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View Full Version : Smaller PC Card Format Debuts: New ExpressCard Could Appear on Desktop as well as in Mobile Devices.

Jason Dunn
09-17-2003, 03:00 AM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,112491,tk,dn091603X,00.asp' target='_blank'>http://www.pcworld.com/news/article...n091603X,00.asp</a><br /><br /></div>"The trade group behind the PC Card has released the standard for the PC Card's successor: A smaller, faster card that goes in a slot that could become as common in desktops as in mobile devices. That's because the new card--called ExpressCard--is based on USB 2.0 and PCI Express interfaces that will be standard in the coming generation of desktop systems. Today's PC Cards require a PC Card controller, which desktop vendors typically don't bother to install because of the expense and because desktop systems can add all the peripherals they need via USB or PCI."<br /><br /><img src="http://www.pcworld.com/news/graphics/112491-n_091503_PCMCIAA13.jpg" /><br /><br />What do you think? Winner, or a loser in a new suit? I've always thought it would be cool to be able to swap out components using a "brick" type device, and this seems to be addressing that. But I can't help but think that the size is too big - I'd much rather use a CompactFlash-based card on my Pocket PC or notebook than one of these. The success of this will depend on what sort of hardware they release using this format - if they could cram a video card in there, or perhaps supplemental RAM or storage, this could turn into something very cool!

09-17-2003, 03:16 AM
... but the reality will be a loser.

The machines in the next 5 years will not get any smaller. The "brick" which you mention will only exist as Japanese curiosities (though they will no doubt be popular there).

So, expect to have a honking big ass Dell under your desk, complete with bigass CPU heatsink, bigass hard drive that still grinds like crazy, super hot memory with huge heat spreaders, and of course, a huge video card with a heat sink even bigger than your CPU's heat sink.

The only difference is that there will be a couple of ExpressCard slots on the front.

Sadly, my friends, this is the near-future of personal computing.

The good news is that our friends in Japan and Taiwan are a little more space conscious and will be pushing miniaturization technology while we Americans try to figure out why we use so much energy each year.

09-17-2003, 03:59 AM
I agree that the size is a little too big. Although it may need to be that size for future compatibility with not-yet-invented technology. If it is the new standard though, it will most likely survive IMHO.


09-17-2003, 04:13 AM
Who knows, but the more technology and the more they can get devices of today to "talk" to eachother, the better!


Philip Colmer
09-17-2003, 11:12 AM
But I can't help but think that the size is too big - I'd much rather use a CompactFlash-based card on my Pocket PC or notebook than one of these.
I do think that this is one of the areas where one size does not fit all. By that, I mean that small devices need and use small interfaces. Larger devices such as laptops & desktop PCs have more space and so can afford to dedicate a bit more space to the device.

For example, mobile phones use small SIM cards but laptops use credit-card sized smart cards. Both of them use the same sort of technology but the size of the device changes according to the parent device ... if you see what I mean :roll:

Another way of looking at it is to try to imagine fitting an SDIO card into a desktop or a laptop - it would be swamped! Yes, you could do it, but experience has certainly shown me that if you make things too small, they become harder to use and quite often easier to break.

The success of this will depend on what sort of hardware they release using this format - if they could cram a video card in there, or perhaps supplemental RAM or storage, this could turn into something very cool!
One of the key points about this design is that it sits right onto the PCI Express bus - this is the bus that is supposed to be taking the place of the current PCI & AGP busses. If that works out as proposed, we could be onto a winner here. I for one would love to be able to take a Matrox video editing hardware accelerator system out of my desktop PC and put it into my laptop so that I can do some remote work!


09-17-2003, 11:34 PM
:roll: This is just what we need... another media card format.
Give me a break.

A PC Card that's smaller than a standard PC Card, but bigger than a CF Card? Huh? I don't get it. How is this supposed to meet a need that the other cards can't already or couldn't? PC Card isn't exactly large, ya know.

The way things are going, we'll all end up with 85-in-1 multi-card readers in about five years.

IMO, the card formats that should just die off are:

-Memory Stick/Duos/Pros
-Smart Media
-Reduced size MMC's and SD's
-This new ExpressCard

How many people really honestly use anything other than CF, SD, Microdrive, or PC Card?

Then again, who knows? But I'm being a bit hard on this idea because it seems that instead of companies trying to develop existing formats into something greater, they just keep flooding the industry with more new stupid formats that never catch on, but just make it more difficult to use with a variety of devices.

PC Card caught on, CF did too. And so did SD. But the other formats only confuse people and create more fuss and incompatibility issues unless we all carry around 9-in-1 media card readers or several card adaptors in our pockets.

This ExpressCard format reminds me of the proposed reduced size MMC's and SD's in regard to purpose. This is the kind of thing that makes no sense to me. Were MMC's and SD's not small enough to begin with? Then you have Smart Media and xD formats by Toshiba... the funny thing here is that Toshiba doesn't even include these slots in their laptops. But they do include slots in their laptops that take SD cards, which are made by their competitor, Panasonic. Does this make any sense?

If this ExpressCard format could really give your mobile systems (or a desktop for that matter) full-fleged desktop graphics capability in a small format, then why don't they just keep to the PC Card size or work on integrating this technology into a CF card, and expand on one of those formats which are already found in laptops and desktops? If they were working on expanding on PC Card and CF technology, I'd be all for it... but another standard? I would be hard-pressed to believe that computer manufacturers are going to abandon their PC Card and CF slots just for this new standard, which is something that might have to happen due to limited space in the chassis - at least in terms of laptops and handhelds. In desktops, space would be a non-issue, but then again, what's the point in having this in a desktop if you couldn't easily transfer it to a laptop or handheld?

Perhaps I just don't see the benefit of this quite yet.

It just seems that the more formats that enter into the market, the more it just convolutes everything and confuses the masses. It seems as though the reason behind these new entries isn't that someone came up with something truly indespensible (i.e.: xD), but rather that companies are simply bored and looking for something new to do just for kicks and giggles, a few strokes to their egos, and to make a few bucks in the process.

Tom W.M.
09-18-2003, 03:01 AM
Here (http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=9103)’s the February thread on this topic. It’s a good thing standard got a good name, not another impossible acronym like PCMCIA. The logo looks snazzy too.

Phoenix, this isn’t a memory card format. It’s an expansion card, and it aims to replace PCMCIA/CardBus cards. It should be able to provide far more bandwidth than either of them since it is based on PCI Express and USB 2.0 (certainly more than PCMCIA, which, as I understand, is an ancient ISA bus). See the February thread for more on this by people who can say it better than I can.

BTW Jason, why are <acronym> tags disallowed in these forums?

Tom W.M.
09-18-2003, 11:31 PM
Sorry about double posting, but there's an article (http://www.extremetech.com/print_article/0,3998,a=103291,00.asp) at ExtremeTech with pictures.

There's also an official ExpressCard (http://www.expresscard.org/) web site.