CF card FAQ

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John Bowen
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CF card FAQ

Post by John Bowen » Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:01 am

Hi All,
Today I got a request to add a FAQ about the CF cards:
John,
For those of us who are noobies to the CF card thing perhaps you could post a FAQ. Type 1 or 2, storage size differences/ supported. Access time, Brands etc. . Also point out the differences between CF, flash USB( often labeled compact flash) and the sdhc format you didn't choose.
Happy to do so...here we go:

1) What is a Compact Flash card?

CompactFlash (CF) is a mass storage device format used in portable electronic devices. For storage, CompactFlash typically uses flash memory in a standardized enclosure. The format was first specified and produced by SanDisk in 1994. The physical format is now used for a variety of devices.
CompactFlash became the most successful of the early memory card formats, outliving Miniature Card, SmartMedia, and PC Card Type I in mainstream popularity. There are other memory card formats that came out after the introduction of CompactFlash, such as SD/SDHC/MMC, various Memory Stick formats, and xD-Picture Card. Most of these cards are significantly smaller than CompactFlash while offering comparable capacity and read/write speed. Proprietary memory card formats intended for use in the field of professional audio and video, such as P2 and SxS, are physically larger, faster, and significantly more expensive.

2) Why did you pick the CF card format for Solaris?

Reliability, for one reason. The CF card package has helped keep this format popular in professional digital camera use because it is fairly robust and not as easily damaged as many of the smaller, thinner memory cards. The CompactFlash card also includes error checking and correcting (ECC) and wear leveling circuitry that is transparent to the user. Also, since the CF format is based on the older IDE communications buss, it was faster and simpler to implement the transfer protocol.

3) What should I look for in a CF card reader?

Most card readers now are ‘multiformat’, meaning they have slots for CF, SD, SDHC, and others. I have several card readers of the multi-format type, and I’ve noticed that the pins in the CF card slot can be easily bent with some of the cheaper readers, rendering the reader useless! I don’t recommend a particular brand, but it seems card readers with a ‘deeper’ CF slot channel are safer, as it allows the card to be more fully inserted along the guide rails, and gives better contact to the pin connectors.

4) What Type of CF card does Solaris use?

CF cards come in Type I or Type II size (Type I is 3.3 mm thick; Type II is 5 mm thick). Solaris uses Type I.

5) What size (amount of storage) do I need?

The size (or capacity) of most CF cards now on the market start at 2 GB (gigabytes), and go up to 32 GB. The Solaris data uses a very small amount of that capacity, so a smaller capacity, such as 2, 4, or even 8 GB is fine for use. The only reason to have high capacity cards would be to store large numbers of sample files, or to have multiple versions of Preset folder groups, or to use the card to store additional non-Solaris related data (since Solaris will ignore any folder names not specific to the Solaris code).

6) What about the rated transfer speed?

This does have some impact on how the card will interact with Solaris. The transfer data rate is usually (but not always) listed on the card as some capacity number per second (written as 30MB/s, which means 30 megabytes per second). Another speed rating found will be some number followed by ‘X’, such as 266X, 400X, or 533X. This is the same system used for CD-ROMs, and indicates the maximum transfer rate in the form of a multiplier based on the original audio CD data transfer rate, which is 150 kbyte/s. You will also sometimes see references to Write Speed and Read Speed. The only time the Solaris is writing to the card is when you are saving a preset, or System data. Unlike the need for digital cameras, a faster write speed is not a big deal for Solaris use. The Read speed is more critical, as it affects how quickly the Preset names can be scrolled for viewing in Preset Mode, as well as sample loading time (to a certain extent). As of yet, we have not thoroughly tested a wide variety of card speeds, so I cannot provide a recommended minimum speed for use, but there is a theoretical upper limit to USB 2.0 for internal card readers of 60MB/s (400X). External card readers may be slower. Since faster cards are much more expensive, and Solaris doesn’t need a really fast Write speed, I would expect users will be fine with 133X as a minimum. (For personal reference, I use SanDisk 8GB cards rated at 30MB/s or 200X).

7) What about formatting the card?

Typically now, CF cards will come pre-formatted, but you should know that the Solaris can only recognize FAT32 formatted cards.

urge
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Re: CF card FAQ

Post by urge » Sun Aug 07, 2011 4:30 pm

Ironically, as I requested this FAQ, I've run into a problem. Purchased a cardette ultra multi card reader (no problem); Purchased 2 SanDisk Ultra 8GB Compact Flash Cards (roughly $50/card). Inserted the factory flash into the card reader and copied it...no problems. Ejected and removed the Factory compact flash. Placed the blank CF into the reader and transferred the copied file...check. Insert card into Solaris and it’s not reading the files. It is, however writing a new set of folders with nothing in them....
Hopefully someone with a bit more Tech savvy can point out what I'm doing wrong. Thought maybe it was the formatting, but I can't find out whether the SanDisk is formatted in FAT32 or whatever....Thanks for listening...

PS: I'm on a Mac i7 quad

John Bowen
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Re: CF card FAQ

Post by John Bowen » Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:34 pm

My first thought would be that the card is pre-formatted correctly, otherwise the Solaris wouldn’t be writing the new set of folders. My guess is that you may have copied the factory card as a complete folder and placed that on the card, and the Solaris is looking for specific folders on the 'first level’.
The Solaris needs to see folders on the ‘top’ level for Presets, OS, and Factory stuff (Samples. too). I’m betting that you have all of the correct data on the card, but within a folder so that the data is one level ‘down’. That would explain why the Solaris wrote those empty folders, as it does that with new cards.

Have a look at your backup card, and tell me all the folder names you are seeing. Then we can go from there.

john b.

urge
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Re: CF card FAQ

Post by urge » Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:57 pm

That was it ; Tried that before but I left a copy at the root level of the blank folder. All fixed now, thanks John.

F5D
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Re: CF card FAQ

Post by F5D » Tue Dec 30, 2014 3:52 am

What is the maximum speed of CF card that the Solaris can still make use of? I am about to order a CF card reader and 1-2 backup cards. I do not know what is the speed of the card that came with the Solaris, but I plan to try some very fast 800x card to increase the speed of scrolling through presets.

Anybody with experience in fast CF-cards with Solaris?

Edit. Just checked that the card that I have is a Kingston 266x. I ordered a Sandisk Extreme 400x card and a Lexar card reader that reads CF and SDHC cards.

F5D
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Re: CF card FAQ

Post by F5D » Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:15 am

I just received the Sandisk 400x card. So far it seems to work exactly like the Kingston 266x card that I had first. Is it enough to just copy the files manually from card to another, or does Solaris use some hidden files etc. on the card? Now I just copied the files from the old card to the new one using finder, because the disk utility of this OSX version has some bugs, and cannot complete restore from a dmg file. The Solaris boots up normally from the new card with manually copied set of folders, but I just want to make sure if I missed something that would result in data loss or some other errors in the future?

christeck
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Re: CF card FAQ

Post by christeck » Mon Jan 19, 2015 12:45 pm

Hi,

I kept the original card separate and did copy its contents to another card using the finder. I doubt that any issue results from that procedure.

ce

John Bowen
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Re: CF card FAQ

Post by John Bowen » Mon Jan 19, 2015 5:28 pm

F5D wrote:I just received the Sandisk 400x card. So far it seems to work exactly like the Kingston 266x card that I had first. Is it enough to just copy the files manually from card to another, or does Solaris use some hidden files etc. on the card? Now I just copied the files from the old card to the new one using finder, because the disk utility of this OSX version has some bugs, and cannot complete restore from a dmg file. The Solaris boots up normally from the new card with manually copied set of folders, but I just want to make sure if I missed something that would result in data loss or some other errors in the future?
I'm not sure if the 400x speed will give you any advantage over the 266x card, but to copy the files, you did it correctly. There's no special or 'hidden' files on the CF card.

Just make sure, if you are using Mac OS X, that you properly eject the CF card from the computer, as the Solaris will detect an error if it is not correctly ejected from your Mac.

F5D
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Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:44 am

Re: CF card FAQ

Post by F5D » Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:50 pm

Thank you for the information John. The actual reason why I bought the new card was to get a backup card, but at the same time to check if it could give more speed too. Anyway, I find that the speed of scrolling through patches in Solaris is similar to Andromeda. They are not necessarily the quickest in that, but the sounds they make are the best. The card reader was a good buy too, as I can now transfer my DSLR photos from SDHC card.

John Bowen
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Re: CF card FAQ

Post by John Bowen » Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:28 am

I'd like to post an update here regarding scrolling through presets - with the new v1.3.1 OS, the currently selected preset bank names are loaded in a memory buffer (cache) so that scrolling through presets is much, much faster now!

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