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SanDisk, Sony pitch über CompactFlash spec

PCIe in, ATA out

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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