Ming II: A Flexible Platform for NAND Flash-based Research

Trevor Bunker, Michael Wei and Steven Swanson
May 3, 2012

NAND flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs) are becoming a staple in consumer electronics and high-performance computing. Limited resources and a lack of flexible prototyping platforms constrain NAND flash researchers to use software simulation of the chips, where simulation parameters are based on conservative values from datasheets, leading to missed research opportunities. A tool to explore low-level NAND flash behavior and performance would give researchers an easy way to validate and guide new research ideas and designs. We present the Ming II platform which gives researchers complete control over flash chips. It includes a custom board that connects to a platform FPGA system and provides an automated interface for acquiring fine-grain power, latency, and bit error measurements of flash operations. The Ming II software stack includes an open-source userspace library, Linux driver, and development environment that make it easy to develop new software that targets flash. Possible applications include measuring flash characteristics (latency, power, bit-error ratios, lifetime, etc.), verifying encryption/decryption and sanitization protocols, prototyping new flash translation layers (FTLs), and identifying performance and power tradeoffs.

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