Industry's First 'Smart' SD Memory Card

October 1, 2004
Panasonic Smart SD Cards

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., best known for its Panasonic brand products, has developed the industry’s first SD Memory Card with contactless smart card capabilities. Called smartSD Card, the new SD Memory Card combines the convenience of contactless data communication capabilities with large storage capacity and high security. The company will position the smartSD Card as key to realizing the "ubiquitous network society" and will strive to create new business opportunities not only in the device sector but also in the system and solution service sectors. Sample shipments of the smartSD Cards will commence in December 2004. Commercial shipments are expected to follow in the fall of 2005.

About SD cards:
A Secure Digital (SD) card is a tiny memory card used to make storage portable among various devices, such as car navigation systems, cellular phones, eBooks, PDAs, smartphones, digital cameras, music players, camcorders, and personal computers. An SD card features a high data transfer rate and low battery consumption, both primary considerations for portable devices. It uses flash memory to provide nonvolatile storage, which means that a power source is not required to retain stored data.

Smart cards are rapidly expanding into many new markets including finance, transportation, distribution, industry and government administrations and have been introduced in a wide variety of applications such as transport ticket payments, access control, electronic money and credit cards. In 2003, some 51 million smart cards were issued in Japan and the number is expected to rise to 340 million by 2010. Meanwhile, since the introduction of the SD Memory Card in July 2000, 220 makers have announced over 2,600 SD Memory Card-compatible products and approximately 41 million SD Memory Cards were sold in 2003, attaining number one global market share in the memory card industry.

As smart cards become more convenient, the need for greater data capacity and high security has increased. The smartSD Card combines the advanced copyright protection, portability, and easy connectivity of the SD Memory Card with the convenience of a contactless smart card, allowing the card to send/receive large amounts of data at high speed and with high security, thereby supporting a variety of new applications. The smart card in the smartSD Card uses non-volatile FeRAM (ferroelectric RAM), which enables high-speed data writing, five times faster than conventional EEPROM-based smart cards. The large-capacity flash memory in the smartSD Card can be used as an extra storage area for the smart card module and the stored data is protected by cipher technology. The secured extended memory also transfers data at the rate of about 600 Kbytes per second.

Offering large secure storage, authentication and contactless data communication capabilities, the new type of SD Memory Card can be used for a wider variety of smart-card applications. Mr. Masaki Akiyama, President, Panasonic System Solutions Company, said, “Our hope is to create new businesses deriving from the special features of the smartSD Card. These include corporate solutions dealing with information leakage prevention, mobile service solutions dealing with content distribution and home service businesses dealing with content distribution for home AV equipment. We will continue to offer new secure services in the broadening SD world to make our daily lives more convenient and safe.”

Panasonic will exhibit and demonstrate new applications using the smartSD Card at CEATEC Japan (October 5 to 9, 2004).

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