CFast, the successor to CompactFlash, has happily arrived on our shelves. We’ve been eager to offer our customers complete solutions around this new technology. To that end, we already offer systems and mainboards sporting CFast connectivity and support, with many more soon to come. The Emphase line of CFast cards comes in both industrial and wide temperature flavors, offering capacities ranging from 4 GB to 32 GB. Though they look similar, CFast is not compatible with CompactFlash physically or electrically, so CFast cards can only be installed in boards and systems featuring an onboard CFast slot or by using the handy CFast to SATA adapter.

The performance you’ll get with these cards is greatly enhanced, due to the fact that they use the SATA bus interface and not the PATA/IDE bus used by older CompactFlash products. No longer held back by the transfer rate limitations of IDE (which offered maximum speeds capped at 133 MB/s), new SATA devices can support transfer rates up to 6 Gb/s. These Emphase CFast devices feature 3 Gb/s data transfer rates, offering a substantial step up from previous CF cards. Read and write speeds also see a jump, with the 16 and 32 GB capacities offering 120 and 110 MB/s read and write speeds, respectively.

Additional specifications for these cards include:

  • Endurance: Unlimited read cycles; 2,000,000 Program/Erase cycles
  • MTBF: >4,000,000 hr.
  • Vibration: 20 G (7 ~ 2,000 Hz) (max.)
  • Shock: 1500 G/0.5 ms (max.)
  • Operating temperature range: 0°C ~ 70°C and -40°C ~ 85°C for wide temp versions
  • 10-year data retention
  • S.M.A.R.T. Health Monitoring supported
  • Hot-swap capability for rapid data exchange

So, now that you know what these are, where can you stick ’em?

We already have a few mainboards and systems that can support these cards via onboard CFast slots. They are the MSI MS-9887 Core i5/i7 Sandy Bridge Mini-ITX Motherboard and the PT912 and AU912 Extreme Environment Core i5/i7 Arrandale Fanless Systems. You’re not limited to onboard support, though: the CFast-100 adapter can be used and mounted in any enclosure with a PCI slot with a board offering SATA and SATA power.

The hot-swap functionality allows the drive to be ejected using the Windows device manager utility or Ubuntu Unmount command while the system is still running (provided the OS is installed to a different drive). The next card can then be installed and, voilà!, a new drive is detected. This feature is great for servers and rackmount applications where externally accessible storage is desired.

Compact, reliable, and convenient to use, CFast will make your next embedded OS install so happy.