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What Is a Flash Memory Card?

Author: Apogeeweb
Date: 24 Aug 2021
memory technologies


Flash memory card, as a high-quality choice for small storage at this stage, has always been favored by consumers due to its many advantages such as good portability, large optional capacity, and plug-and-play. This article will introduce the definition, product type, function, service life and other aspects in detail.

Video:How Does Flash Memory Work?




Ⅰ What is a flash memory card?

Ⅱ The Evolution of Flash Memory Card

Ⅲ Types of Flash Memory Cards

Ⅳ Reference Value of the Amount of Data Stored in the Flash Memory Card

Ⅴ What is the Life Expectancy of Flash Memory? (Take the SD CARD as an Example)

Ⅵ Frequently Asked Questions about Flash Memory Card



Ⅰ What is a flash memory card?

A flash memory card (also known as a storage card) is a small storage device that stores data on portable or remote computing devices using nonvolatile semiconductor memory. Text, images, audio, and video are examples of such data. The majority of current products use flash memory, but other memory technologies, such as devices that combine dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and flash memory, are being developed.


what is a flash memory card

Figure:flash memory card


Ⅱ The Evolution of Flash Memory Card

An unknown Toshiba engineer applied for a patent for simultaneous erasable EEPROM in 1980.Perhaps even Dr. Fujio Kaoka didn't realize the value of this patent, let alone the senior Toshiba company, so this cross-epoch patent went unnoticed for four years.Dr. Gang Gang's invention was not made public until 1984, when he presented it at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in San Francisco, California.Intel recognized the enormous potential of this invention at the conference and released the first commercial NOR Flash chip in 1988. (the original CompactFlash was originally based on NOR Flash, although it later switched to a lower-cost NAND Flash.)


The story does not end there. Dr. Fujio Kaoka discovered that NOR Flash has a long erasure time and thus invented NAND Flash in 1986. NAND Flash has a faster erasing time and a smaller area for each memory cell than NOR Flash, giving it a higher storage density and lower cost per bit. Since then, flash memory (both NOR and NAND) has been created. The irony is that despite his significant contribution, he only received a few hundred dollars in Toshiba rewards and a high-ranking but laid-back position. He couldn't take this kind of treatment as an engineer and had to resign and enroll in university to continue his scientific research. Memory cards based on NAND Flash were later developed. SmartMedia was the first application of NAND Flash. Since then, NAND Flash has been adopted by a wide range of storage media.


Ⅲ Types of Flash Memory Cards

Multimedia Card,A Multimedia Card is a type of flash memory card. Its size is 32mm 24mm 1.4mm and weight is 1.5 grams, making it ideal for digital imaging, music, mobile phones, PDAs, e-books, toys, and other products. However, due to a lack of support from consumer digital manufacturers, there aren't many products in the digital product market that can use MMC memory cards.

Multimedia Card

Figure:Multimedia Card


Panasonic, Toshiba, and SanDisk of Japan collaborated to develop the SD card (Secure Digital). It is 32mm24mm2.1mm in size and weighs only 2 grams, but it has a large capacity, a high data transmission rate, and good flexibility. The SD card's structure ensures the security of digital file transfer, and it is simple to reformat, so it has a wide range of applications. SD cards are widely used as storage media in digital cameras. As a result, the SD card is the most widely used memory card.

SD Card

Figure:SD Card


Mini SD cards are derived from SD cards, and their performance is comparable to that of standard SD cards. Mini SD cards, like SD cards, have a hardware data write protection switch to prevent accidental deletion of stored content. The Mini SD card, on the other hand, is 40 percent smaller than the SD card, measuring only 21.5 mm20 mm1.4mm. It is fully compatible with standard SD card slots and can be used with a dedicated adapter card.

Mini SD Card

Figure:Mini SD Card


The most important difference, however, is that the Mini SD card uses a low-power design, making it more suitable for mobile communication equipment than the SD card. It is currently used primarily in information terminal equipment such as mobile phones, PDAs, and handheld computers.


T-Flash card, full name: TransFLash (also: Micro SD), is a very small flash memory card developed and launched jointly by Motorola and SANDISK. It has the advantage of being small and is primarily used in mobile phones, but as capacity increased, it gradually began to be used in a broader range of fields. At the same time, it has a large capacity and can be connected to the SD card slot via an adapter.

T-Flash Card

Figure:T-Flash Card


Memory Stick is the full name of a mobile storage medium developed by Sony Corporation of Japan. This type of storage device resembles chewing gum and has a high level of compatibility. Later, Sony reduced the volume based on the memory stick to about one-third and designed and manufactured the memory stick Duo. This type of memory stick Duo is ideal for use in small mobile phones and digital cameras, as well as various mp3 players and other electronic devices.

Memory Stick

Figure:Memory Stick


The latest bus and interface standard is PCI-e flash memory card (PCI-Express). It was originally known as "3GIO." PCIe is a serial point-to-point dual-channel high-bandwidth transmission standard. Exclusive channel bandwidth is assigned to the connected devices. Shared resources, primarily supporting functions such as active power management, error reporting, end-to-end reliability transmission, hot plug, and service quality (QOS). The concept is based on NAND flash memory.

PCI-e flash memory card

Figure:PCI-e Flash Memory Card


CF cards (Compact Flash) were originally used in portable electronic devices as a data storage device. It revolutionized the use of flash memory as a storage device, which was first produced by SanDisk in 1994 and formulated relevant specifications. Many devices are currently using its physical format. However, the CF card's capacity is limited, and increasing its capacity cannot keep up with the development of digital camera pixels. The size is relatively large when compared to other types of memory cards, and the operating temperature is generally 0-40 degrees Celsius, which limits its performance.

CF Card

Figure:CF Card


Sony's XQD memory card is a type of memory card. It is much smaller than a standard CF card, only about half the size. The XQD memory card, on the other hand, retains the CF card's fast and stable reading. Furthermore, the XQD memory card employs an upgradeable high-performance interface. It had a read and write speed of 125 megabits per second.

XQD memory card

Figure:XQD Memory Card


Olympus and Fuji jointly launched the XD-Picture Card (xD) memory card. It has an extremely small external size of 20mm25mm1.7mm and a weight of only 2 grams. Its read and write speeds can reach 5MB/S and 3MB/S, respectively. Initially, the XD card was primarily used in Olympus and Fuji digital camera products. Despite the fact that its performance can meet the requirement of writing large amounts of data and its power consumption is lower, the relatively high price has severely limited the development of XD cards. Olympus and Fuji digital cameras no longer exclusively use XD cards as storage media.

XD Card

Figure:XD Card


The M2 card is a new Memory Stick Micro (M2) memory card jointly released by Sony and SanDisk. It debuted in March 2006. This type of M2 card uses an ultra-small circuit design, specifically for large-capacity, small-volume mobile storage needs; it weighs only 16 grams, has dimensions of only 15 12.5 1.2mm, and has a volume roughly one-fourth that of a memory stick Pro Duo.

M2 Card

Figure:M2 Card



Ⅳ Reference Value of the Amount of Data Stored in the Flash Memory Card

  Photos Videos Music e-books
JPEG(10MP) MP4(minutes) MP3 PDF(10MB)
16GB 3208 1088 3040 1638
32GB 6416 2176 6080 3276
64GB 12832 4352 12160 6553
128GB 25664 8704 24320 13107
256GB 51328 17408 48640 26214



Ⅴ What is the Life Expectancy of Flash Memory? (Take the SD CARD as an Example)

An SD card is a solid-state device, which means it has no moving parts. This is a significant advancement over older portable storage devices, such as floppy disks, which had thin, flimsy disks spinning at high speeds. The components of an SD card are part of its circuitry, which is why they are so small and compact. Data is stored on flash memory chips found on circuitry. Flash memory is a type of EEPROM chip (Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory). There are two types of memory cells used in solid-state devices such as SD cards. Lots of SD cards employ single-level memory cells that are either turned on or off. Because these cells can only store a single value, they are fast and dependable. The disadvantage is that you need a large number of them in a large memory card. Most low-cost SD cards use multi-level cell chips. Each cell stores a voltage, and the level of the voltage represents a range of values.


Memory cells are insulated to prevent charge leakage. This insulation, however, is eroded each time a write action is performed. This can cause the voltage in a cell to fluctuate slightly over time, causing the data on the SD card to become corrupted. Most modern SD cards are designed to detect and avoid these problem cells, but if there are too many, the card may not have enough memory to map them over time. The exact lifespan of an SD card is determined by a number of factors. If you use your card on a regular basis, it should last a long time assuming it doesn't physically break first. For example, if you use it more than once a week, it's a good idea to replace it once a year.Due to the various pressures people put on SD cards, determining when to replace them is difficult. Most likely, your SD card will physically stop working due to damage before it begins corrupting your data. SD cards are made with low-cost components to keep costs low, and as a result, they are prone to breaking.


SD cards are definitely not suitable for long-term storage due to the charge in the cells leaking over time. Although there are special SD cards designed to be written to only once and used for archival purposes, commercially available SD cards such as those found in cameras should not be used in this manner. Most SD cards will not keep data for more than five years. The best way to keep your data safe is to copy it as soon as possible from your SD card to your computer.


Ⅵ Frequently Asked Questions about Flash Memory Card

1. What are the benefits of flash memory?

Increased Durability. Unlike traditional hard-disk drives, flash drives lack moving parts, maximum Portability, plenty of Storage Capacity,Fast Transfer Speeds, compatibility with Many Devices, use Flash Drives as Promotional Materials.


2. Why do smartphones use flash memory?

Flash memory is non-volatile computer memory that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed. It's used as primary storage memory on various portable devices due to its low cost, compact size, great physical endurance and low power consumption.


3. Is Flash Memory expensive?

Traditional storage drives cost about 7 or 8 cents per usable gigabyte, while flash storage drives cost about 40 cents per usable gigabyte. The price of solid-state drives (SSDs) is falling, but the price of flash storage is declining even faster.


4. What is the difference between flash and EEPROM memory?

Flash memory is a distinct type of EEPROM, which is programmed and erased in large blocks. Flash uses NAND-type memory, while EEPROM uses NOR type. Flash is block-wise erasable, while EEPROM is byte-wise erasable. Flash is constantly rewritten, while other EEPROMs are seldom rewritten.


5. How reliable is a flash memory card?

Today most commercially available flash memory is guaranteed to withstand 100 000 or more programme-erase cycles with some manufacturers guaranteeing a life of over 1 000 000 cycles.

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