SanDisk, Sony, and Nikon have announced the joint development of a set of specifications for a new memory card format. The three companies have officially proposed the details to the CompactFlash Association (CFA), the international standards organization, with the intent to standardize the format.

To address the need of professional photography and High Definition video applications, the trio have outlined specifications that achieve data transfer rates of up to 500MBps (theoretical maximum interface speed) using the PCI Express interface. The current CompactFlash specification (CF6.0), released in November 2010, uses the PATA interface and only offers a maximum performance of up to 167MBps. The new memory cards would also meet the future space requirements of professional imaging applications: the proposed new format has the potential to extend theoretical maximum capacities beyond 2TB.

The faster speeds and larger capacities will enable continuous burst shooting of massive RAW images. The enhanced performance also allows users to quickly transfer storage-intensive high-resolution photos and videos from the card to a computer. Furthermore, battery life would be extended thanks to a combination of high-speed data transfer with low power consumption. All in all, the new format is looking good, at least at this stage, and the CFA seems to agree.

"This ultra high-speed media format will enable further evolution of hardware and imaging applications, and widen the memory card options available to CompactFlash users such as professional photographers," Mr. Shigeto Kanda, chairman of the CFA board, said in a statement. "This next generation format is expected to be widely adapted to various products, including those other than high-end DSLRs."