Datalight is a privately held software company specializing in power failsafe and high performance software for preserving data integrity in embedded systems.[3] The company was founded in 1983 by Roy Sherrill, and is headquartered in Bothell, Washington.

IndustryComputer software
FoundedBothell, Washington, U.S. (incorporated 1983 (1983))[2]
FounderRoy Sherrill
United States
ProductsReliance, FlashFX, XCFiles, ROM-DOS
Number of employees

Overview and history

Datalight was founded in 1983 by Roy Sherrill, a former Boeing engineer.[4][5] Datalight's initial products were two DOS applications: the Datalight Small-C compiler and the Datalight C-Bug debugger. A full C compiler named Datalight C was available from Datalight between 1987 and 1993; Datalight C, developed by Walter Bright, evolved into Zortech C and is now Digital Mars C.[6][7][8] Datalight C was also developed into an optimizing compiler called Datalight Optimum-C, which later became Zortech C++, the first native C++ compiler.[9][10] In 1988, Datalight released C_thru_ROM, which provided embeddedable C functions and C start-up code, allowing programs developed on DOS to run as standalone applications without DOS dependence.[11][12] In 1989, ROM-DOS 1.0 was released.

CardTrick was announced in 1993 to support the flash memory being built into PCMCIA cards. CardTrick later evolved into the embedded flash memory manager FlashFX in 1995, moving Datalight into the raw flash memory market. The company grew rapidly in the late 1990s, receiving the WA Fast 50 award for the fastest growing companies in Washington state in 1997 and 1998.

The first of four patents to eventually be assigned to Datalight, "Method and apparatus for allocating storage in a flash memory",[13] was awarded in 1999, followed up with an additional FlashFX-related patent, "Method and system for managing bad areas in flash memory",[14] in 2001. In 2003, Reliance, a reliable transactional embedded file system, was released; a related patent, "Reliable file system and method of providing the same",[15] was awarded in 2007. In 2013, another file system related patent, "Method and Apparatus for Fault-tolerant Memory Management"[16] was issued.

In 2009 Datalight released FlashFX Tera to support the growing size and complexity of NAND flash arrays. That same year, Reliance Nitro was released, building upon Reliance and adding a tree-based architecture to improve performance for large files (>100 MB) and large numbers of files.


Reliance family


First released in 2003, Reliance is an embedded file system[17] designed for applications with high reliability requirements.[18] Key features:[19]

  • Provides immunity to file corruption, including after unexpected system interruption (e.g., power loss), via atomic transaction points.
  • Does not need to check disk integrity at start-up, meaning a shorter boot time.
  • Dynamic file system configuration for performance optimization.
  • Full data-exchangeability with Microsoft Windows, via the Reliance Windows Driver.

Reliance has a maximum volume size of 2 TB and a maximum file size of 4 GB.[20]

Reliance Nitro

Released in 2009, Reliance Nitro is a file system developed from Reliance; it improved on the performance of original Reliance, primarily by adding a tree-based directory architecture facilitating faster look-ups. The maximum volume size on Reliance Nitro is 32 TB; maximum file size is constrained only by free space.[21]

Reliance Windows Driver

Datalight provides Windows drivers for both Reliance (Reliance Windows Driver; RWD) and Reliance Nitro (Reliance Nitro Windows Driver; RNWD); they provide exchangeability between Reliance-formatted media and Microsoft Windows. Both support Windows Vista and Windows XP; an older version of RWD supports Windows 2000. The drivers are bundled with tools to format media and a utility to check file system integrity.


Introduced in 1995, FlashFX is a flash media manager which allows applications to access flash memory as if it were a hard drive,[17] abstracting the complexity of flash media.[22][23] FlashFX operates either NAND or NOR flash and supports numerous flash devices.[24][25] It can be used with any file system.


  • FlashFX Pro: Supports around 200 flash chip part numbers and flash arrays up to 2 GB.[26] Has pre-ported versions for Windows CE, VxWorks, Nucleus PLUS, and ThreadX.[27] FlashFX Pro is available for Windows Mobile (FlashFX Tera is not).[26]
  • FlashFX Tera: Supports around 300 flash chip part numbers and flash arrays up to 2 TB. Has pre-ported versions for Linux, Windows CE, and VxWorks.[28] FlashFX Tera supports MLC NAND flash,[29] while FlashFX Pro does not; another improvement is Tera's error correction, which is more robust than Pro's.[26]

Products using FlashFX include Arcom's PC/104 computer,[30] Curtis-Wright's Continuum Software Architecture,[31] Teltronic's HTT-500 handset,[32] and MCSI's PROMDISK disk emulator.[33]


XCFiles, released in June 2010, is an exFAT-compatible file system aimed at consumer devices.[34] It allows embedded systems to support SDXC, the SD Card Association standard for extended capacity storage cards.[34] Marketed as "independent of the target platform",[35] XCFiles is intended to be portable to any 32-bit platform which meets certain requirements (such as supporting semaphores and unsigned 64-bit integers).[36]

XCFiles is marketed in Japan as 'exFiles' by A.I. Corporation; it was released there in April 2009.[37]


OS familyDOS
Source modelClosed-source
Initial release1989 (1989)
Marketing targetEmbedded systems
Available inEnglish

ROM-DOS (sometimes called Datalight DOS[38]) was introduced in 1989 as an MS-DOS compatible operating system designed for embedded systems.[39] It includes backward compatibility build options allowing compatibility with specific versions of MS-DOS (e.g., DOS 5.01). ROM-DOS 7.1 added support for FAT32 and long file names. ROM-DOS includes a compact TCP/IP stack;[40] and SOCKETS, a network socket API and connectivity package, is available as an optional add-on for ROM-DOS.[40][41] The SDK comes with Borland C/C++ and Turbo Assembler.[42]

System requirements:[43][44]

  • Intel 80186 or compatible
  • 10 KB of RAM
  • 5472 KB of ROM or disk space (depending on version)

Some devices which use or used ROM-DOS are the Canon PowerShot Pro70,[38] Advantech's ADAM-4500,[45] the Percon Falcon 325,[46] several early PDAs (Tandy Zoomer, IBM Simon, HP OmniGo 100/120, Nokia 9000/9000i/9110/9110i), Casio Algebra FX series graphing calculators, MCSI's PROMDISK,[33] and Arcom's PC/104 computer.[30] Intel's Advanced RAID Configuration Utility (ARCU) is based on ROM-DOS,[47] and, as of 2004, all Intel server board System Resource CDs included ROM-DOS.[48] Symbol's FMT 3000 came with a copy of ROM-DOS.[49]


  1. Datalight Company Profile. LinkedIn.
  2. Private Company Information: Datalight, Inc. BusinessWeek.
  3. Ganssle, Jack (13 July 2015). "An Interview with Datalight". Retrieved 2015-08-06.
  4. "Ensuring that devices don't lose data." Tricia Duryee. The Seattle Times; July 16, 2007.
  5. "Leadership Team." Datalight. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  6. Eckel, Bruce. Using C++, Osborne McGraw-Hill, 1989, p. 34.
  7. PC Magazine, Volume 7, Issues 1819, p. 38.
  8. Walter Bright home page. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
  9. "History of PC based C-compilers." Bob Stout. 1998.
  10. Walter Bright interview. Bitwise Magazine; May 2006.
  11. "Desktop DOS goes undercover to run embedded systems." David Shear. EDN; August 4, 1994.
  12. Norm Dresner (2005-09-30). "Re: 80186 free C compiler". Newsgroup: comp.arch.embedded. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
  13. United States Patent 5860082: "Method and apparatus for allocating storage in a flash memory."
  14. United States Patent 6260156: "Method and system for managing bad areas in flash memory."
  15. United States Patent 7284101: "Reliable file system and method of providing the same."
  16. United States Patent 8572036: "Method and Apparatus for Fault-tolerant Memory Management."
  17. Miller, Drew. Black Hat Physical Device Security: Exploiting Hardware and Software, p. 49. Syngress, 2004. ISBN 978-1-932266-81-8.
  18. Reliance Datasheet, p. 1.
  19. "Reliance." Datalight. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
  20. Reliance Developer's Guide, ch. 1.
  21. Reliance Nitro Developer's Guide, "Introduction".
  22. "Optimizing Resident Flash Arrays in Windows CE Devices." Dennis Edwards and Keith Garvin. Dr. Dobb's Journal; November 01, 2001.
  23. "The Rise to Dominance of NAND Flash." Bill Graham. Wind River; November 24, 2009.
  24. "Thanks For The Memory." William Wong. Electronic Design; May 21, 2009.
  25. ""Linux gains high-performance flash filesystem".." Eric Brown.; January 29, 2008.
  26. "Flash Memory Drivers." Datalight. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
  27. FlashFX Pro 3.0 Datasheet, p. 1.
  28. FlashFx Tera Datasheet Archived 2013-01-21 at, p. 1.
  29. ""Windows CE gets enhanced flash support". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16.." Jonathan Angel.; April 15, 2010.
  30. "PC/104 computer survives harsh environments." Warren Webb. EDN; February 3, 2000.
  31. "Curtiss-Wright Chooses Datalight's FlashFX Pro Flash Media Manager for Continuum Software Architecture Offering." Curtis-Wright. August 3, 2006.
  32. "Customer Story: Teltronic Archived 2011-06-13 at the Wayback Machine." ENEA. 2007.
  34. XCFiles Datasheet, p. 1.
  35. XCFiles FAQ Archived 2012-07-30 at, p. 2.
  36. exFiles User's Manual (v. 1.04), pp. 67, 72.
  37. "exFATファイルシステムの海外向け販売を開始". A.I. Corporation; July 6, 2010. (Google translation.)
  38. "Datalight DOS Selected for Canon's New Line of Digital Still Cameras." Business Wire; February 23, 1999.
  39. ROM-DOS Datasheet, p. 1.
  40. Jones, M. Tim. TCP/IP Application Layer Protocols for Embedded Systems, Appendix C: TCP/IP Protocol Stacks. Charles River Media, 2002. ISBN 1-58450-247-9.
  41. Datalight SOCKETS. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
  42. ROM-DOS Datasheet, p. 2.
  43. ROM-DOS Product Manual, p. 6.
  44. ROM DOS 6.22. EMAC, Inc. 2010. The vendor's system requirements are somewhat higher: 18KB of RAM and 124K of space.
  45. ADAM-4500 - PC-based Communication Controller. Advantech.
  46. "Data Collection RF Scanners." Data ID Online.
  47. Intel Server RAID Controller U3-1L Low Profile (SRCU31L): Technical Product Specification, p. 12.
  48. "INSTALL.TXT for System Update Package (SUP) Archived 2011-07-13 at the Wayback Machine." May 19, 2004.
  49. FMT 3000 Software Manual Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine, p. 41.
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