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Chip giant Intel has admitted its small footprint flash memory card will never become the accepted standard for use in portable consumer devices and is backing out of the market. Intel's Miniature Card flash memory module has been overshadowed by rival products from Toshiba and SanDisk - SmartMedia and CompactFlash, respectively. The Intel card measures 38x33x3.5 millimetres and uses a software derived file transfer system, whereas the Toshiba and SanDisk offerings use a hard dis- like transfer interface. It was found to be less well suited to portable devices than its two rivals and despite getting off to a good start in 1996 was soon struggling to compete; SanDisk secured AMD, Fujitsu and Sharp among its supporters. The Intel Miniature Card also took up more space than SmartMedia and CompactFlash. The small flash memory cards are integral to the digital camera market, where the competition has become cut-throat. Earlier this year, SanDisk alerted reporters to complaints from users of the rival Toshiba product which were being posted on bulletin board sites. The digital camera market represents only 10 per cent of the market for flash memory and as such losing out here is not a major headache for Intel, however this is a rapidly developing market which Intel has now effectively dropped out of.

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