A new flash memory card specification has the backing of three major mobile phone companies and other parts of the electronics industry.
The Unified Flash Storage (UFS; not to be confused with Unix File System or Unified File System) specification is intended to eliminate the need for adaptors by defining a single memory card format that is suitable for any consumer device including cameras, phones and PDAs.
If manufacturers can't agree to use any one of the formats currently in use, why would they go along with a new one? The answer appears to be that UFS is being designed to overcome various limitations of existing formats, including capacity, performance and power consumption.
There seems to be no end to customer demand for increased memory for cameras and other devices (especially as image resolution improves), and without greater transfer speed it will take longer and longer to dump memory card contents into a computer or a mass storage device. UFS aims to reduce the time taken to transfer a 4G file from three minutes to a few seconds. The specification will improve both the bandwidth and latency of memory access.
Apart from removing consumers' need for adaptors and multiple types of card readers, retailers would benefit in the longer term from reduced inventory as older memory cards are dropped, and manufacturers could simplify their designs.
UFS is not expected to be finalised until 2009, but there are some big names behind it: Micron, Nokia, Samsung (as a manufacturer of both flash memory and mobile phones), Sony Ericsson, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments are among the supporters of JEDEC's effort.
"This collaborative UFS effort will provide the industry with an open standard mass memory solution with optimal performance and interoperability," said Seppo Lamberg, Nokia's senior vice president, technology platforms.
"We think that this universal standard will cover the needs of the embedded and removable markets for many years," added Giuseppe Crisenza, NAND flash group general manager at STMicroelectronics.Storage, Flash, Memory, Flash Memory, Flash Card, UFS, Unified Flash Storage, USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, WiFi, Wireless