by Brian Beeler

New CompactFlash 5.0 Spec Released - CF Cards Now Support Capacities up to 144PB

CompactFlash storage is rarely seen outside the confines of the DSLR world, but in high-end photography the format still reigns supreme. The current CF cards have their limitations though, many of which will get resolved with the 5.0 spec. The biggest change is the move to 48-bit addressing which not only allows for much larger card capacities, but for larger and more efficient data block transfer - 32MB from 128K. 

The CompactFlash Alliance hopes these updates will benefit DSLR users, but they're also hoping that CF cards get more widely used in the HD video camera market. 

The highlights of the new CF 5.0 Spec follow, with mandatory and optional features noted. CF cards that support the optional features will receive extra badges on the cards to denote these features. 

CF 5.0 Spec Feature
48 bit Addressing (Mandatory)
Capacity points beyond current limitation of 137GB (up to 144PB) & more efficient data transfer (32MB per transfer versus 128K per transfer)
Data Set Management Command/Trim (Mandatory)
More efficient cleanup of unused space on memory card (LBA’s)
Performance Control (optional)                      
Card performance quality of service framework         
Video Performance Guarantee (Optional)
Quality of service for video capture applications to ensure quality recordings with no dropped frames
Identify Device CFA Specification Version Number (Mandatory)
Easier for host to determine card capabilities
Changed Interface Electrical Specification to Better Comply with the ATA Standard (Mandatory)
Easier and better card design, compatible with advanced hosts.

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