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Memory card format / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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CompactFlash (CF) is a flash memory mass storage device used mainly in portable electronic devices. The format was specified and the devices were first manufactured by SanDisk in 1994.[3]

Quick facts: Media type, Encoding, Capacity, Developed&nbs...
A 2 GB CompactFlash card
Media typeMass storage device format
EncodingVarious file systems
  • 2 MB to 512 GB[1][2]
  • CF5.0: up to 128 PB
Developed bySanDisk
  • 43×36×3.3 mm (Type I)
  • 43×36×5 mm (Type II)
Weight10 grams (typical)
UsageDigital cameras and other mass storage devices
Extended fromPCMCIA / PC Card

CompactFlash became one of the most successful of the early memory card formats, surpassing Miniature Card and SmartMedia. Subsequent formats, such as MMC/SD, various Memory Stick formats, and xD-Picture Card offered stiff competition. Most of these cards are smaller than CompactFlash while offering comparable capacity and speed. Proprietary memory card formats for use in professional audio and video, such as P2 and SxS, are faster, but physically larger and more costly.

CompactFlash's popularity is declining as CFexpress is taking over. As of 2022, both Canon[4] and Nikon[5] newest high end cameras, e.g. the Canon EOS R5, Canon EOS R3, and Nikon Z 9 use CFexpress cards for the higher performance required to record 8K video.

Traditional CompactFlash cards use the Parallel ATA interface, but in 2008, a variant of CompactFlash, CFast was announced. CFast (also known as CompactFast) is based on the Serial ATA interface.

In November 2010, SanDisk, Sony and Nikon presented a next generation card format to the CompactFlash Association. The new format has a similar form factor to CF/CFast but is based on the PCI Express interface instead of Parallel ATA or Serial ATA.[6][7] With potential read and write speeds of 1 Gbit/s (125 MB/s) and storage capabilities beyond 2 TiB, the new format is aimed at high-definition camcorders and high-resolution digital cameras, but the new cards are not backward compatible with either CompactFlash or CFast. The XQD card format was officially announced by the CompactFlash Association in December 2011.[8]