XQD 2.0 being developed: is XQD 1.0 the shortest-lived flash format ever?


posted Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 1:12 PM EST

The XQD logo. Courtesy of the CompactFlash Association.Could the CompactFlash Association's XQD card format be the shortest-lived in history? That will likely be the question on many photographers' lips, as they learn of an update to the specification that's already in development. It seems incredible when one consider's it's been less than eight months since the original XQD card standard was finally adopted, and the first XQD-based product--the Nikon D4--started shipping only five months ago.

The D4 is still the only camera on the market--or even announced--that's capable of accepting XQD cards. Only two XQD cards are currently available, both from Sony--a 16GB and a 32GB type, both not yet quite as fast as the fastest-available CompactFlash cards, based on the manufacturers' speed ratings. Sony recently announced two new, faster cards that if they live up to their initial promise, will finally exceed the speed of CompactFlash, and Lexar announced plans to offer XQD products later this year as well, but none of these are yet shipping.

According to yesterday's announcement from the CFA, the new standard will build upon the original XQD specification with support for higher-speed interfaces. The CFA press release actually lists a slightly smaller physical card size, at 38.5 x 29.6 x 3.8mm, which if not a typo would make the new cards about 0.2mm less thick than are existing XQD cards. Where the existing XQD standard allows for 2.5Gbps transfer rates, with an intention to support 5Gbps in the future, the XQD 2.0 standard would allow up to 8Gbps, with legacy support for the lower speeds of 1G cards.

The XQD 2.0 standard would also define a 5mW standby power level, and would include a selection of Video Performance Guarantee profiles like those for standard CompactFlash, guaranteeing sufficient write speeds for video capture at predetermined resolutions and bitrates.

The updated specification is expected to be available in the second half of 2012, and the CFA is currently soliciting participation in the new standard's development. No word as to whether the updated standard is expected to require new hardware, or whether the Nikon D4 and any other XQD-based products launched before the v2.0 spec is finalized will be able to be upgraded to support XQD 2.0 cards.

Press Release

The CompactFlash Association Invites Participation on XQD™ 2.0

XQD™ 2.0 Format Leverages PCI-SIG Gen 3 to Deliver up to 1,000MB/sec Sequential Transfers

CUPERTINO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The CompactFlash Association (CFA) is pleased to announce the development of the XQD 2.0 specification, sponsored by Sony Corporation. The XQD 2.0 specification will be developed in the XQD Technical Workgroup and will leverage the XQD 1.0 specification which was released October 2010. Additional participation in this specification development will be welcomed.

XQD 1.0 cards and connectors are already available in the marketplace. XQD 2.0 will leverage the same connector interface as XQD 1.0 interface for higher performance and backward compatibility. Host manufacturers and media manufacturers will be able to leverage the next generation of PCI Express® technology to serve the high performance requirements of this market. The new format will have VPG (Video Performance Guarantee) capability with profiles capable of supporting digital intermediate formats such as ProRes™, DPX™, and DNXhd™.

The key features of the XQD 2.0 format will include:

Professional form-factor

  • Dimensions : 38.5mm x 29.6mm x 3.8mm

  • Durable & Robust

High Performance Interface

  • PCI Express 3.0: 8Gbps (up to 1,000MB/sec)

  • Legacy support for PCI Gen 1 and Gen 2

Video Performance Guarantee

  • Support for VPG New Profiles

Superior Power Management

  • 5mW standby power

“The XQD 2.0 format will enable hardware and imaging applications to leverage the performance benefits of the well established PCI Express infrastructure allowing for many years of higher performance and backward compatible products. The Video Performance Guarantee Features of XQD 2.0 will also widen its appeal meeting the needs of higher end video applications,” said Mr. Shigeto Kanda of Canon, chairman of the board, CFA.

If you would like to participate in developing the XQD 2.0 specification, please contact the CFA office to inquire about membership and/or joining the XQD Technical Workgroup or the CFA website http://www.compactflash.org. CFA is targeting for the XQD 2.0 specification to be available in the second half of 2012.

The CFA (logo), CF (logo), CF+ and CFast are trademarks of the CFA and are licensed royalty free to its members. The CFA is a licensee of the CompactFlash® and XQD trademarks and in turn will license it royalty free to its members.