Author Archive

SanDisk Is Cutting Retail Pricing

Sounds like SanDisk will be cutting it’s pricing for NAND memory very soon.  SanDisk leads global market share for flash memory at a tune of about 40%.  Kingston is another major player, and a couple weeks ago announced a major price reduction in it’s retail supply chain. Seems the SanDisk news is their answer to the situation. SanDisk mainly partners with chipmaker Toshiba while Kingston secures its supplies from more diversified sources. One reasion might be that major NAND flash vendors are gearing up for mass production built using their newer node processes in mid 2012. Samsung Electronics and Toshiba are set to advance to 21nm and 19nm, respectively, and so are Hynix Semiconductor and Micron Technology to their respective 20nm processes. Continue Reading

CEO of Micron Technology Steve Appleton Dies

The head of memory chip maker Micron Technology died last week in a stunt piloting expedition. Steve was in a small kit plane and taking a steep bank turn when something went wrong with the plane and ultimately crashed. Micron is a world leader in flash memory technology, and a top brand we favor here.  Micron makes memory for various devices like computers, cell phones, cameras, cars and industrial application products.
“Zoe Keliher, air investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said the crash happened during Appleton’s second attempt to fly that morning. She said Appleton’s first take-off ended abruptly — witnesses said the plane only got about 5 feet (1.5 meters) off the ground — when he landed and returned to a hangar for about five minutes.”  Source – Associated Press.
Dan Francisco, the company COO, is taking responsibility until the Micron board of directors finds a suitable replacement Chief Executive Office. Continue Reading

XQD Is A New Compact Flash Specification

The Compact Flash Association introduced a new standard recently.  The standard was release because CF media continues to get press from high performing SD cards where most camera manufacturers are favoring.  I suspect the SD format is more inviting because of the smaller form factor.  Well this is where the XQD spec address’ that issue.

Key features of the XQD format include: a 38.5mm by 29.9mm by 3.8mm optimized size format, greater durability, scalable high performance interface, based on PCI Express 2.5Gbps today and 5Gbps in the future (instead of PCMCIA used by SD cards), and actual write speed targets of 125MB/sec and higher.
“The XQD format will enable further evolution of hardware and imaging applications, and widen the memory card options available to CompactFlash users such as professional photographers,”
said Shigeto Kanda CFA chairman and Canon executive. Licensing for CFA members will start in early 2012, and no camera makers have announced plans to use the format yet. Continue Reading

microSD Problems – Good Chance It’s the Media

Bunnie’s Blog had a great post about the different quality of microSD media.  I think he’s gone into more detail then any other I’ve seen on the internet.  What is worth noting in his article is the brand names that he investigated and the results that he found.  I don’t want to repeat what has already been said, but if you’ve ever been in doubt about a microSD card you’ve purchased, this article will shed some light. Take a read… . Continue Reading

microSD Now Interfaces With Any Microcontroller

This is a simple MicroSD adapter card. It allows you to interface with any micro-controllers. It is perfect for mass storage, WAV/MP3 player and data logging. The adapter breaks out the MicroSD socket to a standard 0.1″ 8-pin header. It can be plug directly into breadboards. This adapter features innovations that set it apart from other SD card adapter. Innovations feature like on-board card detect LED, Push-Push socket, and 3.3V regulator. Which mean either 3.3V or 5.0V micro-controller can be connected directly with the board. You can even use this 3.3V to power external circuits up to 250mA. MicroSD cards offer an inexpensive, flexible and reliable way to bring data logging and data storage solutions to your electronic design projects. Pinout:
  • VIN: Input power to the SD card (3.3V to 6.0V)
  • GND: Common (Connects to the housing of the SD socket)
  • 3V3: Output voltage from the on-board 3.3V regulator (250mA) 
  • CS: Chip select 
  • DI: Serial input data 
  • SCK: Serial clock 
  • DO: Serial output data 
  • CD: Card detect (active low)
Features:
  • On-board 3.3V regulator
  • Connect directly to 3.3V or 5.0V microcontroller
  • Card detect LED
  • Include 8-pin male header
  • Board dimension: 1.4”x0.8”
Source:  Gravitech. Continue Reading

Difference Between SD and MMC Flash Cards

Flash memory is a basic necessity of any electronic device these days.  Today we will talk about MultiMedia Cards [MMC] and Secure Digital [SD] cards. First, a bit of history.  The MMC format was developed by SanDisk and Siemens back in 1997.  SD media was developed, jointly, by SanDisk, Panasonic and Toshiba.  The SD standard was developed to improve upon the MMC format. The two memory card types look the same.  They are both about 24mm x 32mm x 2.1mm in size, or about the size of a US postage stamp.  The one obvious, physical difference between the two is the Lock/Unlock switch on the left side of SD media.  MMC does not have a sliding switch.  The switch is meant for users to put the media into a Write Protected state.  A condition where the user could read from the card, but could not write to it, or delete content off it. The other physical difference between MMC and SD media is on the bottom side of the flash card.  The MMC has 7 copper connectors and SD had 9 copper connectors.  MMCPlus has 14 connectors on it.  For a more technical reason please read here. The MMC media has a transfer rate of around 9MB/s.  The SD media is much faster with write speeds of 10MB/s and higher [always improving]. Both MMC media and SD media, are for the most part, interchangeable when being used in electronic devices.  Of course it is always best to check with the manufacturer of your device, but it’s a general rull of thumb, both are interchangeable.  With MMC media, it is more likely a customized piece of hardware, like GPS or medical equipment will require the MMC format, where-as most MP3 players, cameras, and “retail” electronics will take both types. Continue Reading

microSD Card Integrated with NFC Technology From Netcom

Netcom is a Chinese company which is trying to carve out a niche market for themself by developing a NFC [Near Field Communication] chipset inside a microSD card. The technology gives the microSD card the ability to communicate via NFC as well as provide memory storage for the user.  The NFC chip sits inside the microSD slot of the host. The idea is bringing NFC technology for payment terminals to older phones which don’t have the NFC chipset or technology currently in them. The Netcom solution does require a bit of attention to make it all work.  First, the microSD slot of the host must be made of plastic.  Most are, but it’s worth noting to look before you buy. Next, the NFC chipset does require a small app loaded on the host so that communication can take place between the NFC chip itself and the host it’s sitting in.  Which makes sense, as typically that app is embedded on the phone RAM when spec’d out during production for a “certified NFC” device. Last, is the antenna coil required to sit inside the microSD card might be a bit small/short for communication of a distance more than 20mm from the terminal receiver.  Again, not a big deal as we are talking about NEAR field communication, but worth noting before buying. Source [image as well] Engadget.com. Continue Reading

Enable microSD Slot in XOOM by Motorola

It’s been said Motorola rushed their shipments of XOOM tablet products to make an early claim in the market for iPad like solutions.  The problem is that some of the OS features and hardware accessories don’t work.  For example, the XOOM from Motorola has a microSD slot for increased capacity, but the damn slot doesn’t work. Motorol assured users the slot will be enabled not to long, but for many – they want access now.  With tablet sizes between 16GB and 32GB I can see the immediate need for increased storage space.  Granted, the space would be required more by a user looking to store large movie video files and not the typical user of tablet games, email clients and browsers, but never the less, it’s important for users to have the option.  The option for more storage. Tiamat came up with a solution.  They have released an updated Linux kernel which enables the microSD slot.  I’m not sure what other snibits of code are included with the kernel [caution] but if you desperately need the Continue Reading

Four Port 3.0 Host Controller From Renesas

Renesas is the spin off company from NEC who’s already making waves with their newest announcement of a USB 3.0 host controller which supports four downstream ports. This means the chip will provide more USB 3.0 ports to a motherboard, PCI card or embedded system applications.  In addition the new controller reduces it’s power consumption and increases performance. Renesas claims a 40% increase with this new controller, and I hate to say it, but that is a big jump from previous controllers – so I’m not totally convinced.  So it’ll need to be one of those “guilty until proven innocent” situations. Continue Reading

Encrypted microSD Card Enables Visa To Have Mobile CC Payments

Visa started a four week trial period where mobile phones can not make touch-less payment transactions.  This means you can now wave your phone in front of a terminal to make a purchase.
 
For purchases under $100 no PIN or signature is required and the customer has the option of receiving a receipt. The technology is compatible with existing contact-less payment terminals already installed at more than 20,000 retail outlets across Australia, including fast food restaurants, electronic stores, book stores, sporting stadiums, clothing stores and vending machines.
 
Visa is calling this program the payWave technology and will pave the way for new banking methods using mobile devices.  You can manage your account and make transfers, receive real time offers from merchants, fraud notices and you can even deactivate your card number through the mobile device.
 
This technology runs on an encrypted microSD card.  Fifty participants from the Sydney and Melbourne offices of ANZ and Visa will been given a special protective iPhone case with a secure microSD memory card that allows them to turn their phone into a virtual wallet.
 
This solution seems ideal for a pilot program, but I’m sure the final product will incorporate a solution where an additional case is not required. For more information, check out the following Visa YouTube video.
 
 
Continue Reading

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