SanDisk, Sony expand Memory Stick licensing agreements

Sony has extended its Memory Stick licensing agreements with memory card maker SanDisk through a cross-licensing deal.

The cross-licensing agreement, announced Tuesday, will allow SanDisk to manufacture and sell Memory Stick cards, including Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick with Memory Select Function, and Memory Stick I/O cards, under the SanDisk brand name. SanDisk currently has the right to manufacture Memory Stick Pro cards under a licensing agreement signed between the two companies in January.

Sony and SanDisk first began their collaboration on Memory Stick with a licensing deal in September 2001. Under that agreement, SanDisk provided flash memory chips to Sony and Sony provided completed Memory Stick cards to SanDisk.

SanDisk will begin to manufacture Memory Stick cards before the middle of this year, the two companies said in a statement.

Standard Memory Stick cards can hold up to 128M bytes of data and can be used in a variety of devices, which are primarily manufactured by Sony and include digital cameras, video cameras, PDAs (personal digital assistants) and notebook computers, among others. Memory Stick cards with Memory Select Function incorporate two 128M-byte memory chips that expand the cards' capacity to 256M bytes. An external switch on the Memory Stick allows users to switch between the cards' two internal memory chips.

Memory Stick Duo is designed to be used in smaller devices, such as cell phones, and is one-third the volume and half the weight of the standard Memory Stick card. Its capacity is the same as the standard Memory Stick.

Memory Stick Pro, which was jointly developed by Sony and SanDisk, has the same external dimensions as a standard Memory Stick (50 millimeters by 21.5 millimeters by 2.8 millimeters) but offers greater capacity than the standard Memory Stick's 128M bytes. Memory Stick Pro cards are currently available in capacities up to 1G byte and the card's design allows a theoretical capacity limit of 32G bytes, according to Sony Corp.

Memory Stick Pro also offers a faster data transfer rate than the standard Memory Stick cards. With a transfer rate of between 15M bps (bits per second) up to a maximum transfer rate of 160M bps using a parallel interface, Memory Stick Pro cards are fast enough to record DVD-quality video in real time, Sony said.

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