CompactFlash Announces XQD Medium For High-Performance Cameras

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In most consumer cameras, an SD card is used for image storage. But it wasn’t so long ago that CompactFlash (CF) cards were the standard for anything better than a point-and-shoot. Many cameras still use the format, despite the higher capacity and lower price of SD, but such models have grown fewer and further between as CF’s lead on speed has narrowed.

The CompactFlash Association isn’t going to take it lying down, though: they’ve just produced a new format, called XQD, with a new form factor and interface. It’s thicker than SD but has a smaller footprint than CF, which to me sounds perfect: I’m always afraid SDs are going to snap or be crushed, and CF feels bulky and cheap. The association calls the cards “durable and robust,” though I doubt they’re waterproof or anything like that.

XQD uses the PCI Express interface, and the target for real-world write speeds is 125MB/s. The theoretical maximum is 5Gb/s, or around 600MB/s, but that’s not likely to ever be hit. Still, 125MB/s is more than enough for high-speed, high-resolution RAW photography and HD video.

The cards should be shown off at CP+ in Yokohama this coming February. No partnerships or cameras were announced, and if anything were forthcoming before February (at CES, for instance), we would have seen a debut then. But it’s an attractive technology and pro shooters may appreciate the reduced write times and improved build quality, so adoption by a few of the majors seems likely.