Panasonic to launch 256MB and 512MB SD cards

Matsushita Electric Industrial will unveil at the CEATEC exhibition on Tuesday two new SD (secure digital) memory cards, a 256M-byte and 512M-byte card that the company plans to release at the end of this year and the beginning of next year respectively. They will be the largest-capacity SD cards to date and will be able to transfer data five times faster than the current models, the company said Monday.

These high-volume SD data storage cards are developed especially for digital still camera uses, according to Hiroshi Ryu, a spokesman for Matsushita, better known for its Panasonic brand name. The cards are for use with high quality 4-megapixel to 5-megapixel class cameras launched recently by many camera manufacturers, including Matsushita itself.

A 512M-byte SD card can store up to 400 still images at 4-megapixel normal mode resolution, the company said. The data transfer rate of the two new models is five times faster than current models, at 10M bytes per second.

The 256M-byte card will be on sale on Dec. 21 in Japan with an expected price of under 30,000 yen (US$251), Ryu said. The 512M-byte card will be launched on Jan. 21. Both will be shipped worldwide by the second quarter next year, he said.

Matsushita started developing the stamp-size card, which features copyright protection, in conjunction with Toshiba Corp. and SanDisk Corp. in 1999. The three companies hope to make SD cards the global standard for such memory cards.

Until now, Matsushita has developed up to 64M-byte SD cards, and is skipping the 128M-byte cards that have been already released by other vendors, as the demands for high-volume memory cards are increasing, according to Ryu.

Rival Sony Corp.'s chewing gum size Memory Stick cards are available up to 128M bytes and the company plans to launch its 256M-byte card in 2002.

The two SD cards will be exhibited at CEATEC JAPAN 2001, to be held from October 2 to 6 in Chiba, east of Tokyo.

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