A memory card or flash card is an electronic flash memory data storage device used for storing digital information. They are commonly used in many electronic devices, including digital cameras, mobile phones, laptop computers, MP3 players, and video game consoles. They are small, re-recordable, and able to retain data without power.
PC Cards (PCMCIA) were among first commercial memory card formats (type I cards) to come out in the 1990s, but are now mainly used in industrial applications and to connect I/O devices such as modems. In 1990s, a number of memory card formats smaller than PC Card arrived, including CompactFlash, SmartMedia, and Miniature Card. The desire for smaller cards for cell-phones, PDAs, and compact digital cameras drove a trend that left the previous generation of "compact" cards looking big. In digital cameras SmartMedia and CompactFlash had been very successful, in 2001 SM alone captured 50% of the digital camera market and CF had a stranglehold on professional digital cameras. By 2005 however, SD/MMC had nearly taken over SmartMedia's spot, though not to the same level and with stiff competition coming from Memory Stick variants, as well as CompactFlash. In industrial fields, even the venerable PC card (PCMCIA) memory cards still manage to maintain a niche, while in mobile phones and PDAs, the memory card market was highly fragmented until 2010 when micro-SD came to dominate new high-end phones and tablet computers.
Since 2010 new products of Sony (previously only using Memory Stick) and Olympus (previously only using XD-Card) are offered with an additional SD-Card slot. Effectively the format war has turned in SD-Card's favor.
Data table of selected memory card formats
Name Acronym Form factor DRM PC Card PCMCIA 85.6 × 54 × 3.3 mm No CompactFlash I CF-I 43 × 36 × 3.3 mm No CompactFlash II CF-II 43 × 36 × 5.5 mm No SmartMedia SM / SMC 45 × 37 × 0.76 mm No Memory Stick MS 50.0 × 21.5 × 2.8 mm MagicGate Memory Stick Duo MSD 31.0 × 20.0 × 1.6 mm MagicGate Memory Stick PRO Duo MSPD 31.0 × 20.0 × 1.6 mm MagicGate Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo MSPDX 31.0 × 20.0 × 1.6 mm MagicGate Memory Stick Micro M2 M2 15.0 × 12.5 × 1.2 mm MagicGate Miniature Card 37 × 45 × 3.5 mm No Multimedia Card MMC 32 × 24 × 1.5 mm No Reduced Size Multimedia Card RS-MMC 16 × 24 × 1.5 mm No MMCmicro Card MMCmicro 12 × 14 × 1.1 mm No Secure Digital card SD 32 × 24 × 2.1 mm CPRM SxS SxS Unknown Universal Flash Storage UFS Unknown miniSD card miniSD 21.5 × 20 × 1.4 mm CPRM microSD card microSD 15 × 11 × 0.7 mm CPRM xD-Picture Card xD 20 × 25 × 1.7 mm No Intelligent Stick iStick 24 × 18 × 2.8 mm No Serial Flash Module SFM 45 × 15 mm No µ card µcard 32 × 24 × 1 mm Unknown NT Card NT NT+ 44 × 24 × 2.5 mm No
Overview of all memory card types
- PCMCIA ATA Type I Flash Memory Card (PC Card ATA Type I)
- PCMCIA Type II, Type III cards
- CompactFlash Card (Type I), CompactFlash High-Speed
- CompactFlash Type II, CF+(CF2.0), CF3.0
- MiniCard (Miniature Card) (max 64 MB (64 MiB))
- SmartMedia Card (SSFDC) (max 128 MB) (3.3 V,5 V)
- xD-Picture Card, xD-Picture Card Type M
- Memory Stick, MagicGate Memory Stick (max 128 MB); Memory Stick Select, MagicGate Memory Stick Select ("Select" means: 2x128 MB with A/B switch)
- Secure Digital (SD Card), Secure Digital High-Speed, Secure Digital Plus/Xtra/etc (SD with USB connector)
- MU-Flash (Mu-Card) (Mu-Card Alliance of OMIA)
- SIM card (Subscriber Identity Module)
- Smart card (ISO/IEC 7810, ISO/IEC 7816 card standards, etc.)
- UFC (USB FlashCard)  (uses USB)
- FISH Universal Transportable Memory Card Standard (uses USB)
- Disk memory cards:
- Clik! (PocketZip), (40 MB PocketZip)
- Floppy disk (32MB, LS120 and LS240, 2-inch, 3.5-inch, etc.)
- Intelligent Stick (iStick, a USB-based flash memory card with MMS)
- SxS (S-by-S) memory card, a new memory card specification developed by Sandisk and Sony. SxS complies to the ExpressCard industry standard. 
- Nexflash Winbond Serial Flash Module (SFM) cards, size range 1 mb, 2 mb and 4 mb.
Memory cards in video game consoles
Game consoles originally used proprietary solid-state memory cards to store the game program and, in some cases, save player progress. In newer home consoles, read-only optical discs have replaced these custom memory cards for storing the game program, resulting in the need for separate memory cards specifically made to save player progress. These memory cards have also been largely superseded by hard drive storage, internal memory and generic storage devices/cards. Most portable gaming systems still rely on custom memory cartridges to store program data, due to their low power consumption, smaller physical size and reduced mechanical complexity.
The sizes in parentheses are those of the official, first-party memory cards.
- Microsoft Xbox line:
- Nintendo line:
- Nintendo 64 Controller Pak (256 kbit/32 kB), divided into 123 pages
- Nintendo GameCube Memory Card 59 block (4 Mbit/512 kB), 251 block (16 Mbit/2 MB), and 1019 block (64 Mbit/8 MB) versions
- Wii Nintendo GameCube Memory Card compatible (see above) and Secure Digital card compatible
- Nintendo DSi Secure Digital card compatible
- 3DS SDHC card compatible
- Sega Dreamcast Visual Memory Unit (VMU) (128 kB divided in 200 blocks)
- Sega Saturn memory unit can hold 20 blocks of save games.
- Sony PlayStation line:
- PlayStation Memory Card (1 Mb/128 KB divided in 15 blocks)
- The PocketStation can act as PlayStation Memory Card
- The PlayStation 2 used 8 MB cards for its own content and supported PlayStation Memory Cards for backward compatibility. Larger capacity memory cards were made available by 3rd parties but these were not officially supported.
- Early models of the PlayStation 3 featured integrated CompactFlash, Secure Digital, and Memory Stick PRO Duo support. External attachments allow the import and export of PlayStation and PlayStation 2 Memory Cards.
- PSP-1000, -2000 and -3000 models use Memory Stick PRO Duo for data storage, while the PSP Go uses Memory Stick Micro.
- The PlayStation Vita (currently in development) uses custom flash card dubbed the NVG Card for storage of program data.
- GP2X GNU/Linux based portable games console, uses SD/MMC.
- Neo Geo AES, released in 1990 by SNK, was the first video game console able to use a memory card. AES memory cards are also compatible with Neo-Geo MVS arcade cabinets.
- ^ http://ces.cnet.com/8301-31045_1-10426683-269.html
- ^ "Format-Krieg entschieden: SD-Card setzt sich durch" ("format-war resolved: SD-card prevails"), Chip-online, 14. January 2010
- ^ "Camera trends come into focus for 2010", msnbc, 13. January.2010 "As much as the storage-format war cleared up a bit with Sony announcing that it would support SD and SDHC cards ..."
- ^ "FEATURE: Playing Your Cards Right at Retail", Peter K. Burian, 4. June 2010. "Some industry observers have suggested that this development signals an end to the 'format war,' ..."
Memory cards Main articles Types Basic computer components Input devices Output devices Removable data storage Computer case Data ports
- PCMCIA ATA Type I Flash Memory Card (PC Card ATA Type I)
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