Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Project: NAND Flash Support

The FreeBSD Foundation is pleased to announce that Semihalf, an embedded solutions company, has been awarded a grant to bring their comprehensive NAND Flash file system and storage stack to FreeBSD. This technology enables FreeBSD to natively manage NAND Flash devices, satisfying a crucial requirement for many applications needing access to fast, reliable, non-volatile storage.

FreeBSD is widely used as the OS foundation of embedded appliances both small and large. Semihalf's NAND Flash stack opens new opportunities for FreeBSD in this space, where size, cost, or performance, mandate the use of direct attached NAND Flash.

Made possible by matching funds from Juniper Networks, this FreeBSD Foundation grant covers the costs of transferring technology developed for Juniper Networks by Semihalf to the FreeBSD project. This will ensure that the NAND framework meets community standards and can be easily maintained and enhanced.

Highlighting the return on investment offered by this kind of technology transfer, FreeBSD Foundation president Justin T. Gibbs, noted: "Open sourcing enhancements that do not expose 'business critical intellectual property' reduces the cost of managing a FreeBSD distribution that has been customized for a product. The NAND subsystem is a perfect example of how technology transfer benefits both the FreeBSD community and its commercial users. We'd like to thank Semihalf and Juniper for partnering with us to make the code available under a BSD license"

The NAND Flash subsystem consists of a driver framework for NAND controllers and memory chips, a NAND device simulator and a fault tolerant, log-structured file system, tailored to meet the unique challenges of NAND flash storage. The package includes all the tools, utilities and documentation needed to deploy this technology in custom applications.

"A reliable file system that supports NAND Flash is critical for Juniper's ongoing success," said Marcel Moolenaar, Distinguished Engineer, Juniper Networks. "But since storage isn't Juniper's core business, we were eager to find a solution that would put the implementation and support of the file system in the most capable hands. We reached out to Semihalf and ultimately the Foundation to help us achieve our goals. Juniper cannot be more pleased to have the NAND Flash file system and NAND Flash framework present in the next major FreeBSD version as a standard feature and under the care of the community."

"We are very glad to have the NAND framework made available for the general FreeBSD audience, reaffirming the system as a versatile platform for appliances and other embedded and industrial designs," said Rafal Jaworowski of Semihalf.

The Foundation is pleased to be working with Semihalf again. They were previously awarded a grant to bring "Flattened Device Tree" support to FreeBSD. This new feature in FreeBSD 9.0 has been well received by the FreeBSD community.

1 comment:

  1. For those of us charged with bringing embedded products based on FreeBSD to market this is a tremendous win. I have faced several times the question of whether to implement an inferior NAND solution or to use FreeBSD alongside some other software to manage the NAND flash. Having native NAND drivers and a NAND filesystem removes that challenge, and makes it easier for all of us to focus on using our core competencies both to develop commercial products and to improve FreeBSD's positioning in the embedded space.