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CompactFlash memory card sequel is done: XQD

Using the PCI Express interface, the new memory cards will be able to reach sustained write speeds starting at 125 megabytes per second.

A XQD flash-memory card from the CompactFlash Association
A XQD flash-memory card from the CompactFlash Association
CompactFlash Association

The CompactFlash Association has finished its work designing a successor to today's high-end memory card format, naming its successor XQD and promising much higher data-transfer speeds.

CompactFlash, unlike many other memory card formats, has managed to withstand the onslaught of SD Card, but it's relegated to a high-end niche such as professional SLR cameras and Canon's new C300 cinema-oriented videocamera. CompactFlash capacity and transfer speeds beat SD today, but to stay ahead of the competition, it's got to improve.

Enter XQD, a project the CompactFlash Association announced last year. The new cards use the PCI Express data pathway technology developed first for PCs to reach 2.5 gigabits per second initially and 5Gbps later.

XQD flash card logo

The card is expected to be able to write data at a minimum 125 megabytes per second, the association said. Today's CompactFlash cards top out at about 100MBps.

It's not clear exactly when the new technology will arrive on the market, but the association said today it'll begin licensing the design in early 2012. It's got powerful backers: Nikon led its development, and Canon endorsed it.

"The XQD format will enable further evolution of hardware and imaging applications and widen the memory card options available to CompactFlash users such as professional photographers," said Canon's Shigeto Kanda, who's chairman of CFA's board.

Separately, the association is working to provide assurances that serious videographers will be able to count on CompactFlash cards to keep up with video. To that end, it announced the release of the first Video Performance Guarantee (VPG) and a logo for products that meet it.

CompactFlash Association's Video Performance Guarantee (VPG) certificaiton logo

Among the promises of the logo is "guaranteed video capture over multiple capture files and across file system updates without dropping frames, enabling high quality 1080p capture at high frame rates with either under- and overcranking functionality." Overcranking means taking slow-motion video, and undercranking refers to the opposite effect.

The first VPG profile guarantees sustained write speeds of 20MBps, the association said.