CFexpress cards: Better, faster, stronger

ProGrade Digital, a new premium memory card manufacturer, has invested in CFexpress card technology, pulling back the curtain on a 1TB memory card with lightning fast read and write speeds that exceed 1GB/s.

The ProGrade CFexpress card may set a new benchmark far beyond the current capabilities of XQD.

Imaging Resource senior writer, Jarod Schneider, was recently invited to test and review ProGrade’s 1TB card, which is currently in development and will be available later this year.

The cards are able to read at over 1400MB/s and write at over 1000MB/s, which he notes is ‘unbelievable’ as this is double the speed of CFast – matching speeds of an internal computer SSD.

Schneider ran tests through a MacBook Pro with TouchBar, using ProGrade’s XQD/CFExpress card reader with a Thunderbolt 3 Cable.

The result from Imaging Resource’s test.

The reading and writing speeds check out. Here’s what he has to say:

‘With 1044.5 MB/s write and 1437.9 MB/s read speeds, this new technology is going to completely change the memory industry. With so much capability in such a small card, not to mention the massive capacity of 1 TB, the options for camera companies explodes beyond current limits. 6K video internal? 8K video internal? Both of those in RAW? More? What about 50 or 60 still photos a second for sports? 80? 100? The numbers add up if you look at what can be done with current XQD or even SD cards. The ramifications of this
technology can’t even be properly quantified at present, there is so much that is possible.’

Beyond the 1TB card, ProGrade will also release 512 and 256GB versions.

Who is ProGrade and what is CFExpress?
Despite only emerging this year, ProGrade has an executive team equipped with enough experience in the memory card market to become a serious competitor.

Headed by Lexar ex-VP Wes Brewer, along with a group of former executives, ProGrade has risen from the ashes of the memory card company which was acquired by Chinese company, Longsys in 2017.

Brewer said ProGrade has no plans to design XQD cards, as he views CFexpress as a far superior technology.

‘The CFexpress standard has been evolving for several years within the CompactFlash Association (CFA) as a successor to both CFast and XQD formats. We are pleased to be working within the CFA and alongside device manufacturers to bring to market this next generation removable storage standard,’ Brewer said. ‘Industry adoption of CFexpress will allow for much higher resolution and higher bit rate image capture than ever before in many still image and video capture devices. Faster offload speeds will also greatly benefit the post-capture workflow through the extremely high read speeds it provides.’

CFexpress technology was announced in 2016 by CFA as the ‘next evolution’ of high performance removable media.

The current problem is no camera companies support CFexpress. However the cards use the same form factor as XQD. The cards will fit cameras with XQD slots, such as Nikon, meaning support may only require a firmware update.

Given ProGrade’s connection to Lexar, it’s hopeful the new company may design a version of the Workflow Hub – a premium modular card reader which served as a handy tool for photographers.

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