Sandisk, Sony, and Nikon propose 500MBps memory card with more than 2TB capacity

While the CompactFlash Association scoots along at a maximum transfer rate of 167MB per second under its just released CF6.0 specification, Sandisk, Sony, and Nikon are already looking to the future. The trio have just officially proposed a new memory card format that switches from PATA to the PCI Express serial interface to achieve data transfer rates of up to 500 megabytes per second with a potential to extend maximum storage capacities beyond 2 terabytes. The proposed set of specifications hints at the high performance requirements we'll soon face as DSLRs and camcorders are updated to capture continuous burst shooting of massive RAW images and ever higher definition video. Naturally, the spec also enables photogs to transfer their troves of data more quickly to computers for post processing and combines high-speed transfer with a scaling system to extend battery life. The CompactFlash Association has already announced a new workgroup to study the proposal. Canon's Shigeto Kanda, CFA chairman of the board, had this to say about the proposal:

Future professional photography and video applications will require memory cards with faster read/write speeds. The development of a new high-performance card standard with a serial interface will meet the needs of the professional imaging industry for years to come and open the door for exciting new applications.

Sounds like tacit approval to us. And really, anything that brings Sony and Sandisk together on a future storage format should be seen as a positive step. Unless, of course, you're the SD Card Association or anyone who recently purchased a CFast card.

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Companies to Jointly Develop New Specifications to Meet Needs of Professional Photography and Video Markets

SanDisk Corporation
Sony Corporation
Nikon Corporation

November 30, 2010, Japan - SanDisk Corporation, Sony Corporation and Nikon Corporation today announced the joint development of a set of specifications that address the future requirements of professional photography and video markets. The three companies proposed the specifications to the CompactFlash® Association (CFA)*, the international standards organization, with the intent to standardize the format.

Professional photography and High Definition (HD) video applications require a new generation of memory cards capable of processing significantly larger files. To address the imaging industry's future speed and capacity demands, SanDisk, Sony and Nikon proposed a new card specification whose performance and storage capabilities surpass those of existing memory cards. Once accepted, the new format will enable exciting new possibilities in the professional imaging and video markets.

The proposed specifications achieve data transfer rates of up to 500 megabytes per second (MB/sec)** (theoretical maximum interface speed) using the highly versatile PCI Express*** interface. The increased speeds will enable imaging and video applications that could not be accomplished using the current CompactFlash specification's Parallel ATA (PATA)**** interface. CF6.0, released in November 2010, offers maximum performance of up to 167MB/sec.

The new specifications' faster speeds enable continuous burst shooting of massive RAW images. The enhanced performance also allows users to quickly transfer storage-intensive high-resolution photos and videos from the card to a computer. The specifications combine high-speed data transfer with low power consumption via a power scaling system to extend battery life.

In addition to industry-leading performance capabilities, the new memory card specifications also meet the future capacity and durability requirements of professional imaging applications. The proposed new specifications has the potential to extend theoretical maximum capacities beyond 2 terabytes (TB)*****, making it especially useful for high resolution images and HD video applications. Similar in size to a CompactFlash® card, the new specifications' access control function and highly durable form factor produce a combination of physical ruggedness and reliability that is indispensable for professional usage models.

"This ultra high-speed media format will enable further evolution of hardware and imaging applications, and widen the memory card options available to CompactFlash users such as professional photographers," said Mr. Shigeto Kanda, Canon, and chairman of the board, CFA. "This next generation format is expected to be widely adapted to various products, including those other than high-end DSLRs."

"The ultra high-speed media, which will be realized by this new card format, will expand the capability of digital SLR cameras and other professional digital imaging equipment," said Mr. Kazuyuki Kazami, operating officer, vice president and general manager, development headquarters, imaging company, Nikon Corporation.

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CompactFlash Association Forms New Workgroup for Next-Generation Memory Card Format

(November 29, 2010) CUPERTINO, Calif., --
The CompactFlash Association (CFA) today announced the formation of a new working group to develop a next-generation memory card. Nikon, SanDisk and Sony proposed the new format in order to meet the needs of professional type digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR) and professional video markets over the coming years. CFA members can join the new workgroup for considering the ratification of the new specification.

Sophisticated imaging applications such as High Definition video and professional photography require a new generation of memory cards with cutting-edge speeds and capacities capable of processing the larger file sizes. The development of the new card is designed to meet the future demands of professional imaging and video markets.

'Future professional photography and video applications will require memory cards with faster read/write speeds,' said Mr. Shigeto Kanda of Canon and the CFA chairman of the board. 'The development of a new high-performance card standard with a serial interface will meet the needs of the professional imaging industry for years to come and open the door for exciting new applications.'

The currentCF5.0 Specification's PATA (parallel ATA) interfacedelivers up to 133MB/second speeds.Although the PATA interface still has room to increase performance, the serial interface can meet the long-term speed requirements of professional DSLR and video markets. The CompactFlash Association recently approved and announced the CF6.0 specification with a maximum speed of 167MB/second.

The CFA's new working group will attempt to establish a roadmap for a card format standard that includes a high-speed serial interface that exceeds the PATA interface speed.

CompactFlash is the memory card format of choice for high-end imaging applications, and can be found in many other electronic platforms, including embedded systems, single board computers, data recorders, medical equipment and more. The most recently published CF Specifications, Revision5.0 (PATA interface) and Revision 6.0, are available for download from the CFA web site at

The CFA (logo), CF (logo), CF+, VPG, and CFast are trademarks of the CFA and are licensed royalty free to its members. The CFA is a licensee of the CompactFlash trademark and in turn will license it royalty-free to its members.