Carnegie Mellon University
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Flash Correct-and-Refresh: Retention-Aware Error Management for Increased Flash Memory Lifetime

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journal contribution
posted on 2012-10-01, 00:00 authored by Yu Cai, Gulay Yalcin, Onur Mutlu, Erich F. Haratsch, Adrian Cristal, Osman S. Unsal, Ken Mai

With the continued scaling of NAND flash and multi-level cell technology, flash-based storage has gained widespread use in systems ranging from mobile platforms to enterprise servers. However, the robustness of NAND flash cells is an increasing concern, especially at nanometer-regime process geometries. NAND flash memory bit error rate increases exponentially with the number of program/erase cycles. Stronger error correcting codes (ECC) can be used to tolerate higher errorrates, but these have diminishing returns with increasing P/E cycles and can have prohibitively high power, area, and latency overheads. The goal of this paper is to develop new techniques that can tolerate high bit error rates without requiring prohibitively strong ECC. Our techniques, called FlashCorrect-and-Refresh (FCR) exploit the observation that the dominant error source in NAND flashmemory is retention errors, caused by flash cells losing charge over time. The key idea is to periodically read, correct, and reprogram (in-place) or remap the stored data before it accumulates more retention errors than can be corrected by simple ECC. Detailed simulations of a solid-state drive (SSD) storage system driven by measured experimental data from error characterization on real flashmemory chips show that our techniques provide 46× average lifetime improvement on a variety of workloads at no additional hardware cost. We also find that our techniques achieve lifetimeimprovements that cannot feasibly be achieved with stronger ECC.


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