TOKYO 16:00: Olympus has today announced the new xD Picture Card flash storage media. The xD Picture Card was developed in conjunction with Fujifilm as the replacement for the aging SmartMedia format. The card will be produced by Toshiba. Both companies are keen to stress that they are and will continue to support the SmartMedia format and will continue to produce SmartMedia cards into the future. The xD format is designed to address the need for smaller sized cameras and higher capacity storage, it will be available initially up to 128 MB with 256 and 512 MB just around the corner. I personally am not that keen to see yet another flash storage format.

Phil: I for one am not keen to see yet another flash storage format thrust upon an unsuspecting market, there are already several more than acceptable formats out there. When I popped this question to Fujifilm their response was that SD/MMC is too expensive as it contains a controller chip, the new xD cards are 'dumb' like SmartMedia, the controller chip must be inside the camera. Fujifilm and Olympus do have a large combined market share to get away with this but that doesn't mean it's going to be welcomed with open arms.

Press Release:

xD-Picture Card: Ultra-Compact Digital Camera Memory Media

Hamburg, 30 July 2002 - The xD-Picture Card, a new type of ultra-compact memory media developed jointly by Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. and Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd., is scheduled for market introduction this autumn.

The SmartMedia™ cards widely used to date in Olympus and Fujifilm digital cameras and other electronic devices have earned a reputation for outstanding portability, compatibility with personal computers and cost performance, firmly establishing them as a memory device standard.

With the xD-Picture Card, Olympus and Fujifilm have contributed in a co-operative effort to respond to the needs of consumers using today's advanced digital still cameras. Those needs include:

  • Development of smaller digital cameras
  • Demand for greater memory capacity
  • Greater compatibility of digital media between different brands of digital cameras

Production of the new media will be consigned to the Toshiba Corporation.

The name "xD-Picture Card" was inspired by "eXtreme Digital", suggesting the excellence of this new memory media for recording, storing and transporting audio-visual information.

Both Olympus and Fujifilm will be releasing digital cameras that use the xD-Picture Card this autumn, and will urge other digital camera and printer manufacturers to adopt the xD-Picture Card standard.

The new cards are scheduled for release this autumn, and will initially be available in memory capacities of 16 MB, 32 MB, 64 MB, and 128 MB.

Main features of the xD-Picture Card

  1. Ultra-compact 20.0 x 25.0 x 1.7 mm size

    With a volume of 0.85 cc and a weight of 2 g, the xD-Picture Card boasts the smallest form factor of any digital memory card, making it exceptionally portable and convenient. The miniature size of the new card will enable development of even smaller digital cameras.
  2. Planned capacities up to 8 GB

    Four types of cards will be available initially: 16 MB, 32 MB, 64 MB and 128 MB. 256 MB cards are planned to be introduced this December, with 512 MB and 1 GB to 8 GB cards following over the years.
  3. Core media concept

    Available simultaneously with xD-Picture Cards will be PC Card adapters and USB card readers, allowing easy interfacing with personal computers. A CompactFlash™ adapter is being developed that will allow use of xD-Picture Cards in cameras designed for CompactFlash™ media. Plans to adapt the new media for PDAs, audio players and other IT appliances are also underway.

What happens to Smartmedia?

XD and Smartmedia will co-exist for some time to come. A number of models will also offer dual slot capability to allow users with existing media to use their current cards.

Smartmedia will continue in a large number of models and the memory will continue to be manufactured to support these and the huge number of Smartmedia based cameras already in the market.

Most 2 to 3 million pixel compact camera users are using 64mb capacity or less as each card holds a similar number of photographs to a roll of film. It is likely that cameras of this resolution will be produced for many years as they have been accepted at a mass market level as giving more than acceptable output quality. This in turn means that the perceived limitation of capacity in smartmedia is not an issue.

XD will compliment Smartmedia by allowing both smaller premium compacts and the kind of capacity needed for higher resolution models. It will also provide ultimately a solid state option for devices that play back portable video and audio.

SmartMedia is a trademark of Toshiba Corporation.

xD-Picture Card and other company and product names are trademarks of their respective owners.