New Israeli Start-Up: DensBits

In 3 bits per cell eMMC controller to replace MLC
This is a Press Release edited by on 2012.05.02

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DensBits Technologies Ltd. announced its latest generation embedded flash controller solution, DB3610, supporting eMMC 4.41 (4.5 ready) host interface.

It supports 2Xnm and 1Xnm TLC Flash memories (ONFI 2.3, Toggle NAND 2.0), with an endurance figure of more than 10K P/E cycles. This is in addition to read/write performance of up to 95MB/s / 65MB/s and 4,000 IOPS / 1,100 IOPS (4KB), for sequential and random operations, respectively.

DB3610 employs DensBits' Memory Modem technology that enables a native TLC solution with more than double the endurance of 2 bits/cell (MLC), and near-MLC read/write performance.

The Memory Modem is composed of jointly-designed, all-proprietary ECC, DSP, and flash management solutions, designed to account for the unique problems of advanced flash memories. DensBits' proprietary ECC solution, regardless of its application to flash, represents a breakthrough, outperforming the industry's best ECC implementations including LDPC. The DSP technology optimizes read/write performance by, among others, boosting TLC program performance by more than 60%. A two-level flash management layer - a lower level, and an upper level - consists of an ECC/DSP-matched lower level to further increase reliability, and a hybrid page/block upper level management to boost performance.

"DB3610 is a testament to our technology leadership, being the only company providing a TLC Flash solution with extreme reliability and performance that can easily replace MLC Flash in embedded applications, while enabling a 30% cost savings across the board," said Amir Tirosh, DensBits' EVP Marketing and Business Development. "We're also currently working on extending our offering to SSDs in both consumer and enterprise applications."

"As the roadmap for NAND Flash memory technology slows down considerably in the coming years, TLC-based solutions will be imperative to drive further cost reductions and expand the market for smartphones, tablets and other embedded applications," said Gregory Wong, founder and Principal Analyst with Forward Insights. "The potential for a TLC solution to replace MLC without incurring reliability and performance degradation is a significant milestone."

Our Comments

Founded in 2007 and based in Haifa, Israel, DensBits Technologies closed two rounds of financial funding, the first one between $8 and $10 million (according to Globes) in 2007, the latest one at $25 million (according to IDC) in October 2010 led by new investor Bessemer Venture Partners and existing investor Sequoia Capital.

Main executives:
  • Co-Founder, chairman and CEO Ilan Hen was with Intel's mobile wireless group leading the development and algorithmic design efforts of next generation wireless communication systems.
  • EVP marketing and business development Amir Tirosh has been a management member at Alvarion and previously worked for M-Systems, acquired by SanDisk, as corporate VP and GM of the embedded business unit and corporate VP of business development.
  • VP R&D Uri Barkai was with DSP Group where he was corporate VP and IC R&D division manager and at Intel for 24 years.
  • Co-founder and CTO Hanan Weingarten is an expert in information theory, coding, communication and DSP, served as special technical consultant to storage and communications companies and spent some time at Bell Labs.
DensBits noted that flash cell dimensions continue to shrink and the number of bits per cell continues to increase, reliability inevitably decreases, approaching intolerable levels. Its Memory Modem technology increases reliability and, in turn, enables smaller process nodes and more bits per cell along with better performance.

                 DensBits Memory Modem's Gain

Its product, the DB3610, powered by Memory Modem, is an eMMC controller supporting 3 bits/cell (TLC) and 2 bits/cell (MLC) flash devices. It is based on communications modem, with proprietary algorithms for ECC, DSP and management.

According to the company, it's 30% cheaper than TLC, twice the reliability of MLC, with R/W performance of up to 95 and 75MB/s, and random R/W performance of up to 4,700 and 1,200 IO/s (4KB) respectively. Through a firmware update, it supports 2Xnm and 1Xnm process nodes, and MLC and TLC.

The idea for TLC is to replace MLC with no degradation in reliability and performance.

The start-up wants to apply its technology to embedded flash drives in smartphones and tablets, but also to client and enterprise SSDs by selling licenses rather than products. One of its first known customers revealed in 2009 is ARC International plc, provider of consumer IP to OEM and semiconductor companies.

Already two flash controller start-ups
were successful in Israel after M-Systems:

  • Anobit Technologies, in technology for small devices, acquired by Apple for $390 million last December, and
  • XtremIO, in enterprise SSD systems, bought this year by EMC.
DensBits could be a future fish for firms like flash companies Hynix, Intel, Samsung, SanDisk, Toshiba or/and a smartphone/tablet company.