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CES: SanDisk debuts mammoth, costly 128GB flash card

The new Extreme Pro CompactFlash card coming this quarter will cost an eye-popping $1,500 when it arrives later in the quarter.

SanDisk's new big and fast CompactFlash card, a 128GB monster that costs $1,500.
SanDisk's new big and fast CompactFlash card, a 128GB monster that costs $1,500. SanDisk

When it comes to flash memory cards, large capacity and high data-transfer speeds usually are somewhat mutually exclusive advantages--if nothing else, to keep the costs down. But what happens when you give the product development folks an opportunity to indulge their fantasies?

SanDisk's new Extreme Pro CompactFlash card unveiled at CES, that's what.

This card from one of the premier brands in flash memory products has three superlative attributes: a 128GB capacity, a data-writing speed of "up to" 100 megabytes per second via a UDMA-7 interface, and a price tag one penny shy of $1,500.

Yes, that's right, this flash card costs more than the vast majority of SLR cameras sold these days. But it's geared for professionals, of course, and they can be a demanding market.

The card is set to go on sale this quarter, SanDisk said.

The card is suited to the new era of SLR video, which gobbles up storage pace even with compressed formats such as H.264. SanDisk guarantees the card can handle a sustained 20MBps write speed. "Thee 128GB SanDisk Extreme Pro CompactFlash card is ideally suited for imaging applications requiring full HD 1920x1080 resolution, up to 50Mbps bit rate, and 4:2:2 color sampling," SanDisk said.

And of course video isn't done. 3D video doubles data demands over conventional HD, and 4K video resolution quadruples it even without the third dimension.

CompactFlash has been pushed to the high end of the camera segment, displaced by the dominant SD memory card format. SD allies have finalized a standard for faster SD cards called UHS-II that's set to arrive next year in products. It brings 312MBps data-transfer speeds. And using today's less exotic SD technology, SanDisk's top rival Lexar announced 128GB SDXC cards.

CompactFlash allies are fighting to keep the format relevant. SanDisk, Nikon, and Sony, are working within the CompactFlash Association to develop a CompactFlash sequel with 500MBps data-transfer speeds and 3-terabyte capacities.