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CompactFlash Reader Roundup - Continued

We settled on 11 different CompactFlash cards for all testing, all but one weighing in at 512MB. The cards, which are listed in the table below, were selected to ensure as broad a variety of controllers (the internal component that handles all card-reader communication) as possible. Previously, we've observed that more than capacity or brand name, the source of the controller drives compatibility and general performance with a card reader.

Therefore, even if your CompactFlash cards are not identical to the ones tested, if the controller source is the same you can probably assume similar overall card reader performance. The Card-to-Computer page in the CompactFlash Performance Database lists the controller source for over two dozen popular CompactFlash cards. The performance tables in the pages ahead also include an average of the throughput for each reader, which can be used as a somewhat clunky measure of overall performance.

Brand and Model
Controller Source1
Card
Type2
Delkin Devices PRO 512MB
For Delkin3
I
IBM Microdrive 1GB
IBM
II
Kingston Memory 512MB
Toshiba (MLC)4
I
Lexar Media 512MB 24X
Lexar
I
Lexar Media 512MB 40X Write Acceleration
Lexar
I
Microtech 512MB
Toshiba (SLC)4
I
Sandisk "standard" 512MB
Sandisk
I
Sandisk "original" Ultra 512MB5
Sandisk
I
SimpleTech 512MB
Hitachi
I
SimpleTech PRO X 512MB
SST
I
Transcend 512MB 30X
unknown6
I

(1) Many companies sell CompactFlash media, though relatively few actually design and manufacture the key internal components, including the controller and flash memory. This column lists the manufacturer of the controller.
(2) Type I CompactFlash cards are 3.3mm in thickness; Type II, 5.0mm.
(3) Delkin has not revealed the design and manufacturing partner for their PRO line of CompactFlash cards.
(4) Companies that source CompactFlash cards from Toshiba may opt for either the faster single level cell (SLC) or slower (but less expensive to manufacture) multi level cell (MLC) arhictecture. The Kingston cards tested were MLC; the company does, however, offer SLC-based CompactFlash cards on special order. Kingston's SLC-based cards have "-S" appended to the end of their part number, ie CF/512-S. Not all of Kingston's distributors will have the SLC cards listed among the products they can ship to dealers. For more information, contact Kingston.
(5) This Ultra card is the original version, not the revamped and much faster version - still called Ultra - that shipped after this article was published
(6) This card contains controllers from an unknown manufacturer, likely of Taiwanese origin.

Next Page: Card-to-Computer Throughput: Mac OS X
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