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SanDisk Extreme IV review

Dennis Hissink
Photokina report
Tuesday 19th, September 2006
Posted by: Dennis Hissink

Some developments are so ground breaking that you just have to give them your attention. Take the new SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash memory cards, for example; they are already ahead of things that have not even been put on the market yet. With the Extreme IV CF, SanDisk is so far ahead of the competition that they don't stand a chance of catching up with them in the foreseeable future. SanDisk was already firmly in control of the professional memory card market, partly due to the Extreme III card. The introduction and sale of the SanDisk Extreme IV gives professional photographers a very interesting solution to problems with memory. Let's take a look at the figures: Extreme III has a very respectable speed of 20MB/sec for both reading and writing data. Nothing wrong with that, you would think, but the SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash memory card does 40MB/sec. This is double the speed and means that SanDisk has produced the fastest memory card in the world!

SanDisk Extreme 4 review

SanDisk Extreme IV card reader
In addition to the new Extreme IV CompactFlash memory cards, SanDisk has also included two other new card readers in their range. The SanDisk Extreme FireWire card reader forms a perfect combination with the SanDisk Extreme IV CF card and gives optimal speed when used with the right desktop configuration. The speed of an optimal digital workflow is of utmost importance to a professional photographer. It is easy to work with, both during the photo session and when processing the pictures afterwards.

SanDisk Extreme 4 - Enhanced Super Parallel Processing
SanDisk has invested heavily in innovative technology and production methods and this has resulted in ESP technology: Enhanced Super Parallel Processing. Streamlining all the architecture and combining fast NAND Flash memory chips and controller designs with 32-bit RISC processing made it possible to design, manufacture and deliver a memory card that is twice as fast.

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SanDisk Extreme IV memory - Digital SLR
The SanDisk Extreme IV memory card has immediate benefits for professional digital SLR photographers working with digital equipment like the Hasselblad H2D or high resolution digital SLR cameras like the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II 16 Megapixel DSLR camera. When we conducted our tests with cameras like the Canon EOS 1D Mark II N and Nikon D200 we had to admit that these fairly new cameras were not able to get the most out of the Extreme IV memory card. The bottleneck is the digital SLR camera that doesn't (yet) support the fast Ultra DMA and this is a limitation.

SanDisk Extreme 4 CompactFlash - DSLR camera
When we tested the speed with which the Canon EOS 1D Mark II N wrote a dozen RAW format pictures to a SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash memory card, we saw a top speed of approximately 7.5MB/sec. The same test carried out with an Extreme IV 2GB CF and a Nikon D200 gave a speed of approximately 8.8MB/sec. This is definitely super speedy, but is nowhere near the speed that can be reached according to the specifications. Still, the SanDisk Extreme IV has a high read and writing speed, but it doesn't give spectacular improvements when used with current digital SLR cameras.

SanDisk Extreme 4 review

SanDisk Extreme IV - FireWire
It is a different matter entirely if the Extreme IV CompactFlash memory card is tested in a digital work environment whereby data from the SanDisk Extreme IV CF 2GB card is transferred to a fast FireWire 800 interface using the new SanDisk Extreme FireWire card reader. The work environment consisted of an Apple Power Mac G5 Dual 2.0GHz and a P4 3GHz computer, both equipped with a fresh operating system and a FireWire 800. The results were impressive to say the least and revealed the true power of the new SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash.

SanDisk Extreme 4 - Apple computer
We put about 550MB of data on a SanDisk Extreme IV CF card and transferred all of it to both desktop configurations via the Extreme FireWire card reader. The Apple Power Mac G5 was astonishingly fast at approx 36MB/sec, but the PC configuration (P4 3Ghz) was only about 20,5MB/sec. Speeds like these make working with large format pictures such as RAW pictures a lot quicker and more effective, and this is a priority in professional working environments. With the Apple G4 Powerbook it reached the impressive speed of approximately 21.5MB/sec. What a performance!

SanDisk Extreme 4 review

Editor's conclusion:
"The first experiences with the SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash memory card were very impressive, especially in combination with the Extreme FireWire reader. The tests with both the Canon and Nikon digital SLR cameras were not convincing. It is clear that the memory card has much more potential than can be realised with today's digital SLR cameras. We wonder if a good partner for the SanDisk Extreme 4 CF card will be launched at the Photokina 2006 show or if the period around CES and PMA will provide a solution that will unlock the power of the Extreme IV card. At the moment, SanDisk has upgraded the CompactFlash with Extreme IV technology. Maybe I'm being a bit premature, but I think that sooner or later a memory card like the Secure Digital will be the next in line. The coming period promises to show some very interesting developments in the field of memory. In any case, SanDisk is ready and the introduction of the SanDisk Extreme IV has shown just what they can do…"

SanDisk Extreme 4 review

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