updated 09:20 am EST, Wed March 5, 2008
The PCMCIA group today outlined ExpressCard 2.0, the next major change to the removable card standard for notebooks. The format is now being reworked to take advantage of technologies that have been introduced since its initial release, including PCI Express 2.0 and USB 3.0. Depending on the connection, the right cards could transfer data between 2X (PCIe) and 10X (USB) faster than existing technology. The extra speed will be crucial for flash-based ExpressCard storage as well as SATA II external drives and streaming media adapters, the group says.
Compatibility is not expected to be an issue, according to the developers. All version 2.0 slots will accept generation-one devices and run them at the slower speed. Newer devices should also work in earlier slots at the reduced performance level dictated by the host computer, though very high performance devices may require the more advanced slot. Both the narrower ExpressCard/34 and wider ExpressCard/54 formats should continue into the new version.
PCMCIA does not say when the revamped expansion format should be available in shipping products but notes that major PC makers such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Sony all contribute to the standard. Many other vendors, such as Apple, also currently implement the standard in one or more of their notebook models.