look serves to differentiate the Titan Series, which uses the latest TLC technology, from the series that preceded it. Sidenote: This update has no effect on the SSDs’ functionality or performance, and thus customers can rest assured that there will be no impact on their applications. A range of new MEC products On the technology front, we are in the final stages of getting six new MEC products tested and certified. These products are the mini PCIe MEC-LAN-101i (1 port) and MEC-LAN-102i (2 port); the M.2 MEC-LAN-2001i (1 port) and MEC-LAN-2002i (2 port); and the M.2 MEC-COM-2012 (2 port RS232) and M.2 MEC-USB-2002 (2 port USB3.0). These MEC products add more form factors to Cervoz’s current offerings to cater to our customers’ needs. The new LAN (ethernet) cards adopt an isolation design whereby the input and output circuits are electrically and physically separated to prevent any interference or harm to the device from the power source. As such, all the new, soon-to-launch LAN cards comply with both the IEC-61000-4-2 and the IEC-61000-4-5 standards for electrostatic discharge and surge immunity, respectively. There is no set date for when these products will be available, but we will be putting out more information in Q3, so stay tuned. A redesigned website Still the same URL, the official Cervoz website is getting a major UI/UX upgrade. We have paired up with a leading local website design firm to create a modern, user-friendly website for your convenient browsing. As we work on the presentation and navigation of the website, we are also updating the content to provide more informational material for existing and potential customers to learn more about different application uses of our products and the technologies behind each solution. We are scheduled to launch the new website in Q4. The actual date the new site will go live will be revealed on LinkedIn, so follow us to be the first to know.
Blog Post: Recap H1 2021
It’s incredible to think that the first half of 2021 is almost over. A major headline for our industry this year is the chip (also known as IC or semiconductor) shortage, a result of the pandemic’s disruption of the supply chain involved in manufacturing chips. The prolonged shortage, which some experts are saying may drag on until 2023, has prompted major moves by big name manufacturers and tech companies to address the problem. This post recaps some of the biggest stories in the IPC and IPC-related industries for the first half of 2021. IC shortage 2020-21 and beyond The global chip shortage is nothing new, resulting periodically due to “natural disasters or man-made events.” This shortage, which may continue for two more years, has been brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Carmakers are actually at the center of this story: when these manufacturers temporarily shut down production lines due to the pandemic in the spring of 2020, they cancelled their orders of chips to be used in their cars. These chips therefore went instead to the consumer electronics industry. However, when car sales rebounded earlier than expected and purchases of consumer electronics surged during the pandemic, both industries needed more chips than they had. The simultaneous need for large volumes of ICs created a demand that chip manufacturers could not meet. As chips have made their way into so many applications and devices used by businesses and consumers, this shortage is concerning. (A note to our customers: Cervoz maintains a healthy level of stock, so we are prepared to continue to meet your storage solution and embedded module needs.) Boosting chip production capacity A longstanding source of the shortage is that chip manufacturing takes place predominantly in Asia, by a handful of manufacturers such as Samsung and TSMC. Expanding production capacity is expensive, but, as recent events have proven, necessary. U.S. company Intel announced in March that it would be spending up to US$20 billion to build two factories in Arizona and thus increase its manufacturing capacity. These factories will also be open to outside customers as foundries where tech companies who design chips can use their services for manufacturing. Amidst everything with the IC shortage and plans to boost production, IBM has come out with the news that it has accomplished a feat in chip manufacturing: an ultra-thin 2-nanometer chip. In other words, the tech giant has found a way to make functional chips that use 2-nm transistors instead of the current 7-nm transistors. The 2-nm chip technology is projected to help the chip “achieve 45 percent higher performance, or 75 percent lower energy use” compared to today’s most advanced chip. While this process is expected to take a couple of years before full-scale manufacturing, it is nonetheless very exciting news for the industry. IoT, automation and more We have really witnessed how so many industries have adopted industrial-level technology at an accelerated rate to address problems originating from the pandemic. Our last blog post describes the role IoT sensors are playing in the safe and successful transportation and storage of Covid-19 vaccines. Similarly, many work places and factory plants are automating their operations to deal with labor shortage and/or ways to comply with social distancing and work from home guidelines. In the first half of this year, we have blogged about automation in production and retail, and so many other examples, such as automation in meat processing factories, restaurants, etc., come to mind. This has truly been an interesting first half of the year, to say the least, and we look forward to recapping the second half in six months.
Blog Post: IoT & Covid Vaccine
Now that there are multiple Covid-19 vaccines available on the market, a challenge is properly storing and shipping them before administering them. We in the IPC industry know nothing about how to develop a vaccine, nor do we claim to, but we do know that the Internet of Things (IoT) is something that has proven useful to the process of tracking vaccines and keeping them safe. A Forbes piece by software corporation SAP from late 2020 detailed how the challenge of transporting vaccines can be understood and streamlined via asset performance management. To summarize, vaccine manufacturers need to understand that the ultra-cold freezers for the vaccines are their critical assets, and need to use sensors to monitor the environment within these freezers as they make their way to vaccination sites. The sensors, which form a part of the IoT network in this scenario, can monitor key metrics “such as temperature, vibration, moisture levels, uptime, etc.” to provide valuable data that can be used to prevent the freezers from failing. This idea that IoT sensors are the suitable solution to making sure these ultra-cold freezers stay cold, thus keeping the vaccines from degrading, has been reiterated by news outlets and experts in the IoT sector. The real-time communication between smart devices and the instantaneous flow of data can and have been applied to multiple stages of the efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, the Cervoz Blog wrote about the importance of the digital infrastructure, which consists of IoT devices and network, to monitor, track and respond to detected cases of the coronavirus. Insights from Vodafone Business, part of British multinational telecommunications company Vodafone Group, highlight how IoT can facilitate and even expedite clinical trials of vaccines. A mobile platform can eliminate paper records and digitally record important data such as “symptoms, reaction and wellness.” The connected devices all linked in can instantaneously flag anomalies to the medical staff, thus assisting doctors as they work on the vaccine. As we know, the ability to collect, transmit and use data is so important in today’s society. It is thus not surprising that even in a pandemic, IoT plays a vital role in developing and transporting the vaccine so people can get their shots.
Blog Post: Choosing Storage Modules
If you’re reading this, chances are you are in need of storage modules. First of all, thanks for considering Cervoz. While we will link to a few of our products and website pages in this post, we want these guidelines to be helpful to you regardless of the company you choose to purchase from. Below are the key factors our in-house R&D and engineering teams stress you should consider when making you choice. Application: Knowing what you need the storage solution for is perhaps the most important factor in determining which model to get. The application, and what it is expected to do and for how long at a time, will determine the technology the module should feature. For example, if you are procuring storage modules for a 5G application, then TLC products are a must because of the ability to process large volumes of data quickly and without failure. Industry: Certain industries will have fixed standards for the performance levels of their applications. This can be the U.S. military standard MIL-STD-810G or the road vehicle ISO-16750-3 standards, to name a couple. Understanding what the industry your product will ultimately operate in helps you to get a sense of the certain product parameters and corresponding standards your storage module needs to meet. You can then use this to discuss with sales representatives from any company you are looking at to see if they may have a suitable product for you. Environmental Conditions: While this may partially have to do with industry, environmental conditions can also differ for applications within the same industry. Smart robots working the assembly line in a factory require capabilities vastly different from those their counterparts inspecting the pipelines of said factory do. Namely, pipeline robots will require the ability to withstand extreme temperatures, whereas robots assembling things will not. Thus, knowing what environmental conditions a product will need to withstand can help with figuring out the features and technologies it may require. Current Concerns: This last factor is more internal than external for you and your company. Whether you are searching for a storage solution for an existing product or a new product, there must be a reason why you are looking. It could be that the price of the storage solution you currently employ has gone up, or it could be that the solution no longer fulfills all your application needs. Especially given the current global chip shortage, you may need to look elsewhere other than your usual supplier to secure the storage modules you need at the price you can afford. Whatever the reason, as long as you know it, you are already on your way to making a better decision about which module to purchase than if you didn’t.
Blog Post: Q&A with FAE
Customer support can be annoying, especially when it is an automated system. Thank goodness our customer support system is 100 percent human-supported. Guided by our value of taking full responsibility for our customers’ experience, we are here to help you fix your issue. I spoke to our in-house field application engineer (FAE) to get a sense of how the process typically goes. Q: How do customers contact you about a potential issue? A: Our sales representatives are our point of contact for any potential issue customers may have with Cervoz product in application. We believe that since customers have already developed a relationship with their specific sales rep, this allows for a more comfortable customer support process. All a customer has to do is reach out to their sales representative via email, and the FAE team will be notified immediately of the issue. Q. Once an issue has been flagged, what happens next? A: The FAE team will work in conjunction with the customer’s sales rep to learn more about the problem the customer is experiencing. We will ask questions about the issue—like if the device is not recognizing the SSD—to understand what the problem is. Information we will require includes a brief description of the problem, usage scenario and system configuration so that we can simulate the same conditions remotely and run tests to figure out a solution. With our proprietary FlashMonitor software, this whole process is actually made quite simple as the real-time monitoring system uses its Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T.) to provide key figures about the module and its disk health. We can take this information, provided by the customer, to understand what the issue may be. Most of the time, we are able to resolve these issues like this—remotely. Q. What happens in the event that you cannot fix an issue remotely? A: We will ask the customer to mail us a few samples of the application device or their host computer for us to have a better look to find the root cause of the issue. Customers would go through our standard return material authorization (RMA) process to fill out a request form before mailing it back to us. Customers can find detailed information about the warranty for each line of products on our website. Q: On average, how long does each case take once you have received the device? A: Once received, my team will issue an initial assessment report within 3 working days. This report acknowledges receipt of what the customer has sent us and details initial tests we have run to try to figure out what’s wrong. We also conduct tests by requests, so customers are welcome to let us know which additional tests they may want done. After that, it usually takes about 1 to 2 weeks to resolve the issue. Of course, some issues may take longer to resolve, but regardless, we really aim to provide our customers with a concrete fix and a hassle-free experience.