Further to the report a couple of weeks ago about ProGrade Digital’s introduction of a new 1.3TB CFexpress Gen 4 spec Type B memory card, US-maker OWC announced late last week that they’ve added the same CFA 4.0 (Gen 4) spec to a range of their Atlas Pro and Atlas Ultra cards.
The new Atlas Pro 256GB, Atlas Pro 512GB, Atlas Ultra 1TB, and Atlas Ultra 2TB cards now feature PCIe Gen 4 technology to enable (maximum) 3650MB/s read and 3000MB/s write speeds, a claimed 97% increase from the previous generation cards.
With the new Gen 4 Atlas Pro 256GB selling at $169.99 and Atlas Pro 512GB at $199.99 they’re particularly attractive in price and the Atlas Ultra CFexpress 1TB ($579.99) and 2TB ($999.99) memory cards seriously undercut the ProGrade Cobalt 1.3TB Gen 4 card, which is priced at around £1390/$1460 currently.
Note the current sustained minimum write speed of the older CFA 2.0 (Gen 2) Atlas Pro 256GB card is just 300MB/s and even the Atlas Pro 512GB card is borderline at 800MB/s for 8K and high-frame-rate video in the Canon EOS R5, let alone the Nikon Z8/9.
I’ve reached out to OWC for clarification of this important metric of the new Atlas Pro 256GB, and Atlas Pro 512GB cards, as they might now be fully compatible with the high-end video features of those popular cameras.
My advice before buying is to check with OWC first.
Besides showing that these smaller brands are able to react quickly to market advances, what’s particularly interesting about this announcement is that OWC claims not just backward (which is to be expected but not always assured, as we witnessed with the advance from XQD to CFe) but forward compatibility with certain cards from the existing range.
Existing CFA 2.0 (Gen 3) cards with forward compatibility are limited to Atlas Ultra 1TB and 2TB models marked with 1850MB/s on the label.
It appears those models with the tweaked CFA 2.0 (Gen 3) tech are able to be upgraded to the newer, faster CFA 4.0 Gen 4 spec, which also promises to nearly double (97%) the faster maximum write and read speeds of those older cards. As always with CFexpress the ‘devil is in the detail,’ as a compatible OWC card reader is also required.
Interestingly, the sustained minimum write speed isn’t mentioned.
As mentioned earlier, this is a crucial metric for video users of mirrorless cameras like the Canon EOS R5 and Nikon Z8 and Z9 who want to access all the 8K and high-frame-rate options. However, it’s likely to be higher than the existing CFA 2.0 Gen 3 models and besides both these cards already share minimum sustained write speeds of 1500MB/s, which is already fast enough for those cameras anyway.
It will be interesting to see if other makers respond in kind.
Read more on CFexpress minimum sustained write speeds here.
Other World Computing Announces New Atlas CFexpress 4.0 Memory Cards
2x Faster Speed Than Previous Generation and Industry-First Memory Card Manufacturer To Provide Backward and Forward Compatibility
Oct 12, 2023 | Woodstock, IL
Other World Computing® www.OWC.com – The leading end-to-end ecosystem solution provider of computer hardware, accessories, and software for both consumers and professionals – today announces new Atlas Pro and Ultra CFexpress 4.0 memory cards with double the speed of CFexpress 2.0 memory cards and the industry’s first capability of upgrading previous generation Atlas 2.0 memory cards to the new CFA (Compact Flash Association) CFexpress 4.0 specification.
Unprecedented Speed Redefining Possibilities
The new Atlas Pro 256GB, Atlas Pro 512GB, Atlas Ultra 1TB, and Atlas Ultra 2TB cards leverage PCIe Gen 4 technology to enable mind-blowing 3650MB/s read and 3000MB/s write speeds; a 97% increase from the previous generation cards. These major speed increases make it possible to not only capture stunning 4K, 6K, and 8K+ videos while enabling the next generation of cameras but also access and offload content for editing and distribution like never before. Even with these incredible performance increases, the power consumption of OWC memory cards is only one third of the allowable specification, making them ideal for any battery-operated cameras – past, present, or future.
Industry’s First Backward and Forward Compatibility
For over three decades, OWC has provided solutions to extend the use life of technology. The new Atlas CFexpress 4.0 memory cards continue that commitment by utilizing OWC’s Innergize™ software to upgrade the firmware on previous PCIe Gen 3 Atlas Ultra 1TB and 2TB cards to CFexpress 4.0 firmware. Memory card users have never had the opportunity to elevate their card’s performance and prolong its usefulness with field firmware upgrades. This OWC exclusive upgrade almost doubles the current read/write speeds, from 1850MB/s and 1700MB/s read/write speeds to 3650MB/s and 3000MB/s.
In addition, Atlas CFexpress CFA 4.0 memory cards are backward compatible with CFA 2.0 PCIe Gen 3 hosts, providing both flexibility and performance.
“We always want to ensure that our customers can get the most out of our products, which is why we spent considerable time and effort ensuring our latest PCIe Gen 3 CFexpress Ultra 1 and 2TB cards that launched earlier this year were forward compatible with the latest CFA 4.0 specification”, said Larry O’Connor, founder and CEO at OWC. “Giving existing OWC Atlas memory card owners the flexibility to upgrade their products and take advantage of the latest speeds without having to purchase new cards is a game changer that we are delighted to bring to the table”.
The OWC Atlas Ecosystem
OWC has built the most comprehensive assortment of hardware and software solutions to support anyone through the creative process from Capture to Completion™. The OWC Atlas ecosystem is the first step of the process to ensure photographers/videographers have the tools they need to get their vision from camera to audience.
Atlas Memory Cards
Atlas CFexpress and SD memory cards provide flexibility and choice for photographers and videographers based on their cameras and how they use them. Because they are tested under the most aggressive settings each card type can handle, Atlas memory cards securely store irreplaceable content and deliver the highest reliability and performance.
OWC’s Innergize software is an integral part of the ecosystem built for OWC Atlas memory cards and readers. Innergize first checks the health of an Atlas card to ensure it is reliable to use, and then cleans and restores performance so there will be zero dropped frames when shooting video or continuous burst photos. Atlas owners can then upgrade their firmware in the field to take advantage of the latest card improvements and ensure OWC cards and readers will perform optimally with their cameras.
Atlas Card Readers
Go from ingest to edit with a wide range of bus-powered portable Atlas card readers, as well as SD and CFexpress card reader equipped OWC docks and storage solutions. OWC memory card readers have been specifically designed and extensively test proven to deliver effective heat dissipation so Atlas memory cards will deliver maximum sustained throttle-free performance.
Pricing, Availability, and Upgrades
Atlas Pro CFexpress 256GB ($169.99) and 512GB ($199.99) memory cards are now available.
Atlas Ultra CFexpress 1TB ($579.99) and 2TB ($999.99) memory cards are now available.