New ultra-fast, multi-terabyte memory cards on horizon

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November 30, 2010 — SanDisk Corporation, Sony Corporation and Nikon Corporation today announced the joint development of a set of specifications that address the future requirements of professional photography and video markets. The three companies proposed the specifications to the CompactFlash® Association (CFA)*, the international standards organization, with the intent to standardize the format.
Professional photography and High Definition (HD) video applications require a new generation of memory cards capable of processing significantly larger files. To address the imaging industry’s future speed and capacity demands, SanDisk, Sony and Nikon proposed a new card specificationwhose performance and storage capabilities surpass those of existing memory cards. Once accepted, the new format will enable exciting new possibilities in the professional imaging and video markets.
The proposed specifications achieve data transfer rates of up to 500 megabytes per second (MB/sec)** (theoretical maximum interface speed) using the highly versatile PCI Express*** interface. The increased speeds will enable imaging and video applications that could not be accomplished using the current CompactFlash specification’s Parallel ATA (PATA)**** interface. CF6.0, released in November 2010, offers maximum performance of up to 167MB/sec.
The new specifications’ faster speeds enable continuous burst shooting of massive RAW images. The enhanced performance also allows users to quickly transfer storage-intensive high-resolution photos and videos from the card to a computer. The specifications combine high-speed data transfer with low power consumption via a power scaling system to extend battery life.
In addition to industry-leading performance capabilities, the new memory card specifications also meet the future capacity and durability requirements of professional imaging applications. The proposed new specifications has the potential to extend theoretical maximum capacities beyond 2 terabytes (TB)*****, making it especially useful for high resolution images and HD video applications. Similar in size to a CompactFlash® card, the new specifications’ access control function and highly durable form factor produce a combination of physical ruggedness and reliability that is indispensable for professional usage models.
“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.”
“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, operating officer, vice president and general manager, development headquarters, imaging company, Nikon Corporation.
Editor’s Comment: these cards look beyond HD1080p to 4K and 8K video formats – or larger. There is no doubt they are mainly a prospect for video shooters. But the comment on ‘massive RAW images’ is interesting and points to the likelihood that Sony and Nikon do have a full frame sensor with around 40-50 megapixels. This is the size that a full frame sensor would be, using a pixel pitch in the range of the Sony 16.2 megapixel 1.5X or Canon’s 18 megapixel 1.6X. There is also a clue in this wording that we may not only be talking full frame 35mm. The introduction of a medium format DSLR (competing with the Pentax 645D or Hasselblad H4D) by Nikon has been a long-standing rumour. If such a DSLR appears it may well have a sensor with 65 to 100 megapixels.


  • The proposed specifications achieve data transfer rates of up to 500 megabytes per second (theoretical maximum interface speed) using the highly versatile PCI Express4 interface.
    According to Senior Vice-President Atsugi Kanagawa Sony is intended to make 100MPix at 10-15 fps and Super HD video (4K x 2K 240 frame/s).

  • Not only are large, fast cards and how fast they can write RAW files interesting, so is the prospect of 40, 50, 65 & 100 MPs!

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