Firms propose standards for next-generation memory card format

The Compact Flash Association (CFA) has announced today the formation of a working group including SanDisk, Nikon and Sony to develop a next-generation memory card.  The three firms will work together to develop a new format to meet the future needs of professional digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR) and professional video markets.   

High Definition video and professional photography require a new generation of memory cards which will be capable of processing significantly larger files, so the three firms have proposed new card specifications that will be potentially ratified by the CFA, the international standards organisation, with the intent to standardise the format.

If the new proposals are accepted then it is thought that the storage and performance capabilities will offer a range of new possibilities for professional imaging and video markets. 

The specifications proposed achieve significantly higher data transfer rates of up to 500 megabytes per second (MB/sec) using the PCI Express interface.  The increased speeds will enable imaging and video applications that could not be accomplished with the current CompactFlash specification’s Parallel ATA (PATA) interface, with the recently approved CF6.0 offering a maximum performance of up to 167 MB/sec.

One of the interesting new features allowed by the faster speeds will be to enable continuous burst shooting of massive RAW images, while the enhanced performance will also allow users to transfer storage-intensive high-res photos and videos from the card to a computer in a much faster time.  Furthermore the specifications offer lower power consumption via a scaling power system to extend battery life.

“This ultra high-speed media format will enable further evolution of hardware and imaging applications, and widen the memory card options available to CompactFlash users such as professional photographers,” said Mr. Shigeto Kanda, Canon, and chairman of the board, CFA. “This next generation format is expected to be widely adapted to various products, including those other than high-end DSLRs.”

It is expected that the specifications for the new card, similar in size to a CompactFlash card, will also meet the capacity and durability requirements of professional imaging applications in the future.  In order to ensure this the proposed format can potentially extend theoretical maximum capacities beyond two terabytes (TB), which could make it very useful for high resolution images and HD video applications.

“The ultra high-speed media, which will be realized by this new card format, will expand the capability of digital SLR cameras and other professional digital imaging equipment,” said Mr. Kazuyuki Kazami,  vice president and general manager at Nikon.