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Flash memory makers propose common card

Or maybe the market's 20th card format...

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Nokia said today it is collaborating with several of its rivals to create a common Flash memory card format. First virtual machines, now Flash, what is the world coming to?

The proposed specification is being backed by Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Micron Technology, Spansion, MTMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments. The format will be standardized by the Jedec Solid State Technology Association, an open-standards organization in the semiconductor industry.

The new memory card type, called Universal Flash Storage (UFS) aims to remove some of the confusion and need for adapters to accommodate the market's current smörgåsbord clusterfuck of memory card sizes.

Today's electronics consumers have the unhappy task of distinguishing between CompactFlash I, CompactFlash II, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick Micro M2, Multimedia Card, Reduced Size Multimedia Card, MMCmicro Card, Secure Digital Card, miniSD Card, microSD Card, PC Card, xD-Picture Card, Intelligent Stick, Serial Flash Module, µ card, NT Card, and the out of commission SmartMedia card. Each card, of course, is physically different and not interchangeable. This is why your aunt Gertrude had to be taken to the hospital.

Sweet relief, however, lies well beyond the horizon. UFS isn't expected to be finalized until 2009. And if you take the viewpoint of a Negative Nancy, this could turn out to be just another format to chose from.

"The proposed UFS specification is good news to card manufacturers and set designers alike. The proliferating use of flash memory as a storage medium underscores the importance of introducing a universal connectivity to memory cards where high performance and reliability are critical," said Jon Kang, President of Samsung.

The card will be used in handsets, digital cameras and other electronic devices. Nokia said UFS will also provide low access times required for memories and high-speed access to large multimedia files. The target performance level is expected to cut down a three-minute access time for a 4GB high-definition movie down to a few seconds. ®

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