CompactFlash Cards Could Hold Petabytes, Make Hard Drives Look Puny

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.