CompactFlash (CF) is a flash memory mass storage device used mainly in portable electronic devices. If you want to get more information, this post can satisfy your needs. This post provides the definition, speed, capacity as well as the reliability of the CompactFlash card.

CompactFlash Card


What is a CompactFlash card? CompactFlash (CF) is a flash mass storage device primarily for portable electronic devices. The format was specified and the device was first manufactured by SanDisk in 1994. CompactFlash surpasses Miniature Card and SmartMedia as one of the most successful early memory card formats. Now, continue to read this post from MiniTool to get more information about the CF card.

CompactFlash card

Traditional CompactFlash cards use Parallel ATA interfaces, but in 2008 CFast introduced a variant of CFast. CFast (also known as CompactFast) is based on a serial ATA interface. The CF card has two main subdivisions, a Type I with a thickness of 3.3 mm and a Type II with a thickness of 5 mm (CF2).

CompactFlash was originally built on Intel’s NOR-based flash memory but has now turned to NAND technology. There are four main card speeds: original CF, CF high speed (using CF + /CF2.0), faster CF 3.0 standard and faster CF 4.0 standard adopted since 2007. CompactFlash was originally built on Intel’s NOR-based flash but has now moved to NAND technology.

The CF card can be used directly in the PC card slot via a plug adapter or used as an ATA with a passive adapter or reader.


CompactFlash IDE (ATA) simulation speed is usually specified at the “x” level, such as 8x, 20x, 133x. This is the same system used for CD-ROM and expresses the maximum transfer rate as a multiplier based on the transfer rate of the original audio CD data.

The actual transmission speed may be higher or lower than the speed shown on the card, depending on several factors.


CF 5.0 specification uses a 48-bit logical block addressing (LBA) to support a maximum capacity of 128 PiB. Before 2006, CF drives using magnetic media provided the largest capacity (up to 8 GiB. Now solid-state cards have higher capacities (up to 512 GB). Later, to meet high-capacity needs, solid-state drives (SSDs) replace two CF drives.

In early 2008, CFA showed a CompactFlash card with a built-in SATA interface. This company makes adapters that allow CF cards to connect to PCI, PCMCIA, IDE and SATA connections. It allows the CF card to act as a solid-state drive in almost any operating system or BIOS and even in solid-state drives.

Also see: What Is SATA Hard Drive? SATA Hard Drive Recovery


After disconnecting power, the original PC Card memory card uses the built-in battery to maintain data. The battery’s rated life is the only reliability issue. As with other flash devices, CompactFlash cards that use flash are limited in the number of erase/write cycles for any “block”.

Although NOR flash memory has higher endurance, ranging from 10,000 to 1,000,000, they are not yet suitable for use with memory cards. Most mass storage uses flash memory based on NAND.

NAND flash is prone to frequent soft read errors. The CompactFlash card includes error checking and correction (ECC) capabilities to detect errors and re-read the block. Since flash memory devices are solid-state devices, they are less affected by shocks than rotating disks.

Also see: NAND SSD: What Does NAND Flash Bring to SSD?

Additional Flash Memory Card Formats

To save and transfer files, images, and songs between devices of ever-decreasing physical size, newer flash card formats have been introduced. The SD card measures 32 mm x 24 mm x 2.1 mm. They are not difficult to spot because of their chamfered contours.

SD cards have replaced larger CompactFlash cards in many device applications due to their smaller size, lighter weight, and lower cost. Depending on the manufacturer and factors such as read/write speed, the price of an SD card maybe half the cost of a CF card of the same data storage size.

MiniSD and microSD memory cards have been designed for mobile phone technology. MiniSD card measures 21.5 mm x 20 mm x 1.4 mm, while microSD cards measure 15 mm x 11 mm x 1 mm.

The SD card and a CompactFlash card’s main difference in size and cost are that the SD card does not include a microcontroller. Other types of removable flash memory cards that have been developed include Sony’s Memory Stick Duo, MultiMediaCard (MMC), and xD-Picture Card. XQD card uses first-generation PCIe connection, speed is up to 250 MBps.

The End

This post has given you detailed information about what CompactFlash card is. Also, you can know the speed, capacity as well as reliability of it. Besides, you can also know additional flash memory card formats.

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