Me again/ memory card choice

Started May 6, 2012 | Discussions thread
Alphoid
Senior MemberPosts: 2,484
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Possible differences
In reply to ecm, May 6, 2012

I don't know whether this applies to flash, or if it is still current today, but in the RAM business, when I looked into it a few years back, there were very big differences in failure rates between on-brand and off-brand. RAM ICs were manufactured and tested. Working ICs were sold on DIMMs made by name-brand vendors. Non-working chips are stripped of manufacturer and shipped to China:

  • If a big, localized part of the chip is bad, half of the chip was disabled, and e.g. a 32M chip becomes a 16M chip. This was sold in off-brand memory.

  • If the chip had random errors or was very flaky, either a second IC with error correction was added, or one which scrambled accesses. This was sold for fault-tolerant applications (such as answering machines).

My guess is that similar things happen in the flash industry, but I've been out of it long enough that I don't know for certain. I doubt ICs have gotten more reliable (if they were, you'd just push feature size down a bit more), but I wouldn't be surprised if this was managed differently.

Anecdotally, I have had off-brand CF cards fail, but never Sandisk. When I was a poor student, I'd read reviews, and buy smaller brands which appeared to work well (e.g. Transcend). Now my time is worth enough that I'd rather pay the premium than take the time to do research.

Card speed is also sometimes overrated for off-brand, and underrated for on-brand.

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