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Lexar to sell XQD flash memory cards

The high-end but nascent memory card format gets a big boost from one of the major manufacturers of flash cards. Also: a fix is in for Lexar's USB 3.0 reader on new Macs.

XQD flash card logo

Lexar, one of the top-shelf makers of flash memory cards, said today it will support the new XQD format with new models that will go on sale in the third quarter.

For the mainstream flash card market, SD dominates when it comes to price and usage in cameras, video cameras, and devices including tablets and PCs. But though bulkier, CompactFlash, maintains a foothold in the higher-end market such as professional SLR cameras.

As CompactFlash aged, though, Sony, Nikon, and Lexar rival SanDisk came up with XQD as a faster, smaller successor to CompactFlash. One big selling point is fast transfer speed -- 2.5Gbps initially with 5Gbps planned with an upgrade to its underlying data-transfer technology, called PCI. The first big XQD use was Nikon's top-end D4 SLR, and Sony offers XQD cards, but so far there hasn't been much evidence of enthusiasm beyond that.

SanDisk hasn't announced XQD support, and Lexar had been noncommittal. No more.

"We are committed to offering innovative and industry-leading photography solutions, which is why we're working with Nikon to offer and co-market XQD memory cards. We view the XQD standard as one of the most logical ways to increase interface speed beyond that of existing CompactFlash technology," said Wes Brewer, Lexar's vice president of products and technology, in a statement.

Sony's 32GB QD-H32, a XQD flash memory card, has a retail price of $229.99.
Sony's 32GB QD-H32, a XQD flash memory card, has a retail price of $229.99. Sony

Lexar didn't say whether it would sell XQD flash card readers as well as the cards themselves.

However, it did say it fixed a problem with its existing dual-slot USB 3.0 card reader, which supports CompactFlash and SD. A bug meant it didn't work on new MacBook models with USB 3.0 support, but new firmware available from Lexar's download site fixes the problem, the company said.