The modern successor of the FAT system is currently available for licensing from Microsoft, through what a company representative referred to as a flexible licensing program. Companies worldwide can integrate the Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) into their own products for a flat fee of as low as $300.000. However, the flat fee is only available for a specific group of consumer devices, including cameras, camcorders and digital photo frames. When it comes down to using exFAT with mobile phones, PCs and networks Microsoft has a different pricing model designed especially for volume customers.
One of the most important advantages of exFAT is that the technology is included in the company’s latest iteration of Windows. But not only does Windows 7 play nice with exFAT, with Microsoft indicated that future desktop operating systems would also be interoperable with the Flash file format. The successor of the file allocation table format is leveraged predominantly for Flash drives, but of course is not limited to just such products.
“There has been an explosion in the use of rich audio and video files,” explained David Kaefer, general manager of Intellectual Property Licensing at Microsoft. “exFAT is an ideal file system that delivers fast and reliable use of audio and video files. It is an important technology in Windows 7, and now that we are licensing this technology broadly to the industry, we want to encourage and support partners to build products that also contain this technology.”
Among obvious advantages over using exFAT instead of older variants of FAT is support for storage up to 256 TB. Microsoft underlines that customers will be able to place no less than 4,000 RAW images, 100 high-definition (HD) movies, or even 60 hours of HD recording in a single directory. Additionally, the file save speed of Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC) cards is boosted all the way to 300MBps speed. And last but definitely not least, exFAT is extensible, meaning that OEMS can customize it in accordance with specific device characteristics. Microsoft notes that companies including Sony, Canon, and Sanyo are already licensing exFAT, and SanDisk, acting as a member of the SD Card Association and the Memory Stick standard, is a strong supporter of exFAT for new extra capacity storage media.
“Consumers want a richer media storage experience, and we chose the exFAT file system for our SDXC memory card specification because of its incredible potential,” added James Taylor, president of the SD Association. “The exFAT file system supports large volumes, large files and better contiguous on-disk layout, which supports the SD Association’s plans for the SDXC specification to provide consumers with quicker transfer speeds, support for very large files and seamless portability among devices. We look forward to incorporating the technology into our products.”