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Monday, January 12, 2009

LAS VEGAS - Imagine storing 100 movies in glorious high-definition on a card the size of a postage stamp, then calling them up instantaneously for viewing on your cellphone whenever and wherever you like.

That could happen within five years, according to the SD Association, a trade group that brings together more than 1,100 technology companies from SanDisk Corp to Hewlett-Packard Co and sets interoperable memory card standards.

Consumers will be able to store as many as 100 high-definition movies on a stamp-sized memory card and retrieve them with devices such as mobile phones and digital cameras, according to the promoters of the next-generation SD card technology.

The first of a new series of "extended capacity" cards, dubbed "SDXC," will be available toward the end of this year en route to an eventual 2 terabytes of onboard storage capacity in less than five years, James Taylor, president of the SD Association, said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

A terabyte equals 1,000 gigabytes. The SD group also encompasses such powerhouses as Panasonic Corp, Toshiba Corp , Nikon Corp and Canon Inc.

The SDXC specification, developed by the association, "leapfrogs memory card interface speeds" while retaining the popular SD interface, the association said. Specifications for the open standard will be released in the first quarter of 2009.

The first such cards are likely to provide 64 gigabytes of storage, twice the maximum in existing SDHC memory cards, Taylor said in an interview.

Even at early capacity levels, he said the SDXC standard would enhance the operation of digital cameras and camcorders. The association says the cards ultimately will turn mobile phones into full-fledged media centers, thanks to faster transfer speeds and huge capacity.

At its maximum 2 terabyte capacity, an SDXC memory card will store an estimated 100 high-definition movies, 480 hours of professional quality audio recording or 136,000 fine-mode photos, the trade group said.

SD cards account for nearly 80 percent of the memory card market, according to the association, which predicts the so-called "flash" memory markets will grow tremendously in coming years. Such storage devices use no moving parts, curbing the drain on batteries in handheld gizmos.

"The SD interface already has proven itself valuable in mobile phones. Now, SDXC memory card capabilities will spur further handset sophistication and boost consumer content demand," Taylor said.

Shigeto Kanda, general manager at Canon, said in a statement that the new specification, which retains the existing shape and size of SD memory cards, will help consumers realize the full potential of Canon cameras.

"Improvements in interface speed allow further increases in continuous shooting speed and higher resolution movie recordings," Kanda said.


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