FAQ

General Questions

How can I contact BiTMICRO®?

Have a question? Please call +1 888-72-FLASH or fill out the form on our Contact Us page. We will contact you shortly!

Where are we located?

BiTMICRO USA

Headquartered in Fremont, CA since 1995, this office handles business development, manufacturing and operations, sales, marketing, and customer and technical support.

BiTMICRO Networks, Inc.
47929 Fremont Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94538, USA

BiTMICRO Philippines

This branch serves as the primary research and development center. Established in Manila in 2003, it is home to the design and development units, marketing, sales support, manufacturing and operations, and customer and technical support.

BiTMICRO Philippines
37th Floor One San Miguel Avenue Building
San Miguel Avenue corner Shaw Boulevard
Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Philippines 1605

Who is BiTMICRO?

BiTMICRO Networks, Inc., a leader in enterprise flash storage for mission-critical computing, is advancing business performance, productivity, and reliability with innovative solid state drive (SSD) solutions. Solving real-world challenges, BiTMICRO has been developing patented ASIC designs and embedded firmware and software technology since it’s founding in 1995. Built upon an established history in ruggedized military and mission-critical IT surroundings, BiTMICRO actively develops, deploys, and supports versatile storage solutions and is best known for exceeding the extreme performance and data integrity required for enterprise, industrial, and military environments.

BiTMICRO is committed to exceeding the performance, productivity, and reliability standards of solid state storage. Solving real-world challenges by developing and supporting scalable enterprise-class solutions, BiTMICRO provides innovative products with the highest standards in concert with exceptional customer service.

 

Is BiTMICRO open to partnerships?

Yes! The BiTMICRO MAXchannel Partner Program offers deal registration, joint marketing, and reseller partnerships to interested applicants. You can find more information here.

 

Cryptographic Key

What is a Cryptographic Key?

“A cryptographic key is a string of data that is used to lock or unlock cryptographic functions, including authentication, authorization and encryption. It transforms plain text into cipher text or vice versa. This key remains private and ensures secure communication.”[1][2]

“Data Encryption Key (DEK) is automatically generated by SED during its operation. The DEK is used to encrypt and decrypt all of the data on the drive when written and when read, respectively. The drive generates the DEK and stored it in an encrypted format in multiple locations on the drive itself. By default the SED device is unlocked, and the DEK is used to encrypt and decrypt writes and reads to the media. The data is fully secured only when the drive is provisioned and locked. Using an Authentication Key (AK) in combination with DEK to read and write data to the SED is a way of provisioning a drive.” [3]

RELATED LINK(S):

  1. https://www.techopedia.com/definition/24749/cryptographic-key
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptographic_key_types
  3. http://h20331.www2.hp.com/Hpsub/downloads/Self_encrypting_drives_whitepaper.pdf

What is a DEK?

“Data encryption key (DEK): is a type of cryptographic key generated by an encryption engine that serves as a secured access key to encrypt and decrypt data at least once or possibly multiple times. Data is encrypted and decrypted with the help of the same DEK; therefore, a DEK must be stored for at least a specified duration for decrypting the generated cipher text.”[1]

Encrypted data is referred to as “cipher text” and unencrypted data as “plain text”.

RELATED LINK(S):

  1. https://www.techopedia.com/definition/5660/data-encryption-key-dek

How does Key Management work?

Key management refers to managing cryptographic keys (DEK and KEK) within a cryptosystem. It deals with generating, exchanging, storing, using and replacing keys as needed at the user level.

RELATED LINK(S):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_management

What is AES? How does it work?

“The Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES, is a symmetric block cipher chosen by the U.S. government to protect classified information and is implemented in software and hardware to encrypt sensitive data throughout the world.”[1]

“SED drives use two versions of this standard, AES128 and AES256. The numbers refer to the bit-size of the encryption key (and the block size) used by the algorithm, which must be a 128-bit (16 byte) or 256-bit (32 byte) random number. Without knowing the encryption key, this algorithm makes it virtually impossible to decipher the code and since the algorithm is in general use, the more exposure it gets to being unsuccessfully attacked and bro-ken, the higher our confidence in it.”[2]

“A block cipher is a method of encrypting text (to produce cipher text) in which a cryptographic key and algorithm are applied to a block of data (for example, 64 contiguous bits) at once as a group rather than to one bit at a time.”[3]

RELATED LINK(S):

  1. https://www.techopedia.com/definition/1763/advanced-encryption-standard-aes
  2. https://www.seagate.com/files/staticfiles/support/docs/manual/Interface%20manuals/100515636b.pdf
  3. http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/block-cipher

What is an SED? How does it work?

“A Self-Encrypting Drive (SED) is a Storage Device that integrates encryption of user data at rest. All user data written to the Storage Device is encrypted by specialized hardware implemented inside the Storage Device controller. The data is decrypted as it is read. The encryption and decryption are performed using a Media Encryption Key (MEK) generated internally in the Storage Device.”[1] Self-encrypting drives are focused on data at rest.

“All SEDs encrypt all the time from the factory onwards, performing like any other hard drive, with the encryption being completely transparent or invisible to the user.”[2]

 

RELATED LINK(S):

  1. http://nvmexpress.org/wp-content/uploads/TCGandNVMe_Joint_White_Paper-TCG_Storage_Opal_and_NVMe_FINAL.pdf
  2. http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Self-encrypting-drives-SED-the-best-kept-secret-in-hard-drive-encryption-security

Do I need a Key Management tool to factory reset a protected drive?

No, but you do need the drive’s PSID and an application to send commands to the storage device.

What is TCG Opal? How does it work?

OPAL is the TCG Specification for the SED function. It is an implementation profile for Storage Devices that incorporate mechanisms for managing access control to user data stored on the Storage Device, including controlling Media Encryption, Key Management, and Read/Write Lock State.

RELATED LINK(S):

How can the key be generated?

“All SED devices have a built-in encryption engine that generates a Data Encryption Key (DEK). The DEK is stored in an encrypted format in multiple locations on the drive itself. By default the SED device is unlocked, and the DEK is used to encrypt and decrypt writes and reads to the media. It is not until the drive is provisioned and locked that the data is fully secured. Provisioning a drive entails creating an Authentication Key (AK) that is used in conjunction with the DEK to read and write data to the SED.”[1]

RELATED LINK(S):

  1. http://h20331.www2.hp.com/Hpsub/downloads/Self_encrypting_drives_whitepaper.pdf
  2. https://trustedcomputinggroup.org/commonly-asked-questions-answers-self-encrypting-drives/

Are all SSD’s compatible with any kind of Key Management Software from different ISV’s) like WinMagic, McAfee, Symantec, Microsoft Bitlocker, etc.?

No. You should always refer to the ISVs compatibility matrix.

What is FDE? How does it work?

“Full-disk encryption (FDE) is encryption done at the hardware level. FDE works by automatically encrypting data on a hard drive into a form that can be only understood by the one who has the key to decrypt the encrypted data.”[1]

RELATED LINK(S):

  1. http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/full-disk-encryption-FDE

Can you send ATA security commands to drives mounted on a USB enclosure?

This depends on the USB to SATA bridge (tailgate) support, this is however not recommended. “The Secure Erase command disconnects the drive from the system and offloads all erase commands to the drive controller. The drive controller will not communicate with the host system until the erase command has been completed. The drive must be left alone for the duration of the erasure. SATA/PATA ports have no problem doing this (they’re designed with it in mind), the ATA-USB bridge used by external enclosures is not. If the hard disk controller stops responding (which it will during the erase command) the USB host controller will not be expecting the device to timeout and disconnect. The host controller may attempt to disconnect or reset the bridge device, which can interfere with the hard disk controller while it is performing the secure erase. This can cause undefined behaviour on the drive, including unrecoverable failure.”[1]

 

RELATED LINK(S):

  1. http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/answers/id-1984547/secure-erase-external-usb-hard-drive.html
  2. https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Securely_wipe_disk
  3. https://ata.wiki.kernel.org/index.php/ATA_Secure_Erase

Does Key Management need to be enabled or is it enabled by default?

No. Key management refers to managing cryptographic keys (DEK and KEK) within a cryptosystem. It deals with generating, exchanging, storing, using and replacing keys as needed at the user level.

RELATED LINK(S):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_management

What is Key Management or Cryptographic Key Management (CKM)?

Key management refers to managing cryptographic keys (DEK and KEK) within a cryptosystem. It deals with generating, exchanging, storing, using and replacing keys as needed at the user level.

RELATED LINK(S):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_management

What is UEFI? How does it work?

Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is a specification for a software program that connects a computer’s firmware to its operating system (OS). UEFI is expected to eventually replace BIOS. Like BIOS, UEFI is installed at the time of manufacturing and is the first program that runs when a computer is turned on.

RELATED LINK(S):

How to determine if the UEFI machine supports SED (OPAL) encryption.

Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is a specification for a software program that works as an interpreter between the computer firmware and the operating system. UEFI is expected to eventually replace BIOS. Like BIOS, UEFI is installed at the time of manufacturing and is the first program that runs when a computer is turned on.”[1]

Some advantages of UEFI are:

  • Support for higher drive capacities (larger than 2TB)
  • Speed and performance
  • Security

RELATED LINK(S):

  1. http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Unified-Extensible-Firmware-Interface-UEFI

Is Key Management supported on all SSD’s?

No. You should always refer to the ISVs compatibility matrix.

Does Key Management work on all types of Operating System?

No. You should always refer to the ISVs compatibility matrix.

What level of security does a Software and Hardware encryption provide?

“Software can be corrupted or negated; hardware cannot. Software runs under an operating system that is vulnerable to viruses and other attacks. An operating system, by definition, provides open access to applications and thus exposes these access points to improper use. Hardware-based security can more effectively restrict access from the outside, especially to unauthorized use. Additionally, dedicated hardware can have superior performance compared to software.”[1]

RELATED LINK(S):

  1. https://trustedcomputinggroup.org/commonly-asked-questions-answers-self-encrypting-drives/

What is ATA Key Management? How does it differ from TCG Opal

OPAL is the TCG Specification for the SED function. It is an implementation profile for Storage Devices that incorporate mechanisms for managing access control to user data stored on the Storage Device, including controlling Media Encryption, Key Management, and Read/Write Lock State.

ATA Key management is part of the ATA specification and provides a password system that limits access to data from (serial) ATA devices such as solid state drives or SSDs.

RELATED LINK(S):

How is Key Management related to AES, SED, FDE, UEFI and TCG OPAL

“AES, SED, FDE,UEFI and TCG OPAL are major components for an effective implementation of data security. Key management takes place within the disk controller and encryption keys are usually 128 or 256 bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). SEDs adhering to the TCG OPAL 2.0 standard specification (almost all modern SEDs) implement key management via an Authentication Key (AK), and a 2nd-level Data Encryption Key (DEK). The DEK is the key against which the data is actually encrypted/decrypted. The AK is the user-facing 1st-level password/passphrase which decrypts the DEK (which in-turn decrypts the data).”[1]

 

RELATED LINK(S):

  1. https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Self-Encrypting_Drives#Key_management_technical_implementation
  2. https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/community/blogs/5things/entry/5_things_to_know_about_managing_encryption_keys_for_self_encrypting_drives_in_lenovo_system_x_servers?lang=en
  3. https://www.winmagic.com/products/features/sed-self-encrypting-hard-drives

 

E-Disk® Altima™ SSDs

Is your E-Disk Altima product line still available? How can I buy one?

Yes, our E-Disk Altima product line is still available. If you are interested in purchasing an Altima SSD product, please contact a sales representative by filling out the Contact Us form here.

What interfaces and form factors are E-Disk Altima SSDs available in?

Our E-Disk Altima SSDs are available in two form factors. 3.5” supports 4Gb dual-port Fibre Channel (FC-AL) and Ultra320 SCSI. 2.5” supports SCSI Narrow, ATA-133 and 3Gb SATA.

Are E-Disk Altima drives right for my application?

E-Disk Altima drives are really ideal for any application requiring highly rugged, highly secure storage. Typically, these are military and industrial applications.

How do you ensure that E-Disk Altima products can withstand harsh environments?

All E-Disk Altima drives are subjected to rigorous temperature testing during manufacturing to ensure that they can function properly in their given temperature range. Altitude, shock, vibration and humidity are third party certified for the whole product line.

E-Disk Altima SSDs conform to MIL-STD-810E Compliance and include patented ruggedized packaging technology to ensure survivability in harsh environments.

Do you have certifications available for vibration, shock, altitude, etc.?

To learn about specific certifications, please contact a BiTMICRO sales representative. Just fill out the Contact Us form here.

What is PowerGuard technology and how does it safeguard my data?

PowerGuard is a data protection feature that ensures data on an E-Disk Altima drive’s cache is retained in the event of power degradation or total power loss.

Is PowerGuard technology necessary for normal operation of the drive?

No. The PowerGuard feature is optional but it provides a higher level of data protection.

What is Low Voltage Detection?

Low Voltage Detection is a proprietary feature that protects volatile data when power is inconsistent. When voltage drops below a safe threshold, Low Voltage Detection cuts off additional writes to volatile memory and begins moving data to non-volatile cache.

What is Power Loss Erase?

Power Loss Erase is a powerful military security feature that protects data from third party attempts to retrieve data. When the drive is removed from external power, supercapacitors provide power to fully sanitize the drive.

This is an optional feature.

What is Mobile Erase?

Mobile Erase is a military security feature that allows a drive to be removed from external power with the option to erase at any time. Erase will begin as soon as a simple switch is activated.

This is an optional feature.

What sanitization routines do you support with SecurErase technology?

SecurErase technology supports sanitization routines for the following standards:

  • NISPOM DoD 5220.22-M
  • NSA 130-2
  • Air Force AFSSI 5020
  • Army 380-19
  • IRIG-106
  • NISPOMSUP
  • AFSSI 5020/2003
  • AFSSI 5020/2003 CLR
  • NSA 9-12

How can I verify that the SecurErase feature has really deleted the data?

The easiest way to accomplish this is to read the data with a hex editor and ensure that pattern has been written globally.

Are E-Disk Altima drives hot-swappable?

E-Disk Altima drives are hot- swappable in the U320 SCSI and Fibre Channel interfaces.

How do I update to a new firmware version?

Firmware is updated through our E-Disk Manager software. To obtain a copy of E-Disk Manager, contact your sales representative.

Do you have a list of the different enhancements and bug fixes made for each firmware release?

A list of specific firmware enhancements is available on request for existing BiTMICRO customers. Contact a BiTMICRO sales representative or technical support member for assistance. Just fill out the Contact Us form here.

Are your products RoHS compliant?

Yes, all our E-Disk Altima products are RoHS compliant.

Do you offer leaded assembly?

Yes. However this is a non-standard feature.

Is your assembly IPC Class 3?

Yes, our assembly is IPC Class 3 certified for the requirements of our aerospace, defense and medical customers.

What do the drive’s different LED sequences mean?

Specific LED sequences can be found in the E-Disk Altima manual. To obtain a copy of an E-Disk Altima manual, contact your sales representative.

What are octal codes and how do I read them?

Octal codes are error codes in the firmware that provide information to the user about state a drive failure. Octal codes are dependent on the interface and the corresponding firmware release. Octal codes may change with specific firmware releases, so it is important to check the octal code document included the firmware release package. If you can’t find the octal code document, contact your sales representative.

Where can I find the latest manual?

For the latest product manuals, contact a customer service representative here.

What is a “jumper rebuild?” How do I initiate it? Is it the same process for all of your different interfaces?

Jumper rebuild is a firmware process that returns the drive to factory state without modifying the defects list. It reinitializes the free list and the drive is formatted with all partition data deleted.

Jumper rebuilding is typically meant for BiTMICRO internal use only. We provide some customers this functionality on a case-by-case basis.

You can activate jumper rebuild by placing a shunt on a particular jumper on the front of the drive. The specific octal codes vary based on interface and firmware version. Check your product manual and firmware revision information to find out which jumper activates a rebuild.

If my drive has multiple boards and is out of warranty, can I swap different memory boards from different drives to get it working?

No. If a drive has multiple boards, with multi-board stacking, you can’t just swap/replace memory boards. If the memory boards are the problem, they need to be replaced with new boards.

Do you inspect 100 percent of the parts received from your CM?

Yes, 100 percent of the parts for E-Disk Altima receive inspection upon receipt from the CM.

If a board is rejected during the inspection process, what happens to it? What is the process?

The process depends on the type of rejection. Most often, when a single board is rejected, an internal rework is initiated. If a whole batch of boards is rejected, the CM is contacted and cause of failure is investigated.

If a production drive fails your testing, what happens to it? What is the process?

If a drive fails during testing, we always do failure analysis on through debugging, then perform testing and rework. The process is iterative until we find the root cause of failure.

What software do I use to initiate sanitize? If I don’t use Windows, how do I initiate sanitize?

Our E-Disk Manager software allows you to initiate a sanitization sequence. To obtain a copy of our E-Disk Manager software, contact your sales representative. If you don’t have a Windows PC, the command must be issued through the host.

How long does each of the sanitizations take?

Sanitization time is dependent on the sanitization standard being executed and the total capacity of the drive. Contact a BiTMICRO sales representative or technical support member for assistance. Just fill out the Contact Us form here.

 

MAXio® All Flash Storage Array

What Array models are offered?

There are two array units available: N1A6 and N1CA6. The N1A6 supports dual 10GBs iSCSI / NAS (SMB/CIFS and NFS) interfaces. The N1CA6 supports dual 16GBs FC (fiber channel) interfaces.

What is the physical size of the Array?

The MAXio All Flash Arrays are 1U systems. Both the N1A6 (iSCSI / NAS) and N1CA6 (FC) include mounting rails and fit easily into any standard storage rack.

What are the usable capacities of the Array?

The N1A6 and N1CA6 are available in 2 usable capacities: 5TB and 12TB. The 5TB systems are comprised of 20-400 SSDs with a RAW capacity of 8TB and usable capacity or 5TB. The 12TB systems are comprised of 20-800 SSDs with a RAW capacity of 16TB and usable capacity or 12TB.

Note: Usable capacity is the actual capacity after factoring in included data protection (RAID) and SSD over-provisioning.

What are the supported communication protocols and ports?

The N1A6 supports dual 10GBs iSCSI / NAS (SMB/CIFS and NFS) interfaces. The N1CA6 supports dual 16GBs FC (fiber channel) interfaces.

What is the performance for the 4K random read and write IOPs?

The MAXio All Flash Storage Arrays use FlexiRemap technology. FlexiRemap is a flash-oriented software featuring an architectural design tailored for the fundamentals and internal flash level workings of SSDs. FlexiRemap re-orders and optimizes write I/Os in real-time before passing them to the underlying flash on the SSDs. By intelligently reordering and re-mapping where write I/Os are placed, FlexiRemap greatly improves performance of the all flash array. Both the N1A6 and N1CA6 have demonstrated 560,000 IOPs of random 4K reads and 370,000 IOPs or random writes.

How is the Array’s data protected?

FlexiRemap is the data protection software within the array. It virtualizes all the SSDs into a single “Super Drive”. This provides a logical volume / logical block address to the server file system and uses journal-based logging to map logical addresses to physical addresses across the SSD. FlexiRemap protects the data and keeps it online during a drive failure by generating a parity bit and placing it into the most logical location to promote fast rebuilds and optimal data protection.

To ensure optimal performance and continuous data access during a drive rebuilt, the “Super Drive” has been pre-configured so that drives 1 to 10 are in group A and drives 11 to 20 are in group B. During a rebuild, the group with the drive being rebuilt goes into a Read-Only mode. This ensures all write performance resources are dedicated to quickly rebuild the new drive. The other group of 10 drives remains in Normal Write and Read mode to ensure minimal impact to application performance and continuous operation during the rebuild process.

With data redundancy built in, FlexiRemap provides the most desirable benefits of RAID without the rebuild degradation caused by a drive rebuild.

How can I get Array support?

BiTMICRO offers three levels of support: standard, silver, and gold.

 

MAXio® Z-Series PCIe SSD

How do I purchase a MAXio Z-Series PCIe SSD?

If you are interested in purchasing a MAXio Z-Series product, please contact a sales representative by filling out the Contact Us form here or by phone at +1 (888)-72-FLASH

What applications are MAXio Z-Series PCIe SSDs designed for?

MAXio Z-Series PCIe SSDs are designed for enterprise server and storage applications that require large amounts of capacity. More specifically, we recommend MAXio Z-Series PCIe SSDs for:

  • High Scale Video on Demand (VOD)/Video Streaming
  • Large User Base Online Transaction Processing
  • 4K Video Editing
  • High Fidelity Gaming, File Servers
  • Data Intensive Web Applications
  • Large Scale Cloud Service Providers

What are the capacities offered for MAXio Z-Series PCIe SSDs?

MAXio Z-Series Full Height, Half Length comes in 8.8 TB raw capacities.

Note: Formatted capacities are slightly lower.

I’ve heard that flash has limited writes. How do MAXio Z-Series PCIe SSDs address the issue of write endurance?

MAXio Z-Series PCIe SSDs implement advanced flash management technologies that address inherent flash memory limitations to increase drive endurance. This includes sophisticated dynamic wear leveling, unique spanning garbage collection and write amplification reduction through pattern elimination.

Where can I find the latest manual?

For the latest product manuals, contact a customer service representative here.

What platforms do MAXio Z-Series PCIe SSDs support?

At present, MAXio Z-Series PCIe SSDs support the following platforms:

  • Windows 2012 Server (64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 R2 Server (64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 Server (64-bit)
  • Windows 7 (32/64-bit)
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Red Hat Enterprise 5/6
  • SuSe Linux Enterprise Server 10/11
  • Ubuntu 10/11
  • CentOS 5/6
  • Oracle Enterprise Linux 5/6

 

MAXio® E-Series PCIe SSD

How do I purchase a MAXio E-Series PCIe SSD?

If you are interested in purchasing a MAXio E-Series product, please contact a sales representative by filling out the Contact Us form here or by phone at +1 888-72-FLASH.

What applications are MAXio E-Series PCIe SSDs designed for?

MAXio E-Series PCIe SSDs are designed for enterprise server and storage applications. More specifically, we recommend MAXio E-Series PCIe SSDs for:

  • Video on Demand (VOD)/Video Streaming
  • Online Transaction Processing
  • Video Editing
  • Gaming, File Servers
  • Web Applications
  • Cloud Service Providers

What are the capacities offered for MAXio E-Series PCIe SSDs?

MAXio E-Series Full Height, Half Length comes in 1536GB and 3072GB raw capacities. Formatted capacities are slightly lower.

I’ve heard that flash has limited writes. How do MAXio E-Series PCIe SSDs address the issue of write endurance?

MAXio E-Series PCIe SSDs implement advanced flash management technologies that address inherent flash memory limitations to increase drive endurance. This includes sophisticated dynamic wear leveling, unique spanning garbage collection and write amplification reduction through pattern elimination.

Where can I find the latest manual?

For the latest product manuals, contact a customer service representative here.

What servers have MAXio E-Series PCIe SSDs been tested on?

MAXio E-Series Full Height, Half Length comes in 1536GB and 3072GB raw capacities. Formatted capacities are slightly lower.

What platforms do MAXio E-Series PCIe SSDs support?

At present, MAXio E-Series PCIe SSDs support the following platforms:

  • Windows 2012 Server (64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 R2 Server (64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 Server (64-bit)
  • Windows 7 (32/64-bit)
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Red Hat Enterprise 5/6
  • SuSe Linux Enterprise Server 10/11
  • Ubuntu 10/11
  • CentOS 5/6
  • Oracle Enterprise Linux 5/6