The Inquirer is reporting that the CompactFlash trade group released a newer CF spec at CES, bumping the top speed for CF cards from 16 MBps to 66 MBps. This should be great news for photographers–most DSLRs use CF cards, but they’ve been falling behind in the flash speed race. For example, on Canon’s newest 1D-series cameras, the camera’s SD slot runs rings around the CF slot. In fact, the SD slot on Canon’s new cameras seems to be faster then any CF slot on any camera, so it’s not just an issue for Canon’s CF implementation. CF has been falling behind; hopefully this speed boost will let the next generation of cards and devices double or triple their CF transfer speeds.

It’s not widely appreciated just how many different modes of operation modern CF cards have. They’re basically miniature PCMCIA cards, with their own ISA-style IDE controller built in. They’re also IDE devices–you can get an adapter to connect them directly to your motherboard’s IDE interfaces. In addition, modern CF+ cards have a USB interface onboard. I think there are a couple other modes of operation as well, like legacy PCMCIA flash stuff, but I’m a bit hazy on the details.

In spite of all of the complexity, they’re still the cheapest type of flash media on the market.