Memory card

Memory card

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A memory card or flash card is an electronic flash memory
Flash memory
Flash memory is a non-volatile computer storage chip that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed. It was developed from EEPROM and must be erased in fairly large blocks before these can be rewritten with new data...

 data storage device
Data storage device
thumb|200px|right|A reel-to-reel tape recorder .The magnetic tape is a data storage medium. The recorder is data storage equipment using a portable medium to store the data....

 used for storing digital information. They are commonly used in many electronic devices, including digital camera
Digital camera
A digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs, or both, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. It is the main device used in the field of digital photography...

s, mobile phone
Mobile phone
A mobile phone is a device which can make and receive telephone calls over a radio link whilst moving around a wide geographic area. It does so by connecting to a cellular network provided by a mobile network operator...

s, laptop computer
Laptop
A laptop, also called a notebook, is a personal computer for mobile use. A laptop integrates most of the typical components of a desktop computer, including a display, a keyboard, a pointing device and speakers into a single unit...

s, MP3 players, and video game console
Video game console
A video game console is an interactive entertainment computer or customized computer system that produces a video display signal which can be used with a display device to display a video game...

s. They are small, re-recordable, and able to retain data without power.

History


PC Card
PC Card
In computing, PC Card is the form factor of a peripheral interface designed for laptop computers. The PC Card standard was defined and developed by the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association which itself was created by a number of computer industry companies in the United States...

s (PCMCIA) were among first commercial memory card formats (type I cards) to come out in the 1990s, but are now mainly used in industrial applications and to connect I/O devices such as modem
Modem
A modem is a device that modulates an analog carrier signal to encode digital information, and also demodulates such a carrier signal to decode the transmitted information. The goal is to produce a signal that can be transmitted easily and decoded to reproduce the original digital data...

s. In 1990s, a number of memory card formats smaller than PC Card arrived, including CompactFlash
CompactFlash
CompactFlash is a mass storage device format used in portable electronic devices. Most CompactFlash devices contain flash memory in a standardized enclosure. The format was first specified and produced by SanDisk in 1994...

, SmartMedia
SmartMedia
SmartMedia is a flash memory card standard owned by Toshiba, with capacities ranging from 2 MB to 128 MB. SmartMedia memory cards are no longer manufactured.- History :...

, and Miniature Card
Miniature Card
Miniature Card or MiniCard is a flash or SRAM memory card standard first promoted by Intel Corp. in 1995 and backed by Advanced Micro Devices, Fujitsu and Sharp Electronics. Miniature Card Implementers Forum promoted this standard for consumer electronics: PDA/Palmtops, Digital Audio Recorders,...

. The desire for smaller cards for cell-phones, PDA
PDA
A PDA is most commonly a Personal digital assistant, also known as a Personal data assistant, a mobile electronic device.PDA may also refer to:In science, medicine and technology:...

s, and compact digital cameras drove a trend that left the previous generation of "compact" cards looking big. In digital cameras SmartMedia and CompactFlash had been very successful, in 2001 SM alone captured 50% of the digital camera market and CF had a stranglehold on professional digital cameras. By 2005 however, SD/MMC had nearly taken over SmartMedia's spot, though not to the same level and with stiff competition coming from Memory Stick variants, as well as CompactFlash. In industrial fields, even the venerable PC card (PCMCIA) memory cards still manage to maintain a niche
Niche market
A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is focusing; therefore the market niche defines the specific product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality and the demographics that is intended to impact...

, while in mobile phones and PDAs, the memory card market was highly fragmented until 2010 when micro-SD came to dominate new high-end phones and tablet computer
Tablet computer
A tablet computer, or simply tablet, is a complete mobile computer, larger than a mobile phone or personal digital assistant, integrated into a flat touch screen and primarily operated by touching the screen...

s.

Since 2010 new products of Sony (previously only using Memory Stick) and Olympus (previously only using XD-Card) are offered with an additional SD-Card slot. Effectively the format war
Format war
A format war describes competition between mutually incompatible proprietary formats that compete for the same market, typically for data storage devices and recording formats for electronic media. It is often characterized by political and financial influence on content publishers by the...

 has turned in SD-Card's favor.

Data table of selected memory card formats

Name Acronym Form factor DRM
Digital rights management
Digital rights management is a class of access control technologies that are used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals with the intent to limit the use of digital content and devices after sale. DRM is any technology that inhibits uses of digital content that...

PC Card
PC Card
In computing, PC Card is the form factor of a peripheral interface designed for laptop computers. The PC Card standard was defined and developed by the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association which itself was created by a number of computer industry companies in the United States...

PCMCIA 85.6 × 54 × 3.3 mm
CompactFlash I
CompactFlash
CompactFlash is a mass storage device format used in portable electronic devices. Most CompactFlash devices contain flash memory in a standardized enclosure. The format was first specified and produced by SanDisk in 1994...

CF-I 43 × 36 × 3.3 mm
CompactFlash II
CompactFlash
CompactFlash is a mass storage device format used in portable electronic devices. Most CompactFlash devices contain flash memory in a standardized enclosure. The format was first specified and produced by SanDisk in 1994...

CF-II 43 × 36 × 5.5 mm
SmartMedia
SmartMedia
SmartMedia is a flash memory card standard owned by Toshiba, with capacities ranging from 2 MB to 128 MB. SmartMedia memory cards are no longer manufactured.- History :...

SM / SMC 45 × 37 × 0.76 mm
Memory Stick
Memory Stick
Memory Stick is a removable flash memory card format, launched by Sony in October 1998, and is also used in general to describe the whole family of Memory Sticks...

MS 50.0 × 21.5 × 2.8 mm
Memory Stick Duo
Memory Stick
Memory Stick is a removable flash memory card format, launched by Sony in October 1998, and is also used in general to describe the whole family of Memory Sticks...

MSD 31.0 × 20.0 × 1.6 mm
Memory Stick PRO Duo
Memory Stick
Memory Stick is a removable flash memory card format, launched by Sony in October 1998, and is also used in general to describe the whole family of Memory Sticks...

MSPD 31.0 × 20.0 × 1.6 mm
Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo
Memory Stick
Memory Stick is a removable flash memory card format, launched by Sony in October 1998, and is also used in general to describe the whole family of Memory Sticks...

MSPDX 31.0 × 20.0 × 1.6 mm
Memory Stick Micro M2
Memory Stick
Memory Stick is a removable flash memory card format, launched by Sony in October 1998, and is also used in general to describe the whole family of Memory Sticks...

M2 15.0 × 12.5 × 1.2 mm
Miniature Card
Miniature Card
Miniature Card or MiniCard is a flash or SRAM memory card standard first promoted by Intel Corp. in 1995 and backed by Advanced Micro Devices, Fujitsu and Sharp Electronics. Miniature Card Implementers Forum promoted this standard for consumer electronics: PDA/Palmtops, Digital Audio Recorders,...

|37 × 45 × 3.5 mm
Multimedia Card MMC 32 × 24 × 1.5 mm
Reduced Size Multimedia Card RS-MMC 16 × 24 × 1.5 mm
MMCmicro Card MMCmicro 12 × 14 × 1.1 mm
Secure Digital card
Secure Digital
Secure Digital is a non-volatile memory card format developed by the SD Card Association for use in portable devices. The SD technology is used by more than 400 brands across dozens of product categories and more than 8,000 models, and is considered the de-facto industry standard.Secure Digital...

SD 32 × 24 × 2.1 mm
SxS
SxS
SxS is a flash memory standard compliant to the Sony and Sandisk-created ExpressCard standard. According to Sandisk and Sony, the cards have transfer rates of 800 Mbit/s and burst transfer rate of up to 2.5 Gbit/s...

SxS
Universal Flash Storage
Universal Flash Storage
Universal Flash Storage is a proposed common flash storage specification for digital cameras, mobile phones and consumer electronic devices...

UFS
miniSD card miniSD 21.5 × 20 × 1.4 mm
microSD card microSD 15 × 11 × 0.7 mm
xD-Picture Card
XD-Picture Card
xD-Picture Card is a flash memory card format, used mainly in older digital cameras. xD stands for Extreme Digital.xD cards are available in capacities of 16 MiB up to 2 GiB.- History :...

xD 20 × 25 × 1.7 mm
Intelligent Stick
Intelligent Stick
"Intelligent Stick" is a brand name for a USB flash drive memory card which was developed by the Power Quotient International company in 2002. Also called "I-Stick"....

iStick 24 × 18 × 2.8 mm
Serial Flash Module SFM 45 × 15 mm
µ card µcard 32 × 24 × 1 mm
NT Card
NT Card
"NT Card" is a brand name for a memory card which is used by C-Map company for their line of electronic nautical charts. It's unknown what the generic name for these cartridges is....

NT NT+ 44 × 24 × 2.5 mm


Overview of all memory card types



  • PCMCIA ATA Type I Flash Memory Card (PC Card ATA Type I)
    • PCMCIA Type II, Type III cards
  • CompactFlash Card
    CompactFlash
    CompactFlash is a mass storage device format used in portable electronic devices. Most CompactFlash devices contain flash memory in a standardized enclosure. The format was first specified and produced by SanDisk in 1994...

     (Type I), CompactFlash High-Speed
  • CompactFlash Type II, CF+(CF2.0), CF3.0
    • Microdrive
  • MiniCard (Miniature Card
    Miniature Card
    Miniature Card or MiniCard is a flash or SRAM memory card standard first promoted by Intel Corp. in 1995 and backed by Advanced Micro Devices, Fujitsu and Sharp Electronics. Miniature Card Implementers Forum promoted this standard for consumer electronics: PDA/Palmtops, Digital Audio Recorders,...

    ) (max 64 MB (64 MiB
    Mebibyte
    The mebibyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information. The binary prefix mebi means 220, therefore 1 mebibyte is . The unit symbol for the mebibyte is MiB. The unit was established by the International Electrotechnical Commission in 2000 and has been accepted for use by all major...

    ))
  • SmartMedia Card (SSFDC) (max 128 MB) (3.3 V,5 V)
  • xD-Picture Card, xD-Picture Card Type M
  • Memory Stick, MagicGate Memory Stick (max 128 MB); Memory Stick Select, MagicGate Memory Stick Select ("Select" means: 2x128 MB with A/B switch)
  • SecureMMC
  • Secure Digital
    Secure Digital
    Secure Digital is a non-volatile memory card format developed by the SD Card Association for use in portable devices. The SD technology is used by more than 400 brands across dozens of product categories and more than 8,000 models, and is considered the de-facto industry standard.Secure Digital...

     (SD Card), Secure Digital High-Speed, Secure Digital Plus/Xtra/etc (SD with USB connector)
    • miniSD card
    • microSD card (aka Transflash, T-Flash)
    • SDHC
  • MU-Flash (Mu-Card) (Mu-Card Alliance of OMIA)
  • C-Flash
  • SIM
    Subscriber Identity Module
    A subscriber identity module or subscriber identification module is an integrated circuit that securely stores the International Mobile Subscriber Identity and the related key used to identify and authenticate subscriber on mobile telephony devices .A SIM is held on a removable SIM card, which...

     card (Subscriber Identity Module)
  • Smart card
    Smart card
    A smart card, chip card, or integrated circuit card , is any pocket-sized card with embedded integrated circuits. A smart card or microprocessor cards contain volatile memory and microprocessor components. The card is made of plastic, generally polyvinyl chloride, but sometimes acrylonitrile...

     (ISO/IEC 7810, ISO/IEC 7816 card standards, etc.)
  • UFC (USB FlashCard
    USB FlashCard
    USB FlashCard is a flash memory card format developed by Lexar, and announced on December 13, 2004.There is a wide range of existing memory card formats such as SD, xD, and CompactFlash; the major advantage of USB FlashCard is that the cards are in fact standard USB flash drives...

    ) http://www.lexar.com/ufc/ (uses USB
    Universal Serial Bus
    USB is an industry standard developed in the mid-1990s that defines the cables, connectors and protocols used in a bus for connection, communication and power supply between computers and electronic devices....

    )
  • FISH Universal Transportable Memory Card Standard (uses USB)
  • Disk memory cards:
    • Clik! (PocketZip), (40 MB PocketZip)
    • Floppy disk
      Floppy disk
      A floppy disk is a disk storage medium composed of a disk of thin and flexible magnetic storage medium, sealed in a rectangular plastic carrier lined with fabric that removes dust particles...

       (32MB, LS120 and LS240, 2-inch, 3.5-inch, etc.)
  • Intelligent Stick (iStick, a USB-based flash memory card with MMS)
  • SxS (S-by-S) memory card, a new memory card specification developed by Sandisk
    SanDisk
    SanDisk Corporation is an American multinational corporation that designs, develops and manufactures data storage solutions in a range of form factors using the flash memory, controller and firmware technologies. It was founded in 1988 by Dr. Eli Harari and Sanjay Mehrotra, non-volatile memory...

     and Sony
    Sony
    , commonly referred to as Sony, is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan and the world's fifth largest media conglomerate measured by revenues....

    . SxS complies to the ExpressCard
    ExpressCard
    ExpressCard is an interface to allow peripheral devices to be connected to a computer, usually a laptop computer. Formerly called NEWCARD, the ExpressCard standard specifies the design of slots built into the computer and of cards which can be inserted into ExpressCard slots. The cards contain...

     industry standard. http://www.dpreview.com/news/0704/07041601sxsmemorycardformat.asp
  • Nexflash Winbond Serial Flash Module (SFM) cards, size range 1 mb, 2 mb and 4 mb.

Memory cards in video game consoles




Game consoles originally used proprietary
Proprietary hardware
Proprietary hardware is computer hardware which is owned by the proprietor.Historically, most early computer hardware was designed as proprietary until the 1980s, when IBM PC changed this paradigm...

 solid-state
Solid-state drive
A solid-state drive , sometimes called a solid-state disk or electronic disk, is a data storage device that uses solid-state memory to store persistent data with the intention of providing access in the same manner of a traditional block i/o hard disk drive...

 memory cards to store the game program and, in some cases, save player progress. In newer home consoles, read-only optical disc
Optical disc
In computing and optical disc recording technologies, an optical disc is a flat, usually circular disc which encodes binary data in the form of pits and lands on a special material on one of its flat surfaces...

s have replaced these custom memory cards for storing the game program, resulting in the need for separate memory cards specifically made to save player progress. These memory cards have also been largely superseded by hard drive storage, internal memory and generic storage devices/cards. Most portable gaming systems still rely on custom memory cartridges to store program data, due to their low power consumption, smaller physical size and reduced mechanical complexity.

The sizes in parentheses are those of the official, first-party memory cards.
  • Microsoft Xbox line:
    • Xbox
      Xbox
      The Xbox is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Microsoft. It was released on November 15, 2001 in North America, February 22, 2002 in Japan, and March 14, 2002 in Australia and Europe and is the predecessor to the Xbox 360. It was Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console...

       Memory Unit (8 MB)
    • Xbox 360
      Xbox 360
      The Xbox 360 is the second video game console produced by Microsoft and the successor to the Xbox. The Xbox 360 competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles...

       Memory Unit (64 MB, 256 MB and 512 MB versions)
  • Nintendo
    Nintendo
    is a multinational corporation located in Kyoto, Japan. Founded on September 23, 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi, it produced handmade hanafuda cards. By 1963, the company had tried several small niche businesses, such as a cab company and a love hotel....

     line:
    • Nintendo 64
      Nintendo 64
      The , often referred to as N64, was Nintendo′s third home video game console for the international market. Named for its 64-bit CPU, it was released in June 1996 in Japan, September 1996 in North America, March 1997 in Europe and Australia, September 1997 in France and December 1997 in Brazil...

       Controller Pak (256 kbit/32 kB), divided into 123 pages
    • Nintendo GameCube
      Nintendo GameCube
      The , officially abbreviated to NGC in Japan and GCN in other regions, is a sixth generation video game console released by Nintendo on September 15, 2001 in Japan, November 18, 2001 in North America, May 3, 2002 in Europe, and May 17, 2002 in Australia...

       Memory Card 59 block (4 Mbit/512 kB), 251 block (16 Mbit/2 MB), and 1019 block (64 Mbit/8 MB) versions
    • Wii
      Wii
      The Wii is a home video game console released by Nintendo on November 19, 2006. As a seventh-generation console, the Wii primarily competes with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3. Nintendo states that its console targets a broader demographic than that of the two others...

       Nintendo GameCube Memory Card compatible (see above) and Secure Digital
      Secure Digital
      Secure Digital is a non-volatile memory card format developed by the SD Card Association for use in portable devices. The SD technology is used by more than 400 brands across dozens of product categories and more than 8,000 models, and is considered the de-facto industry standard.Secure Digital...

       card compatible
    • Nintendo DSi
      Nintendo DSi
      The is a handheld game system created by Nintendo and launched in 2008 and 2009 in Japan, North America, PAL territories, and other regions. It is the third iteration of the Nintendo DS, and its primary market rival is Sony's PlayStation Portable...

       Secure Digital
      Secure Digital
      Secure Digital is a non-volatile memory card format developed by the SD Card Association for use in portable devices. The SD technology is used by more than 400 brands across dozens of product categories and more than 8,000 models, and is considered the de-facto industry standard.Secure Digital...

       card compatible
    • 3DS SDHC card compatible
  • Sega Dreamcast Visual Memory Unit (VMU)
    VMU
    The VMU, or Visual Memory Unit is a memory card peripheral for the Dreamcast. Its official name was changed by Sega for each of the three key regions:-* Japan = Visual Memory System * North America = Visual Memory Unit...

     (128 kB divided in 200 blocks)
  • Sega Saturn
    Sega Saturn
    The is a 32-bit fifth-generation video game console that was first released by Sega on November 22, 1994 in Japan, May 11, 1995 in North America, and July 8, 1995 in Europe...

     memory unit can hold 20 blocks of save games.
  • Sony PlayStation
    PlayStation
    The is a 32-bit fifth-generation video game console first released by Sony Computer Entertainment in Japan on December 3, .The PlayStation was the first of the PlayStation series of consoles and handheld game devices. The PlayStation 2 was the console's successor in 2000...

     line:
    • PlayStation Memory Card (1 Mb/128 KB divided in 15 blocks)
    • The PocketStation
      PocketStation
      The is a peripheral by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation home video game console. Categorized by Sony as a miniature personal digital assistant, the device features a monochrome liquid crystal display , infrared communication capability, a real-time clock, built-in flash memory, and...

       can act as PlayStation Memory Card
    • The PlayStation 2
      PlayStation 2
      The PlayStation 2 is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Sony as part of the PlayStation series. Its development was announced in March 1999 and it was first released on March 4, 2000, in Japan...

       used 8 MB cards for its own content and supported PlayStation Memory Cards for backward compatibility. Larger capacity memory cards were made available by 3rd parties but these were not officially supported.
    • Early models of the PlayStation 3
      PlayStation 3
      The is the third home video game console produced by Sony Computer Entertainment and the successor to the PlayStation 2 as part of the PlayStation series. The PlayStation 3 competes with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles...

       featured integrated CompactFlash, Secure Digital, and Memory Stick PRO Duo support. External attachments allow the import and export of PlayStation and PlayStation 2 Memory Cards.
    • PSP
      PlayStation Portable
      The is a handheld game console manufactured and marketed by Sony Corporation Development of the console was announced during E3 2003, and it was unveiled on , 2004, at a Sony press conference before E3 2004...

      -1000, -2000 and -3000 models use Memory Stick PRO Duo for data storage, while the PSP Go
      PSP Go
      The PSP Go is a version of the PlayStation Portable handheld game console manufactured by Sony. It was released on October 1, 2009 in American and European territories, and on November 1 in Japan. It was revealed prior to E3 2009 through Sony's Qore VOD service...

       uses Memory Stick Micro.
    • The PlayStation Vita (currently in development) uses custom flash card dubbed the NVG Card for storage of program data.
  • GP2X
    GP2X
    The GP2X is an open-source, Linux-based handheld video game console and portable media player developed by South Korean company GamePark Holdings. It was released on November 10, 2005, in South Korea only....

     GNU/Linux based portable games console, uses SD/MMC.
  • Neo Geo AES
    Neo Geo (console)
    The is a cartridge-based arcade and home video game system released on July 1, 1991 by Japanese game company SNK. Being in the Fourth generation of Gaming, it was the first console in the former Neo Geo family, which only lived through the 1990s...

    , released in 1990 by SNK
    SNK Playmore
    SNK Playmore Corporation is a Japanese video game hardware and software company. SNK is an acronym of , which was SNK's original name. The company's legal and trading name became SNK in 1986....

    , was the first video game console able to use a memory card. AES memory cards are also compatible with Neo-Geo MVS arcade cabinets.