A memory card is a device offering an easy, fast and reliable way for storing and transferring digital files.
It works like a portable hard disk drive but comes with some superior advantages, since almost every memory card is based on flash memory technology, of having much smaller form factor and being non-volatile and solid state. Making flash memory cards much more durable and reliable than hard disk drives. Memory cards are made by a variety of manufacturers and can be found in different storage capacities and transfer speeds.
As a consumer, itīs easy to get confused by all those different memories. Which memory card should I use for this application? And is one memory cards comparative with other kind of devises?
Memory cards can be used by digital cameras, cell phones, camcorders, portable audio, DVD and video players, PDAs, game consoles, laptops, desktops, printers etc. In the future it is expected that all electronic devices will be compatible with memory cards. The driving force, today, behind the growth in memory card demand is the usage of memory cards in mobile phones. In the near future as storage capacity and transfer speed will get higher and prices lower, memory cards will replace most of today’s storage mediums such as the hard drive.
The memory card industry is high competitive with many memory card standards and formats that are competing with each other. There are currently more than a dozen of memory card formats available, and they are often not compatible with each other.
The first memory card was introduced in 1990 by the name PCMCIA and latter on even called for PC Card and was mostly used by laptop computers. Thanks to the flash memory’s durability, reliability and low power consumption demand for memory cards grew rapidly. In 1994 the CompactFlash was introduced as a smaller alternative to the PCMCIA/PC Card, mostly to be used in digital cameras. In 1996 the SmartMedia Card was introduced as a competitive standard to CompactFlash also to be employed by digital cameras.
The popularity of memory cards grow rapidly in the beginning of 2000, since usage of memory cards expanded to other consumer electronic products like camcorders, portable audio players, mobile phones etc. This created also the need for much smaller memory cards, therefore the first small form factor was the MultiMediaCard standard followed by the SD Memory Card and later on the Memory Stick.
Since most portable devices were becoming smaller and the usage of memory cards in mobile phones were becoming more common some new smaller versions ware introduced. Those were the RS-MMC or MMCmobile, miniSD, and Memory Stick Duo.
In the last years the driving force in the memory card industry shifted to ultra small memory cards, even those mostly to be used in mobile phones. Existed memory card standards introduced ultra small versions, their third form factor, of their existing standards. Those were the microSD/TransFlash, microMMC and the under development Memory Stick Micro. A brand new memory card standard was also introduced, the xD-Picture Card, only to be used by digital cameras. The latest development in the memory card industry was the announcement of the development of the Memory Stick Micro by Sony and SanDisk.
During the above period some other memory card standards have been introduced, like the USB Flash Drive as a replacement for the floppy disk. Some memory cards have also been introduced specifically to be used by game consoles such PS One, PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360 and GameCube. The latest development in the new consoles is the usage of regular memory cards by PS3 and Nintento Revolution.
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