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Miniaturization is evident in memory card creation; over time, the physical card sizes grow smaller while their respective logical sizes grow larger. The memory cards listed from left to right are: Compact flash (32 MB), SD (128 MB), miniSD (1.0 GB), and microSD (2.0 GB).

A memory card or flash card is an electronic flash memory data storage device used for storing digital contents. 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 they can retain data without power.

The most common type of memory card in use today is the SD card[1], which comes in capacities of up to 32 Gigabytes. In addition to these and other types of memory cards, there are also non-solid-state memory cards that do not use flash memory, and there are different types of flash memory. Many cards incorporate wear levelling algorithms in their design.

PC Card (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 came out, including CompactFlash, SmartMedia, and Miniature Card. In other areas, tiny embedded memory cards (SID) were used in cell phones, game ds. 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 strangle hold 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 cell-phones and PDAs, the memory card market is highly fragmented.


Data table of selected memory card formats

Name Acronym Form factor DRM
PC Card PCMCIA 85.6 × 54 × 3.3 mm None
CompactFlash I CF-I 43 × 36 × 3.3 mm None
CompactFlash II CF-II 43 × 36 × 5.5 mm None
SmartMedia SM / SMC 45 × 37 × 0.76 mm None
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 x 45 x 3.5 mm None
Multimedia Card MMC 32 × 24 × 1.5 mm None
Reduced Size Multimedia Card RS-MMC 16 × 24 × 1.5 mm None
MMCmicro Card MMCmicro 12 × 14 × 1.1 mm None
Secure Digital card SD 32 × 24 × 2.1 mm CPRM
Universal Flash Storage UFS
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 None
Intelligent Stick iStick 24 x 18 x 2.8 mm None
Serial Flash Module SFM 45 x 15 mm None
µ card µcard 32 x 24 x 1 mm Unknown
NT Card NT NT+ 44 x 24 x 2.5 mm None

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
    • Microdrive
  • 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)
  • SecureMMC
  • 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)
  • C-Flash
  • SIM card (Subscriber Identity Module)
  • Smart card (ISO/IEC 7810, ISO/IEC 7816 card standards, etc.)
  • UFC (USB FlashCard) [1] (uses USB)
  • FISH Universal Transportable Memory Card Standard (uses USB)
  • Disk memory cards:
  • 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. [2]
  • Nexflash Winbond Serial Flash Module (SFM) cards, size range 1 mb, 2 mb and 4 mb.

Memory cards in video game consoles

PlayStation memory card.

Many game consoles have used proprietary solid-state memory cards to store data. In recent years read-only optical discs have replaced these memory cards in most current home console systems. However most portable gaming systems still rely on custom memory cartridges, due to their low power consumption, smaller physical size and reduced mechanical complexity.

The sizes in parenthesis are those of the official, first-party memory cards.

See also

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Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

As games moved away from the cartridge format and into CD-ROM, DVD and other read-only media, the place for saving your games became devices called memory cards. These cards plug into your console or controller, and let you save your game files onto them.

While you did have to pay extra now to be able to save a game, memory cards had some benefits. You could take your friends saved games from their memory card. Gone are the days of finding someone else's saved game with a character called "Penis" when you rented some SNES title from a video store.

Without hard drives, memory cards are the main and primary way of storing your saved game data.

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Simple English

File:Flash memory cards
Different types of memory cards used for digital cameras, and a match for comparison.

A memory card is a form of flash memory that is used in a range of electronic devices such as a digital cameras or video game console. The memory card stores data, images, music, saved games or other computer files.

Flash memory devices like this contain no moving parts so they are not easily damaged. This means that they are ideal for use in portable devices such as MP3 players, digital cameras, mobile phones etc.

The amount of data memory cards can store depends on the capacity of the card. Currently (in 2010) the largest memory cards can store 64 gigabytes of data. As the technology improves, larger capacity cards will become available.

There are many different types of memory cards, for example Secure Digital (SD) or CompactFlash cards.


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