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PCMCIA pitches USB 3.0-friendly ExpressCard update

Doubling the bandwidth

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The ExpressCard add-in standard for notebooks is to be updated to bring on board compatibility with USB 3.0, the PCMCIA organisation announced at CeBIT this week.

ExpressCard 2.0 will double the data transfer rate between card and host to 5Gb/s - just above USB 3.0's target data speed, 4.7Gb/s. ExpressCard 2.0 will support USB 3.0 - aka SuperSpeed USB - allowing card makers to utilise the bus technology in, for instance, memory card readers so that inserted sticks appear as Mass Storage devices.

Register Hardware has all the details on USB 3.0 and its new interconnects here.

The new ExpressCard version will also bring the standard, currently at release 1.2, into line with the PCI Express (PCIe) 2.0 specification now appearing on motherboards and add-ins like graphics cards.

Compatibility with older ExpressCard 1 products will be maintained, the PCMCIA promised.

The organisation said ExpressCard slots can now be found on around 95 per cent of all new laptops. True, but many of them will go unused. Time was when the old PCMCIA slot - later renamed PC Card - was the way laptops got modem, Ethernet and, later, wireless links to the outside world. These days, all that comes built in, making ExpressCard a for more niche technology than its predecessor.

It's not clear when the PCMCIA expects to have the ExpressCard 2.0 spec done and dusted. Presumably, it's waiting on completion of USB 3.0. SuperSpeed is expected to be completed by the end of June 2008.

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