Lexar has joined rival SanDisk with support for the new CFast 2.0 format for high-end flash memory cards, announcing a very high-speed 3333X models with capacities of 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB at CES 2014 on Monday.
In addition, the company announced the CR-1, its CFast 2.0 reader with a USB 3.0 interface so that people can transfer files off the cards with their computers. A 3333X speed means cards will be able to transfer data up to 500MBps. Fast read and write speeds are useful for capturing high-resolution video reliably, shooting high-speed bursts of photos, and transferring files to a computer rapidly for processing work.
Digital photography and video allies including SanDisk and Canon announced CFast 2.0 in 2012, a year after Nikon and Sony backed a rival format called XQD, with card support from Lexar arriving this year.
Today, CompactFlash offers a single high-end flash card format, with SD Card cleaning up the the vast majority of the market. With future cameras split between XQD and CFast 2.0, photographers will have a harder time swapping cards, finding extra cards while on the road, and using multiple camera bodies.
Lexar, a Micron subsidiary, didn't reveal price or availability information for its CFast 2.0 products.
CompactFlash uses the older parallel ATA (PATA) interface also used to attached hard drives to computers. CFast 2.0 uses the newer Serial ATA (SATA) interface, which offers higher speeds. XQD uses the PCI Express interface, which in principle offers even higher speeds. Neither XQD nor CFast 2.0 are compatible with CompactFlash, meaning that cameras need new ports, photographers and videographers need new cards, and computers need new readers.