Hitachi releases smallest flash memory card

Hitachi Ltd. unveiled Monday a small-sized multimedia card aimed at mobile devices such as digital still cameras and PDAs (personal digital assistants).

The RS-MMC (Reduced-Size MultiMedia Card) is a half-in-length version of a standard MMC, measuring 24 millimeters by 18 millimeters by 1.4 millimeters and weighing 0.8 grams. The RS-MMC, which has seven pins, can be used in the same slot as an MMC. The MultiMedia Card Association (MMCA) approved the RS-MMC standard on Nov. 11 and Hitachi's product is the first to be commercialized, according to a statement from the Tokyo company.

Like a standard MMC (MultiMedia Card), an RS-MMC can be also plugged into the SD (secure digital) card's slot when using an adaptor, said Chieko Yoda, a Hitachi spokeswoman. The SD card is a secured version of MMC, which was first introduced in 2000, and about 500 companies now support the SD card standard, releasing many products carrying a SD card slot. An MMC or an RS-MMC can be put into an SD card slot and unsecured data can be transferred to it, she said.

A lot of digital content doesn't need to be secure and so SD will complement MMC not replace it, Yoda said.

A 16M-byte, a 32M-byte and a 64M-byte card are available from Hitachi, which started shipping samples of the products Monday. The company hopes to start mass production of the products in the second quarter next year, Yoda said. The prices are expected to be around the same as, or slightly higher than the standard MMC, she said. A 64M-byte standard MMC is currently sold for around ¥5,000 (US$41) in Japan.

The company plans to release a 128M-byte and a 256M-byte card in the second half of 2003, it said.

Sony also recently shrunk its Memory Stick card for smaller mobile devices with the release of the Memory Stick Duo in July. It is one of the smallest flash memory cards available in the market at present, measuring 20 millimeters by 31 millimeters by 1.6 millimeters.

Digital still camera makers, Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd. and Olympus Optical Co. Ltd., attempting to develop more compact cameras, released their version of a smaller flash memory card called the XD (Extreme Digital) Picture Card, measuring 20 millimeters by 25 millimeters by 1.7 millimeters, in July.

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