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Data Storage Handhelds Hardware

4Gb CF Card Announced 309

Posted by Hemos
from the bigger-bigger-better dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Lexar has today announced that it now shipping a 4 GB 40x Compact Flash card. The card's claim to fame is the ability to store 600 RAW images taken with a 6 megapixel digital camera. This card also features Lexar's WA (Write Acceleration) technology which can improve performance further with WA enabled cameras. Because this card is larger than 2 GB, you will need a camera which is FAT32 compliant. This card is available now at the heady price of $1,499 ($0.37/MB). It looks like Lexar has managed to be faster then Hitachi (Former IBM storage division) with their 4Gb Microdrive."
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4Gb CF Card Announced

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  • Is 40x worth it? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tackaberry (694121)
    I've been toying with the idea of getting a Lexar Pro (40x) CF card.

    Has anyone had any experience using the Pro cards versus the standard, and whether or not the numbers translate into noticible performance gains???

    Nevertheless, this particular card is well outside of my range/needs, but a 256 or 512 for my 4.0 megapix is do-able.
  • $1500? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sheetrock (152993)
    Flash is getting expensive nowadays. I thought IBM had a tiny harddrive that (at the time) stored 1GB of data on it; couldn't something like this be incorporated into a 'memory card' design for cameras and the like? That seemed to be the whole point of it, anyway.
    • Re:$1500? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Mindwarp (15738) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:24AM (#6606227) Homepage Journal
      IBM has been producing Compact Flash Type 2 form-factor micro drives for some time now.

      Here's one:

      Clicky! [amazon.co.uk]
    • I thought IBM had a tiny harddrive

      You mean like that one refered to in the article?
    • Re:$1500? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Keighvin (166133)
      It's called an IBM MicroDrive, though it's also resold and branded through Iomega (without any different under the hood). They are mostly CF compatible, though the voltage requirements are a little different so the device needs to be MicroDrive compatible and not just CD.

      The 1GB CF form factor drive runs for ~$260 on eBay including PCMCIA adapter for laptiops. Buying 4 of these at that price would save you $460 on the cost of a single 4GB CF.
      • Maybe it's changed since then, but when Iomega started selling Microdrives, they had lower power usage, a lower rotation rate, higher latency, and lower transfer speed.
      • Re:$1500? (Score:3, Informative)

        by luzrek (570886)
        You could save even more money by buying 4 1GB compact flash cards. Those run slightly more than $200 each (depending on how much you believe pricewatch). The major reason for going with Flash memory over harddrives or optical media is that there are no moving parts. This should (I don't know if it does) mean lower power consumption, greater durability, and better tollerance of jolts and jiggles (like when you go jogging). It definitely means that flash media produce less audible noise than harddrives,
    • Re:$1500? (Score:5, Informative)

      by afidel (530433) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:31AM (#6606307)
      That is what the submitter was talking about with Hitachi, Hitachi bought IBM's HDD assets including the Microdrive line. Hitachi is supposed to unveil a 4GB Microdrive this fall. The Microdrive is less shock resistant, eats up to 4X the battery life, and has slower transfer rates than the high speed flash products out there, initially the 4GB Microdrive may be cheaper, but within probably 9-18 months the flash will almost certainly be cheaper, that's the way it happened with the origional Microdrive (actually there wasn't any 1GB CF card at the time that I could find, but there was soon after).
      • Re:$1500? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NormalVisual (565491) *
        However, the Microdrive is more appropriate in situations where there will be a lot of writing to the media - I'd much rather have a Microdrive mounted as a swap partition than a CF card on my CerfCube. :-)

        For pretty much all other uses, I'd agree that CF is probably the better choice.
    • Don't you mean flash is getting cheap these days? Not long ago it cost over $1/MB.
  • 4Gb or 4GB (Score:3, Insightful)

    by insulator (652630) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:20AM (#6606198)
    The title says 4 gigabits, but the text says 4 giga bytes. 4 GB is impressive, 4Gb is not (512 MB).
    • Re:4Gb or 4GB (Score:3, Informative)

      by UWC (664779)
      The mention of the need for FAT32 to access the card seems to indicate that it's larger than 2 gigabytes. It would be nice to see some consistency, though, rather than having to guess based on context.
    • Do the math... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kjella (173770) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:40AM (#6606414) Homepage
      600 RAW * 6M pixels = 3,6G pixels or 3,6gigabit. At a minimum of 8 bits color resolution per pixel, it'll be 3,6 gigabytes.

      Kjella
  • by kmak (692406) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:21AM (#6606204)
    is still the time it takes for a camera to transfer from on-memory to the card... no matter how big the card is, until this time is reduced, it'll still be hard for some applications ..

    But it's definitely good.. I use a CF-Reader on my laptop instead of a diskdrive, and obviously, a 4 GB CF card would definitely be nice.. now I can easily transfer data between machines!

    Of course, again, though, bandwidth is still an issue..
  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by afidel (530433) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:22AM (#6606209)
    You are never going to be able to take that many pic's without changing batteries so why not have a couple of cheaper 1GB cards and swap em out with the batteries? 1GB CF cards are as cheap as $228 you are paying a more than 50% premium for the denser storage.
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by krisp (59093) *
      Not true. The Nikon D2H (mentioned in this [slashdot.org] previous story) can take 1000-1200 pictures on a single charge. For 1200 pictures, one might need two of these cards, assuming raw 6megapixel photographs.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by foxtrot (14140) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:31AM (#6606309)
      You are never going to be able to take that many pic's without changing batteries so why not have a couple of cheaper 1GB cards and swap em out with the batteries? 1GB CF cards are as cheap as $228 you are paying a more than 50% premium for the denser storage.

      Won't I? I already can almost fill my 1GB microdrive using just one BP-511 battery pack on my Canon G1.

      The new SLR Canon cameras have an optional side-grip that holds two more BP-511s. And they're shooting much larger images. And when you're a professional (or semi-professional), which is what this product is aimed at, you're probably not shooting .jpg anymore. Plus, since this thing is CF and not a Microdrive, it sucks less power, as well. I'd bet you can darned near fill one of these things easily.

      Add in the fact that this thing has some new technology write-to-it-faster-stuff, and there's plenty of reason for this product to exist.

      -JDF
      • Re:Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by interiot (50685)
        • And when you're a professional (or semi-professional), which is what this product is aimed at, you're probably not shooting .jpg anymore.
        There's really no reason [tawbaware.com] to use raws over jpegs.
        • The page is nice, but professional image editors save files over and over and over. That's why we don't use lossless compression. Nobody is saying that JPEG sucks, only that it isn't good as an initial format for an image that will possibly have a long lifetime.
        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by afidel (530433) on Monday August 04, 2003 @12:10PM (#6606734)
          Very wrong, at least for Canon cameras, Canon's raw format captures the data as it is coming off the image censor. By saving this information post processing can be done on the raw data rather than the interpretation of the processing chip and the JPEG engine. For instance I have seen images had contrast improved without upsetting the shadow details which just isn't possible with normal post processing on a regular image, if you've ever see it you will know how superior to dumb Photoshop filters it is.
          • Very wrong, at least for Canon cameras, Canon's raw format captures the data as it is coming off the image censor.

            Too true. When my SO and I tried to take some nekkid pictures, all the naughty bits were blurred out.

        • One word: postprocessing

          Sure if you get *everything* right the first time, like white balance, saturation, brightness, contrast, no cutting, adding logo/copyright notice (most online places to do prevent ripoffs), no retouching (most "pro" pics have been retouched) and so on and so on.

          There's not much point in *distributing* it as RAW over jpg, no. But taking a jpg from your camera, editing it, and then saving to jpg again *is* visible. Do try it. And if you say that you still can't see it, then you have
        • NONONONO (Score:5, Informative)

          by imsabbel (611519) on Monday August 04, 2003 @12:33PM (#6606986)
          There is a HUGE difference between png/tiff vs jpeg and raw vs jpeg.
          Raw isnt just lossless compression, but rather using the direct output of the image sensor. This preserves a higher dynamic range (like 12bit per pixel) and you can later set a white balance ect in your computer.
          Just make a underexposed picture with jpeg and try to salvage anything with photoshop. All formerly dark areas will be a happy 8x8 macroblock land...
        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Mozo (22007) on Monday August 04, 2003 @01:00PM (#6607275) Homepage
          The "Real Story" link on JPEGs is quite amusing, to say the least. Saying "look at these images in your web browser -- you can't tell the difference" hardly leads to the conclusion "people never need to use uncompressed images, since there never are visible differences."

          I *do* work for a professional imaging company, and here are some of my opinions on "the real story":

          - JPEG is designed to compress images in ways that degrade the visibility of compression artifacts as much as possible. It works particularly well for photographic images, since that's what it's designed for.
          - JPEG compression is often very appropriate for web images. Uncompressed images are often inappropriate for web images, due to their size.
          - JPEG does produce artifacts, and many are objectionable at high compression levels.
          - Even mild JPEG compression does visible damage to things like crisp text or sharp lines. This is a function of the compression scheme's photographic emphasis. (And, specifically, a function of the 8x8 pixel blocks and discrete cosine transforms used....)
          - JPEG2000 (.JP2 or .JPX) is a more sophisticated technique employing wavelets. To my eyes, the artifacts (especially localized ones) are significantly less noticable than standard JPEG at similar compression levels. A technology to watch...
          - Digital SLR "RAW" files are different than standard uncompressed tiff's. Usually, they represent raw sensor data at higher than 8-bit color depth. As such, they are the digital equivalent of the negative, and various different kinds of post-processing is often applied to the same image, based on situation.
          - Compression isn't free (as in clock cycles). It takes a lot less time to write the larger RAW file from a DSLR to a CF card than it does to compress it in-camera to a smaller JPG file. This effects burst rate image capture as well as battery life.

          Phew. That was long. The conclusion that "there's really no reason to use raws over jpegs" was wrong on so many levels that I had to clear some misconceptions up, I suppose!

      • by Cyno (85911)
        Could store lots and lots of small ogg files in my PDA, when these things cost reasonable prices. They'll probably have 16+ GB cards by then.
  • Hooray (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:23AM (#6606216) Journal
    How long until solid state technology replaces hard drives outright, or at least supplements them?

    And, only slightly offtopic, why must PCs have pagefiles created on a hard drive? Why not have a bunch of SDRAM slots, even on a PCI card, and have 4 gigs of uber-cheap PC133, then create a 4 gig swap file in RAM (if not natively supported).

    I hate having to swap to HDD, and my only option being super-pricey DDR or RDRAM upgrades.

    A machine would do just fine with 256 Megs of Dual-DDR400, and 4 gigs or so of PC133. Then HDD as an absolute last resort. It plugs right in to the tiered-memory architecture, so why would this not work?

    • Re:Hooray (Score:3, Informative)

      by khaine (260889)
      There is already a solid state hard drive for PCs called the QikDrive:

      http://www.platypus.net/products/qikdrive.asp

      Its based on standard RAM and luckily it has its own UPS connection :-)
    • Re:Hooray (Score:3, Informative)

      by silas_moeckel (234313)
      People have been doing this for years in a variety of ways. You dont even need PC133 unless it's going into something with PCI-X. Unfortunaly it's the cost of aquiring these drives that turns people off to using them the way you have described. The RAM may be cheap to sonk costs from your last box but the PCI cards generaly run more than your average PC same goes for the SCSI based ones (A little slower but it dosent take up a PCI slot by itself)
      • Re:Hooray (Score:2, Interesting)

        by stratjakt (596332)
        But why the high costs and niche market? I envision a product that costs say 200 bucks and gives you a couple gigs of lower-performance high-latency RAM.

        But now instead of 1 or 2 gigs of high-performance RAM, you only need 256 megs or so, so you wind up saving money in the long run, and having a much peppier, and more robust PC to show for it.

        I just dont understand why this isnt happening. It seems like a sure-hit product that would sell like hotcakes.

        • They make them people dont buy them for home PC's. Lets look at the numbers:

          A 1 Gig Stick of DDR400 is $166 today on pricewatch in 512 sitcks it's a little cheaper per gig like 148 a gig but thats 2 sticks.

          Why would you get a 200 card + ram if you dont have it (not everybody have 10 or 20 gigs of older ram floating around) and 2 gigs of slower memory is about 150 again making the total cost of this solution not counting that paltry 256 is more expensive and slower than just getting 2 gigs of DDR400. If
    • by dodell (83471)
      Paging is implemented in most main-stream operating systems to support legacy environments (even now some computers, namely laptops, come with 128MB RAM -- WinXP is the market OS... see below). There are several good reasons for this for every operating system.
      • Windows is RAM-intensive. I have XP and 256MB RAM. 128MB was definitely not enough, and 512 would be the lowest amount that would cut it without paging on my box. Problem is, my laptop doesn't support that much (it's an older Dell Latitude model). I
    • From another point of view, the swap area on Solaris is also used for kernel crash dumps, so you generally want it to be persistant across reboots.

      From a PC perspective, it would require a motherboard redesign and the price differential between SDRAM & DDR isn't that great; you can probably get 256MB DDR dimms for the same price as 512MB SDRAM DIMMs and get a boost without (a) complex hardware and (b) the CPU overhead of swapping & associated load on I/O.

    • And, only slightly offtopic, why must PCs have pagefiles created on a hard drive? Why not have a bunch of SDRAM slots, even on a PCI card, and have 4 gigs of uber-cheap PC133, then create a 4 gig swap file in RAM (if not natively supported).


      Do it this way like you say? Already is here for linux users.

      8 gigs of ram in the server, on boot the kernel set's up a 4gb ramdrive, format's it, and set's it as swap.

      Otherwise, instead ow wasting ram with a swap file... simply allow the OS to use it and to hell w
    • Re:Hooray (Score:4, Informative)

      by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Monday August 04, 2003 @12:04PM (#6606660)
      People have been predicting that solid state will replace hard drives for at least a decade now, probably more. But HDDs have kept ahead in large capacity throughout that time, and manufacturers still hav3e quite a lot of technology up their sleeves. The only way that flash is going to catch up with HDD in the nect 5 years (I predict no futher) is if the need for space is satisfied. And when you have got video and broadbabd, people will carry on filling HDD space with downloads, or more software or... This gadget said $0.37/Mbyte. The last disk I bought ran about $0.015/Mbyte, and that was a while back.

      And using flash for a swap drive... Remeber that flash as a limited number of write cycles - perhaps 1 million. For picture storasge - no problem. For file storage - not likely to be a problem, becauss eht file space will eventually find its way into a long-lived firl. But for swap space, you might run out of write cycles sooner than you hope.
    • Here's a review of a "Rocket Drive" (PCI card with SDRAM)

      OC Addiction [ocaddiction.com]

      I have no idea why it's so expensive, except maybe because it has power backup.
    • I did a lot of hobby-type research on this issue and I have often wondered the same thing. PCI cards with DIMM slots should be very cheap to manufacture in mass quantities but unfortunatly it is still a niche market and they are a lot of money.

      It would be fairly easy to implement -- all you really need is a memory controller, a PCI chip and a DMA controller. Then you can map the memory directly to the processor's address space and use it as swap that is an order of magnitude faster then disk but signific
  • Al though (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frodo from middle ea (602941) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:24AM (#6606233) Homepage
    This is good news for most professional photographers, Use amatures would rather have a cheaper portable 20GB+ backup OPtion.
    Plus what is a typical life of a CF card ? I sure hope its more than 5 years If I am putting 1000$+ in it.

    Plus the very though of loosing those 600 RAW images , if i loose the CF card is disturbing.

    I would rather have a portable labtop with 20GB+ memory and a 1GB flash card.

  • Cool, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordYUK (552359) <jeffwright821@noSpAm.gmail.com> on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:25AM (#6606236)
    a quick google search reveals that a 1 GB version is about 170... 170 * 4 = 680. At 1500 bucks, I think I'd rather just keep three other 1 gb sticks in my pocket/camera bag/whatever... granted, if you're a professional photgrapher you might think otherwise, but I recall something that we used a few years back that had to be changed every X number of pictures, what was it, oh yes... film.

    I'd say it has to be easier to pop a flash card in and out of a digital camera as opposed to a roll of film... but thats just me.

  • best quote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by paradesign (561561) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:28AM (#6606274) Homepage
    "It would be refreshing to see someone talk about something other than the pursuit of big numbers. " in reference to the expanding storage of CF cards and mega pixel ratings. Seems to apply to more than just cameras. I took it to mean that there should be more of a focus on cost/performance ratio, rather than bleeding edge.

    unrelated note... I wish all PCs would come with CF slots on them standard. i think its the best alternative to the floppy. ive even started carrying arround a card reader so i can use CF to replace my stacks of zip disks.

    • But you see, that's EXACTLY what happens. When new high-end kit comes out, the FORMER cutting edge stuff really drops in price.
    • Re:best quote (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tinrobot (314936)
      unrelated note... I wish all PCs would come with CF slots on them standard. i think its the best alternative to the floppy.

      I use those USB pen drives. Very handy, and a similar concept. They're about the same price as CF, and most PCs have USB slots.
  • CF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dodell (83471) <dodell@NOspAm.sitetronics.com> on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:28AM (#6606278) Homepage
    As far as I can tell, this thing is only useful for professional photographers. When getting my picture taken for the cover of Pro. PHP4 MM Programming, I saw that the photographer had several 1GB CF cards strewn over his desk. Digital photos are becoming more popular because people can get them reprinted and such. There's not really a loss in quality either, since the photos are 5-7 megapixels. But you end up getting 27MB TIFF files (in B/W)! I'm sure there are other uses for this sort of storage, but this is the best example I could think of.

    I think that the price to pay for CF is way too heavy for this card to fit into general use. CF cards don't have the longest lifespan in the world either. Until these prices go down, I don't think CF will become a really hot item. I mean, look at iPods. 20GB of storage at less than half the price (and it'll play your MP3s).

    The other disappointment regarding the price is that it's too high to push the prices down on 1GB models, so we won't see these being shoved into consumer electronics anytime soon either.

    I think that by the time CF gets to be reasonably priced, other devices of similar size and much higher capacity will be available. I don't have a good feeling about the lifespan of CF.

    On the other hand, I'd like to know some of the uses that this card may see. I may be completely oblivious to its practical usage. Feel free to enlighten me as to where this could be used, what it will replace, and whether or not the price is right for that application.

  • Too big (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nbarr (666157)
    Experts say you should never use a card bigger than 512Kb. Why? Imagine loosing one card? You'll loose 2Gb of image information. If you use 4 cards of 512Kb, and you loose one, you will not be loosing that much info. Dont put all the eggs on the same basket.
    • Re:Too big (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mekkab (133181) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:38AM (#6606380) Homepage Journal
      But if you only have 1 card- its in your camera. If you lose that card, you have FAR greater problems on your hands!

      Conversely- if you are juggling 4 different little pieces of plastic, the ability to lose one is a lot easier!
    • I suppose it's always a worry but compact flash is far more robust then a microdrive. Even if the filesystem gets corrupted you can still stick the CF card into a computer and probably recover most of the data. I don't even consider microdrives any more because of the horror stories I've read on their fragility, but I've never lost data from a (flash based) CF card.

      Still, the entry point price of the 4GB card is far too expensive relative to the price of 1GB cards. People with 11Mpix+ cameras might buy

      • Re:Too big (Score:3, Interesting)

        by afidel (530433)
        For the ultimate story of CF rugidness you have to see This [digitaljournalist.org] link.
        • That article was incredible. Those film camera's were toast. It's amazing how close this guy got to the thing. One can only imagine what happened seconds after the last frame was shot. This is a testament to the man as well as the technology. Bill Biggart, you were an incredible man. Thanks for posting that link.
  • You don't need a different camera. Just pretend it's a filesystem when the computer connects.

    Forth uses numbered blocks. I have yet to understand why the camera should need a file allocation table.

    Morons.
    • CF cards are used for more than cameras. If you want anything else to be able to read your pictures, you need to have a standard way of representing the files on the card. Suprisingly, we call this a "filesystem". If you want every camera to have it's own proprietary storage that only that camera can use, and can only be read by a special hardware adapter with special software, then by all means, then by all means, keep pushing the use of Forth(!?) as way of writing files.
  • What I would like to see is smarter cameras that make use of that cheaper 256MB of CF memory, instead of me having to spend a bundle on 512MB or 1GB+

    I think it would just be a great feature to be able to Zip or Tar my older pictures on a camera, say everytime I take 100 pictures on my 2MP camera, it asks me if it can compact the last 50 to save disk space. That would be really awesome, then I could take more pictures per card.
    • Well, zip and gzip don't do a very good job on JPEGs, since JPEGs are already highly compressed. You can already 'save' CF space simply by telling the camera to take a lower quality or lower resolution shot. I can put 300-500 high resolution JPGs on a 1GB CF card with my EOS-10D (6Mpix) but if I drop the resolution and/or quality down that number increases beyond 2000. Of course, nobody in their right mind actually takes pictures at less then full quality when one has that kind of storage, but it's still
      • Actually at least on the D30 there IS a step like zip to compress the RAW image (in fact it even puts a little 2/3rds size low quality JPEG in as a thumbnail =) Of course zip can't compare to JPEG, but JPEG's don't have the information necessary to do post processing like the RAW images do.
        • True, which is why RAW images are more then twice as large as a high quality JPEG but still not as large as a TIFF. But RAW images don't compress either. If I try to gzip a JPEG I get a file that is basically the same size as the original JPEG. If I try to gzip a (canon) RAW file from my EOS-10D, I get a file that is basically the same size as the original as well. In otherwords, standard compression will not work. JPEG compression on the otherhand works wonderfully but of course it is lossy.

          Canon at

      • Of course, nobody in their right mind actually takes pictures at less then full quality when one has that kind of storage, but it's still an option.

        I think my Fuji got it right. When I start running low on space, I can scale down some of the images that I've already taken but am less excited about.
    • This card is targeted to high end users with 6 and 12 Mpixel cameras. They shoot raw images (lossless compression). Very high file sizes are created. It is not geared to the 2 Mpixel consumer camera which is using jpeg compression. Tarring or zipping jpeg compressed immages would be pointless since the images are ALREADY compressed far beyond what normal compression can do.
  • 6GB CF from Pretec (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eugene (6671) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:39AM (#6606398) Homepage
    A while ago Pretec announced 3GB and 6GB CF card, while 3GB is out, 6GB capacity CF is still no where in sight yet. but the competition from 4GB card surely will start driving the price down.
  • When The Price Drops (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mustangsal66 (580843) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:40AM (#6606416)
    Think about it... 6 Divx movies in the palm of your hand...

    Now to create a card reader/decoder for my DVD player...

  • These things rock! (Score:2, Informative)

    by slewfo0t (679988)
    I am currently using one of the Lexar 2GB cards for a Hard Drive on an embedded box that I put together. It's faster than IDE flash drives and costs MUCH less. A 512mb IDE flash drive costs about the same as a 2GB Compact Flash card. I have also tried using the 2GB Compact Flash cards by Pretc. I do not recommend using these cards for a drive. They proved to be extremely slow and some applications would not function with them. Lexar has really come out with a nice poroduct here!

    Sandisk is working on a 4G
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      I am currently using one of the Lexar 2GB cards for a Hard Drive on an embedded box that I put together.

      what the hell for? 2GB is way too much storage needed for an embedded device. Hell I can fit my OS apps and about 12 days worth of data and logs on a 8meg CF card.

      Also you need to be using the correct filesystem, anything but a Flash filesystem will hose that card within days, you need to spread out the writes to keep from wearing out the flash in an address range.

      2GB flash in an embedded system... W
  • by tinrobot (314936) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:48AM (#6606489)
    What's the MTBF on these things? I've had CF cards go bad on me before, and it's always a bummer when you lose photos. I personally think it's best to go with several mid-sized cards rather than one gargantuan one. That way, if a single card goes bad, you don't lose everything. Even for pro-tographers who take zillions of pictures, it's a good idea. Changing a CF card takes less time than changing a roll of film, so it won't interrupt the workflow all that much. Plus it might save you a major headache should you lose everything.

    On the same lines, I think someone should come out with a redundant flash card. Instead of a single 4GB card, perhaps two 2GB cards in one, with the storage mirrored as in a RAID. I know some people might pay extra for the added security/redundancy.
  • by tambo (310170) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:58AM (#6606592)
    ...will be the elimination of the MP3 player market.

    It frustrates me to no end that I carry around a rather remarkably-specced PDA that could handily play MP3s... but I'm hampered by limited storage. It's like being unable to drive your Corvette because you can't buy enough gas.

    The high-capacity portable-medium format will obsolesce one device from my gadget arsenal. One less battery to recharge; one less file store to maintain; one less device for firmware, driver updates, and connectors.

    David Stein, Esq.
  • by istartedi (132515) on Monday August 04, 2003 @12:17PM (#6606805) Journal

    My primary drive is 8 GB. Windows uses only half of it (other half is BSD). Yes, I have another drive in there too. Obviously, I don't store a lot of music and video. The point is, it's looking more and more realistic for at least some users like myself to have totally solid-state PCs. Quiet PC nirvanna; just around the corner.

  • by Lxy (80823) on Monday August 04, 2003 @12:34PM (#6606994) Journal
    What am I supposed to do with a number like that? I can't relate to it or determine how this would suit my needs. Put it into terms I recognize, like Libraries of Congress. How many Volkswagons fit in one of these? Is this still Slashdot?
  • by red_gnom (545555) on Monday August 04, 2003 @12:34PM (#6606995)

    That's great, but there's a chipper solution with more storage.

    Digital Wallet - 30GB $399.99, or 10GB $259.25 [dealcat.com]

    FlashTrax 30GB digital storage - 30GB $499 [d-store.com]

  • by vadim_t (324782) on Monday August 04, 2003 @12:37PM (#6607020) Homepage
    I've heard that FAT32 is very bad to have on Flash because it keeps updating the disk space counter almost with every write. If this effect happens on a card of this size it might not last for more than a month if you fill it often.
  • 40x? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hendrix69 (683997) on Monday August 04, 2003 @12:40PM (#6607046)
    What's the deal with measuring speed as multiples of ancient cdroms? How long is this gonna go on? Am I supposed to walk around with a pocket calculator in order to figure out what the actally speed of merchandise is? Quick: how many MBps in 48x?
    It's like measuring the power of a space shuttle's lunch rockets using horse power. "Oh, you mean if we tie down 1 million and a half horses to the shuttle we'd be able to get it off the ground? Impressive..."
  • by DeathB (10047) * <{adamp} {at} {ece.cmu.edu}> on Monday August 04, 2003 @01:08PM (#6607357) Homepage
    I've seen two misstatements repeated over and over again in this discussion. Folks have been suggesting that flash cards like this might represent the future of hard drives. They've also been mentioning that it has a higher speed than the IBM microdrive.

    While this is true in a camera, where you tend to erase an entire card and then fill it in a linear fasion, this isn't true when you use it as a hard drive. Flash memory has two things which make it unique, slow erasures, and limited numbers of cycles. Unlike a hard drive, where you can simply overwrite data, in flash memory you have to erase a region of it first. Usually you also have to erase a much larger region than a filesystem block (64k vs 4k). These erasures can be as painful as .5 seconds as well. Typical UNIX filesystems like ext2 or ffs, keep their data structures in fixed locations. Most writes are to metadata, and they will cause the metadata parts of a CF card to be erased and overwritten over and over again. Unlike a hard drive which can survive almost unlimited cycles like this, you will only get a few thousand in flash memory. Copying a set of files might burn out some cells in a single operation.

    The log-structured filesystem (lfs) presents a partial solution to this, by writing data in blocks, deleting it in blocks, and writing to the end of a disk before starting over again. Unfortunatly, lfs becomes unefficient once fragmentation starts to set in, as a "cleaner" is necessary to group data back into blocks.

    I still think one of these would be cool in my camera, but I want a 4G microdrive for my computer.

    Adam
    • While a CF is not a good choice for a "tradition HD" application, I would suggest that under certain conditions, a CF *can* be a good HD. For example, with embedded Linux you might mount certain partitions (e.g. /usr) as read-only which could either be on the CF, or if speed is needed part of an initrd. Certain writeable partitions (e.g. /dev, /var, /tmp) normally on your system can be a ramdisk (RAM is cheap), avoiding the flash altogether. And if you want persistent storage for other paritions (e.g. /

  • by sinjayde (661825) on Monday August 04, 2003 @03:22PM (#6608548)
    From the Lexar Media website [digitalfilm.com] [digitalfilm.com] / [lexarmedia.com]

    It is important to note that cards greater than 2 GB can only be used in cameras that support the FAT32 file system. Please be sure to install the latest version of Image Rescue (version 1.1.5) that is bundled on the card on your computers before using the card in a camera.

    Image Rescue can assist you in properly reformatting the cards to FAT32 if they are mistakenly used in a non-FAT32 compliant camera.

    At this time the 4 GB card can be used with the following cameras that support FAT32 and have a CF Type II slot.

    Cameras that accept CompactFlash Type II that are also FAT32-compatible:

    Canon Powershot G3
    Canon Powershot G5
    Canon Powershot S45
    Canon Powershot S50
    Canon EOS 10D
    Canon EOS-1Ds

    Kodak DCS 720X (A CompactFlash-to-PC Card adapter is required with these models)
    Kodak DCS 760 (A CompactFlash-to-PC Card adapter is required with these models)
    Kodak DCS Pro Back (all models)
    Kodak DCS Pro 14n

    Olympus E-1

    Hmm, you may want to keep that in mind before you consider this product.
  • by DonGar (204570) on Monday August 04, 2003 @03:51PM (#6608870) Homepage
    Larger compact flash cards are now big enough to act as replacements for hard-drives for small/special purpose PCs. For example, my firewall, even with all of it's logging only needs about 200M of storage.

    I could use a CF card to build a small/slow PC with no moving parts (fanless also). That seems like it would be a lot more reliable.

    However, how well do Compact Flash cards deal with continuous writing and rewriting? How long could a card handle the data being logging to disk from my firewall before it starting having errors?

    How much of a problem would the slower write times be? In the case of the firewall, I would expect there to be enough ram to keep the slow CF read/write times from being a problem, but how much difference is there overall?
  • by Rambo (2730) on Monday August 04, 2003 @06:37PM (#6610295)
    I've read quite a few comments from people speculating that a particular filesystem (fat32) will cause issues because all the wear is concentrated in the FAT sectors, etc. This just isn't the case because the card will do wear-leveling in hardware, including replacing bad blocks with good blocks from a spare pool. Other interfaces (Mem Stick/MMC/SD/SM) do not have this advantage, as CF has a built-in intelligent controller to manage this behavior. The others allow direct access to sectors, and thus it is possible to "burn" a particular sector by writing to it repeatedly.

    Here's a link to a FAQ about a CF interface for the Apple II, which discusses the issue (or lack thereof): http://dreher.net/CFforAppleII/FAQ.html [dreher.net]

    Here's a link to a maker of CF controllers and a description of their features: http://www.mittoni.com/compactflash/article5.html [mittoni.com]

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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