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12/1/2010
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SanDisk, Nikon, Sony Develop Faster CompactFlash Spec

The memory card would use a PCI Express interface to achieve 500 MBps data transfer rates for photographers and videographers.

Nikon, SanDisk, and Sony have jointly developed a specification for a CompactFlash format that would be much faster than the technology currently used in professional photography and video.

The three companies submitted the new specification Monday to the CompactFlash Association, which will decide whether to standardize the format. The three companies claim their technology would "enable further evolution of hardware and imaging applications, and widen the memory card options available to CompactFlash users."

The proposed format for memory cards would make it possible for the devices to handle much larger files by providing a much faster interface. The proposed specification can achieve data transfer rates of up to 500 MB per second by using a PCI Express interface. Current CompactFlash specifications use a Parallel ATA interface, which has a maximum speed of 167 MB per second.

The faster speed would make it possible for photographers to do continuous burst shooting in the RAW image format. Photographers often prefer to make adjustments to an image in its RAW format, before converting to a printable format, such as TIFF or JPEG. A RAW image contains minimally processed data from a digital camera's sensor.

In addition, the new format has the potential of extending the maximum capacity of CompactFlash cards beyond the current 2 terabyte limit. Such an extension would be useful in storing high-definition images and video in a CompactFlash card that's similar in size to today's cards.

Shigeto Kanda, chairman of the CFA board, called the proposed specification a "next generation format," and said it is expected to be widely adapted to various products.

CompactFlash uses flash memory storage in a standardized enclosure. SanDisk first specified and produced the format in 1994. The technology became the most successful of the early memory card formats. Today, it faces stiff competition from formats that can fit into smaller enclosures. Those formats include SD/MMC, various Memory Stick formats and xD-Picture Card.

For Further Reading

SanDisk Ships 64 GB SD Memory Card

SanDisk Unveils Its Highest Capacity CompactFlash Card

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