XD-Picture Card

XD-Picture Card

Infobox media
name = xD-Picture

caption =A 16 MB Fujifilm xD Card
encoding =
type = memory card
capacity = maximum 512 MB (original) maximum 8 GB (Type M/M+, Type H)
owner = Olympus, Fujifilm
use = digital cameras, voice recorders
dimensions = 20 mm × 25 mm × 1.78 mm
weight = 2.8 grams
The xD-Picture Card is a type of flash memory card, used mainly in digital cameras. xD originally stood for extreme Digital. [ [http://home.fujifilm.com/photokina2002/data/pr_pdf/di_3.pdf 2002 press release] , Fujifilm: "The name 'xD-Picture Card' was inspired by 'eXtreme Digital', …"] The cards were developed by Olympus and Fujifilm, and introduced into the market in July 2002. Toshiba Corporation and Samsung Electronics manufacture the cards for Olympus and Fujifilm. xD cards are now sold under other brands, including Kodak, SanDisk, PNY, and Lexar, but are not branded with the respective companies' logos, except for Kodak.

xD cards are used in Olympus and Fujifilm digital cameras and Olympus digital voice recorders; Fujifilm also made an MP3 player (xD-MP3) that used the cards. As of 2008, xD cards are available in capacities of 16 MB (16 MiB), 32 MB, 64 MB, 128 MB, 256 MB, 512 MB, 1 GB (1 GiB) and 2 GB.

Type M/M+ and Type H cards

The original xD cards were available in 16 MB to 512 MB capacities. The Type M card, released in February 2005 [http://www.steves-digicams.com/pr/olympus_02152005_1gbxd_pr.html Olympus 1GiB xD] , Steve’s Digicams.] , uses Multi Level Cell (MLC) architecture to achieve a theoretical storage capacity of up to 8 GB. As of August 2006, Type M cards are available in sizes from 256 MB to 2 GB. However, the Type M suffers slower read-write speeds than the original cards.

The Type H card, first released in November 2005 [http://www.steves-digicams.com/pr/olympus_11282005_typeh-xd_pr.html Olympus Type H xD] , Steve’s Digicams.] , offers higher data rates than Type M cards (theoretically as much as 3 times faster). As of 2008, Type H cards are only available in 256 MB, 512 MB, 1 GB, and 2 GB capacities.

The Type M+ card, first released in April 2008 [http://www.olympuspresspass.com/press_pass_cut/opp_press_details.asp?pressNo=578 Olympus Type M+] , Olympus.] , offers data rates "1.5 times" that of Type M cards. As of 2008, cards are available only in 1 and 2 GB capacities.

Olympus says that its xD cards support special "picture effects" when used in some Olympus cameras, though these software features are not intrinsically hardware-dependent. Type H and M+ cards however, are required in newer models to capture video at high rate (640×480×30). Due to changes in the cards' storage architecture, newer Type M and H cards may suffer compatibility issues with some older cameras (especially video recording). Compatibility lists are available for Olympus: [http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_xdcompatibility.asp Olympus America’s] and [http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital/accessories/card/index.html#compati Fujifilm’s] . The newer cards are also incompatible with some card readers.

Theoretical transfer speeds

Pictures may be transferred from a digital camera's xD card to a personal computer by plugging the camera into the PC (via a USB cable), or by removing the card from the camera and inserting it into a card reader. In both cases, the computer sees the card as a mass storage device containing image files, although software or firmware can alter this representation. Card readers may be integrated into the PC or attached via cable. Adapters are available to allow an xD picture card to be plugged into other readers (and in some cases cameras), including PC card, parallel port, CompactFlash and SmartMedia.

Comparison with rival formats

As of 2008, the xD format primarily competes with Secure Digital card (SD), CompactFlash (CF), and Sony's Memory Stick.


*xD cards are fast in comparison with older formats such as SmartMedia (SM), MultiMediaCard (MMC), and Memory Stick (MS).
*xD cards have a small form-factor in comparison with other formats (although both microSD and M2 are significantly smaller).
*xD cards have a low power consumption.Fact|Compared to what??|date=March 2008


*First-generation xD cards have a fairly small theoretical maximum capacity, relative to other memory card formats. The newer variants have mitigated this issue, with a maximum capacity of 8 GB, though as of 2008 there are no cards available in sizes above 2GB.
*Although xD cards are physically smaller than Secure Digital and Memory Stick cards, they are larger than these competitors' reduced-size variants (miniSD and microSD, and Memory Stick Micro).
*xD cards are generally more expensive than other cards formats.
*xD cards are less widely supported by camera, card reader, and accessory manufacturers than other formats. [As of November 2007, SD cards (and variants) are supported by most or all consumer-level digital cameras from many major manufacturers. CompactFlash is the "de facto" standard for professional and prosumer cameras, accepted by virtually all digital SLR cameras, including those made by Olympus and Fujifilm. SD cards are also supported by many brands of MP3 players, PDAs, game consoles, and mobile phones.]
*The xD card format is proprietary to Fujifilm and Olympus, just as the Memory Stick format is to Sony. This means that no public documentation or implementation is available (see below for reverse-engineering results). By comparison, the MultiMediaCard and CompactFlash formats are described by completely open and free specifications, and a partial specification for the SD format is freely available.

Detailed specifications

The detailed specification for xD cards is tightly controlled by Olympus and Fujifilm, which charge licensing fees and royalties and require non-disclosure agreements in exchange for the technical information required to produce xD-compatible devices. [ [http://www.xd-picture.com/obtain/index.html "How to obtain xD-Picture Card License"] .]

The memory format used by xD cards is not well-documented. It is difficult to study it directly, since most camera devices and most USB card readers do not provide direct access to the flash memory. Since the cards are controller-less, cameras and card readers must perform wear leveling and error detection themselves, and they normally hide the portion of the memory which stores this information (among other things) from higher-level access. [ [http://www.elinux.org/JuiceBox_UMDCart this page] , which explains how to use an xD card as a source of raw flash memory chips for the Mattel Juice Box; the answer to question #3 at the bottom explains why most xD card readers cannot be used for raw access to the flash memory.]

However, a few models of xD card readers based on the Alauda chip "do" allow "raw" access to an xD card's flash memory; these readers have been reverse-engineered and Linux drivers have been produced by the [http://alauda.sourceforge.net Alauda Project] , which has also [http://alauda.sourceforge.net/wikka.php?wakka=XdMedia documented] the on-chip data structures of the xD card. According to this information, the xD card headers are similar to those used by SmartMedia, and include information on the manufacturer of the chip.

Raw hardware

At the raw hardware level, an xD card is simply an ordinary NAND flash integrated circuit in an unusual package. Comparing the pinout of an xD cardAn [http://pinouts.ru/Memory/xd_card_pinout.shtml xD card pinout] from [http://pinouts.ru/ pinouts.ru] . There is a pinout for a standard NAND flash chip on page 8 of Toshiba's " [http://www.dataio.com/pdf/NAND/Toshiba/NandDesignGuide.pdf.pdf NAND Design Guide] ".] to the pinout of a NAND flash chip in a standard TSOP package, one finds a nearly one-to-one correspondence between the active pins of the two devices. xD cards share this characteristic with the older SmartMedia cards, which are also basically raw NAND flash chips, albeit in a larger package.

xD cards and SmartMedia cards can be used by hobbyists as a convenient source of NAND flash memory chips for custom projects. For example, the Mattel Juice Box PMP can be booted into Linux using a modified cartridge containing an xD card with the boot image written to it. Additionally, SmartMedia and xD card readers can be used to read the data off of NAND flash chips in electronic devices, by soldering leads between the chip and the card reader. [ [http://brandonu.googlepages.com/camcorderhack xD NAND Flash Reader] , [http://www.uchobby.com/index.php/2007/05/05/read-embedded-flash-chips/ Read Embedded Flash Chips] , [http://uchobby.com uchobby.com] .*]

Panoramic mode

Olympus-branded xD cards are the only ones that support Olympus cameras' panoramic function. Although they store data identically to other manufacturers' cards, Olympus intentionally disables this feature in the hopes that buyers will purchase their cards (a form of vendor lock-in).

However, it appears that the card manufacturer information is simply stored in the flash memory, in the Card Information Structure (described in the Alauda Project's documentation, see above). Thus, it is possible to alter another brand of xD card to present itself as Olympus xD card by accessing the raw flash memory. [One way to do this is by using a hacked device driver for a USB card reader, as described by [http://www.geocities.com/roberthaus/pan/ Robert Haus] .]

Market acceptance

Because of its higher cost and limited usage in products other than digital cameras, xD has been losing ground to SD, which is broadly used by PDAs, digital audio players, and most other digital camera manufacturers.

It is perhaps surprising that xD cards cost more than SD cards, since SD cards must contain a controller circuit in addition to the NAND flash memory. However, SD cards are produced in much greater numbers and by more manufacturers, so economies of scale and increased competition help explain the significant price disparity.

While many Olympus and Fujifilm digital cameras use xD cards exclusively, some can access other memory card formats. In particular, the Olympus DSLRs, Fujifilm S7000, and Fujifilm S9500 can use CompactFlash in addition to xD. Many recent Fujifilm FinePix cameras — including A, Z, S, and F series cameras — can use both SD and xD cards. In March 2008, Olympus introduced an adapter allowing its latest cameras to accept microSD cards in the xD slot. This adapter is purely mechanical, containing no electronic components, and works only with a few recent models; thus, it relies on support for the SD card protocol within the cameras themselves, though this fact is not advertised by Olympus. [cite web|url=http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1008&message=27284154|title=Forum posting: microSD to xD adapter works!|date=2008-03-23|accessdate=2008-03-23|publisher=DPReview.com]

ee also

*Comparison of memory cards


External links

* [http://www.xd-picture.com Licensors' Official Site] (Olympus and Fujifilm)
* [http://www.allpinouts.org/index.php?title=XD-Picture_Card XD-Picture Card Connector Pinout]

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