Thermal Sensor

SSD Overheating

Though the general consensus is that, unlike traditional hard drives, Solid State Drives do not need cooling, for those SSDs on the higher-speed end of the spectrum, this might be another story.

With a growing number of digital audio or video production, gaming, and enterprise applications, recent years have seen a rising market demand for large-scale data transfer. A PCI express SSD today offers up to 6 times the transfer rates of a SATA III one, making the PCIe a much favored choice among those who are after lightning speeds and top-notch performances. Whilst this sounds like wonderful news, the downside can be that these SSDs now come in sizes just as, if not increasingly, compact. The downscaling for space raises issues of power consumption and heat generation for the storage device.

If a storage device runs at too high a temperature for a prolonged period of time, not only are the components more prone to failure, but a shortened lifespan of the SSD and data loss are likely to ensue. A proactive measure, therefore, must be implemented to tackle the SSD dissipation territory.

The Thermal Sensor and How It Works

Thermal throttling is one effective workaround for this situation.

A thermal sensor, as its name suggests, collects in real-time an SSD’s thermal information, making temperature readings available for the platform Host or for the SSD controller. If the SSD’s temperature exceeds a certain threshold level, the device’s read/write speeds are throttled down to allow the SSD to operate in a desired thermal range. Making sure that the SSD’s temperature does not exceed this critical level is crucial for SSD durability.

The sensor obtains thermal information for smarter SSD maneuvering, and through throttling, the SSD’s performance is temporarily reduced as a trade-off for sustainability. By doing so, the reliability of the device and integrity of data can be protected long-term.

Transcend’s Solution

Both Transcend’s DRAM modules and PCIe SSDs come with thermal sensors, with different temperature control approaches.

For Transcend’s ECC and Registered DIMM modules series, the thermal sensor is established with the Host platform, where a user is able to read from EEPROM the temperature of an operating storage device. If the device temperature exceeds the platform’s pre-set threshold level, one that can be adjusted in BIOS, the host can activate an auxiliary cooling aid to accelerate the heat dissipation process.

The thermal sensor is also built-in with Transcend’s PCIe SSD series and works with firmware configurations to allow a throttling function, e.g., performance deceleration by stages. The firmware in the controller chip monitors the SSD temperature continuously. The platform then requests this information from the controller via the PCIe interface.

Such multi-stage throttling works by specifying a lower threshold value A°C and a higher threshold value B°C. When the SSD starts overheating, it first reaches A°C, at which point the Host receives the reading and initiates a first-stage deceleration. If the heat goes up too fast and eventually reaches B°C, a second-stage speed deceleration is triggered so that the SSD temperature can resume normal. The device continues monitoring until the SSD temperature drops back to below A°C.


*Temperatures and performances may vary due to environmental factors, or with the specific products, platforms, or firmware versions used.

Conclusion

By utilizing the thermal sensor, a storage device is able to monitor any temperature changes and protect itself from potential damages caused by overheating. In addition, with the thermal information gathered, platform developers and users can establish a monitoring system that caters to their individual preferences. With this protective mechanism, data safety can be ensured and the overall system reliability optimized.

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