Author Archive

Mark McCrosky

Kicking around in technology since 2002. I like to write about technology products and ideas, but at the consumer level understanding. Some tech, but not too techie. Posting on Quora.com as well.

Read PSN From SD Media

GetUSB.info just posted a nice article on how to read the PSN from an SD card, or product serial number.  Some also call this reading the CID number from an SD card.  The CID number is a unique identifier number or serial number created on the SD or microSD media at the time of manufacturing.  This is a number which cannot be changed or manipulated by the host computer.
 
The CID number is most often used for vendors or manufacturers to lock in software to a specific device.  Since the CID number cannot be changed or modified, it’s a great way to prevent unauthorized distribution or content or software.
 
Some manufacturers require to read the CID number from SD media before the software is published and this is what GetUSB.info talks about.  For a full description of the article, make the jump:  How to read CID number from SD media.
 
Here is a snap shot of the CID reading tool for 20 SD devices:
 
 
Continue Reading

Etron Tech Shipping USB 3.0 Controller

Etron Technology has started shipping the company’s in-house developed 2- and 4-channel USB flash drive controller chips, and its single-channel ones are currently sampling with customers, according to the Taiwan-based IC design firm. With a more complete product offering, Etron is looking to enter the world’s top-two in the field of USB 3.0 flash drive controller market in 2012, said the firm. Etron indicated its EV268-series dual-core USB 3.0 flash drive controllers have been adopted by memory module vendors for their new products, which hit market shelves in March. The chip provides data transfer rates of more than 230MB/s and includes ECC checking, and supports SLC/MLC/TLC NAND flash memories built using 3Xnm and 2Xnm technologies. The size of the global flash drive market is 80-100 million units a year, and the penetration rate for those with USB 3.0 will reach about 20% in the fourth quarter of 2012, Etron pointed out. If the price gap between USB 2.0 drives and USB 3.0 ones is narrowed to less than US$2, consumers will be pretty much encouraged to purchase products with the faster, new interface, Etron said. Etron specializes in specialty DRAM memory, and has been expanding its product mix. The firm previously introduced its USB 3.0 host controllers. Continue Reading

19nm Process from Toshiba to Shrink 128Gbit Memory

Toshiba announced this morning of mass production in 128Gbit NAND flash memory with three-bits-per-cell storage in 19nm process. What this means is more storage space in a smaller area. The 128Gbit memory is only 170mm square. The reduced size implies cost of manufacturing will go down, efficiency will go up. The down side is the TLC or three bit per cell, is less stable then two bits per cell like MLC or multi layer cell technology. This isn’t a big concern for most users as the TLC flash will go into less important devices like USB flashdrives, MP3 players, phones and other hand held devices. The more crucial technologies will remain with SLC or single layer cell or MLC, multi layer cell memory. Toshiba and SanDisk share research and development and jointly invest in manufacturing. Continue Reading 1 Comment

SanDisk Is Cutting Retail Pricing

Sounds like SanDisk will be cutting it’s pricing for NAND memory very soon.  SanDisk leads global market share for flash memory at a tune of about 40%.  Kingston is another major player, and a couple weeks ago announced a major price reduction in it’s retail supply chain. Seems the SanDisk news is their answer to the situation. SanDisk mainly partners with chipmaker Toshiba while Kingston secures its supplies from more diversified sources. One reasion might be that major NAND flash vendors are gearing up for mass production built using their newer node processes in mid 2012. Samsung Electronics and Toshiba are set to advance to 21nm and 19nm, respectively, and so are Hynix Semiconductor and Micron Technology to their respective 20nm processes. Continue Reading 1 Comment

CEO of Micron Technology Steve Appleton Dies

The head of memory chip maker Micron Technology died last week in a stunt piloting expedition. Steve was in a small kit plane and taking a steep bank turn when something went wrong with the plane and ultimately crashed. Micron is a world leader in flash memory technology, and a top brand we favor here.  Micron makes memory for various devices like computers, cell phones, cameras, cars and industrial application products.
“Zoe Keliher, air investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said the crash happened during Appleton’s second attempt to fly that morning. She said Appleton’s first take-off ended abruptly — witnesses said the plane only got about 5 feet (1.5 meters) off the ground — when he landed and returned to a hangar for about five minutes.”  Source – Associated Press.
Dan Francisco, the company COO, is taking responsibility until the Micron board of directors finds a suitable replacement Chief Executive Office. Continue Reading

XQD Is A New Compact Flash Specification

The Compact Flash Association introduced a new standard recently.  The standard was release because CF media continues to get press from high performing SD cards where most camera manufacturers are favoring.  I suspect the SD format is more inviting because of the smaller form factor.  Well this is where the XQD spec address’ that issue.

Key features of the XQD format include: a 38.5mm by 29.9mm by 3.8mm optimized size format, greater durability, scalable high performance interface, based on PCI Express 2.5Gbps today and 5Gbps in the future (instead of PCMCIA used by SD cards), and actual write speed targets of 125MB/sec and higher.
“The XQD format will enable further evolution of hardware and imaging applications, and widen the memory card options available to CompactFlash users such as professional photographers,”
said Shigeto Kanda CFA chairman and Canon executive. Licensing for CFA members will start in early 2012, and no camera makers have announced plans to use the format yet. Continue Reading

microSD Problems – Good Chance It’s the Media

Bunnie’s Blog had a great post about the different quality of microSD media.  I think he’s gone into more detail then any other I’ve seen on the internet.  What is worth noting in his article is the brand names that he investigated and the results that he found.  I don’t want to repeat what has already been said, but if you’ve ever been in doubt about a microSD card you’ve purchased, this article will shed some light. Take a read… . Continue Reading 12 Comments

microSD Now Interfaces With Any Microcontroller

This is a simple MicroSD adapter card. It allows you to interface with any micro-controllers. It is perfect for mass storage, WAV/MP3 player and data logging. The adapter breaks out the MicroSD socket to a standard 0.1″ 8-pin header. It can be plug directly into breadboards. This adapter features innovations that set it apart from other SD card adapter. Innovations feature like on-board card detect LED, Push-Push socket, and 3.3V regulator. Which mean either 3.3V or 5.0V micro-controller can be connected directly with the board. You can even use this 3.3V to power external circuits up to 250mA. MicroSD cards offer an inexpensive, flexible and reliable way to bring data logging and data storage solutions to your electronic design projects. Pinout:
  • VIN: Input power to the SD card (3.3V to 6.0V)
  • GND: Common (Connects to the housing of the SD socket)
  • 3V3: Output voltage from the on-board 3.3V regulator (250mA) 
  • CS: Chip select 
  • DI: Serial input data 
  • SCK: Serial clock 
  • DO: Serial output data 
  • CD: Card detect (active low)
Features:
  • On-board 3.3V regulator
  • Connect directly to 3.3V or 5.0V microcontroller
  • Card detect LED
  • Include 8-pin male header
  • Board dimension: 1.4”x0.8”
Source:  Gravitech. Continue Reading 1 Comment

Difference Between SD and MMC Flash Cards

Flash memory is a basic necessity of any electronic device these days.  Today we will talk about MultiMedia Cards [MMC] and Secure Digital [SD] cards. First, a bit of history.  The MMC format was developed by SanDisk and Siemens back in 1997.  SD media was developed, jointly, by SanDisk, Panasonic and Toshiba.  The SD standard was developed to improve upon the MMC format. The two memory card types look the same.  They are both about 24mm x 32mm x 2.1mm in size, or about the size of a US postage stamp.  The one obvious, physical difference between the two is the Lock/Unlock switch on the left side of SD media.  MMC does not have a sliding switch.  The switch is meant for users to put the media into a Write Protected state.  A condition where the user could read from the card, but could not write to it, or delete content off it. The other physical difference between MMC and SD media is on the bottom side of the flash card.  The MMC has 7 copper connectors and SD had 9 copper connectors.  MMCPlus has 14 connectors on it.  For a more technical reason please read here. The MMC media has a transfer rate of around 9MB/s.  The SD media is much faster with write speeds of 10MB/s and higher [always improving]. Both MMC media and SD media, are for the most part, interchangeable when being used in electronic devices.  Of course it is always best to check with the manufacturer of your device, but it’s a general rull of thumb, both are interchangeable.  With MMC media, it is more likely a customized piece of hardware, like GPS or medical equipment will require the MMC format, where-as most MP3 players, cameras, and “retail” electronics will take both types. Continue Reading

microSD Card Integrated with NFC Technology From Netcom

Netcom is a Chinese company which is trying to carve out a niche market for themself by developing a NFC [Near Field Communication] chipset inside a microSD card. The technology gives the microSD card the ability to communicate via NFC as well as provide memory storage for the user.  The NFC chip sits inside the microSD slot of the host. The idea is bringing NFC technology for payment terminals to older phones which don’t have the NFC chipset or technology currently in them. The Netcom solution does require a bit of attention to make it all work.  First, the microSD slot of the host must be made of plastic.  Most are, but it’s worth noting to look before you buy. Next, the NFC chipset does require a small app loaded on the host so that communication can take place between the NFC chip itself and the host it’s sitting in.  Which makes sense, as typically that app is embedded on the phone RAM when spec’d out during production for a “certified NFC” device. Last, is the antenna coil required to sit inside the microSD card might be a bit small/short for communication of a distance more than 20mm from the terminal receiver.  Again, not a big deal as we are talking about NEAR field communication, but worth noting before buying. Source [image as well] Engadget.com. Continue Reading

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