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Old March 28th, 2009, 05:37 PM   #1
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Transcend CF Cards and Mac Leopard

Dear Friends,

We have been troubled by the failure of Transcend 32 GB 133x cards by Mac OS 10.5.x (Leopard).

To be clear, the following is a report on our experiences, our tests, our discussions with Apple, and our user's experiences.

1. There have been no reported failures of any Transcend card when used with the Mac Tiger operating system.

2. There have been no reported failures of any Transcend card when used with any PC operating system.

3. Up until very recently, we have had no reports of any problem with any Transcend card, if the recommended procedure of ejecting the card manually (just by pulling the card out) is followed, as opposed to using the Eject command or dragging and dropping the icon to the trash can.

4. We have recently received reports of card failures just by inserting the card into a card reader attached to a Mac with Leopard.

Item 4 is a new development for us. We have not been able to duplicate Item 4 in our lab.

But, we must take Item 4 seriously. As such, we have issued the following service bulletin.

We are requesting that you do not insert a Transcend CF card into a CompactFlash card reader attached to a Mac running 10.5.x...

Please note that the above information and warning applies to the Transcend CompactFlash cards.


But, please take the following into consideration:

A. A very high percentage of the CompactFlash Cards in use with the Flash XDR are Transcend 133x 32 GB cards.

B. We have no reported failures of the Transcend 16 GB 300x cards.

C. We have no reported failures of any other brand of cards.

D. Apple is actively working on this problem in order to find and fix this problem. We are in frequent contact with Apple.

E. The problem with Apple Leopard is intermittent. The failure will not occur all of the time.

We have sent a Macintosh laptop, with Leopard, and the associated CompactFlash Card reader to Apple for testing in their lab. This is a laptop (with Leopard) that has destroyed multiple cards. We have also sent various Transcend cards to Apple.


Since the problem is intermittent, and since almost all of the cards in use in the field are Transcend 32 GB 133x cards, we just do not have enough testing of the other brands and other types of Transcend cards to know if they are safe or not.



Since every report that we received seems to point to the problem residing with Apple's Leopard, and since Apple reported that they changed the way they work with these memory cards, starting with Leopard, we do feel that this is a problem with Leopard.

So, at this time, please do not insert a Transcend CF card, via a Firewire or USB CompactFlash card reader into a Mac with Leopard.

We have no reports of problems with the ExpressCard 34 CompactFlash card readers, but we do not have enough experience with them to say that they are ok or not with Leopard.


The Nexto DI device is a great little unit that allows one to quickly transfer the contents of one of more CompactFlash cards to its internal hard disk drive, then later transfer the contents to a Mac with Leopard.


Next week we will be qualifying the new Kingston 32 GB CompactFlash card. This card looks very promising. We do not recommend purchasing or using this card until we fully qualify the card.
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Old March 29th, 2009, 03:34 AM   #2
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Thanks for the notice.

Hopefully we will see a solution from Apple soon. I'm sure you'll let us know if and when it comes.

Justin.
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Old March 29th, 2009, 12:23 PM   #3
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Kingston 32GB 133X Compact Flash Card

Just to further amplify Dan Keaton's message below, we hope to receive our first 32GB Kingston CF cards on Monday and will immediately start testing. Initial indications looks extremely positive, in that the card may have sufficient performance for both 100 and 160 Mbps rates.

Initial prices for the Kingston card are also extremely attractive; under $60 at newegg.com and B&H. I don't know if this some sort of introductory price to get product into the channel or if this price will be maintained over time.

We will post our test results ASAP.

Best Regards-
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Old March 29th, 2009, 07:15 PM   #4
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Mike I think you should also qualify the Sandisk cards, Ultra III CF cards, since they claim to be 30MB/s cards. The Kingston cards do look attractive price wise though. The down side of the Sandisk Ultra III cards is cost but they could be a viable choice when the other cards are either out of stock or unavailable.

Thanks
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Old March 30th, 2009, 01:33 AM   #5
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Dear Robert,

The SanDisk Extreme III and Extreme IV cards are already fully qualified for use with the Flash XDR.

The SanDisk Ultra II cards have not been qualified for use as they are not fast enough.

Note: In order for us to support the SanDisk cards, we made some programming changes to accomodate their cards. So, if you wish to use the SanDisk cards, please use firmware versions 0.0.275, or 1.0.28 or above.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 07:07 PM   #6
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Initial Results of Testing Kingston Elite Pro 32 GB Cards

Dear Friends,

As promised, we received two Kingston Elite Pro 32 GB CompactFlash cards for testing. These are the Kingston CF Flash 32 GB - S2 cards, a 133x card.

They are rated at 25 Megabytes per second read and 20 Megabytes per second write.

Our first series of tests proved that they work well with the Flash XDR in all modes up to and including 100 Megabits per second.

We do not feel that they are appropriate for our I-Frame Only 160 Megabits per second mode.

It is our intention to offer a special mode, such as 140 Megabits per second I-Frame Only mode that will work with these cards.


We also tested the write speeds of these cards with special testing equipment. The published specifications for write speed have been proven valid and the read speed is higher than published.


We recorded and played back many files from these cards, they pass our tests.


We have two Final Cut Pro systems with the Mac Leopard operating system. So we tested these cards with Mac Leopard repeatedly. Our tests include using the Eject command, which is the most common way we know of to make cards fail in Leopard. We tested both Firewire and USB card readers.

We were not able to induce a failure in these cards using Mac Leopard. But, it should be known that we test the Transcend 32 GB 133x cards in these same systems and have never been able to induce a failure.

After these tests, we performed surgery on one card to determine the exact circuits inside.

In the sample that we opened:

1. We found the "Controller Chip" to be from the same manufacturer, but a different part than the Transcend 133x 32 GB card.

2. We found the Memory Chips to be from a different manufacturer.

The above gives us some hope that this card may not be as susceptible to the Leopard problem.


But, in all fairness, we do not feel that there is a defect in the Transcend cards, just a problem with certain versions of Leopard, under certain specific conditions, that causes them to fail. Please remember that we have had zero problems with Tiger and zero problems with these cards in PC's.

The current price of the Kingston 32 GB cards is very attractive. But they seem to be available in only limited quantities at this time. Since this is a new card, this seems to be understandable.


In order to test these new cards, we are purchasing enough to populate our Flash XDR demo units.


Since this problem with Leopard is so intermittent, it will be a while before we can state that this solves the Leopard problem. In the mean time, we are recommending that the Transcend 32 GB 133x card not be inserted into a Leopard computer.

For Leopard users, the Nexto DI device is a practical alternative that allows one to avoid inserting your cards in Leopard.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 07:45 PM   #7
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Read / Write Perfromance on the Kingston 133X 32GB Card

We got the following read / write performance numbers on the Kingston 133X 32GB Compact Flash Card:

Write Speed = 21 Mbytes/sec (or 168 Mbps)
Read Speed = 43 MBytes/sec (or 344 Mbps)

So, even though we could successfully record multiple files across multiple cards at 160 Mbps, there is simply too little (write speed) margin. So, as Dan Keaton mentioned, we are adding a 140 Mbps I-Frame only mode for these cards.

In reality, there is very little difference in the video quality between 160 and 140 Mbps; certainly not enough to justify the 3X price difference between the Kingston 32GB card (now available for $60) and the SanDisk Extreme III 32GB card (currently priced at $184).

I do suspect we are out of the woods with regard to the MAC Leopard problem with the Kingston CF cards, since these cards use an entirely different brand of memory chips. Naturally, we can only verify with lots more testing.

One other advantage with Kingston is the worldwide distribution channel. So this card should be relatively easy to find in most countries (once the initial channel has been filled with product).

Best Regards-
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Old March 31st, 2009, 04:38 AM   #8
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Transcend 16 GB 300x cards - are they safe?

Can you assure us the Transcend 16 GB 300x cards are safe to use on the Mac? I have just today taken possession of a new Mac laptop and would like to be sure before I plug them into a Mac.
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Old March 31st, 2009, 07:39 AM   #9
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Dear Nic,

At this time we do not have enough information to give you an "all clear" to use the Transcend 16 GB cards.

Here is what we know at this time:

1. There have been no reported failures of the Transcend 16 GB 300x cards.

2. I personally use these 16 GB cards almost 100% of the time.

3. While editing the Flash XDR Promo, on a Mac Leopard, we routinely inserted these cards and used the "Drag and Drop the card reader Icon to the trash can" process to eject the cards.

4. Of all of the reported failures, we have only two reports of Transcend 32 GB 133x cards failing on insertion as opposed to "on using the Eject Command".



Now, please take this into consideration:

1. Due to the premium price of the Transcend 16 GB 300x cards, there are far fewer of these in use compared to the highly popular Transcend 32 GB 133x cards. My best guess is that somewhere near 1% of the cards are the 16 GB 300x variety.

2. Even if you have a version of Mac Leopard and the Transcend 16 GB card, the failure will not occur every time. It is highly intermittent.


If it were me, and I had limited choices, such as no other way to get my footage into my Mac, I would do the following (if I had time before my important shoot):

1. Shoot some test footage.

2. Upload the footage into the Mac.

3. Manually remove the card from the card reader (after the transfer is complete) which using the Eject command or the "Drag to the trash can" process.

4. Repeat at least 5 times.

5. Use the cards for live footage, ensuring that step 3 above is followed at all times.



If you have an alternative way to upload the files, such as a second Mac without Leopard, or a Nexto DI device, I would use it.

If my Mac had an ExpressCard 34 slot, I would use the Sonnet ExpressCard 34 Dual CF card reader.


We would love to hear from Apple on this subject. I firmly believe that all of the evidence points to a Mac Leopard problem.
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Old April 1st, 2009, 07:51 AM   #10
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Dear Friends,

All of our tests, in all of our modes and formats, up to and including 100 Mbps, with the new Kingston 32 GB Elite Pro CompactFlash cards, have shown this to be a very viable card for use with the Flash XDR.

As expected, we found that this 133x card was not suited for 160 Mbps I-Frame Only mode.

We will be adding a 140 Mbps or higher I-Frame Only mode so that this card may be used with a high bit-rate I-Frame Only mode.


What we do not know at this time, is whether this card will be harmed or not, with the "Eject Command" within certain versions of Mac Leopard.

While our tests have not harmed any of these cards, our tests, on our Mac's with Leopard have never harmed any card, including the Transcend 32 GB 133x cards.

We highly recommend that everyone using Mac Leopard just physically removed the card after all I/O activity has ended.

We are recommend this card for use with the Flash XDR, unless you wish to use the 160 Mbps I-Frame Only mode which requires a faster card.

At this time, B&H has this card in stock for $59.95.

Kingston | 32GB CompactFlash Elite Pro Memory Card | CF/32GB-S2
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