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Fuji's 64MB xD-Picture Card. Courtesy of Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd., with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Fuji makes xD-Picture Card official
(Tuesday, July 30, 2002 - 04:00 EDT)

First confirmation from the camera manufacturer that the story first leaked two weeks ago has a ring of truth, but not all the rumors were correct...

Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd. has today officially announced the new xD-Picture Card memory format. We first mentioned xD after it was rumored in Europe two weeks ago, and shortly afterwards uncovered the trademark, effectively confirming that the format was real. We've been digging off and on since then, and whilst we've found some patents that look somewhat related to the format, we've been unable to find anything definitive.

Now, though, we can reveal some of the details that have been missing thus far. Perhaps most impressive figure is the tiny size of these cards - just 0.79" x 0.98" x 0.07", with a weight of less than one tenth of an ounce. Compared to other common formats, this makes xD the smallest - 10% smaller than even the Memory Stick Duo card, and 1/5th smaller than the next nearest competitor:

(g, approx.)
Volume (%)
xD Picture Card
901 (100%)
Memory Stick Duo
992 (110%)
1075 (119%)
1265 (140%)
Secure Digital
1613 (179%)
Memory Stick
3010 (334%)
5141 (571%)
7790 (865%)

Size alone doesn't tell the full story though - capacities are important to users too, and with SmartMedia stalled at 128MB a higher-capacity card is certainly called for to replace that format. Unfortunately, Chasseurs d'Images (who first broke this story) have done xD's backers a disservice, by grossly overstating the capacities that will be available at launch. Where Chasseurs suggested 1GB cards would be available pretty much from day one, the actual shipping capacities at launch will be 16, 32, 64 and 128MB, with 256MB cards promised "later this year". Fuji predicts cards as large as 8GB will be possible, but doesn't give a timeline for this impressive suggestion to become a reality. Equally interesting is that Fuji's release shows an xD to CompactFlash adapter being planned, suggesting that users of CompactFlash-based cameras may be able to use the cards with an adapter.

There's yet another reason xD's creators think their format could be a winner. Size and capacity are important, of course - but SmartMedia's limited capacity and CompactFlash's (comparitively) large size haven't prevented them from selling by the truckload. Perhaps even more important to users is reliability - if you lose pictures, or find (miles from home) that your card suddenly isn't accepted by the camera, you can't just buy another cheap roll of film and ignore the problem... xD's protagonists feel that many of its competitors have not controlled their standards tightly enough, which has lead to compatibility problems. They suggest that some CompactFlash cards even from major manufacturers now aren't compatible with some cameras, and SmartMedia is set for the same fate with low-end manufacturers making cards in Taiwan to laxer standards. There's a suggestion that similar problems could be on the way for Secure Digital and MultiMediaCard as well, but that xD is more rigidly defined and licensed to prevent this from happening.

xD's main test will be in adoption though, and that's likely to come down to a chicken and egg situation - will consumers buy cameras that use another new (and unfamiliar) format, and will manufacturers adopt the format in expectation that sales will pick up quickly enough? That remains to be seen, and the early life of the format will probably be a good indicator. If prices are low enough, and xD cards are easily available, it could catch on well - but if that formula isn't met, the format could face an uphill battle.

Source: Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd.

Original Source Press Release:


Smallest Storage Format of its Kind will have the Potential for 8GB Storage Capacity, Consumes Less Power, Compatibility with Other Camera Brands

ELMSFORD, NY, July 30, 2002 - Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. a leader in innovative imaging and information products and services, along with Olympus Optical Co., Ltd., has developed the new xD-Picture Card, a high-capacity flash memory format for digital cameras.

The xD-Picture Card will be the smallest storage format of its kind on the market - comparable in size to a penny, measuring just 0.79" x 0.98" x 0.07" and weighing less than one-tenth of an ounce - with the potential for up to 8GB storage capacity in a single card. This unprecedented combination of small size and large capacity will allow Fujifilm and other companies to manufacture sleeker and lighter digital cameras than ever before. Both Fujifilm and Olympus plan to offer cameras compatible with the xD-Picture Card this fall.

In addition, the xD-Picture Card was designed to minimize power consumption, saving battery life and with fast read/write capabilities for smoother digital camera operation. PCMCIA and CompactFlash adapters will be available at the time of camera introduction, allowing use of xD-Picture card in a variety of cameras and other devices from multiple manufacturers.

Fuji's chart showing plans for the xD Card format. Courtesy of Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd.

The name "xD-Picture Card" was inspired by "eXtreme Digital", suggesting the excellence of this new memory media for recording, storing, and transporting audiovisual information. Production will be consigned to Toshiba Corporation.

Fujifilm's xD-Picture Card features include:
  • Storage Capacity - Initially, Fujifilm xD-Picture Cards have 16MB, 32MB, 64MB and 128MB capacities, with a 256MB card planned for later this year. The media's roadmap shows storage capacity potential of up to 8GB.
  • Extremely Compact - Comparable in size to a penny (0.79" x 0.98" x .07") and weighing a less than one-tenth of an ounce, the xD-Picture Card is the smallest storage media format available.
  • Read/Write Speeds -The xD-Picture Card will have fast read/write speeds. A 16 or 32MB card can record data at 1.3MB/sec. A 64MB card or higher can record data at 3MB/sec and both offer a read speed of 5MB/sec.
  • Power Consumption - xD Picture-Card was designed to consume minimal power. Users will benefit from the convenience and savings of longer battery life on a single charge.
  • Compatibility - PCMCIA and CF Card Adapters will be available, allowing use of xD-Picture Card in a variety of cameras and other devices.

About Fujifilm
Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc. is the U.S. marketing subsidiary of Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. of Tokyo (FUJIY), a leading global manufacturer in three business segments, including Imaging Solutions, Information Solutions and Document Solutions. Recognized for its technological innovation and high quality, Fujifilm offers a complete portfolio of imaging, information and document products, services and e-solutions to retailers, consumers, professionals and business customers.

The complete Fujifilm product portfolio in the U.S.A. includes: professional and consumer film and cameras; digital imaging products, including cameras and printers for commercial and consumer use; digital minilabs and kiosks; photographic paper and photofinishing supplies; professional motion picture film; high-capacity floppy disks, CDs and DVDs, tape cartridges and other data storage media; videotape and audiocassettes; professional and consumer optical discs; microfilm and other micrographic products; and graphic arts film, conventional and digital printing plates, analog and digital color proofing systems, drum and flatbed scanners, imagesetters and computer-to-plate
systems. Fujicolor Processing, Inc., a subsidiary of Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc., provides wholesale photofinishing through a network of laboratories across the country. Fujifilm e-Systems is a subsidiary of Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc., that develops workflow solutions to support the company's photofinishing labs and consumer photographic businesses, including online imaging services such as Fujifilm.net.

For more information on Fujifilm products, consumers can call 800-800-FUJI or access the Fujifilm USA Web site at www.fujifilm.com.

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All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their registered owners.

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