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SimpleTech Announces 8GB Compact Flash Card 279

Posted by timothy
from the priced-just-for-nasa dept.
alterego writes "Digital Photography Review is reporting that SimpleTech has announced 2, 4, 5 and 8GB Type II Compact Flash Cards utilizing its patented IC Tower stacking technology. This comes just a month after Hitachi announced its 4GB HD in under an inch, and less than one year after Lexar announced the first 4 GB CF card, marking a huge leap in drive density. And at only $5,999 it is sure "to meet budget and performance requirements.""
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SimpleTech Announces 8GB Compact Flash Card

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  • reliability? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by plinius (714075) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:34AM (#8248381)
    They're rushing these products to market so fast with new semiconductor technologies, I'm beginning to wonder about reliability. This is storage after all, not a processor: if these data is lost you can't just reboot and start over.
    • by pohzer (561713) * on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:45AM (#8248519)
      True.

      SanDisk brought us SanDisk Ultra, rated at 60x speed. Then they reminded us that if we really want it to keep it's memory at low temperatures (such as outdoor photography in winter) then we really need to buy SanDisk Extreme (same speed, higher temperature tolerance).

      Seems to me these hardware manufacturers are taking a clue from the software industry. The "implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose" is intended to protect consumers against such crap. But then, if you can shrink-wrap the product with all sorts of disclaimers of warranties (even implied warranties) then hey, why not? Cheating is cheating, and everybody is doing it, so it must be ok.

      • just becuase they disclaim the implied warranties does not mean that the disclaimers are effective. Software is different than hardware on how it is treated. This is evidenced by the existance of UCITA, which originally started out to be UUC Article 2b but was to contraversial for the ALI and so it got the boot.

        The point here is that hardware is still regulated under UCC Article 2 -- sale of goods -- which pretty much prevents effective denial of implied warranties.

        For an implied warranty of fitness of
    • Re:reliability? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by peter_gzowski (465076) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:06AM (#8248739) Homepage
      I'm always concerned with the reliability of these cards. I think their ability to keep their state wanes over time, although I don't know what that time period is. With the Type II cards, battery life is also an issue, as they suck much more juice than the Type I. The article says that they have a 5 GB Type I card, which would bring my Nex IIe up to the storage capacity of a Mini iPod, if I could afford either :). I'll just have to wait a year or two for these cards to be in the hundreds instead of thousands.
  • by Stile 65 (722451) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:34AM (#8248384) Homepage Journal
    Just in time for V-Day! I'm stocking up and getting every member of my harem one.

    Being a /. member, of course, this will be yet another costless Valentine's Day for me.
  • by carl67lp (465321) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:35AM (#8248392) Journal
    ...who said it couldn't be done for less than $10,000! Ha!

    It's at just the right price point for those who might be on the fence with CF cards. Although you can, of course, get an extra 11GB for only $50 more...
  • by way2trivial (601132) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:35AM (#8248394) Homepage Journal
    seriously.. what does it take to yank my hard drive, insert one of these, and drop that weight/power consumption/fragility of my drive?
    (yes, I know it takes six grand)

    what would the access times be like? comparable to a 42000 rpm drive? 5400? 10,000 sata?

    • by MoronGames (632186) <cam@henlin.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:37AM (#8248419) Journal
      The access times, I think, are much faster than hard drives, but the transfer rates are somewhat lower. If I remember correctly.

      • by myc (105406) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:50AM (#8248579)
        given the smaller form factor of flash cards, why not just RAID a bunch of smaller cards together? According to pricewatch. a 1GB flashcard is about $160.00 US. 160*8 = 1280, which is a little below 5 times the cost of the 8 gb card, and also gives you increased bandwidth. For a portable device that doesn't need oodles of space for multimedia files, you wouldn't even need this much disk space. the only thing that is worrisome is the limited flash cycles.
        • by blorg (726186) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:36AM (#8249072)
          Lots of reasons. The sort things that use 'the smaller form factor of flash cards' aren't going to appreciate the CF card (already the largest form of flash storage) growing in size by a factor of eight. You've reached near 2.5" (laptop) hard-drive style sizes already, possibly larger with the necessary controlling circuitry. Factor in the expense of implementing the RAID controller in said portable device, and I don't think you're onto a winner. GB for GB, it is hardly a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks either.
          • How much of a current CF card is packaging? If the standard casing for a CF card is removed, it should be much smaller. The better implementation would be an emulation of a 2.5" drive. Forget software drivers, use hardware to provide a flash drive that the computer sees as a "drive". Plug it into your existing laptop and you have an immediate power and vibration limit reduction.
          • Inexpensive is all relative. If you told someone in 1970 that they could store 1TB of data for $5999 (Apple XRaid) they'd laugh. How about 1995 even? My POS IDE 2.1GB HD cost $400 and I thought I was getting a deal. The fact the average non-corporate person can afford a RAID setup is proof that it is inexpensive.
        • by bbsguru (586178) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @12:58PM (#8249877) Homepage Journal
          Actually, that would be a RACE: A Redundant Array of Cards, Expensive. Since Johnny Cochran already patented the term, industry insiders are banking on the name MEMORY. That's a Massively Expensive Matrix Of Redundant Yottabytes.

          hmmm.... Registered Trademark Pending?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:38AM (#8248444)
      after a certain number of writes (many fewer than hard disks) it dies.
      • While that's true, it takes about 2 weeks of swapfile use on a CF card to burn it out.
        A friend of mine made that mistake after installing ZipSlack on a 128mb CF card (in a CF->IDE adapter)
        I think he was using it on a 32mb machine... so 2 weeks of heavy swapping... that's a LOT of reads & writes.
    • by deadmongrel (621467) <karthik@poobal.net> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:41AM (#8248474) Homepage
      If I remember right(somebody correct me if I am wrong) flash cards have some max rewrite cycle. Even if its high, it still won't beat my 2.1 GB seagate from yesteryear in lifespan.
      • by Smallpond (221300) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:51AM (#8248585) Homepage Journal
        My 2.1G drives had stiction problems and ended up in the trash.

        Flash is still on the order of 100,000 writes, but good software will write evenly and manage bad blocks. The big problem is still the 10^2 cost difference. Notebook drives are around $0.33/MB.

        • External hard drives (FireWire/USB 2.0) are about $1/GB. They're realatively small and not particularly heavy - at larger sizes/prices (over 256MB/$60), I'd say they still have flash beat hands-down. For the price of a 512MB flash drive, you can have a 120GB hard drive. Yes, it's big and bulky in comparison, but unless you've got money to burn (which I'm assuming is not generally the case on /.), they're probably a better choice.
        • I meant 0.33 cents/MB above. [ no, really ] A 60GB 2" drive with single connector for $200, so its almost as portable as CF. Just need hot-swap IDE ports and a little plastic to eliminate flash cards altogether.
      • That's true, but there are filesystems like JFFS2 [redhat.com] that are specifically designed for flash and spread writes across the entire card. (This will still come nowhere near a hard disk, but can be sufficient for many applications.)
    • by RainbowSix (105550) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:41AM (#8248479) Homepage
      Using a flash card would be worse than a disk. Sure it has access times an order of magnitude faster than a hard disk (200ns according to the first google hit for "compact flash access time") but bandwidth sucks at less than 20MB/s while cheap desktop drives are getting between 30-60 sustained (tom's hardware review of Seagate Baracudda 7200.7)

      Furthermore since flash has limited flash cycles that is much less than that of a hard drive, your /tmp directory will have you buying a new card in no time.
      • by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:02AM (#8248710)
        Using a flash card would be worse than a disk. Sure it has access times an order of magnitude faster than a hard disk (200ns according to the first google hit for "compact flash access time") but bandwidth sucks at less than 20MB/s while cheap desktop drives are getting between 30-60 sustained (tom's hardware review of Seagate Baracudda 7200.7)

        But for most operations on a normal desktop system, access time is 99% of total transfer time. Most disk transfers are of the order 4-16kb - less than 1 millisec while transferring. Whereas disk average access time struggles to reach 4 millisec. Excluding, of course, things like streaming video.

        Furthermore since flash has limited flash cycles that is much less than that of a hard drive, your /tmp directory will have you buying a new card in no time.

        Much more relevant. You would have to do without a swap partition (buy morE dram). I think some flas drives are clever wnough to map out bad blocks invisibly, so /tmp shouldn't kill you too soon.

        But for $6k, how many complete disk based system can you drop/lose?
      • by MyHair (589485) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:13AM (#8248826) Journal
        Furthermore since flash has limited flash cycles that is much less than that of a hard drive, your /tmp directory will have you buying a new card in no time.

        I read somewhere that at least some flash disk devices will remap writes to evenly 'wear' the flash chip even if the writes are supposedly 'physically' in the same location. But I don't know how well that mechanism scales to 8GB or how it affects speed. I also don't know how long such a wear-managed device would last under a typical workstation or server load, but at least /tmp wouldn't burn a hole through the chip in 20 minutes.

        On the other hand, for a filesystem with few updates and many reads (some web servers and a few databases--think LDAP), this device could be neat for a low-latency but faster-than-network throughput network server. But I'll wait until the price drops a few thousand.
      • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:19AM (#8248886) Homepage
        Put loads of RAM in, make /tmp a RAM disk. Oh, and turn off swap.
    • by Bishop923 (109840) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:00AM (#8248690)
      Better question would be if this could be adapted to work like a bootable CD. Imagine having a Knoppix-like distro on one of these things, You could upgrade packages piecemeal without having to burn a new CD, you could store data back to the card and it would fit in your wallet. It has 12x the storage of a CD, 3-4x the transfer rate, and faster access times by several orders of magnitude.

      What are we waiting for again?
      • I don't know. What you're talking about seems remarkably similar to the Linux install on my iPod. Which, BTW, only cost $538.96, has greater reliability, a faster overall transfer rate and 5 times the storage of the CF card.

        God, it never seemed like such a good deal before.
    • by mst76 (629405) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:07AM (#8248756)
      seriously.. what does it take to yank my hard drive, insert one of these, and drop that weight/power consumption/fragility of my drive?
      About 20 bucks [pcengines.ch].
      what would the access times be like? comparable to a 42000 rpm drive? 5400? 10,000 sata?
      I would guess that access time is much faster than hard disks, but throughput is much lower. Current CF cards operate in PIO mode, with a max of 8MB/s. The new specification allows up to 16MB/s (still PIO I think). But the speed of current flash chips are still way below that.
    • We've tried this here at work for use in our embedded devices. The performance hit is awful, throughput is about 10% of 5400rpm IDE using an IDE-to-CF adapter (http://adis.ca/store/cfdisk.php). Using PIO3 (no DMA I'm afraid), hdparm -t reports speeds up to 4MB/s vs ~40MB/s for 7200RPM IDE. CF sectors also have the limitation of "wearing out" after about 10000 writes or so, so this is not a good solution for read-write partitions, although it will work great for read-only, or very infrequently written-to
    • Write speed is horribly slow compared to spinning discs, and there's a limited write life.

      Sure, 500,000 writes seems like a lot, but not if that's your swap drive. The thing will be dying in 6 months.
      • by iangoldby (552781) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @12:27PM (#8249577) Homepage
        Swap is a way of extending your available (volatile) RAM using a disk, which is cheaper but slower. Flash is a way of using (non-volatile) RAM instead of a disk, which is more expensive but quieter, less power, etc.

        So using flash RAM as a swap partition is replacing cheap and fast volatile RAM with expensive and slow non-volatile RAM that has a limited lifetime. Hmm. Time to put on my thinking cap...

        I know! How about making a RAM disk in cheap volatile RAM for your swap partition. Then it will be almost as fast as normal memory. Oh, hang on a moment...
    • CF is much slower. One of the fastest modern cards is the SanDisk Extreme or Ultra II [sandisk.com], which claim 9-10MB/sec - that's for *sequential* read/write (in fairness, the sort of thing you are likely to do on a digital camera, but not on a computer). That's 60x-66x in CF terms. These new 8gb cards quote the same, if you RTA [dpreview.com].

      My own personal experience with a '26x high speed' card in a PC-Card adapter (a pretty fast interface) bears this out, CF is dead slow compared to even a 4200RPM HD (like the one in my lapto

  • WHAT??!?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by uprightcitizen (671176) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:36AM (#8248405) Homepage
    Sweet Jesus, almost $6K for a memory card?

    Honestly, who the hell needs this?

    Even professional photographers couldn't possibly have a use for this instead of two 4GB disks.

    But hey, I guess this means that mass solid state storage for hard drives really isn't far off, at least for PDAs.
    • Re:WHAT??!?! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dubdays (410710) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:43AM (#8248500)
      The one good thing that can/will/may come out of this is simply the new advances in non-volatile memory technology, even if there isn't a sustainable immediate need for an 8GB CF card. I mean, seriously, how cool would it be to have an 80GB solid-state HD in a few years???
      • Re:WHAT??!?! (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tuffy (10202)
        I mean, seriously, how cool would it be to have an 80GB solid-state HD in a few years???

        That would be pretty cool (and silent!), I'll admit. But by then I'll have a hard time justifying it when I can get an 800GB+ platter-based HD for the same price.

      • by *weasel (174362) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:20AM (#8248906)
        the achievement here is in getting 8GB into a standard-form-factor compact flash slot, and keeping power consumption down to a reasonable amount for portable storage.

        They could easily bind 10 of these CF cards together and have roughly the same form factor as the sleekest slimline notebook drives. It'd really just be a matter of addressing if they wanted to release an 80GB solid-state drive.

        The first problem though, is the transfer rate bottleneck. CF has access times an order of magnitude lower than even the fastest disk drives (0.000256s vs 0.006s), but its transfer rate is ~25% of current consumer magnetic disk drives. (20MB/s vs 80MB/s)

        likely they could work out the transfer rate problem (and in under a year if there was a market), but then we're left with the other major problem. The relatively low write lifespan of flash memory. (between 100k and 1m writes/block)

        A system swap file would likely burn through that much faster than the consumer market would tolerate.

        The bottom line though, is that it's patented technology. Even if they released an 80 GB drive in a couple years, it wouldn't be priced for the consumer market. Not until a competing technology moves in.

        You and I will likely still be waiting for a solid state storage alternative for the next 5 years. Sad but true.
    • Re:WHAT??!?! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ZHaDoom (65485)
      It may be $6000 now but in four years you'll be able to get it on ebay for $5
    • Re:WHAT??!?! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by magarity (164372)
      Even professional photographers couldn't possibly have a use for this instead of two 4GB disks.

      If you're going to Alaska to take pics of bears, moose, and whales for three months then you'll want a bag full of these 8GB monsters. The top line Nikon has a buffer that lets you take up to 144 pics in a row by holding down the shutter button. At 5 megapixels, that will eat up any size CF module in a big hurry. You'll want to do that if you're covering a sporting event. They won't pause the game while you
      • Re:WHAT??!?! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by svirre (39068)
        "The top line Nikon has a buffer that lets you take up to 144 pics in a row by holding down the shutter button."

        You are thinking of the D70. While it is able to write fast enough to keep taking pictures in normal JPEG 3 pictures pr. second without filling the buffer, it does not have room for 144 pictures in the buffer.

        Nor is the D70 the top of the line Nikon. That honor goes to the D1x or D2h depending on what you want. Those have buffers in the 40 picture range. (Depending on the resolution). With 8 pic
    • Check back in 6-18 months. You'll probably be able to buy them out of gumball machines in about 3 years.
  • by swordboy (472941) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:37AM (#8248414) Journal
    With this, and digital cameras like Canon's new S1 IS [powershot.com] with digital image stabilization and DV-quality movie capture, I'm not sure why anyone would need a camcorder anymore. Err... rather, cameras and camcorders are going to be on-in-the-same very soon...
    • If it really is DV-quality, then you're going to need about 20GB of storage for an hour of footage. An hour of footage is $4 of DV tape. Call me when 20GB of CF is $4, or hell, call me when 20GB of CF plus a camera is less than a decent cheap DV camera plus a tape.
    • by meta-monkey (321000) * on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:11AM (#8248802) Journal
      Err... rather, cameras and camcorders are going to be on-in-the-same very soon...

      At the consumer level, that may well be true. Most people with point and shoot consumer digital cameras never print their photos, and those that do don't often print anything much bigger than a 4x6 or a 5x7. So, having the extra resolution of a still camera doesn't really do much good for them anyway. The resolution of a video camera would handle their still images just fine.

      However, an 8GB $6,000 CF card is not a product for somebody buying a $299 consumer camera :) Honestly, I can't figure out who it's aimed at. I'm a professional photographer, and I'm a pretty heavy shooter, and I'll generally only fill up about 2.5 1GB cards at a wedding. I'm not worried about having to change cards, as with a 6MP camera I'll get about 400 shots to a card, and there's plenty of dead time there to swap. Portrait and magazine photographers certainly don't need this. Actually, most serious magazine/fashion photographers shoot tethered, anyway. Sports photographers need speed (which this card has, but so do the SanDisk Ultra/Extreme II cards), and there's plenty of time at football game to swap out cards every 600 shots (assuming you're using a 4MP 1D or D2H. That might change when the 8MP Canon 1D mark II comes out this April...). Really, I would specifically NOT buy a card this big, simply because I'd be afraid of putting all my eggs in one basket. If I had somebody's wedding spread across three cards, and one of them was damaged/destroyed/lost/whatever, that would be horrible, but at least I'd still have the other two (yes, I backup with a portable harddrive at every opportunity). But if I had it all on one 8GB card and it died...ouch.

      Maybe an 8GB card will be practical when DSLRs all have 20MP (which probably never will happen...) but in the meantime, it's expensive overkill.

      * My shots/card figures assumed JPEG capture, not RAW. For RAW, cut my numbers in half.
    • let's see now, 6K for an 8Gig flash card or $20 for a three pack of Mini DV tapes at walmart, personally i would rather see cameras implement photo storage and motion jpeg onto tapes, Save a ton of money and as long as there was a decent recovery record (hell, simple triplicate writing would do) you could archive every picture you ever took, combine that with a small flashcard mounted in the tape to store thumbnails and indexing information and it wouldn't be too much of a pain to get the pics off the camer
  • Replace Hard drives (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:37AM (#8248422)
    They're still a "little" expensive, but when you least expect they're be affordable. And 8GB is a lot of space. My root partition is 4 GB and my home partition is a lot bigger :-D but lot's of stuff could be saved on DVDs...
    Main point is, quiet computers are the new trend, and quiter than this is impossible. So, when do you think this will replace hard drives?
  • One day... (Score:4, Funny)

    by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:38AM (#8248443) Homepage Journal
    In the future, compact flash cards will be so large and so expensive that only the richest people in the world will have one. $5,000 - 8GB compact flash card $80 - 160GB Western Digital 7200RPM at Best Buy (wait for a sale) Unless there's a $4900 mail in rebate on the compact flash card, then no way.
  • by Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:39AM (#8248447)
    That's a whole lot of porn on one card! Worth every penny.

  • You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoeMoe (659154) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:42AM (#8248497)
    You know the computers you work with are pretty damn old when you see a Flash Card that's larger than your hard drive (can't make this stuff up people, Maxtor 6.2 GB HDD)...

    How long until we see the obligatory "Yea, but how much pr0n can it fit" posts?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:44AM (#8248516)
    here is a post on fatwallet about removing it, to use in other devices. since it retails for around $500 this can be a good deal.

    post [fatwallet.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...to cache a couple of pages of Slashdot's HTML.
  • by OriginalSpaceMan (695146) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:47AM (#8248553) Homepage
    I'm waiting for the day that my PC doesn't have a hard drive, CDROM drive, or anything else mechanical in it. If 8GB can be put on a CF card, being about 1" x 1" x .25", when is more development going to be put into replacing my 60GB hard drive with something the same size (3.5 inch standard HDD size) that uses eprom or something similar? I don't care about smaller and smaller and smaller sizes of hardware, I care about not having to deal with the motoro of my hard drive dying in 4 or less years.
    • You're assuming the compact flash or eprom would live longer than your drive if subjected to the same usage pattern, which is certainly not a given - both flash and eprom can usually handle much fewer writes than a hard disk can before you can start expecting failures. Add to it that flash is more expensive and slower, and we're not anywhere near replacing hard disks yet.
    • i know- i'm looking forward to the day when my computer is a thin solid-state slate.

      IANAEE, but it seems like someday we could make a computer that is basically an LCD/Tablet sort of thing, with all the chips of a computer on the back. Maybe one massive IC of something like EEPROM and Flash RAM. Upgrades are just a hardware issue. Maybe even programs could hard-wire things? Maybe it can be made reversible so that it uses very little energy, too.... and have a solar panel on the back. It would have a multi-
    • I'm waiting for the day that my PC doesn't have a hard drive, CDROM drive, or anything else mechanical in it.

      Static electricity.

      Zap! Poof! Fsck! :)
  • by i-Chaos (179440) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:47AM (#8248554)
    The only uses for an 8GB flash card that I can think of is digital video shoots. I'm guessing that read/write time will be about the same as current CF cards, so it's not going to be steller (not enough on an 8GB media), so you'll want to stream to it slowly. I mean, a photographer wouldn't have a reason to tote around 8GB worth of pictures, because he can always get to a terminal where he can sync pictures over an internet account. I mean, for $6000, I think he has no choice...

    And in regards to using this for video, why would you? There are DVD-based DV Cams out there that will write to 4.7GB discs that cost $1.5 each, so why bother spending 6 grand on something that can be done for $3? Plus, DVDs can be read almost anywhere these days, whereas you need to carry a special reader for CF.

    What I really want to see is an 8GB thumbdrive for CHEAP!

    • Canon's EOS-1Ds has 12Mpixels: if you save an uncompressed image that's about 36MB per shot. Thus an 8GB flash card would provide space for 222 photos. That's not unreasonable for an expedition to the Khumbu or somewhere equally remote, where there might not be the possibility of transferring images to a computer. Of course, I'd still rather have 8 1GB cards (stored separately around my bags) just to minimise losses in case one got stolen.
  • by blcamp (211756) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:49AM (#8248573) Homepage
    Seems to me that Seagate, WD, Maxtor et al should be paying close attention (and perhaps they are).

    With Flash getting more and more mainstream, and with the now high volumes being made available, hard drives are becoming less and less necessary for commodity products such as desktops and notebooks. The latter especially will make the switch from HDs to Flash, to lighten up the power and physical load.

    If Flash sees overall performance and shelf-life improvements rivaling HDs (more so than what it does already), HDs may well be relegated to a place in history/tech museums... right next to the analog cameras.

    • With Flash getting more and more mainstream, and with the now high volumes being made available, hard drives are becoming less and less necessary for commodity products such as desktops and notebooks. The latter especially will make the switch from HDs to Flash, to lighten up the power and physical load.

      I get the impression that Hard Drive manufacturers are heading towards making their drives smaller, lighter and with less power drain (for portable devices, eg. new iPod) than they will making them have a

  • $6000 (Score:3, Funny)

    by dcordeiro (703625) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:50AM (#8248581)
    with $6000 you buy:
    - 20 x 160GB harddrives
    - a bunch of 80GB notebook hardrives

    4GB of data:
    - 1 DVD
    - 6 CDs

    So why would someone wants (not even asking about *needs*) this!!!
    The $$$ per GB is $1250... reality check anyone ?

    Oh, I see, I can put one of this on my digital camera that I bought for $500, and could take 1 million photografs.. that's cool.

    or does it have a Ferrari logo, and makes the sound of filling gas when plugged to your ferrari notebook ?
    • Start shooting five - eight megapixel shots in RAW or TIFF format for sports events then you will get to know why many in the high-end digicam world are drooling. :)
  • by whiteranger99x (235024) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:51AM (#8248587) Journal
    The first remarks i hear is "why would anyone buy a $5999 8GB memory card... ...when they could buy 2 4GB cards, 4 2GB cards, ad nauseam ...who could possibly use that much space ...That could store a lot of PORN and DVDs (mayhaps porn DVDs....im guilty here :P)"

    But I digress, lets consider other technologies that we all thought we could never afford, and consequently never use. About 10-15 years ago, wouldn't our 256MB+ RAM and 30+ GB HDs run in the thousands or even millions for that stuff then. Give it time, and it will hopefully be cheap for all ;)
  • HDD failure can be devastating if a company isn't properly prepared. Yeah, the backup early and often mantra needs to be followed, but at least three times in the past couple of years I've been asked to help get data off of a drive that hadn't been backed up in years and failed for one reason or another. RAID isn't a solution, as the proprietary OS on the tools won't support it. I've thought before that a CF-style drive would solve a bunch of problems, if the reliability was good. Especially if the read
    • You know what you need? a good backup plan :P ;)

      Snide remarks aside, I feel your pain, as stuff i thought I backed up either ended up not getting backed up at all, or the backup media fucked up. Of course, when its my personal backups, I consider it a PEBKAC error ;)

      If I recall correctly, the biggest show stopper of CF-style cards is that it has a finite number of writes before it craps out, but I could be wrong as I havent heard too much about it. Then again, we're talking about IF all these shortcomings
  • by darnok (650458) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:55AM (#8248627)
    My current 3M pixel camera gets approx 160 pictures onto a 256Mb flash card; that's with minimal compression of the JPG files. Doing a bit of maths, that means approx 5000 pictures per 8Gb flash card - a bit much to be carrying around with me!

    Looking at an extreme case: assume a pro photographer has a 12M pixel camera, and takes only TIFF files. That would get approx 750 pictures (I think; it's pretty late here!) on a 8Gb card. That's a hell of a lot of pictures to be carrying around with you, and a lot you're risking if the card dies or your camera gets stolen. I just can't believe that someone would need that capacity; surely they'd backup to some other, more sturdy media well before they got that quantity of pictures.

    IIRC, high-quality digital video would produce data faster than these these cards can store it. DV would conceivably merit the capacity, but the media would be too slow.

    Is there any other likely reasonably widespread use for these enormous flash cards? Something I've missed?
    • Although this technology at the moment is prohibitively expensive, the real market sector for these things must be PDA's, MP3 players and when capacities get larger laptops also. Its going to be a hell of a lot easier to fill up a PDA or MP3 player with files than any digital camera.
    • Only 250 pictures - remember, 3 bytes per pixel... Still a lot, but not unreasonable for a pro travel photographer on a long remote expedition.
    • My current 3M pixel camera gets approx 160 pictures onto a 256Mb flash card; that's with minimal compression of the JPG files. Doing a bit of maths, that means approx 5000 pictures per 8Gb flash card - a bit much to be carrying around with me!

      It not about how much you can get on compressed. It's about how many images you can get on **UNCOMPRESSED**. For professional work, that's how you store images. My sister is a pro photographer and she is always buying the next larger faster CF card. It's a pain in

  • by Monkey Overlord (746151) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:56AM (#8248642) Homepage
    This great news. People should keep in mind that 1Gb cards used to cost this much, just a few years ago ... now you can get 1Gb cards for $200 bucks or less. Considering that new cameras can output huge files, extra storage is very welcome. 8Gb is a lot of JPEGS, but only about 1000 RAW files ... which is not a lot if you are a pro and shooting an event. My only complaint is probably with the write speeds ... these cards need to get faster.
  • by Samuel Nitzberg (317670) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:57AM (#8248655)
    It could be a good item in high-cost systems with stringent weight / space / heat dissipation requirements, where there may not be many good solutions, regardless of cost.

    Sam
    http://www.iamsam.com
  • by MtlDty (711230) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:03AM (#8248716)
    How feasible is it to make a 'boot from USB' option to a PC BIOS?

    I know its not an option currently, but with all the advances in personal storage recently it would make sense for motherboard manufacturers to consider adding some kind of ASIC that allows the USB to be used as a boot device.

    The next step is to move all device driver software from the operating system to a dedicated flash ROM embeded on the motherboard.

    These two advancements would then enable people to carry around an entire OS on a flashcard/portable USB disk. You could simply slot in your flashcard and boot up your own OS (be it windows or linux) on any PC, at home/work/hotel. You dont need to carry a bulky laptop, all your data (and applications) can be on portable storage.

    I imagine making the device driver software update a motherboard embeded flash chip is the most awkward part, but it makes much more sense to me to have the hardware drivers linked firmly to the hardware they drive (and not part of the OS as they are currently)

    Just something I've been thinking about for years, but with all the recent advances recently I think its slowly becoming more possible?
    • Boot from USB is available already- I purchased a USB flash drive a few months ago and it came with utilites to make it bootable.
    • I currently boot from a 64MB Lexar CF card I bought in 2000. I use it for disaster recovery and cleaning up viruses on family members computers. All of the new computers I'ved peeked into lately have a BIOS option that allows for USB booting.

      Now if I could boot a PC from ~firewire~, *that* would be cool.
    • by mst76 (629405) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:17AM (#8248868)
      > How feasible is it to make a 'boot from USB' option to a PC BIOS?
      > I know its not an option currently, [...]

      Actually, it's been in lots of PC BIOSes in for a few years now. The problem is that it is still not as reliable as floppy/hd/cdrom boot: some usb devices work, some don't. Also, there seem to be a number of different usb boot standards, usb-fdd, usb-zip, usb-cdrom, usb-hdd.
    • by eddy (18759)

      What it said. You're not feigning ignorance are you? Boot KNOPPIX from an USB Memory Stick [uni-karlsruhe.de].

    • Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you can (almost) do just this with Knoppix now. You boot off the Knoppix cd into a full Linux environment, which mounts your home drive from a USB flash drive. As long as any PC you come across has a bootable CD and a USB port, you can have your whole environment with you. it wouldn't be as easy installing new software, etc. but it's close.

      - Dan
    • Aside from USB booting being available in every modern BIOS, as a plethora of other posts have stated...

      The next step is to move all device driver software from the operating system to a dedicated flash ROM embeded on the motherboard.

      There are so many problems with this that it's silly. Most operating system kernels (including Linux and Windows) require drivers to be recompiled whenever the kernel is updated. Thus, you would have to make sure that the kernel on your USB drive is the same as the one th
  • by thedillybar (677116) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:18AM (#8248878)
    We need improvements in battery technologies before these improvements in storage technologies will even help us.

    CompactFlash is meant to be portable. I don't know of a portable battery on the market today that could allow a machine to fill up (or read all of) this 8GB memory card before the battery dies.

    I replace/charge my batteries much more often than the memory card. How would this ever help me?

  • Other accessories (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mazzaroth (519229) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:19AM (#8248884) Homepage
    Instead of buying this kind of expenshuge flash card, I am considering Photo Memory Bank [smartdisk.com] from SmartDisk ($549 (40GB); $699 (80GB)) or a Belkin Media Reader for iPod [apple.com] (price $109) - since I already have the iPod.

    However, this is still all eggs in one basket - you loose the thing, no pictures left. I guess the ultimate solution is to simply bring a portable with me for my photo expeditions and transfert my pictures on a daily basis on my computer and then either on CD-ROMS or on my web site.

    Loosing pictures is not an option for me - these moments almost never come back.
  • by Masque (20587) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:20AM (#8248904)
    The 2, 4 and 5 are type I, not type II. Here's the actual press release:

    New 8 GB Card Utilizes Company's Patented IC Tower Stacking Technology

    SANTA ANA, Calif., Feb. 9 PRNewswire-FirstCall -- SimpleTech, Inc. (Nasdaq: STEC), a designer, manufacturer and marketer of custom and open-standard memory solutions based on Flash memory and DRAM technologies, today announced the industry's highest capacity CompactFlash with an 8 GB Type II card using the Company's patented stacking technology. The Company also announced 2, 4 and 5 GB Type I cards and a significant increase to the write speed of its entire ProX line of CompactFlash cards. The products will be unveiled at the PMA (Photo Marketing Association) trade show held at the Las Vegas Convention Center from February 12-15, 2004. SimpleTech will exhibit in booth N-64.

    "We combined the latest silicon with our patented IC Tower stacking technology and produced the highest density CompactFlash card available in the world," said Ken Roberts, director of product marketing at SimpleTech. "This card also uses a high speed controller with 10 MB/sec write speed -- the fastest on the market today."

    SimpleTech's IC Tower(TM) stacking technology allows multiple NAND Flash components to be stacked together to provide increased memory and storage densities that provide enhanced capacity in its 5 mm Type II cards.

    Delivering a breakthrough write speed of up to 10MB/second, SimpleTech's ProX CompactFlash cards enable images to be saved faster to the CompactFlash card and significantly reduces the wait time between digital photography shots.

    ProX CompactFlash cards incorporate Xcell(TM) technology, with a new advanced controller that provides an exponential increase in throughput for writing the picture file, delivering fast, accurate recording of high-resolution images and outstanding reliability.

    SimpleTech customers are offered a free trial of PhotoRescue software. Customers can download the photo recovery software onto their computer, and either insert the Flash card into a reader, or dock their camera, and view thumbnail images of their pictures. If one of the images on the card is corrupted, the rescue software allows the image to be recovered.

    All SimpleTech CompactFlash cards come with a lifetime warranty backed by SimpleTech's reputation for quality and support.

    Pricing and Availability

    Manufacturers suggested retail pricing for ProX CompactFlash cards ranges from $89.99 to $5,999 to meet budget and performance requirements. Samples of the new ProX CompactFlash Type I cards in 2, 4 and 5 GB capacities and the 8 GB type II cards are expected to ship during the first quarter of 2004, with production anticipated during the second quarter of 2004.
  • Sports photographers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:20AM (#8248905)
    Sports photographers are the only people really for whom this is remotely useful. Toting an 8 megapixel camera which takes 8.5 frames per second [dpreview.com] they may just need the space, and they may be willing to pay not to have the card space run out at an inopportune moment. "Hey guys, could you do that touchdown again? My CF card ran out of space, I've got a new one in, now though and my magazine really wants this shot!" What I can't understand, though, is why it wouldn't be far more cost effective for the photographer to have a WiFi card in his camera and a WiFi enabled laptop or large storage device in his bag. Battery life? Is it really worth $6000 ?
  • NOT a bad price (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jridley (9305) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:28AM (#8248971)
    I see a lot of people expressing surprise about the price. For the target market, these are very reasonably priced. Pro photographers are out in the field shooting with $6000 bodies, sometimes multiple ones, and $2000+ lenses, maybe several in a bag besides the ones on the bodies.

    They're not targetting people with a $1000 consumer point-n-shoot, and CF is not good for HD replacement in most cases due to low bandwidth and rewrite lifetime issues.

    Having to stop shooting to change media half as often is WELL worth it. You don't want to have to tell your editor "There was a pulitzer-prize shot, but I missed it because I had my head down changing CF cards right at that moment."
    • Re:NOT a bad price (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mst76 (629405) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:52AM (#8249243)
      Having to stop shooting to change media half as often is WELL worth it. You don't want to have to tell your editor "There was a pulitzer-prize shot, but I missed it because I had my head down changing CF cards right at that moment."
      A 2GB card costs under $200 and stores about 300 pictures in RAW mode from a 6MP camera. If you still can't see well in time that you need to change your card, maybe you shouldn't be in the professional photo business. How many pictures fitted on a 35mm roll again?
    • Re:NOT a bad price (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SailorBob (146385)
      There is another alternative. The photographer who did our wedding had a wireless card in his camera body which was constantly transmitting the pictues to his laptop. No worry about storage there. Not appropriate for everyone, but damn good for alot of situations.
  • expensive and slow (Score:3, Informative)

    by rcb1974 (654474) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {enytnallabdrahcir}> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:34AM (#8249047) Homepage
    OK I'm excited about 8GB in a flash card because I think it would be cool to have a full fledged linux installation on a PDA which you can easily fit into 8GB. However, all you people who are excited about flash memory replacing hard drives because they're quieter need to realize something; these cards have a 10Mb/second interface which is SLOW compared to 100Mb/second+ speeds of a desktop/laptop hard drive. Copying disk images and or 700MB movies onto it is going to take about 10 minutes per disk as opposed to less than 1 minute... Plus, I could be wrong on this but don't these cards have a lifetime of like ~700 writes?
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:45AM (#8249177) Homepage Journal
    I guess if you can afford one of these you can afford a new camera with new firmware, but the current cameras are using FAT12 and FAT16, neither of which will address 8GB.

    That price point is for early adopters and professionals only, and professionals are not going to be happy about losing 8GB of photos to a corrupted file system. I hope the camera makers are planning something more robust than FAT.
  • by mpath (555000)
    The full quote from the article reads:
    Manufacturers suggested retail pricing for ProX CompactFlash cards ranges from $89.99 to $5,999 to meet budget and performance requirements.
    Far be it from /. trying to sensationalize, though. ;)
  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:50PM (#8251344)
    This would increase memory 32 times. Then memory would last 256 days instead of 16. (The first rover went into an infinite re-boot loop when its file system claimed flash memory was full. Probably some garbage collection bug.) (Rover memory is radiation hardened.)
  • Only $5,999? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tiger99 (725715) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:56PM (#8251413)
    Sadly the cost of solid-state memory lags, in terms of time, about 12 years behind roatating magnetic disks. Please do correct me if that number is wrong, but it will not be out by more than a couple of years either way.

    In terms of immediate cost, it must be a ratio of about 300, given that you can't buy an 8 gid standard HDD any more, but if you could it would be about $20 or less if it was proportional to larger disks.

    It has always been so, to a fair approximation, and no doubt some corollary to Moore's Law says that it will always be so.

    Pity, because I could use one of these right now if it cost under $100.

    Sometimes the old ways are best. Within its rated operating life (say 5 years), a reputable brand of HDD is also more reliable.

    I don't see this changeing any time soon, there are lots of new ideas around for storage devices but none of them seem to come to fruition. This is just an extension of yesterday's technology, more of the same (not to belittle the achievement, these things take money, hard work and expertise in abundance), but not a radical breakthrough.

    IMHO holographic memories, with lots of inherent redundancy, and therefore reliability, are the way forward, but we have been hearing that for at least 10 years now. I think there will be a real breakthrough of some sort within 10 years, what it will be is not immediately obvious. What is certain is that this is not it. But, in about 6 years, when my income has doubled and 8 gig costs $200, I will buy one, if nothing better comes along. Of course, it will then only hold about 2 picturtes from the latest gigapixel camera, which is what I would likely use it for....... The problem will move, but will not go away.

  • by Esion Modnar (632431) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:30PM (#8252515)
    And at only $5,999 it is sure "to meet budget and performance requirements.""

    Something to go along with my $750 hammer. You know what I like best? The fact that they priced it at $5999, not $6000. That makes it seem so much more affordable.

    Dang marketing weenies.

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