CompactFlash Cards Could Hold Petabytes, Make Hard Drives Look Puny

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News Posted: Tue, Feb 23 2010 5:41 PM
Secure Digital has a great deal of mindshare these days, and far more notebooks ship with integrated SD card readers than CF card readers. But that's not to say that CompactFlash is losing steam. CF has always been more of a "professional" format, used almost exclusively on higher-end DSLR cameras and rarely ever on lower-end point and shoot devices.

With 1080p video features and more megapixels coming to cameras, the CompactFlash Association has to stay one step ahead in order to provide specifications that will stand up to the demands of modern pro cameras. Unlike SD, CF cards are typically used by those who making at least a portion of their living with a camera, so it's vital that there's enough speed and space to handle the rigors of day-to-day shooting.



In order to provide for the target market, the CompactFlash Association has just announced the availability of the CF 5.0 specification, which brings about the potential for higher transfer rates and larger capacities. Currently, cards top out at 28-bit, but CF 5.0 allows for 48-bit support, and thus a theoretical increase in size to 144 petabytes. If you didn't know, a petabyte is made up of 1000 terabytes, so yeah, this is pretty massive. The current limit stands at 137GB, which is still huge compared to even the newest SDXC cards on the consumer side. There's no indication of when petabyte-sized CF cards will make it to market, but we suspect it'll be a few years yet. And after they do hit, we plan on picking up one of those CF-to-SSD adapters and fixing our laptop up with one of the most sizable flash-based storage solutions on the planet.
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rapid1 replied on Wed, Feb 24 2010 1:39 AM

Is Compact Flash not a Sony mem card format?

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ClemSnide replied on Wed, Feb 24 2010 9:34 AM

No, it's technically a SanDisk format, but one that's become moderately popular in the storage arena. Sony's contribution, which they refuse (with typical Soniness) to believe has gone nowhere outside of their own products, is the Memory Stick.

Owning no CF-using devices (my camera uses plain, non-HC SecureDigital cards), I'll give this one a lukewarm huzzah. The 90 MB/s on the pictured card would put it in the speed range of a decent HD, though.


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realneil replied on Wed, Feb 24 2010 10:27 AM

I use SD cards on both of my SLR's and my Mini-CamCorder too. I can't see replacing my Bling just to change formats any time soon. So,...lukewarm in Virginia as well.

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ClemSnide replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 3:06 AM

I think it's time for a reality check, which can be cashed (with two forms of ID) at any reality bank.

A petabyte being 1000 terabytes, and the new standard being good for up to 144 PB (higher than that we get into exabyte, zettabyte, and yottabyte, which are just plain silly; the last one sounds more like an energy bar), we have examples of flash memory up to 256 GB at the moment: specifically, the Kingston Datatraveller 310, retailing for $844.

One terabyte worth of these would be $3376; one petabyte, $3,376,000; and the full 144 PB monte (and yes, I used a calculator for this) would be $486,144,000.

Hey, President Obama! I just figured out a way to solve the trade deficit!

Admittedly, the Datatraveller is not the best price-per-byte out there. That winner seems to be an $8, 4 GB drive from MicroCenter. At $2 per gigabyte, that 144 PB drive would run you $288,000,000. Quite the savings!

But wait, there's more: The smallest 4 GB flash drive currently available, one of which is from Super Talent (a few others, though they claimed the world's smallest, wouldn't give dimensions) and is 6g in weight, 1319.608 mm3 (0.000001319608 liter) in volume.

As my assembly language professor used to say, "Everything counts in large amounts." That same size multiplied by 36,000,000 (144 PB divided by 4 GB) comes out to 475 liters: that's 237 two-liter bottles of Mountain Dew Throwback plus a 32 ounce Big Gulp,

 

 

which would require a good-sized refrigerator such as the Haier 475 litre Premium No Frost Top Mount Refridgerator:

 

 

and which would weigh in at 216,000 kilograms, 820 times the Olympic clean & jerk weightlifting record.

 

 

You're welcome.


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