Flash memory card


A memory card or flash card is an electronic flash memory data storage device used for storing digital information. They are commonly used in many electronic devices, including digital cameras, mobile phones, laptop computers, MP3 players and video game consoles. They are small, re-recordable, and able to retain data without power.

History

PC Cards (PCMCIA) were among first commercial memory card formats (type I cards) to come out in the 1990s, but are now mainly used in industrial applications and to connect I/O devices such as modems. In 1990s, a number of memory card formats smaller than PC Card arrived, including CompactFlash, SmartMedia, and Miniature Card. The desire for smaller cards for cell-phones, PDAs, and compact digital cameras drove a trend that left the previous generation of "compact" cards looking big. In digital cameras SmartMedia and CompactFlash had been very successful, in 2001 SM alone captured 50% of the digital camera market and CF had a stranglehold on professional digital cameras. By 2005 however, SD/MMC had nearly taken over SmartMedia's spot, though not to the same level and with stiff competition coming from Memory Stick variants, as well as CompactFlash. In industrial and embedded fields, even the venerable PC card (PCMCIA) memory cards still manage to maintain a niche, while in mobile phones and PDAs, the memory card market was highly fragmented until 2010 when micro-SD came to dominate new high-end phones and tablet computers.

Since 2010, new products of Sony (previously only using Memory Stick) and Olympus (previously only using XD-Card) are offered with an additional SD-Card slot.[1] Effectively the format war has turned in SD-Card's favor.[2][3][4]

Data table of selected memory card formats

Name Acronym Form factor DRM
PC Card PCMCIA 85.6 × 54 × 3.3 mm No
CompactFlash I CF-I 43 × 36 × 3.3 mm No
CompactFlash II CF-II 43 × 36 × 5.5 mm No
SmartMedia SM / SMC 45 × 37 × 0.76 mm No
Memory Stick MS 50.0 × 21.5 × 2.8 mm MagicGate
Memory Stick Duo MSD 31.0 × 20.0 × 1.6 mm MagicGate
Memory Stick PRO Duo MSPD 31.0 × 20.0 × 1.6 mm MagicGate
Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo MSPDX 31.0 × 20.0 × 1.6 mm MagicGate
Memory Stick Micro M2 M2 15.0 × 12.5 × 1.2 mm MagicGate
Miniature Card 37 × 45 × 3.5 mm No
Multimedia Card MMC 32 × 24 × 1.5 mm No
Reduced Size Multimedia Card RS-MMC 16 × 24 × 1.5 mm No
MMCmicro Card MMCmicro 12 × 14 × 1.1 mm No
P2 card P2 No
Secure Digital card SD 32 × 24 × 2.1 mm CPRM
SxS SxS No
Universal Flash Storage UFS Unknown
miniSD card miniSD 21.5 × 20 × 1.4 mm CPRM
microSD card microSD 15 × 11 × 0.7 mm CPRM
xD-Picture Card xD 20 × 25 × 1.7 mm No
Intelligent Stick iStick 24 × 18 × 2.8 mm No
Serial Flash Module SFM 45 × 15 mm No
µ card µcard 32 × 24 × 1 mm Unknown
NT Card NT NT+ 44 × 24 × 2.5 mm No
XQD card XQD 38.5 × 29.8 × 3.8 mm Unknown

Overview of all memory card types

  • PCMCIA ATA Type I Flash Memory Card (PC Card ATA Type I)
    • PCMCIA Type II, Type III cards
  • CompactFlash Card (Type I), CompactFlash High-Speed
  • CompactFlash Type II, CF+(CF2.0), CF3.0
    • Microdrive
  • MiniCard (Miniature Card) (max 64 MB (64 MiB))
  • SmartMedia Card (SSFDC) (max 128 MB) (3.3 V,5 V)
  • xD-Picture Card, xD-Picture Card Type M
  • Memory Stick, MagicGate Memory Stick (max 128 MB); Memory Stick Select, MagicGate Memory Stick Select ("Select" means: 2x128 MB with A/B switch)
  • SecureMMC
  • Secure Digital (SD Card), Secure Digital High-Speed, Secure Digital Plus/Xtra/etc (SD with USB connector)
    • miniSD card
    • microSD card (aka Transflash, T-Flash)
    • SDHC
    • WiFi SD Cards (SD Card With WiFi Card Built in) Powered by Device. (Eye-Fi,WiFi SD, Flash Air)
  • MU-Flash (Mu-Card) (Mu-Card Alliance of OMIA)
  • C-Flash
  • SIM card (Subscriber Identity Module)
  • Smart card (ISO/IEC 7810, ISO/IEC 7816 card standards, etc.)
  • UFC ([1] (uses USB)
  • FISH Universal Transportable Memory Card Standard (uses USB)
  • Intelligent Stick (iStick, a USB-based flash memory card with MMS)
  • SxS (S-by-S) memory card, a new memory card specification developed by Sandisk and Sony. SxS complies to the ExpressCard industry standard. [5]
  • Nexflash Winbond Serial Flash Module (SFM) cards, size range 1 mb, 2 mb and 4 mb.

Video game consoles


Video game consoles use memory cards to hold saved game data. Cartridge-based systems primarily used battery-backed volatile RAM within each individual cartridge to hold saves for that game. The Neo Geo AES, released in 1990 by SNK, was the first video game console able to use a memory card. AES memory cards were also compatible with Neo-Geo MVS arcade cabinets, allowing players to migrate saves between home and arcade systems and vice versa. Memory cards became commonplace when home consoles moved to read-only optical discs for storing the game program, beginning with systems such as the TurboGrafx-CD and Mega-CD.

Until the sixth generation of video game consoles, memory cards were based on proprietary formats; later systems have used established industry hardware formats for memory cards.

Home consoles now commonly use hard disk drive storage for saved games and allow the use of generic USB flash drives or other card formats via a memory card reader to transport game saves and other game information, along with cloud storage saving, though most portable gaming systems still rely on custom memory cartridges to store program data, due to their low power consumption, smaller physical size and reduced mechanical complexity.

See also

References

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