What is a CFast SSD?

In 1995 CompactFlash cards were the first flash card modules to hit the mainstream market for data storage. Since that time, higher performance requirements by some systems created a need for a faster device. With that in mind, the CompactFlash Association defined the CFast industry standard.

To attain the higher performance, CFast cards have a SATA interface versus the ATA interface of the CompactFlash cards. CFast cards are electrically compliant with SATA-IO specifications, but physically use a different connector and shape defined by the CFA.

A CFast flash card is based on solid state NAND memory and has the same length and width as the Compact Flash card. It is however 0.3mm thicker than the CompactFlash type I cards which are the majority of CF in the market.

CFast dimensions are as follows:

  • Length 36.4mm
  • Width 42.8mm
  • Thickness 3.6mm

Cactus offers two varieties of CFast cards. An Industrial Grade based on SLC NAND and a Industrial MLC based on MLC NAND.

Industrial Grade CFast

900S Industrial Grade CFast with Write Protect SwitchThe Industrial Grade CFast cards are based on the more reliable SLC NAND flash technology. They offer >2 Million Endurance cycles per block which equates to enough for decades of operation without fail in almost all Industrial OEM applications.

Since SLC NAND flash is more reliable than MLC used in non-Industrial devices, we offer a full extended temperature version that can operate at extreme temperature ranges from -45C to 90C for the entire life of the product.

For application which require data security, we offer our Industrial CFast cards with an optional physical write protect switch (shown in picture). This allows an OEM to store data on the CFast and then disable writing to the card so the data cannot be modified. This has become a handy feature for the Gaming and Military markets.

Industrial MLC MLC CFast

Industrial MLC CFast cards are based on the cost effective MLC NAND flash. They tend to be used for applications where high write endurance is not required.

For applications requiring operation outside the 0C to 70C temperature range, these MLC parts have often been used. Cactus however only guarantees MLC CFast to their 0C to 70C specification.

As MLC NAND components continue to move forward in generations, their susceptibility to temperature continues to increase. For wide temperature applications, we recommend Industrial Grade products.

Please feel free to contact us for any additional information you may require.

Steve Larrivee has over 30 year's experience in the data storage market, including 5 years at Seagate Technology and 10 years at SanDisk. He joined Cactus Technologies Limited as an equity partner and Co-Founded Cactus USA in 2007 with partner Tom Aguillon. Learn more about Steve on LinkedIn.