A new CFexpress specification was announced at the end of this past August as a breakthrough technology for much faster transfer speeds, and it works.
With CFexpress 4.0, the Compact Flash association claimed that it could double the theoretical throughput performance of CFexpress memory cards compared to current capabilities.
For the time being though while cameras can’t take advantage of the new tech, computers now can.
The card itself is third-generation but uses PCIe Gen 4 interconnect with NVMe 1.4c host controller interface with its reader.
Because of this, the new card works with the CFexpress 4.0 specification and claims a whopping fast read speed of 3,400 MB/s along with a sustained write speed of 2,800 MB/s that can peak up to 3,000 MB/s.
In other words, the new card and reader should both be ideally suited for ultra-high-resolution cinematic video recording use.
ProGrade Digital also promised that the new Cobalt-class cards would offer the highest endurance and reliability memory technology is utilized — ensuring years of trouble-free, high-performance capture,”
Since these little devices are so new on the market, there’s no way to yet verify their longevity performance, but the website PetaPixel did manage to test their read/write capabilities and found that they do indeed speed things up dramatically.
According to the site’s detailed report on their own testing, the new 1.3TB CFexpress Type B Cobalt-class are “proving extremely impressive” during testing and could even deliver triple the performance of the best last-generation CFexpress cards.
This performance improvement then quadrupled during write speed tests.
According to their report, the speed performance of the new cards and their CFexpress 4.0 reader was good enough to completely “blow any non-Thunderbolt SSD out of the water” for sheer speed.
In fact, Petapixel even claimed that the high performance was good enough to let both photographers and video creators simply forego standalone SSDs in favor of using CFexpress directly for reading.
Essentially, the test results showed enough performance that these cards could be used as dedicated drives for anything up to and including an 8K ProRed 422 HQ video creation workflow. With previous generations of these card types,, this simply wasn’t possible.
One particularly cool thing about the ProGrade release is that it doesn’t even depend on the new cards themselves for high performance. Instead, the card reader’s USB 4.0 interface is backward compatible and useful for speed too, meaning that it lets CFexpress 2.0 cards speed up too.
The reader also happens to cost a very reasonable $100, which makes it an affordable tool along with being a genuinely powerful one.
In one of their tests, PetaPixel runs a Silver edition Lexar 512GB CFexpress card through the ProGrade reader after first using it with one of Lexar’s latest USB 3.2 readers.
The results speak for themselves with the Lexar reader squeezing write and read speeds of 829.9 and 811.2 MB/s respectively.
Afterward, when the same cards are put through the new ProGrade reader, they surge right up to respective write and read speeds of 1105.5 and 1533.1 MB/s.
That’s a massive 300 MB/s write boost and a 700 MB/s read boost just for some standard-model CFexpress card types. Other cards should perform just as well.
The key takeaway from the site’s testing of these ProGrade CFexpress USB 4.0 readers is that they don’t need the latest in card technology to be worth buying.
ProGrade’s 1.3TB Cobalt class CFexpress 4.0 cards are also available for a much steeper but possibly worthwhile price of $1,460
For their fairly moderate price tag, they’ve been tested and shown to deliver exceptional performance boosts for any number of older CFexpress specifications. They do this right to the point of being better than USB 3.2 portable SSDs for drive storage.
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