SmartMedia

SmartMedia

Infobox media
name = SmartMedia



caption =
type = Memory Card
encoding =
capacity = up to 128 MB
read =
write =
standard =
owner = Toshiba
use =
dimensions =
weight =
extended from =
extended to =

SmartMedia is a flash memory card standard owned by Toshiba, with capacities ranging from 0.5 MB to 128 MB. SmartMedia memory cards are no longer manufactured, and there have been no new devices designed for use with SmartMedia for many years now.

History

The SmartMedia format was launched in the summer of 1995 to compete with the MiniCard, CompactFlash, and PC card formats. Although memory cards are nowadays associated with digital cameras, digital audio players, PDAs, and similar devices, SmartMedia was pitched as a successor to the computer floppy disk. Indeed, the format was originally named Solid State Floppy Disk Card (SSFDC).

A SmartMedia card consists of a single NAND flash chip embedded in a thin plastic card, although some higher capacity cards contain multiple, linked chips. It was one of the smallest and thinnest of the early memory cards, only 0.76mm thick, and managed to maintain a favorable cost ratio as compared to the others. SmartMedia cards lack a built-in controller chip, which kept the cost down. This feature later caused problems, since some older devices would require firmware updates to handle larger capacity cards. The lack of built-in controller also made it impossible for the card to perform automatic wear levelling, a process which prevents premature wearout of a sector by mapping the writes to various other sectors in the card.

SmartMedia cards can be used in a standard 3.5" floppy drive by means of a FlashPath adapter. This is possibly the only way of obtaining flash memory functionality with very old hardware, and it remains one of SmartMedia's most distinctive features. This method's big drawback is that it is very slow. Read/write is limited to floppy disk speeds, meaning that copying 64 megabytes of data by this method is a very tedious process, although usually preferable to not copying it at all.

Typically, SmartMedia cards were used as storage for portable devices, in a form that could easily be removed for access by a PC. For example, pictures taken with a digital camera would be stored as image files on a SmartMedia card. A user could copy the images to a computer with a SmartMedia reader. A reader was typically a small box connected via USB or some other serial connection. Modern computers, both laptops and desktops, will occasionally have SmartMedia slots built in. While availability of dedicated SmartMedia readers has dropped off, readers that read multiple card types (such as 4-in-1, 10-in-1) continue to include the format.

SmartMedia was popular in digital cameras, and reached its peak in about 2001 when it garnered nearly half of the digital camera market. It was backed especially by Fuji and Olympus, though the format started to exhibit problems as camera resolutions increased. Cards larger than 128 MB were not available, and the compact digital cameras were reaching a size where even SmartMedia cards were too big to be convenient. Eventually Toshiba switched to smaller, higher-capacity Secure Digital cards, and SmartMedia ceased to have major support after Olympus and Fuji both switched to xD. It did not find as much support in PDAs, MP3 Players, or Pagers as some other formats, especially in North America and Europe, though there was still significant use.

SmartMedia cards larger than 128 MB were never released, although there were rumors of a 256 MB card being planned. Technical specifications for the memory size were released, and the 256 MB cards were even advertised in some places. Some older devices cannot support cards larger than 16 or sometimes 32 MB without a firmware update, if at all. Smartmedia is a textbook case of shortsighted design priorities; its 128 megabyte capacity successfully beat that of a floppy disk, in a smaller space, but not by a sufficient amount to overwhelm competing memory card formats. Compared to the CompactFlash card, SmartMedia cards were small, or at least thin, but unfortunately had none of CF's capacity and flexibility.

SmartMedia cards came in two formats, 5 V and the more modern 3.3 V (sometimes marked 3 V), named for their main supply voltages. The packaging was nearly identical, except for the reversed placement of the notched corner. Many older SmartMedia devices only support 5V SmartMedia cards, whereas many newer devices only support 3.3V cards. In order to protect 3.3V cards from being damaged in 5V-only devices, the card reader should have some mechanical provision (such as detecting the type of notch) to disallow insertion of an unsupported type of card. Some low-cost, 5V-only card readers do not operate this way, and inserting a 3.3V card into such a 5V-only reader will result in permanent damage to the card. Dual-voltage card readers are highly recommended.

There is an oversized xD-to-SmartMedia adapter that allows xD cards to use a SmartMedia port, but it does not fit entirely inside a SmartMedia slot. There is a limit on the capacity of the xD card when used in such adapters (sometimes 128 MB or 256 MB), and the device is subject to the restrictions of the SmartMedia reader as well.

SmartMedia memory cards are no longer manufactured. There have been no new devices designed for SmartMedia for quite a long time now. Old stocks of new 128MB cards can be obtained from specialist suppliers while their supplies last.

Copy protection

Many SmartMedia cards include a little-known copy protection feature known as "ID". This is why many cards are marked with "ID" beside the capacity. This gave every card a unique identification number for use with copy protection systems. [http://www.fujifilm.co.uk/technical/download/a101_m.pdf] Nobody ever used this primitive DRM system, except the Korean company Game Park, which used it to protect commercial titles for the GP32 handheld gaming system.

pecifications

* Weight: 2 g
* Size: 45.0 × 37.0 × 0.76 mm
* Capacities: 0.5, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128 MB
* Uses 16-Mbit, 32-Mbit, and 64-Mbit Toshiba TC58-compatible NAND-type flash memory chips
* Flat electrode terminal with 22 pins — (32M & 64M compatible)
* 8-bit I/O Interface (16-bit in some cases)
* Data transfer rate: 2MB/s
* 1,000,000 read/write cycles
* ten year storage time without power
* metallic write-protect sticker
* Compatible with PCMCIA with an adapter
* Compatible with CompactFlash Type II with an adapter
* Compatible with 3.5" Floppy drive using FlashPath adapter

ee also

*Comparison of memory cards
* Memory card
* Flash memory
* Circuits

References

External links

* [http://www.ssfdc.or.jp/english SSFDC Forum]
* [http://www.pretec.com/index2/product/Mobile_peripherals/CompactSSFDC.htm] Pretec SmartMedia to Type II CompactFlash adapter
* [http://www.ritek.com.au/products/sm-card.html] Ritek Website SmartMedia product overview, with 256 MB card listed as largest size.
* [http://www.ssfdc.or.jp/english/common/kikanshi.htm] SSFDC News Site with PDF document listing news of the 256 MB SmartMedia card technical specifications being released in SmartMedia NEWS 2002.1 NO.1
* [https://emporium.olympus.com/innards/empProdDetails.asp?sku=200835-410 Olympus Emporium page on xD/SM to PCMCIA adapter]
* [http://www.win.tue.nl/~aeb/linux/smartmedia/SmartMedia_Format.pdf SmartMedia format introduction (software considerations)]


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