Comparison of memory cards

Comparison of memory cards

This table provides summary of comparison of various flash memory cards, as of 2011.


Common information

unless otherwise indicated, all images to scale
Card family Standards organizations Varieties Entry date Picture[1] Main features
CompactFlash SanDisk I 1994 Compactflash-512mb.png Thinner (3.3 mm), flash only, now up to 128 GiB, although standard goes up to 128 PiB since CF 5.0[2])
II Thicker (5.0 mm), older flash, but usually Microdrives, up to 128 PiB[2]
SmartMedia Toshiba 3.3/5 V 1995 Smartmedia card.jpg Very slim (45.0×37.0×0.76 mm3), no wear leveling controller, up to 128MB. This particular example shows the write protect sticker (the silver disc).
MultiMediaCard Siemens AG, SanDisk MMC 1997 MMC.png Slim and small (24×32×1.4 mm3), up to 16GB
RS-MMC/MMC Mobile 2003/2005 RS-MMC.png Compact (24×18×1.4 mm3), up to 16GB
MMCplus 2005 MMCplus.jpg Compact (24×32×1.4 mm3), swifter, optional DRM, up to 16GB
MMCmicro 2005 Mmc-micro.PNG Subcompact (14×12×1.1 mm3), optional DRM, 16MB to 4GB
Secure Digital Panasonic, SanDisk, Toshiba, Kodak SD 1999 Secure Digital Kingston 512MB.png Small (32×24×2.1 mm3), DRM, up to 4GB. (2GB and 4GB cards use larger block sizes and may not be compatible with some host devices. See Article)
miniSD 2003 MiniSD Card 256MB.png Compact (21.5×20×1.4 mm3), DRM, up to 4GB. (2GB and 4GB cards use larger block sizes and may not be compatible with some host devices. See Article)
microSD 2005 MicroSD card.jpg Subcompact (11×15×1 mm3), DRM, up to 4GB. (2GB and 4GB cards use larger block sizes and may not be compatible with some host devices. See Article)
SDHC 2006 SDHC memory card 8GB.png Same build as SD but greater capacity and transfer speed, 4GB to 32GB. (not compatible with older host devices)
miniSDHC 2008 SecureDigitalCard Mini.svg Same build as miniSD but greater capacity and transfer speed, 4GB to 32GB. 8GB is largest in early-2011. (not compatible with older host devices)
microSDHC 2007 MicroSDHC-Card.gif Same build as microSD but greater capacity and transfer speed, 4GB to 32GB. 32GB is largest in mid-2011. (not compatible with older host devices)
SDXC 2009 SD card icon.svg Same build as SD, but greater capacity and transfer speed, 32GB and higher. Standard goes up to 2TB. (not compatible with older host devices)
microSDXC 2009 MicroSD Card Bottom.svg Same build as microSD, but greater capacity and transfer speed, 32GB and higher. Standard goes up to 2TB. (not compatible with older host devices)
Memory Stick Sony/SanDisk Standard 1998 Memory Stick 64MB.png Slim and narrow (50×21.5×2.8 mm3), optional DRM, up to 128MB
PRO 2003 Memory stick.jpg
(not to scale)
Slim and narrow (50×21.5×2.8 mm3), swifter, optional DRM, up to 4GB
Duo 2003 MemoryStickDuo32MB.jpg Compact (31×20×1.6 mm3), optional DRM, up to 128MB
PRO Duo 2002-06 MS-PRO-DUO.JPG Compact (31×20×1.6 mm3), optional DRM, up to 32GB
PRO-HG Duo 2007-08 Compact (31×20×1.6 mm3), swifter, optional DRM, up to 32GB
Micro (M2) 2006-02 Memory Stick Micro.JPG Subcompact (15×12.5×1.2 mm3), optional DRM, up to 16GB
xD Olympus, Fujifilm Standard 2002-07 XD card 16M Fujifilm front.png Slim and small (20×25×1.78 mm3), electrically identical to SmartMedia, no wear-leveling controller, up to 512MB[3]
Type M 2005 XD card typeM 1G Fujifilm.png Slim and small (20×25×1.78 mm3) but slower read/write, no wear-leveling controller, up to 2GB[3]
Type H 2005 XD card typeH 512M Olympus.png Slim and small (20×25×1.78 mm3) and swifter, no wear-leveling controller, up to 2GB[3]
USB flash drive Various USB 1.1/2.0/3.0 2001 Geil David 1GB AB.jpg
(not to scale)
Universally compatible across all computer platforms, but greater size suits them better to file transfer/storage instead of use in portable devices, up to 256GB

Physical details

Note that a memory card's dimensions are determined while holding the card with contact pins upwards. The length of cards is often greater than their width. Most cards show a directional arrow to aid insertion; such an arrow should be upward.

Memory card parameters.svg
Card Width (mm) Length (mm) Thickness (mm) Volume (mm³) Mass (g)[4]
CompactFlash, Type I 43.0 36.0 3.3 5,108 3.3
CompactFlash, Type II 43.0 36.0 5.0 7,740
SmartMedia 37.0 45.0 0.76 1,265 2.0
MMC, MMCplus 24.0 32.0 1.4 1,075 1.3[5]
RS-MMC, MMCmobile 24.0 18.0 1.4 605 1.3
MMCmicro 14.0 12.0 1.1 185
SD, SDHC, SDXC, SDIO 24.0 32.0 2.1 1,613 2.0
miniSD, miniSDHC, miniSDIO 20.0 21.5 1.4 602 1.0
microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC 11.0 15.0 1.0 165 0.27
Memory Stick Standard, PRO 21.5 50.0 2.8 3,010 4.0
Memory Stick Duo, PRO Duo, PRO-HG , XC 20.0 31.0 1.6 992 2.0
Memory Stick Micro (M2), XC 12.5 15.0 1.2 225 2.0
xD 25.0 20.0 1.78 890 2.8
USB varies varies varies varies varies

Technical details

Card Varieties Actual max. storage capacity (mebibyte, or MiB) Theoretical max. capacity Max. Read Speed (MByte/s) Max. Write Speed (MByte/s) Read/write cycles Low-level access Operating voltage (V)[6] Controller chip[7] # of pins
CompactFlash I 131,072 128 PiB[2] 167[8] 167[8] NOR/NAND 3.3 and 5 Yes 50
II 12,288 128 PiB[2] (due to LBA-48) 167[8] 167[8]
SmartMedia 128 2 1,000,000 NAND 3.3 or 5 No 22
MMC MMC 8,192 128 GB 2 2 1,000,000[9] 3.3 Yes 7
RS-MMC 2,048 2[10] 2[10] 3.3 7
MMCmobile 2,048 15[11] 8[11] 1.8 and 3.3 13
MMCplus 4,096[12] 52[13] 52[13] 3.3 13
MMCmicro 2,048 1.8 and 3.3 13
eMMC 2 TiB 104 104 1.8 and 3.3 Yes 13
Secure Digital SD 4 GiB 133 133 3.3 Yes 9
miniSD 8,192 133 133 11
microSD 4,096 133 133 8
SDHC 32,768[14] 2 TiB 12.5/25(HS) 12.5/25(HS) 1.8 and 3.3 Yes 9
miniSDHC 4,096[15] 12 12 11
microSDHC 32,768[16] 10 10 8
SDXC 32,768 2 TiB 104 104 1.8 and 3.3 Yes 9
Memory Stick Standard 128 128 MiB 2.5 1.8 3.3 Yes 10
PRO 4,096 2 TiB 20 20 3.3
PRO Duo 32 ,000[17] 20 20 3.3
PRO-HG Duo 32, 000[18] Actual: 30[19]
Theoretical: 60[20]
Actual: 30[19]
Theoretical: 60[20]
Micro (M2) 16,384[21] 32 GiB 20 20 1.8 and 3.3
xC 2 TiB 60 60 3.3 Yes 10
xD 512 512 MiB 5 3 3.3 No 18
Type M 2,048 8 GiB 4 2.5
Type H 2,048 8 GiB 5 4
Type M+ 2,048 8 GiB 6 3.75
USB Full speed 131,072 (2009) 262,144 (2010) No Limit 1 1 5 Yes 4
High speed 40 40

Consumer details

Card Write protection switch[22] DRM
CompactFlash No No
SmartMedia Partial, sticker Partial (optional)
MMCMobile Yes, secureMMC
SD Yes[23][24] Yes, CPRM
miniSD No
microSD No
Memory Stick Standard, PRO Yes Optional, MagicGate
Memory Stick Duo, PRO Duo No Optional, MagicGate
Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo No Optional, MagicGate
Memory Stick Micro (M2) No Optional, MagicGate
xD No Partial [25]
USB Sometimes No


The following chart gives details on availability of adapters to put a given card (horizontal) in a given slot or device (vertical). This table does not take into account protocol issues in communicating with the device.

Following labels are used:

  • + (native) - a slot is native for such card.
  • D (Directly compatible) - a card may be used in such a slot directly, without any adapters. Best possible compatibility.
  • M (requires a Mechanical adapter) - such adapter is only a physical enclosure to fit one card sized into another; all electrical pins are exactly the same.
  • EM (requires an Electro-Mechanical adapter) - such adapter features both physical enclosure and pins re-routing as terminals are sufficiently different. No powered elements in such adapter exists, thus they're very cheap and easy to manufacture and may be supplied as a bonus for every such card.
  • E (requires an Electronic adapter enclosure) - these adapters are the most advanced ones with some chips (may be requiring external power) that transform signals, as well as physical enclosure and pin routing.
  • X (requires an eXternal adapter) - technically the same as E, but such adapter usually consists of 2 parts: a pseudo-card with pin routing and physical enclosure size that perfectly match the target slot and a break-out box (a card reader) that holds a real card. Such adapter is the least comfortable to use.
  • Empty cell - card can't be used in such slot, no single adapter is known to exist. Sometimes a chain of adapters can help (for example, miniSD→CF as miniSD→SD→CF)
Cards → CF SM MMC Memory Stick SD xD
↓ Slots I II MMC RS-MMC, MMCmobile Std PRO PRO Duo Micro SD mini micro Std M H
ExpressCard E[26] E[26] E[27] E[28] E[28] E[27] E[27] E[27] E[29] E[27] E[27] E[27]
PC card EM[30] EM[30] E[31] E[32] E[32] E[32] E[32]
CF I + E E[33] E[34] E[34] E[35] E[33] E[36] E[36] E[36]
CF II + + E E[33] E[34] E[34] E[33] E[36] E[36] E[36]
SM + X[37] X[37] X[37]
xD E[38] + + +
MMC + M D[39]
MS X[40] + + M M X[40] X[40] E[41]
IDE PATA EM[42] EM[42] E[43][44]
Serial ATA E[45] E[45]
USB X[46] X[46] X[46] X[46] X[46] X[46] E[47] E[47] E[48] E[49] X[46] X[46] X[46]
Floppy E[50]
Nintendo DS Slot-1 E[51]
Nintendo DS Slot-2 E[52] E[52] E[52]


  1. ^ Pictures are given in relative scales; they're sized to be WYSIWYG when viewing using 81PPI monitor.
  2. ^ a b c d Compact Flash Association announces CF 5.0 standard supporting up to 128 PiB of storage
  3. ^ a b c FUJIFILM Global | xD-Picture Card and Adapters
  4. ^ Plexus Outbursts specifications
  5. ^ Apacer's MMC specifications
  6. ^ Voltage table at All Memory Cards, note that some cards support both voltages (and), and some cards are available in distinct versions (or)
  7. ^ Explanation of controller chip at All Memory Cards
  8. ^ a b c d CompactFlash Specification Rev. 6.0
  9. ^ ACP-EP Specifications
  10. ^ a b ACP-EP RS-MMC card features list
  11. ^ a b ACP-EP MMCmobile card features list
  12. ^ Transcend MMCplus 4 GiB
  13. ^ a b MMC transferred at up to 52 MiB/s
  14. ^ Toshiba Adds New High Density SDHC Cards and microSDHC Card to Extensive Memory Card Line-up
  15. ^ New 4 GiB miniSDHC card
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ Sony 32 GB Memory Stick PRO Duo
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ a b Sony Introduces Faster MS Pro HG Duo Card
  20. ^ a b Sony Memory Stick PRO-HG, up to 32 GB, 8-bit parallel transfer
  21. ^ SanDisk announces world's largest mobile phone card capacity with 16GB M2
  22. ^ Write protection switch at All Memory Cards
  23. ^ Some early SD cards may not have a write protection switch.
  24. ^ The write protect switch signals to the host, which is responsible for write protection. The write protect switch is not connected to the internal circuitry of the card. SD Card Simplified Physical Layer Specification
  25. ^ Fujifilm accessories xD-Picture Card
  26. ^ a b DataFab EXP-CF
  27. ^ a b c d e f g DataFab EXP 12 in 2
  28. ^ a b DataFab exp 12 in 1
  29. ^ DataFab exp M2+microSD
  30. ^ a b Transcend CompactFlash-to-PC Card adapter
  31. ^ Transcend SmartMedia-to-PC Card adapter
  32. ^ a b c d Transcend 5-in-1 Adapter
  33. ^ a b c d Minolta SD-CF1 SD-to-CompactFlash adapter
  34. ^ a b c d Transcend MemoryStick-to-CompactFlash adapter
  35. ^ Sony MSAC-MCF1N and AD-MSCF1 PRO Duo to CF adapters
  36. ^ a b c d e f Olympus MACF-10 xD-to-CompactFlash adapter
  37. ^ a b c Hama xD-to-SM adapter
  38. ^ In March 2008, Olympus started shipping the MASD-1 microSD-to-xD adapter along with its latest compact digital cameras, with a shape designed to fit only in those latest cameras. The physical adapter is in fact purely electromechanical, although the xD and SD protocols are completely incompatible. This demonstrates that the cameras themselves must understand the SD protocol, and thus the adapter is more properly termed an electronic adapter, with the electronic logic contained in the camera rather than the physical accessory.
  39. ^ SD cards are usually thicker than MMC ones, and although it uses perfectly compatible pins, not every MMC slot may allow thick SD card to be inserted
  40. ^ a b c Dragon SD/miniSD/MMC to MS PRO Duo Adapter
  41. ^ KingMax microSD to MS PRO Duo Adapter
  42. ^ a b PC Engines IDE to CompactFlash adapters
  43. ^ Star Empery PT110 SD Card To ATA IDE 3.5 inch Hard Drive Adapter
  44. ^ 4× SD to SSD IDE Adapter
  45. ^ a b Accelerated Compact Flash: The Addonics SATA CF Adapter
  46. ^ a b c d e f g h i There are many USB-connected "n-in-1" memory card readers, for example Belkin's "Hi-Speed USB 2.0 15-in-1 Media Reader & Writer".
  47. ^ a b MS Duo and M2 adapters have appeared in the last 12 months which look like USB memory sticks
  48. ^ SanDisk @ CES - SD card with built-in USB adapter
  49. ^ A-Data microSD to USB Adapter
  50. ^ DCRP Special Report: FlashPath Adapter by Tom Beardmore
  51. ^ R4 microSD to NDS Slot-1 Adapter
  52. ^ a b c Supercard to NDS Slot-2 Adapter

External links

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