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FISHy memory - it's a USB stick

Old fish in new website
Fri Jan 30 2004, 16:34
FOR A COUPLE of days the formerly unknown "Universal Transportable Memory Association" (UTMA) has been going round at the press hinting that they would announce a revolutionary new form factor for portable storage next week. Having a "smaller footprint" than SD cards this seemed like yet another alternative to the likes of MemoryStick or CompactFlash, writes Nico Ernst.

Being a little secretive, especially about its members, the UTMAs website (( surely was not. Until today, large portions of it were freely accessibly if you just guessed the filename of the start page correctly. Reading through the documents we could not resist the impression that the consortium has good reason to create some hype before it goes public with the details.

Judging from the site, which is only partially accessible as of this writing, Fish is nothing more than a USB memory stick, known for years from manufacturers like Trek. It is indeed very small, however, the overall volume of the thing can hardly be smaller than that of Compact Flash. The UTMA has two versions, a Fish and a BabyFish, up its sleeves and claims capacities of up to 16 Gigabytes - if, of course, the flash chips needed are available. For the start, UTMA promised one Gigabyte. Furthermore USB 2.0 with its fast transfers will be supported.

If for instance smart phone makers will devote the processing and battery powers needed for USB 2.0 remains to be seen. Although USB in general requires less wires than for instance Compact Flash, still perdominant in digital cameras, the implementation of Fish could require some significant design changes. Mind that a camera may have a USB port for the PC, but its inner transfers often work according to ATA standards as Compact Flash cards themselves contain that logic.

However it would be nice to not need that card readers anymore. Plugging the digital film directly into a PC currently seems the only real advantage of Fish memory. Being controversial from the start, the preview site for Fish memory did not even give one name of the supporters of the more less than or new form factor. Instead the quotes like that of an unnamed "Executive Director, Consumer Electronics Manufacturer" sounded like late at night TV advertising: "16 gigabytes! I can´t believe it!"

But maybe UTMA placed that pages easily accessible on purpose to have a little free hype from the press. If we were INQ´d this time, at least we´re not alone. Huge portions of the URLs working yesterday now cough up: "Due to public posting of this URL the page will be offline until February 5th." At least we didn´t post that yesterday, phew! µ


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