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SanDisk's logo. Click to visit SanDisk's website! Sandisk ships write-once SD cards
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(Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - 18:43 EDT)

Flash memory manufacturer SanDisk has today announced the market availability of a product that we first reported on back in early 2002.

The new SanDisk SD WORM card - WORM being an abbreviation of "Write Once, Read Many" - is based on the Matrix 3D technology which was shown by creator Matrix Semiconductor at that year's Photo Marketing Association tradeshow. At the time, the company was intending to ship 64MB cards for the general public to use as an archival storage medium for digital cameras. Much like a roll of film in a traditional camera, the cards would allow photos to be captured to the capacity of the card, but they couldn't be erased or saved over once written.

In the intervening six and a half years the flash market has moved on by leaps and bounds, with capacities and pricing barely dreamed of in the early days of digital photography. To the best of our knowledge, Matrix's technology never reached the public - and that's not really very surprising. With digital camera resolution (and file sizes) soaring in short order, 64MB cards would have proved too limiting for most photographers' needs even at bargain basement pricing.

SanDisk bought Matrix Semiconductor for some $250 million in October 2005, acquiring the company's patent portfolio and engineering staff in the process. Since then rumors have occasionally popped up that Matrix 3D would return under the SanDisk name, and today's news brings truth to the rumors.

Since early 2002, the card capacity has doubled from 64MB to 128MB - still not huge compared to modern Secure Digital flash cards, but enough for certain niche applications where the technology could prove useful. SanDisk's press release highlights a number of potential applications in such areas as law enforcement, medical and aviation industries and others, where a claimed 100-year archive life and the ability to prove provenance of data is far more important than data capacity.

Pricing of the new SanDisk SD WORM cards isn't included in the company's PR materials, but they are said to be available immediately worldwide. Increased capacities are expected to follow later this year, although exactly how much higher hasn't been disclosed.

If the company can provide significant capacity increases at favorable prices compared to traditional flash, we could still foresee the cards gaining some acceptance among digital photographers needing archival storage, or those casual shooters who don't take enough photos for capacity to be a major issue. Archival of digital photos is still a significant problem for the industry, and many of the more popular choices amongst consumers - backing up to writable CDs or DVDs, or perhaps to hard disk - can't offer safe lifetimes reaching anywhere near the 100 years SanDisk is claiming for its WORM cards. Cost per capacity would need to be pretty aggressive to see widespread acceptance, though.

Regardless, as higher capacities are announced, you can expect to hear about it on our news page.

Original Source Press Release:

New SanDisk SD Cards Retain Data For As Long As 100 Years; Once Recorded, Files Canít Be Altered Or Deleted

MILPITAS, CALIFORNIA, July 15, 2008 – SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ: SNDK) today introduced the SanDisk® SD™ WORM card, a Write Once Read Many (WORM) digital memory card intended for professional uses such as police investigations, court testimony, electronic voting and other applications where data files must be protected from alteration or deletion.

Analog recording media such as film and audio tape are rapidly becoming obsolete, driving demand for a solution suitable for today’s digital devices. But conventional rewritable memory cards do not meet legal requirements to prevent data tampering.

Digital data written to SanDisk SD WORM cards is effectively locked as soon as it is recorded; there is no physical way to alter or delete individual recorded files. Yet viewing the data is simple, because the cards are readable in any standard SD slot attached to a computer or other SD-compatible device.

SanDisk SD WORM cards also offer 100-year archive life1, when kept under appropriate storage conditions.

Applications for the SanDisk SD WORM card include:

  • Police photography and witness/suspect interviews, where courts require proof that photos and audio recordings are genuine.
  • Court proceedings, such as trials and depositions.
  • Electronic voting, where recorded votes must be tamper-proof.
  • Cash registers which record transactions for tax collection purposes.
  • Event recorders, such as security cameras and “black box” flight-data recorders.
  • Medical devices which retain individual patient treatment data.
  • Personal digital assistants (PDAs) and similar devices used by physicians and other health-care professionals to track patient interactions.

“As digital media volume has grown and surpassed traditional analog media such as film and audio cassettes in the consumer market, law enforcement agencies and other professionals are facing rising costs and lack of supply,” said Christopher Moore, director of product marketing for OEM memory cards at SanDisk. “SanDisk’s new SD WORM cards offer professionals a one-stop solution for capturing and archiving critical data, along with many other benefits of moving from analog to digital.”

For example, the benefits for photography in these applications include eliminating the expense and delay of film processing, as well as subsequent scanning of negatives into digital files. With voice, in-field recorders become more reliable because they no longer have moving parts, and there are no more tapes that can tangle or break. SanDisk SD WORM cards also open up the possibility of unified storage, with all case data – text, photos, voice recording, etc. – stored on a single durable card that can be easily shared.

SanDisk is now partnering with manufacturers of cameras, digital voice recorders, medical equipment, electronic cash registers and other digital devices to add the firmware required for recording to SanDisk SD WORM cards. SanDisk is also working with the SD Card Association for approval of this new specification as an industry standard.

In addition, third-party resellers of SanDisk SD WORM cards can develop security enhancements for the cards, such as password protection and encryption. One enhancement now under development for the cards is the addition of TrustedFlash™ security technology developed by SanDisk that securely stores sensitive digital data and applications on digital media.

Pricing and Availability
SanDisk SD WORM cards are available now worldwide in 128-megabyte2 capacity and are expected to be available in higher capacities later in the year. Pricing is available on request.

About SanDisk
SanDisk Corporation, the inventor and world’s largest supplier of flash storage cards, is a global leader in flash memory – from research, manufacturing and product design to consumer branding and retail distribution. SanDisk’s product portfolio includes flash memory cards for mobile phones, digital cameras and camcorders; digital audio/video players; USB flash drives for consumers and the enterprise; embedded memory for mobile devices; and solid state drives for computers. SanDisk (www.sandisk.com/corporate) is a Silicon Valley-based S&P 500 company, with more than half its sales outside the United States.

  1. 100-year data life based on reliability data from internal accelerated lifespan testing for cards stored at normal room temperature, with humidity and static protection.
  2. 1 megabyte (MB) = 1 million bytes. Some capacity not available for data storage.

SanDisk’s product and executive images can be downloaded from http://www.sandisk.com/corporate/media.asp
SanDisk’s web site/home page address: http://www.sandisk.com
SanDisk and the SanDisk logo are trademarks of SanDisk Corporation registered in the United States and other countries. The TrustedFlash mark is a trademark of SanDisk Corporation. The SD mark is a trademark.
Other brand names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and may be the trademarks of their respective holder (s).
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements, including expectations for new product introductions, applications, markets, and customers that are based on our current expectations and involve numerous risks and uncertainties that may cause these forward-looking statements to be inaccurate. Risks that may cause these forward-looking statements to be inaccurate include among others: market demand for our products may grow more slowly than our expectations or there may be a slower adoption rate for these products in new markets that we are targeting, our products may not perform as expected or may not be available at the prices, in the regions or in the capacities expected and the other risks detailed from time-to-time in our Securities and Exchange Commission filings and reports, including, but not limited to, our Form 10-K and our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. We do not intend to update the information contained in this press release.

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