Future of CompactFlash Coming Soon: XQD

Bigger is better. At least that's been part of the reason why CompactFlash (CF) memory cards have remained de rigueur for professional photographers. Although Secure Digital (SD) cards have overtaken most competing formats across the board, the CompactFlash Association continues to plan its next move by providing standards for next generation CF technology.

CompactFlash successor XQD logo

The upcoming solution is XQD, which will meld cutting-edge performance and storage capacity with a form factor just slightly smaller than CF but thicker than SD cards. The larger size of CF and XQD provides more space not only to improve transfer speeds and data capacity, but gives professional shooters in high-pressure situations a memory card that's easier to handle and more difficult to lose.

Not only has Nikon been involved in developing XQD, Canon has endorsed the format, and future high-end DSLR models from these leading companies are sure to utilize the technology. So what are the specifications of XQD?

When it comes to capacity, initial suggestions from CF Association members provided for a memory card that could eventually support up to 6 TB of information. Yes, that's terabytes, and six of these is equivalent to approximately 6 million megabytes. Transfer speed will start out at 125 megabytes per second (MBps), about 25 percent faster than current CF cards. XQD is based on PCI Express data pathway technology, which means the theoretical top speed could be as high as 600 MBps in future iterations.

As if this weren't enough, the CF Association is also working on a Video Performance Guarantee (VPG) standard, which would provide certification to XQD cards that meet the test. HD video capture must be flawless, with no dropped frames and a sustained write speed of at least 20 MBps.

With XQD ready to be licensed in just a few months, it sounds like the only thing missing is a simple acronym, like CF or SD to refer to the new cards. My memory card is full. Will you pass me another Squid?

Tag: CompactFlash, Memory Cards, News, next generation, storage, XQD