Memory card

Miniaturization is evident in memory card creation; over time, the physical card sizes grow smaller.
A 32GB SanDisk memory card with adapter

A memory card or flash card is an electronic flash memory data storage device used for storing digital information. These are commonly used in portable electronic devices, such as digital cameras, mobile phones, laptop computers, tablets, MP3 players and video game consoles.


PC Cards (PCMCIA) were the first commercial memory card formats (type I cards) to come out, but are now mainly used in industrial applications and to connect I/O devices such as modems. Since 1994, a number of memory card formats smaller than the PC Card arrived, the first one was CompactFlash later SmartMedia and Miniature Card. The desire for smaller cards for cell-phones, PDAs, and compact digital cameras drove a trend that left the previous generation of "compact" cards looking big. In digital cameras SmartMedia and CompactFlash had been very successful. In 2001, SM alone captured 50% of the digital camera market and CF had captured the professional digital camera market. By 2005 however, SD/MMC had nearly taken over SmartMedia's spot, though not to the same level and with stiff competition coming from Memory Stick variants, as well CompactFlash. In industrial and embedded fields, even the venerable PC card (PCMCIA) memory cards still manage to maintain a niche, while in mobile phones and PDAs, the memory card has become smaller.

Since 2010, new products of Sony (previously only using Memory Stick) and Olympus (previously only using XD-Card) have been offered with an additional SD-Card slot.[1] Effectively the format war has turned in SD-Card's favor.[2][3][4]

Data table of selected memory card formats

Name Abbreviation Form factorDRM
PC CardPCMCIA85.6 × 54 × 3.3 mmNo
CompactFlash ICF-I43 × 36 × 3.3 mmNo
CompactFlash IICF-II43 × 36 × 5.5 mmNo
SmartMediaSM / SMC45 × 37 × 0.76 mmNo
Memory StickMS50.0 × 21.5 × 2.8 mmMagicGate
Memory Stick DuoMSD31.0 × 20.0 × 1.6 mmMagicGate
Memory Stick PRO DuoMSPD31.0 × 20.0 × 1.6 mmMagicGate
Memory Stick PRO-HG DuoMSPDX31.0 × 20.0 × 1.6 mmMagicGate
Memory Stick Micro M2M215.0 × 12.5 × 1.2 mmMagicGate
Miniature Card37 × 45 × 3.5 mmNo
Multimedia CardMMC32 × 24 × 1.5 mmNo
Reduced Size Multimedia CardRS-MMC16 × 24 × 1.5 mmNo
MMCmicro CardMMCmicro12 × 14 × 1.1 mmNo
P2 card P2 No
Secure Digital cardSD32 × 24 × 2.1 mmCPRM
Universal Flash StorageUFSUnknown
miniSD cardminiSD21.5 × 20 × 1.4 mmCPRM
microSD cardmicroSD15 × 11 × 0.7 mmCPRM
xD-Picture CardxD20 × 25 × 1.7 mmNo
Intelligent StickiStick24 × 18 × 2.8 mmNo
Serial Flash ModuleSFM45 × 15 mmNo
µ cardµcard32 × 24 × 1 mmUnknown
NT CardNT NT+44 × 24 × 2.5 mmNo
XQD cardXQD38.5 × 29.8 × 3.8 mmUnknown

Overview of all memory card types

Video game consoles

PlayStation memory card

Video game consoles use memory cards to hold saved game data. Cartridge-based systems primarily used battery-backed volatile RAM within each individual cartridge to hold saves for that game. The Neo Geo AES, released in 1990 by SNK, was the first video game console able to use a memory card. AES memory cards were also compatible with Neo-Geo MVS arcade cabinets, allowing players to migrate saves between home and arcade systems and vice versa. Memory cards became commonplace when home consoles moved to read-only optical discs for storing the game program, beginning with systems such as the TurboGrafx-CD and Sega-CD.

Until the sixth generation of video game consoles, memory cards were based on proprietary formats; later systems have used established industry hardware formats for memory cards, such as FAT32.

Home consoles now commonly use hard disk drive storage for saved games and allow the use of generic USB flash drives or other card formats via a memory card reader to transport game saves and other game information, along with cloud storage saving, though most portable gaming systems still rely on custom memory cartridges to store program data, due to their low power consumption, smaller physical size and reduced mechanical complexity.

See also


  1. Grunin, Lori (2010-01-06). "Sony does SD; Panasonic intros first SDXC cards | 2010 CES — CNET Blogs". Retrieved 2013-01-07.
  2. "Format-Krieg entschieden: SD-Card setzt sich durch" ("format-war resolved: SD-card prevails"), Chip-online, 14. January 2010
  3. "Camera trends come into focus for 2010", msnbc, 13. January.2010 "As much as the storage-format war cleared up a bit with Sony announcing that it would support SD and SDHC cards ..."
  4. "FEATURE: Playing Your Cards Right at Retail", Peter K. Burian, 4. June 2010. "Some industry observers have suggested that this development signals an end to the 'format war,' ..."
  5. "SanDisk and Sony announce SxS memory card: Digital Photography Review". Retrieved 2013-01-07.
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