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Memory Stick
Memory Stick Front and Back.jpg
A 64 MB Sony Memory Stick
Media type Flash Memory Card
Capacity 4 MB to 32 GB (Maximum theoretical size: 2TB)
Developed by Sony
Extended to Memory Stick PRO, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick Pro Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG and Memory Stick Micro

Memory Stick is a removable flash memory card format, launched by Sony in October 1998[1], and is also used in general to describe the whole family of Memory Sticks. In addition to the original Memory Stick, this family includes the Memory Stick PRO, a revision that allows greater maximum storage capacity and faster file transfer speeds; Memory Stick Duo, a small-form-factor version of the Memory Stick (including the PRO Duo); and the even smaller Memory Stick Micro (M2). In December 2006 Sony added the Memory Stick PRO-HG, a high speed variant of the PRO to be used in high definition still and video cameras.



The original memory stick was available in sizes up to 128 MB, and a sub-version, Memory Stick Select allowed two banks of 128 MB selectable by a slider switch, essentially two cards squeezed into one. The largest capacity Memory Sticks currently available is 32GB. According to Sony, the Memory Stick PRO has a maximum theoretical size of 2 TB.[2]

As of January 2010, it appears that Sony is beginning to cohabitate both formats in their products. All digital cameras and camcorders announced by Sony at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show can use SD and SDHC cards as well as Memory Sticks.[3][4][5][6][7] Furthermore, Sony is releasing its own line of SD cards.[8] Many claim this development as the end of format war between Memory Stick and SD card. But as Sony has not abandoned the format, in fact it will continue development of the format for the forseeable future. A prime example is the development of WiFi transfers through a still in development, special Memory Stick Pro-Duo. [9][10][11][12][13][14][15]


Typically, Memory Sticks are used as storage media for a portable device, in a form that can easily be removed for access by a personal computer. For example, Sony digital compact cameras use Memory Sticks for storing image files. With a Memory Stick-capable Memory card reader a user can copy the pictures taken with the Sony digital camera to a computer. Sony typically includes Memory Stick reader hardware in its first party consumer electronics, such as digital cameras, digital music players, PDAs, cellular phones, the VAIO line of laptop computers, and the PlayStation Portable.

A special Memory Stick can be inserted in the hindquarters[16] of Sony's AIBO robot pet, to enable the use of Aiboware—software intended for use on AIBOs. The Sticks include a copy protection mechanism used by the robot, allowing users to write programs. These are referred to as programmable or programming Only 8 MB and 16 MB versions are available.

Formats and form factors

Memory Sticks include a wide range of actual formats, including three different form factors.


Memory Stick

The original Memory Stick is approximately the size and thickness of a stick of chewing gum. It was available in sizes from 4 MB to 128 MB. The original Memory Stick is no longer manufactured.

Memory Stick Select

Lexar 256 MB Memory Stick Select with memory switch.

In response to the storage limitations of the original Memory Stick, Sony introduced the Memory Stick Select. The Memory Stick Select was two separate 128 MB partitions which the user could switch between using a (physical) switch on the card. This solution was fairly unpopular, but it did give users of older Memory Stick devices more capacity. Its size was still the same as the original Memory Stick.

Memory Stick PRO

The Memory Stick PRO, introduced in 2003 as a joint effort between Sony and SanDisk,[17] would be the longer-lasting solution to the space problem. Most devices that use the original Memory Sticks support both the original and PRO sticks since both formats have identical form factors. Some readers that were not compatible could be upgraded to Memory Stick PRO support via a firmware update. Memory Stick PROs have a marginally higher transfer speed and a maximum theoretical capacity of 32 GB, although it appears capacities higher than 4GB are only available in the PRO Duo form factor. High Speed Memory Stick PROs are available, and newer devices support this High Speed mode, allowing for faster file transfers. All Memory Stick PROs larger than 1 GB support this High Speed mode, and High Speed Memory Stick Pros are backwards-compatible with devices that don't support the High Speed mode. High capacity memory sticks such as the 4 GB versions are expensive compared to other types of flash memory such as SD cards and CompactFlash.

Memory Stick Duo

The Memory Stick Duo was developed in response to Sony's need for a smaller flash memory card for pocket-sized digital cameras, cell phones and the Playstation Portable. It is slightly smaller than the competing Secure Digital (SD) format and roughly two thirds the length of the standard Memory Stick form factor, but costs more. Memory Stick Duos are available with the same features as the larger standard Memory Stick, available with and without High Speed mode, and with and without MagicGate support. The Memory Stick PRO Duo has replaced the Memory Stick Duo due to its 128MB size limitation, but has kept the same form factor as the Duo.

Memory Stick Duo Adaptor and Memory Stick PRO Duo.

A simple adapter allows Memory Stick Duo to be used in devices designed to accept the original Memory Stick form factor.

Memory Stick PRO Duo

A Sony memory stick PRO Duo. 16GB

The Memory Stick PRO Duo quickly replaced the Memory Stick Duo due to its size limitation of 128 MB and slow transfer speed. Memory Stick PRO Duos are available in all the same variants as the larger Memory Stick PRO, with and without High Speed mode, and with and without MagicGate support.

In March 2008, Sony released a 16 GB version of the Memory Stick PRO Duo. Sony released a 32 GB version on August 21, 2009. [18] In 2009 Sony and SanDisk also announced the joint development of an expanded Memory Stick PRO format tentatively named "Memory Stick PRO Format for Extended High Capacity" that would extend capacity to a theoretical maximum of 2 terabytes.[19] Sony has since finalized the format and released its specification under the new name, Memory Stick XC.[20]

Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo

On December 11, 2006, Sony, together with SanDisk, announced the Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo. While only serial and 4-bit parallel interfaces are supported in the Memory Stick PRO format, an 8-bit parallel interface was added to the Memory Stick PRO-HG format. Also, the maximum interface clock frequency was increased from 40 MHz to 60 MHz. With these enhancements, a theoretical transfer rate of 480Mbit/s (60Mbyte/s) is achieved, which is three times faster than the Memory Stick PRO format.

Memory Stick Micro (M2)

Memory Stick Micro and adapter.

In a joint venture with SanDisk, Sony released a new Memory Stick format on February 6, 2006. The Memory Stick Micro (M2) measures 15 × 12.5 × 1.2 mm (roughly one-quarter the size of the Duo) with 64 MB, 128 MB, 256 MB, 512 MB, 1 GB, 2 GB, 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, and 32 GB capacities available. The format has a theoretical limit of 32 GB and maximum transfer speed of 160 Mbit/s. However, as with the PRO Duo format, it has been expanded through the XC series as Memory Stick XC Micro and Memory Stick XC-HG Micro, both with the theoretical maximum capacity of 2 TB.[20]

The M2 comes with an adapter, much like the Duo Sticks, to ensure physical compatibility with Memory Stick PRO devices. However, not all devices with a PRO slot are compatible with the M2/Adapter combination, as the firmware of older devices don't support the higher capacity of some M2 cards. One example is certain Sony CLIÉ PDAs which don't support cards larger than 2 GB.[21]

Sony announced on June 1, 2009 that M2 support in Sony Ericsson phones would be dropped in favor of microSD.[22]

Memory Stick XC

On January 7, 2009, SanDisk and Sony launched the Memory Stick XC format with maximum 2 TB capacity, 64 times larger than that of the Memory Stick PRO which is limited at 32 GB. XC series has the same form factors as PRO series, and supports MagicGate content protection technology as well as Access Control function as PRO series does. XC series uses exFAT file system, while PRO series uses FAT12/16/32. A maximum transfer speed of 480 Mbps (60 MB/s) is achieved through 8-bit parallel data transfer. [23][24]

Mark 2 Certification

As of early 2008, Mark 2-certified versions of the Memory Stick PRO Duo became available. The Mark 2 designation indicates the Memory Stick is suitable for use with AVCHD recording products or other faster Memory Stick enabled devices by providing appropriate minimum write performance. [25]

See also


  1. ^ Sony Global - Press Release - Sony Announces "Memory Stick" Recordable IC Memory Card Products New Format Supports Recording and Playback of Audio/Video Content
  2. ^ [1]
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  16. ^ CBS News, 48 Hours - AIBO, The Digital Wonder Dog: Sony Spends Millions On Robotic Canine
  17. ^
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ "SanDisk, Sony to Expand Memory Stick PRO, Memory Stick Micro Formats". Nikkei Business Publications. 2009-01-08. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  20. ^ a b MacManus, Christopher (2009-08-05). "Sony Finalizes Backwards Compatible Memory Stick XC With 2TB Maximum Capacity". Sony Insider. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  21. ^ Sony Compatibility Chart - Clie Handhelds
  22. ^ Trusted Review - Sony Ericsson Dropping Memory Stick Micro
  23. ^
  24. ^ "SANDISK AND SONY TO EXPAND “MEMORY STICK PRO” AND “MEMORY STICK MICRO” FORMATS". SanDisk. Jan. 7, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-12. 
  25. ^ Press Release - Sony Announces 16GB Memory Stick PRO Duo with Mark2 certification

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