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Understanding the impact of power loss on flash memory

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3 Author(s)
Hung-Wei Tseng ; The Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of California, SanDiego, USA ; Laura Grupp ; Steven Swanson

Flash memory is quickly becoming a common component in computer systems ranging from music players to mission-critical server systems. As flash plays a more important role, data integrity in flash memories becomes a critical question. This paper examines one aspect of that data integrity by measuring the types of errors that occur when power fails during a flash memory operation. Our findings demonstrate that power failure can lead to several non-intuitive behaviors. We find that increasing the time before power failure does not always reduce error rates and that a power failure during a program operation can corrupt data that a previous, successful program operation wrote to the device. Our data also show that interrupted program operations leave data more susceptible to read disturb and increase the probability that the programmed data will decay over time. Finally, we show that incomplete erase operations make future program operations to the same block unreliable.

Published in:

Design Automation Conference (DAC), 2011 48th ACM/EDAC/IEEE

Date of Conference:

5-9 June 2011