ExpressCard Technology Host Adapters Information

Original HTML document with live links available at: http://www.expresscard-products.com/expresscard_tech_host_adapter_info_faq.html Based on both the extremely fast PCI Express (PCIe) and ubiquitous USB 2.0 standards, ExpressCard is simpler, smaller, and much faster than PCMCIA PC Card removable expansion technologies. The transition to ExpressCard has left many users in difficult situations with both forward and backward compatibility issues. Fortunately, many solutions are beginning to appear that will allow the use of ExpressCards on desktop computers, PCMCIA PC Cards on ExpressCard equipped laptops or desktops, and even USB 2.0 based ExpressCards via USB 2.0 ports. Furthermore, Expresscard to memory card adapters are now available. Adding Memory Card Capabilities to ExpressCard Based Computers Adding ExpressCard Capabilities to PCIe Based Desktop Computers Use PCMCIA PC Cards (16/32-bit) with ExpressCard Equipped Computers Specialty and Unique ExpressCard Adapters

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Adding Memory Card Capabilities to ExpressCard Based Computers
Memory cards are used everywhere today. Digital cameras, MP3 players, mobile phones, PDAs, and more. Many people used fast and portable PCMCIA PC Card to memory card media adapters in the past to share data between mobile devices and laptop computers. Now that many laptops feature ExpressCard instead of PC Card, a new generation of memory card adapters are available.

ExpressCard to CompactFlash Memory Card Adapters
ExpressCard to CompactFlash Memory Card Adapters allow speedy and reliable access to data stored on CompactFlash memory media cards. These devices are perfect for digital photographers since they support PIO though Mode 6 and DMA through Mode 4, meaning they take full advantage the newer UDMA4 CompactFlash Cards like Lexar Professional UDMA 300x, and SanDisk Extreme® IV CompactFlash cards. For other CompactFlash memory card users, ExpressCard adapters allow for fast access to CompactFlash contents with speeds typically exceeding the fastest USB 2.0 adapters.

ExpressCard to Multiple Memory Card Adapters
ExpressCard to Multiple Memory Card Adapters allow quick and safe access to data stored on memory media cards. They are excellent for digital photographers and other memory media card users, ExpressCard to Multiple Memory Card Adapters allow for speedy access to card contents rivaling and sometimes exceeding USB 2.0 adapters. ExpressCard to Multiple Memory Card Adapters are light and compact. Many models support the SDCH (SD Card 2.0) standard and SD Card, MultiMediaCard and MultiMediaCard 4.0, xD Picture Cards (including Type M and H), Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro. Others have added support for microSD (Transflash), M2, and other emerging card technologies. Synchrotech is a popular source for ExpressCard memory card adapters

Adding ExpressCard Capabilities to PCIe Based Desktop Computers
PCIe to ExpressCard drives provide PCIe based desktop computers complete access to ExpressCard applications. PCIe to ExpressCard drives are transparent to cards inserted, and accept both ExpressCard 34 and 54 cards. No drivers are required for ExpressCard drives, but ExpressCard used with them might depending on the card. An ExpressCard drive's PCIe 1X connection enables full 250MB/s (megabytes) throughput for PCIe based ExpressCards, and 480Mb/s (megabits) speeds for USB 2.0 based ExpressCards. ExpressCard drives enable sharing of ExpressCards between both laptops and desktops. PCIe to ExpressCard drives are no longer limited to locating the ExpressCard slot on the backplane of a desktop computer. Newer PCIe to ExpressCard drives place the ExpressCard slot in a 3.5 inch drive bay enclosure, providing an ExpressCard slot in the same location as DVD-R, CD-R, or floppy drives. This convenient location makes it even easier to take advantage of ExpressCard technology on desktop computers. The front located ExpressCard drives provide the same functionality as rear access PCIe to ExpressCard drives. Synchrotech is an excellent source for PCIe to ExpressCard Host Adapters

Use PCMCIA PC Cards (16/32-bit) with ExpressCard Equipped Computers
The brand new ExpressCard 34 to PCMCIA PC Card and CardBus Read-Writer DuelAdapter™ connects the latest generation of ExpressCard equipped laptops with PCMCIA 32-Bit PC CardBus and 16-Bit legacy PC Cards. A crossplatform device, the DuelAdapter™ seamlessly converts data at the highest throughput speeds. DuelAdapter™ works with PC Cards technologies including: wireless networking, video, cellular broadband, audio and memory card expansion. The DuelAdapter™ has special electronics which convert PCMCIA PC Card input to ExpressCard compatible signals, and the adapter can reach transfer rates up to the full 2.5Gbit/sec supported by the ExpressCard interface. The simple to install adapter works with ExpressCard equipped laptops or desktops. DuelAdapter™ has been tested with a wide range of PC Cards including: Panasonic P2 cards, and Cingular, Sprint, TMobile, and Verizon's 3G wireless cards. If drivers exist on a supported platform for a specific PC Card, then it should work fine with the DuelAdapter™.

Specialty and Unique ExpressCard Adapters
USB 2.0 to USB 2.0 Based ExpressCard Adapters
USB 2.0 to USB 2.0 Based ExpressCard Adapters allow use of USB 2.0 interface ExpressCards via a USB 2.0 port connection. These devices only work with USB 2.0 interface ExpressCards, not PCIe interface ExpressCards, so this rules out any high end host adapters, etc. USB 2.0 interface ExpressCards typically include: ExpressCard Storage Devices, ExpressCard to Memory Card Adapters, ExpressCard to RS-232 Host adapters, and other low speed and or complexity applications. Always check with the manufacturer of an ExpressCard to learn which bus interconnect it uses.

PCMCIA PC Card to USB 2.0 Based ExpressCard Adapters
PC Card Type II to USB 2.0 Mode ExpressCard Adapters allow use of USB based ExpressCards with PC Card equipped computers. USB 2.0 interface ExpressCards typically include: ExpressCard Storage Devices, ExpressCard to Memory Card Adapters, ExpressCard to RS-232 Host adapters, and other low speed and or complexity applications. Always check with the manufacturer of an ExpressCard to learn which bus interconnect it uses. These adapters will not work with any ExpressCard using the PCI Express (PCIe) portion of the ExpressCard standard. Most ExpressCards, including host adapter for FireWire, SATA, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0, etc. will

not work with the PC Card to USB 2.0 Mode ExpressCard. 16-bit PCMCIA PC Card to ExpressCard adapters provide more power than their 32-bit equivalents, for ExpressCard with higher power requirements. 16-bit adapters draw a full 5V, ensuring ExpressCards aren't effected by performance problems associated with lower power 32-bit adapters. Another advantage of these devices is that they present only a minimal protrusion outside of laptops. Check with online retailers like Synchrotech or directories like that at PCMCIA's ExpressCard.org for Specialized ExpressCard Adapters.

ExpressCard Technology Information for ExpressCard 34 and 54 Slots and Devices
Original HTML document with live links available at: http://www.expresscards.org/expresscard_info_faq_for_expresscard_slots_and_devices.html The PCMCIA recently introduced the PCMCIA ExpressCard standard as a successor technology to the venerable PCMCIA PC Card and PC Cardbus standards. PCMCIA ExpressCard slots are available today on a wide range of host systems. More and more peripheral devices based on PCMCIA ExpressCard are appearing everyday. Based on and supporting both the very fast PCI Express (PCIe) and ubiquitous USB 2.0 standards, ExpressCard is smaller, faster, and much simpler to deploy than the previous expansion technologies like PCMCIA PC Cards. ExpressCard's flexibility and high speeds provide breakthrough applications including full throughput eSATA host adapters, UDMA 4/PIO Mode 6 supporting CompactFlash adapters, and FireWire 800 host adapters. All new is the availability of ExpressCard slots deployed on desktop machines for PCIe 1X applications, alleviating the problem of opening a computer's case when installing new peripheral devices.

Host Adapters Providing ExpressCard Read/Writer Capability
PCIe to PCMCIA ExpressCard readers allow PCIe based desktop computers to utilize ExpressCard applications. Such readers are completely transparent to any card inserted, accepting either ExpressCard 34 or 54 cards. ExpressCard drives themselves require no drivers, but the cards being used with them might. PCIe to PCMCIA ExpressCard reader's PCIe 1X configuration realizes full 250MB/s (megabytes) throughput with PCIe based ExpressCards, while USB 2.0 ExpressCards operate at a 480Mb/s (megabits) speed. Excellent for sharing devices between modern laptops and desktops, PCIe to PCMCIA ExpressCard drives are a smart addition for desktop machines. Online stores offer PCIe to ExpressCard readers that work with both ExpressCard 34 and ExpressCard 54 Cards.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding ExpressCard 34 and ExpressCard 54 Cards
What are PCMCIA ExpressCard Cards? Key PCMCIA ExpressCard and PCMCIA PC Card Differences Are there PCMCIA ExpressCard to PCMCIA PC Card adapters? Are there any PCMCIA PC Card to PCMCIA ExpressCard adapters? ExpressCard Physical Dimensions ExpressCard Physical Slotting

What are PCMCIA ExpressCard Cards
ExpressCard is the PCMCIA's newest removable, portable, expansion technology to replace 16-bit PC Card and 32-bit PC Cardbus card devices. As a technology based on the latest bus standards, ExpressCard holds several advantages over PCMCIA PC Card some of which are explained below.

Key PCMCIA ExpressCard and PCMCIA PC Card Differences
ExpressCard offers two all new interconnect technologies ExpressCard utilizes two interconnect technologies, the most important of which is PCI Express (PCIe). ExpressCard devices utilizing PCIe 1X technology are capable of 2.5Gb/s per direction. An ExpressCard operating in full duplex mode has an approximate throughput of 250MB/s x 2, or 500MB/s of throughput. This is about four times the effective speed of 32bit PC Cardbus. Alternatively, ExpressCards utilizing USB 2.0 for less complex and lower speed applications, have a maximum throughput of 480mb/s. ExpressCard's bandwidth provides much higher performance PCIe 1X technology based ExpressCards are capable of 2.5Gb/s per direction, allowing for realization of applications, like host adapters, which underperform or are impossible with PC Cardbus. Examples of bottlenecked Cardbus host adapters, that don't tax ExpressCard are Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and FireWire 800 (IEEE 1394.b). Furthermore, ExpressCard will be able to handle the newest SATAe and other high end busses with relative ease. ExpressCard replaces a parallel bus with a high speed serial bus ExpressCard follows the trend of SATA and PCI Express of a transition from parallel to serial buses. ExpressCard utilizes a 26-pin beam on blade serial connection, rather than the 68pin parallel connection used for PC Card. ExpressCard's utilization of PCIe and USB 2.0 serial connections built in host systems reduces complexity. It also eliminates signal timing problems associated with parallel buses. ExpressCard is inexpensive and easier to implement than PC Card Since ExpressCard harnesses busses already existing on the newest host systems, it doesn't need separate ASIC bridge chips for integration. Differing from PC Card and PC Cardbus which required a controller chip to bridge underlying system bus to the card slot, ExpressCard devices essentially plug into either the system's PCIe or USB 2.0 bus, based on the type of ExpressCard employed. Savings in both cost and complexity are a hallmark of ExpressCard. ExpressCard offers superior power management and saving ExpressCards operate at 1.5 and 3.3V baselines, which are lower voltages than PC Card. Systems deploying ExpressCard technology can take full advantage low power utilization and allow for longer batter life in portable applications.

Are there PCMCIA ExpressCard to PCMCIA PC Card adapters? (backward compatibility)
Yes, the innovative DuelAdapter ExpressCard 34 to PCMCIA PC Card and CardBus Read-Writer allows any system with an PCMCIA ExpressCard slot to use both legacy 16-bit PC Cards and 32-bit PC Cardbus Cards. The host computer can have a native ExpressCard 34 or ExpressCard 54 slot, or have a PCIe to ExpressCard adapter and work with the DuelAdapter. As long as the PCMCIA PC Card is supported by the underlying operating system, it will work when used in conjunction with the DuelAdapter.

Are there any PCMCIA PC Card to PCMCIA ExpressCard adapters? (foreward compatibility)
For PCIe based ExpressCards, no. PC Card, even in the 32-bit variety, doesn't provide enough bandwidth. Moreover, ExpressCards differ from PC Cards in physical connectivity, form factor, bus technology and voltages. For USB 2.0 based ExpressCards, yes. Several devices act as USB 2.0 hubs, passing USB 2.0 signals from an ExpressCard through to a PCMCIA PC Card slot. These PCMCIA PC Card to USB 2.0-Mode ExpressCard adapters come in both 32-bit and 16-bit PCMCIA PC Card types.

PCMCIA to USB 2.0 based ExpressCard adapters do not work with any PCIe based ExpressCard. Technically, there adapters break the PCMCIA specification, since a given host slot is supposed to support both the PCIe and USB 2.0 portions of the ExpressCard standard.

Physical Slotting for ExpressCard Cards
ExpressCard slots, like ExpressCards, come in two varieties; those for both ExpressCard 54 and 34 cards, and slots for ExpressCard 34 cards only. Regardless of their physical dimensions ExpressCard slots are required to provide both PCIe and USB 2.0 functionality. ExpressCard 54 slots, as seen in figures A and B on the right, accept both 54 and 34 cards. What PCMCIA terms as a "novel guidance device," physically guide an ExpressCard 34 device to the connector part of the slot, as seen in the lower left corner of figures A and B. With the connection portion of ExpressCards for both types being an identical 34mm, this scheme enables an elegant way to utilize either type of card. Conversely, ExpressCard 34 slots only accept ExpressCard 34 cards as seen in figure C. This last fact is important when shopping for ExpressCards, if a device only accepts ExpressCard 34 slot, then only look for ExpressCard 34 devices. The PCMCIA's literature states systems deploying multiple ExpressCard slots should lay them out on a horizontal plane adjacently rather than a "stacked slot" convention employed for PC Card slots.

Physical Dimensions for ExpressCard Cards
ExpressCards are available in two form factors: ExpressCard 34 and ExpressCard 54. These form factors share identical dimensions except for width, which is where the form factor names are derived. ExpressCard length is 75mm and their depth (or thickness) is 5.0mm. 5.0mm is the same depth as PC Card Type II. While the shapes and widths of ExpressCard form factors differ, the portion of the card connecting to the card slot are identical at 34mm. ExpressCard 34 cards are rectangular in shape and 34mm wide. ExpressCard 54 Cards at their widest point are 54mm wide, but 34mm wide at the connection point, creating a "Fat-L" shape. Both form factors are allowed additional volume extending outside of what is considered the flush portion of an inserted card. Referred to as the extended portion of the card, ExpressCards with such configurations are called extended cards. Extended portions may exceed a card's dimension on any axis, with obvious practical limitations. For an example of an ExpressCard 34 featuring an extended portion on two axis (depth and width) see: ExpressCard 34 to CompactFlash Memory Card Adapter. See ExpressCard Physical Slotting for a Image of how ExpressCard modules are deployed in the two types of ExpressCard slots.

PCMCIA ExpressCard and PCMCIA PC Card Data Table
16-bit PC Card Voltages 3.3/5.0/12.0V Maximum 20 MB/sec. Throughput Depth Length Width Type I/II/II 85.6mm 54mm 32-bit PC Cardbus 3.3/5.0V 132 MB/sec. PC Cards 3.3/5.0/10.3mm ExpressCard (USB 2.0) 1.5/3.3V 60 MB/sec. ExpressCard 34 5.0mm 75mm 34mm ExpressCard (PCIe 1X) 1.5/3.3V 250 MB/sec. per direction ExpressCard 54 5.0mm 75mm 54mm

ExpressCard Product Sources
Many online vendors offer a wide range of ExpressCard 34 and ExpressCard 54 products including Synchrotech.

© 2007 expresscard-products.com, updated 2007-08-30 ExpressCard, PCIe, PCI Express