Pretec shows fast MMC memory card

Pretec Electronics has developed a prototype MultiMediaCard (MMC) memory card that is capable of faster data transfer than current cards. It unveiled the card in Taipei on Tuesday, the first day of the annual Computex trade show.

The card is based on version 4.0 of the MultiMediaCard specification, which describes cards supporting 1-bit, 4-bit or 8-bit data transfer. The specification also allows for a faster clock speed, resulting in a theoretical increase in performance to 20 times that of current cards, or 52M bps (bits per second).

Pretec's new card can deliver a data read speed of 22.5M bps and write speed of 18M bps, said Jim Yu, senior product manager at Hsinchu-based Pretec. That's less than half the theoretical maximum speed because the company is employing a controller running at 26MHz, which is half that of the maximum supported by the format.

Pretec hopes to develop faster cards when smaller and more cost effective 52MHz controllers are available, Yu said.

The card also supports dual-voltage operation, which means it can run at either 3.3 volts or 1.8 volts. The lower voltage is expected to be adopted by companies making small handheld digital devices because a lower voltage means less power consumption resulting in longer battery life.

The company expects to produce sample cards in July and enter mass production by the end of the third quarter. Yu expects the new cards to cost 15 percent more than current cards of the same capacity at first, although he expects prices to come in line with those of current cards over time.

Pretec also unveiled a USB (Universal Serial Bus) card reader that is compatible with the MMC version 4.0 format and other memory card formats including Compact Flash types 1 and 2, SmartMedia, SD (Secure Digital), MemoryStick and MemoryStick Pro. The card reader supports up to 4-bit data transfer from the new MMC cards which means a theoretical data transfer speed of up to 26M bps.

Version 4.0 of the MMC format was published by the MultiMediaCard Association (MMCA) in early February this year. Pretec said it will show the card and reader at the MMCA general meeting, which is scheduled to take place in Taipei on June 8 and 9.

Computex 2004 runs through Saturday.

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Martyn Williams

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