Original Source Press Release:
Lexar announces write-accelerated CompactFlash|
Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, September 23, 2002 - 21:00 EDT)
Flash manufacturer Lexar Media Inc. has today announced its new write-accelerated technology for CompactFlash cards.
Write-accelerated cards (or WA cards for short) are identified by the logo at the top of this news item, and require a camera that is write-acceleration compatible to gain any speed advantage. When the card is inserted and the camera switched on, card and camera both perform a handshake to see if the other is WA-compatible, and if both are then the technology is used. If one half of the equation is not compatible, then both drop back to standard CompactFlash protocols with no loss in speed as compared to a non-WA flash card.
Alongside the announcement of Write Acceleration are a number of related camera announcements. Kodak Professional is making all of its Pro cameras WA-compatible with a firmware upgrade, and Nikon will do the same for both the D1X and D1H digital cameras (although availability for the upgrade has not yet been set). Sanyo's recently-announced DSC-MZ3 is the first consumer-targetted camera to be compatible with Write Acceleration, which it uses to gain maximum performance in recording high-quality movie clips.
The speed improvements, which will be demonstrated at Photokina both on the Lexar booth with stopwatches, and at a press breakfast using a bus analyser to trace card signals and give exact timing, are apparently quite significant. Using prototype firmware, Nikon's D1X is up to 23% faster when shooting in 5.9 megapixel RAW mode, whilst Kodak's Pro Back 645M is showing an 8% speed increase in 16 megapixel RAW mode. In the Sanyo DSC-MZ3, Lexar says that 30fps VGA clips with sound can be as long as 2 minutes (160 to 180MB) with a WA card, versus 10 to 15 seconds for most standard CF cards, and 25 to 30 seconds for most pro-oriented CF cards.
Note that speed increases are not directly comparable between cameras or manufacturers, since the cameras didn't necessarily perform identically to start with, the performance increase varies somewhat with file size, and there may be other limiting factors such as the ASICs used in the camera. The speed of the cards themselves hasn't changed - a non-WA 24x card is identical in terms of hardware to a WA card, but the way in which the data is written is optimised.
As well as the companies already mentioned above, Lexar says it has discussed Write Acceleration with most manufacturers whose cameras use CompactFlash. There aren't currently any firm plans to extend the technology to other flash formats that Lexar manufactures, and it may be difficult to do so since most other formats have more restrictive standards than CompactFlash.
Initially, only two cards will bear the WA logo. Lexar's own Professional 24x 256MB and 512MB CompactFlash cards will support Write Acceleration. We'd expect to see it adopted in any other new Pro cards announced, and Lexar says that if consumer digicam manufacturers adopt WA then the technology may well 'trickle down' into its consumer-oriented flash cards as well.
Lexar Media Inc.
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|Lexar Media Announces New Write Acceleration Technology For Professional Series CompactFlash Cards and Digital Cameras|
Kodak Professional, Nikon and Sanyo First to Implement Write Acceleration Achieving Image Write Speed Improvements Up to 23 Percent
PHOTOKINA, Cologne, Germany, September 24, 2002 - Lexar Media, Inc. (Nasdaq: LEXR), a leading developer of flash mass storage systems and an innovator of high-performance digital media and accessories, today announces its new line of Professional Series CompactFlash™ memory cards with Write Acceleration technology engineered to significantly improve image file write speed when used with partner digital cameras. Write Acceleration technology allows digital cameras and digital media to achieve image write speeds up to 23 percent faster in cameras tested. Digital camera companies currently supporting Write Acceleration technology include Kodak Professional, Nikon* and Sanyo. Lexar Media and partners will demonstrate new CompactFlash memory cards plus specific digital cameras that support the new technology at Photokina in Cologne, Germany.
"Write Acceleration technology is our latest performance innovation extending our leadership position in high-speed digital media," said Eric Stang, president and CEO of Lexar Media. "Write Acceleration technology improves the write speed of our cards and optimises the write performance of our partners' cameras by reducing the overhead required to store an image. Lexar Media continuously works with partners to optimise digital camera and media performance. We look forward to announcing additional digital cameras supporting this technology in the future."
Write Acceleration Technology
Write Acceleration technology will be introduced inside Lexar Media 24X-speed Professional Series CompactFlash, the Company's highest performance memory cards where 24X equals a minimum write speed capability of 3.6MB per second. Write Acceleration technology is the result of a combination of Lexar Media's proprietary high-speed flash memory controller technology, the latest single-level-cell flash memory -- more than twice as fast as multi-level-cell flash chips increasingly used by other memory card manufacturers -- and a cooperation with major digital camera manufacturers to reduce the overhead associated with writing large amounts of data to memory cards.
The most significant performance advantages made possible by Write Acceleration technology can be seen in high-resolution professional cameras that produce large image files. The increase in write speed becomes even more noticeable when several images are shot in burst or continuous mode. Actual performance data will vary between cameras, resolution and shooting modes.
Examples of faster speeds achieved by Write Acceleration technology include a 23 percent write speed increase from a Write Acceleration-enabled Nikon D1X* shooting in 5.9 Megapixel high-quality RAW mode (7.9MB .NEF file) and a Lexar Media Professional Series 24X-speed 512MB CompactFlash card with Write Acceleration, versus the same memory card without. The Kodak Professional Pro Back 645M, when paired with a 24X-speed Write Acceleration-enabled card, realized a write speed increased of 8 percent when shooting a 16 Megapixel RAW file (18.2MB).
In point-and-shoot cameras such as the Sanyo DSC-MZ3, the same Write Acceleration technology that benefits professional cameras with shorter click-to-click times, can enable higher bandwidth features, such as the ability to capture significantly longer high-quality video clips (640 x 480 resolution at 30 fps).
Ron Glaz, program manager for IDC's Worldwide Digital Imaging Solutions and Services, said, "Digital camera resolution amplification and added features like video capture has placed greater demand on a camera's performance. Lexar Media's continuous emphasis to improve digital media speeds benefits the entire digital imaging community. Collaborating with digital cameras manufacturers to assure greater camera performances augments their purpose in securing improved image processing."
Write Acceleration technology will initially be offered on the Lexar Media Professional Series CompactFlash in capacities of 256MB and 512MB. Write Acceleration-enabled cards do not affect the performance of digital cameras without the technology.
* Nikon D1X utilizing prototype firmware with Write Acceleration
About Lexar Media, Inc.
Lexar Media, Inc. (Nasdaq: LEXR) is a leading designer, marketer and licensor of award-winning removable flash-based digital storage media, card readers and ATA controller solutions for the digital photography, consumer electronics, industrial and communications markets. Lexar Media brands digital memory cards in the industry's most popular formats including CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, JumpDrive flash drive, MultiMediaCard and Secure Digital. A digital storage innovator, Lexar Media was the first to develop and advance proprietary read-write speed standards for its USB-enabled CompactFlash cards and holds over 40 memory and controller patents. Licensees of Lexar Media's technology include Olympus, SanDisk, Samsung Electronics and Sony. Headquartered in Fremont, California, Lexar Media also has offices in London and Tokyo. Lexar Media is a member of the Russell 2000 Index. For more information, please call 1-800-789-9418 or visit www.lexarmedia.com.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This news release contains forward-looking information within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and is subject to the safe harbor created by those sections. These forward-looking statements include statements related to the benefits of and demand for Lexar Media's. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by these forward-looking statements. These risks include that the growth and success of Lexar Media's business depends on its ability to develop and maintain strategic relationships necessary to develop, sell and market products that are commercially accepted, if we are unable to develop and introduce, on a timely basis, new products or services that are accepted by our customers and consumers, we will not be able to compete effectively in our market, and Lexar Media's business will not succeed unless the digital photography market continues to grow and is accepted by professional, commercial and consumer users. Readers should also refer to the risk factors described in Lexar Media's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for its fiscal year ended December 31, 2001, filed with the Commission on April 1, 2002. Lexar Media assumes no obligation to update the forward-looking information contained in this news release.
Lexar Media, the Lexar Media logo and JumpDrive are trademarks of Lexar Media, Inc. Lexar Media, Inc. is an authorized licensee of the CompactFlash trademark. All other brand or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.