While CFast as a format has been fading in popularity, it’s still a necessary memory format for some cameras, such as Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera. As such, ProGrade Digital has announced its third-gen CFast cards which are its fastest ever.
CFast has a maximum transfer speed of 600 MB/s, but to this day no manufacturer has been able to hit that limit. Conversely, CFexpress can get much, much faster, and current cards already exceed the fastest that CFast was ever able to achieve.
The reason CFast can’t hit those higher speeds is that it uses the SATA interface, while CFexpress uses PCIe. SATA’s true speed cap is not theoretical, so it’s not actually possible to go faster than 600 MB/s on the format. As 6K and 8K cameras have become more common, SATA isn’t able to grow with those needs, which is why the PCIe format CFexpress has become so popular.
Most cameras released in the last few years have switched over to either CFexpress or an SSD storage system, but there are still a few cameras that rely on the older CFast format. As such, ProGrade is still producing the format.
ProGrade Digital’s third-generation CFast 2.0 Cobalt series memory cards are available in 320GB and 650GB capacities and provide read speeds of up to 550MB/s, burst write speeds of up to 520MB/s, and sustained write speeds of up to 470MB/s. That performance is just slightly better than what the company was able to squeeze out of its previous Cobalt series cards, which promised read speeds of up to 525 MB/s and write speeds of up to 445 MB/s.
As a note, these cards are only rated as VPG 130, which means the cards have only been certified to maintain 130 MB/s transfer speeds during operation, which is not as fast at the VPG 400 that is becoming common to see on CFexpress cards.
The new CFast cards have optimized controllers that are specifically designed for use in professional-grade cameras and have error correction to detect and correct data write and data transfer errors. ProGrade also says that the cards have “wear-leveling” which protects data integrity and allows the cards to have a longer life.
The Cobalt cards are x-ray proof and shockproof and have an operating range of 32 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 70 degrees Celcius). The cards are laser etched with a unique serial number to allow for quick compatibility checks and after-sales support and come with a three-year warranty.
The new third-generation CFast 2.0 Cobalt series memory cards will be available to purchase in late December for $330 for the 320GB card and $600 650GB capacity.