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SanDisk 4GB Type-I CF for FAT16
(Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 15:19 EST)

SanDisk introduces a 4GB CF card that includes provisions to allow it to work in older cameras that don't support the FAT32 file standard.

This looks like it should be a welcome product for some folks, but I have to admit that it also has a bit of a kludgey feel to me. The problem that's being addressed is that most existing CF-based cameras can only handle memory cards of 2GB or smaller, due to limitations in their file system. Most new cameras being announced now support the so-called "FAT32" file standard, which accommodates a *much* larger memory space, but most cameras made in the last several years are restricted to using cards of 2GB or smaller. Still a lot of memory capacity, but memory tends to be one of those things that it's hard to have too much of.

In a move strongly reminiscent of Sony's stopgap "Memory Stick Select" cards, which had an on-card switch to select between two 128 MB banks of storage, SanDisk's new 4GB CF card also has a selector switch that optionally splits the card into two separate 2GB chunks, for use with older cameras. The nice wrinkle that SanDisk has added though, is that a third position of the switch recombines the two banks of memory, leaving you with a 4GB, FAT32-compliant card suitable for use in newer cameras without having to fiddle with the separate banks.

I do wonder somewhat if it might not end up being more cost-effective to just purchase two 2GB cards, but I do like the fact that the SanDisk device gives you the option of going either way with it. (There's also the argument for increased data safety with multiple cards, figuratively not putting *all* your photo eggs in a single CF basket.) A lot will ultimately depend on whether there's a noticeable price differential between the switchable 4GB card and a pair of 2GB units of conventional design. Still, it's nice to see people thinking about issues of backward compatibility as card sizes grow ever larger.

Original Source Press Release:

SanDisk Introduces Highest Capacity CompactFlash Card As First 4 Gigabyte Card That Can Be Used In Any CompactFlash Digital Camera

LAS VEGAS, NV, Feb. 11, 2004 - SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ:SNDK) today introduced the first 4-gigabyte (GB) CompactFlash“ card that can be used in any CompactFlash digital camera or device. The new card can store more than 2,000 high-resolution pictures, or more than 1,000 digital songs or 8 hours of MPEG 4 video.

The 4GB SanDisk CompactFlash card features an advanced design from SanDisk that allows it to operate in cameras that use either the FAT16 or FAT32 file formats. It is the only CompactFlash card of its capacity and compatibility level that is available in the popular Type I format and fits into any CompactFlash slot.

The new 4GB SanDisk CompactFlash card was introduced at the annual Photo Marketing Association trade show where SanDisk is demonstrating products in booth L-70, South Hall, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Wes Brewer, senior director of retail product marketing and business development at SanDisk, said, "SanDisk had the opportunity to do a quick-release of a 4GB card back in mid 2003. Instead, we chose to hold-off on shipping the card when we realized that a large percentage of our customer base would not be able to take advantage of the huge capacity due to limitations inherent in most cameras today. Through careful analysis and design, we've come up with a truly innovative way to break down these limitations-limitations that have plagued our competitors in this space. Our patent-pending switch design allows consumers to utilize the full capacity of the card."

Technological Breakthrough for the Highest Compatibility
The 4GB SanDisk CompactFlash card highlights a significant technological breakthrough in compatibility. The File allocation table (FAT) is an area on storage media that contains certain information such as the location of data files, their names, sizes and so on. FAT16, the initial file allocation table that is used by a number of current and most older digital cameras, cannot use CompactFlash cards that are greater than 2GB. FAT32 uses a 32-bit number to point to where the pieces of a file are stored and circumvents the 2GB capacity limit to allow access to storage media up to several Terabytes. Today, only a few manufacturers and camera models utilize the newer FAT32 File format.

The new 4GB SanDisk CompactFlash card features a three-position switch located in the left-hand area of the card so consumers can switch between either a single 4GB (FAT32) volume or two separate 2GB (FAT16) volumes. The switchable 4GB card ensures that users of cameras with either file format will be able to use the new card. For maximum customer satisfaction, SanDisk will initially ship the card in a FAT16 configuration - two FAT 16 partitions - eliminating the need for most users to reposition the switch and reformat.

The 4GB CompactFlash card has a suggested retail price of $999.99 and is expected to start shipping in April.

SanDisk, the world's largest supplier of flash memory data storage card products, designs, manufactures and markets industry-standard, solid-state data, digital imaging and audio storage products using its patented, high density flash memory and controller technology. SanDisk is based in Sunnyvale, CA.

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