New Memory Card Format Proposed

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The Universal Transportable Memory Association (UTMA) has introduced a new type of flash memory card designed to be used in a wide variety of devices, from PCs to handhelds to digital cameras.

FISH (Flash Internal Semiconductor Hard-drives) memory cards communicate over the USB 2.0 communications standard and so they can be plugged into the USB port on any desktop or laptop. They could also be used with any handheld that includes a USB port.

The first generation of FISH sticks can be up to 2 GB. The UTMA estimates that 4 GB cards will be available by the end of the year, and it expects a 16 GB version next year. They can transfer data at a maximum speed of 60 MB/sec.

The cards themselves are fairly small: 1.3 inches by .5 inches by .2 inches (3.3 cm by 1.2 cm by .47 cm). There will also be a smaller version called Baby FISH.

The UTMA points out that FISH sticks are much more rugged than competing standards. They are water-resistant and their casing is metal, not plastic. They can take over 150 pounds of pressure before breaking, while an SD can’t even take 40 pounds. They will also come with a key fob, allowing users to easily carry one around.

The FISH standard is completely open and there are no licensing fees involved.

The first FISH cards and devices have not yet been announced and pricing isn’t available. A UTMA spokesperson believes the first products will be out by Christmas.

More information is available on the UTMA’s web site.

Is This Necessary?

Though FISH may have some advantages over other memory card formats, it is entering a very crowded market. Its competitors include SD, Compact Flash, Memory Stick, MMC, SmartMedia, and xD.

Recently, SD has moved into the top spot. The postage sized memory card captured the number one position with 41.8% of the U.S. flash memory market in November, with CompactFlash at 26.5% and Memory Stick at 16.3% market share.

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