CompactFlash Association aims for a comeback with another new card format


posted Thursday, September 8, 2016 at 6:59 AM EDT


A decade or two ago, CompactFlash cards were where it was at. The flash card format won out over rivals thanks to a tradeoff that allowed -- by the standards of the time -- generous capacity and relatively compact dimensions. It certainly didn't hurt that the CF form factor was just about large enough to squeeze in a tiny hard drive, back in the days when flash memory was still comparitively expensive.

Then the cost of flash memory went through the floor, capacities for the rival -- and far more compact -- SD and Micro SD card formats soared, and CompactFlash suddenly found itself to be something of a relic, consigned only to a handful of cameras that were mostly aimed at pros.

The CompactFlash Association has tried more than once since then to claw back some market share, but its followup CFast and XQD formats have never seen the popularity that the humble CF card once achieved, and the SD / Micro SD siblings have pretty much sewn up the market. Now, the CF Association is back for another try, promoting its new CFexpress format as the answer.

Aimed at a variety of uses including professional imaging, the CFexpress format is intended to be reasonably future-proof thanks to a focus on performance. The format is based around the PCIE and NVM Express standards, and its precise specification is apparently still being tied down. However, the CF Association predicts theoretical throughput of 8GB/second, for a device using the maximum allowed number of eight PCIE lanes.

However, the standard also allows for as few as two lanes, and the association states that its initial focus will be on two- and four-lane products, which would therefore be capable of a theoretical 2GB or 4GB/second. The four-lane version, says the association, is still sufficient for 4K raw video at up to 240 fps, however.

Just how long it will be until the standard is finalized and CFexpress products can reach retail isn't clear at this time. It's interesting to note, though, that the CFA's board is led by executives from both Canon and Nikon, giving us an indication of whose products we might eventually see supporting the standard, should it take off. More details can be found in the official press release.

(via Photography Blog)