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SanDisk, Sony pitch über CompactFlash spec

PCIe in, ATA out

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Nikon, SanDisk and Sony want to revive the CompactFlash card as the default memory card technology for pro users.

CompactFlash, once found on almost every high-end camera, has faded from the scene somewhat, primarily thanks to the more convenient - read 'smaller' - SD card standard, which is now ubiquitous. CF lives on in some top-of-the-line kit, but it's largely gone from the mainstream.

Yet, this month the CompactFlash Association (CFA) released version 6.0 of the CF spec, taking the interface speed to 167MB/s - equivalent to 1114x speed - thanks to support for Ultra DMA Mode 7.

Building on CF 5.0, which was only released in February, CF 6.0 adds support for the Trim command - handy for better write performance over time - and a block erase command.

Yet this isn't enough for Nikon, SanDisk and Sony, who have submitted a spec for a future CF card that uses PCI Express instead of parallel ATA for the memory card's bus.

The upshot, they say, is a bus speed capable of reaching 500MB/s - sufficient for 1920 x 1080 at 30f/s and 40-bit colour, and effectively 3333x speed - but it's likely to be incompatible with the current version, a concern skated over by the three in their announcement.

In fact, about all the suggested "new card format" has in common with CF 6.0 is the form-factor and, the participants hope, CompactFlash branding.

The new spec calls for the maximum supported capacity to be upped to 2TB. The trio also talked more nebulously of a "power scaling system to extend battery life". ®

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