The sequel to CompactFlash: XQD

The CompactFlash Association has finished its work in designing a successor to today's high-end memory-card format, naming its successor XQD and promising much higher data-transfer speeds.

An XQD flash-memory card from the CompactFlash Association.
(Credit: CompactFlash Association)

CompactFlash, unlike many other memory-card formats, has managed to withstand the onslaught of SD Card, but it's relegated to a high-end niche, such as professional SLR cameras and Canon's new C300 cinema-oriented video camera. CompactFlash capacity and transfer speeds beat SD today, but, to stay ahead of the competition, it's got to improve.

Enter XQD, a project that the CompactFlash Association announced last year. The new cards use the PCI Express data pathway technology developed first for PCs to reach 2.5 gigabits per second initially, and 5Gbps later.

The card is expected to be able to write data at a minimum 125 megabytes per second, the association said. Today's CompactFlash cards top out at about 100MBps.

It's not clear exactly when the new technology will arrive on the market, but the association said today that it will begin licensing the design in early 2012. It's got powerful backers; Nikon led its development, and Canon endorsed it.

"The XQD 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 Canon's Shigeto Kanda, who's chairman of CFA's board.

Separately, the association is working to provide assurances that serious videographers will also be able to count on CompactFlash cards to keep up with video. To that end, it has announced the release of the first Video Performance Guarantee (VPG), and a logo for products that meet it.

Among the promises of the logo is "guaranteed video capture over multiple capture files and across file system updates, without dropping frames, enabling high-quality 1080p capture at high frame rates with either under- and over-cranking functionality." Over-cranking means taking slow-motion video, and under-cranking refers to the opposite effect.

The first VPG profile guarantees sustained write speeds of 20MBps, the association said.


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