Guide to SmartMedia cards, introduced as Solid State Floppy Disk Cards (SSFDC)

The SmartMedia memory card format was one of the earliest, introduced by Toshiba in 1995, when it was referred to as the Solid State Floppy Disk Card (SSFDC). It was launched shortly after the CompactFlash (CF) and of much the same size but a lot thinner, at 0.76mm rather than the 3.3mm of Type I CF cards. The other main competitors at the time were full size PC Card (PCMCIA) memory cards and the MiniCard format, which disappeared even faster than SmartMedia. One previously unique feature of the SmartMedia format that made it into the xD card format, was the imprint of a unique ID in each card along with an encryption key, allowing software to identify each card and act accordingly. This conformed to the Secure Digital Music Interface (SDMI) standard and was intended to act as a copy-protection mechanism at the application level, particularly for downloaded music, but only found very limited use, particularly since the SDMI initiative failed and folded in 2001. As with CompactFlash, the target market for SmartMedia was in the emerging portable devices that all had to store digital data and transfer it to PCs to be manipulated, or simply for safekeeping. PDAs and digital cameras were the two most frequently used devices but early navigation devices and early digital voice recorders also used the format. In order to transfer data to a PC the card can be inserted into a USB-enabled card reader or a PC Card-based adapter. Although the SmartMedia format is now considered obsolete and no dedicated card readers are available, many multi-format card readers will accept SmartMedia cards (but...

Secure Digital (SD) Cards – popular digital camera memory card format

Secure Digital (SD) is a memory card format used to transfer data between PCs and smaller devices, such as digital cameras, PDAs, MP3 players and mobile phones. Because the memory used is solid state, i.e. it remembers what’s been written to it when the power is removed, the information stays on the card when it’s unplugged. In order to get the data onto a PC, a card reader, either integrated into the PC or connected via a USB port, is required. Laptop users can also use an adapter that takes SD cards and fits into a PC Card slot. A consortium of Matsushita (aka Panasonic), Toshiba and SanDisk developed SD because they had been outflanked by Sony’s introduction of Memory Stick, their own proprietary card format, in 1998. This had two features that neither MultiMediaCard (MMC) nor CompactFlash, (CF) the other major player in memory cards at the time, possessed: a write-protect switch and integrated copyright protection. SD came onto the market in 1999 and was based, at least physically, on the MMC format. SD cards are slightly thicker but this allows the contacts to be recessed to protect them from damage. The other major physical change from the MMC design was an asymmetrical profile, which prevents SD cards from being inserted the wrong way round. The closeness of the two designs means that MMC cards can be used in SD slots, but not the other way round. Multi-function card readers are available with a slot than can accept SD cards as well as MMC, SmartMedia, Memory Stick and xD-Picture Card. One interesting and innovative adaptation is SD Plus,...

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