The PC Card and Cardbus Devices Are Being Replaced by What Technology?

September 11, 2023
David Sunnyside

The pc card and cardbus devices are being replaced by what technology?

The Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA) developed the PC card, a credit-card-sized memory or input/output device that plugs into a laptop computer to add functionality. Unlike desktop plugin modules, PC cards are hot-swappable, meaning they can be removed and inserted while the computer is running, without shutting it down or rebooting. This made them ideal for upgrading a laptop without opening it, and also allowed users to replace an internal component that stopped working or was obsolete.

PCMCIA cards use a standard connector, called the ExpressCard format. This standard, which was designed to eventually replace the CardBus PCMCIA standard, uses a smaller form factor, is more power efficient and provides better performance. It consists of two standard sizes, ExpressCard/34 and ExpressCard/54. The latter is the larger, at a width of 54 millimetres and height of 5 mm. The ExpressCard connector is the same on both sizes and the length of a card is 75 mm, or about half as long as a standard CardBus slot.

Like the older CardBus standard, the ExpressCard specification supports 3.3 and 5-volt cards. However, 3.3-volt cards have a protection feature that prevents them from being inserted fully into a 5 V-only slot. USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has a compliance program for ExpressCards that assures compatibility and interoperability. Many manufacturers have already begun to fit ExpressCard slots into new laptops, replacing the older CardBus slots. ExpressCard-to-CardBus and CardBus-to-ExpressCard adapters are available that convert the electrical connection between the two different formats, but they do not work with older non-CardBus PCMCIA cards.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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