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Old June 9th, 2006, 07:29 AM   #1
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64GB flash drive under $1000 by end of the year.

http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=32315


This will hopefully be good news for P2 camera owners, as it is an indication how much the price of P2 could reach.

The high cost problem of flash for consumer should hopefully now be coming to an end, making professional or consumer HD acquisition of flash totally affordable. A hour long flash card should be affordable, and hopefully should be able to be backed up in field to those external Hard drive enclosures that have flash card inputs.
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Old June 10th, 2006, 04:42 PM   #2
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32GB Flash drives can already be had for less than an 8GB P2 drive. So, using the same logic, if 64GB is $999, then a 16GB P2 would still come in at $2000. AFAIK, only Panny makes the P2... unless more people start making it, the price wont fall off as quickly as it should.


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Old June 10th, 2006, 05:05 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Wayne Morellini
This will hopefully be good news for P2 camera owners, as it is an indication how much the price of P2 could reach.
There is another way of looking at it - why bother with P2 at all? Is it not the case that P2 was developed at a time when the only way that the required performance could be achieved was by such a raided system with selected chips? And that the speed of development of memory (both speed and capacity) has been such that such a solution may now be seen as unnecessarily complicated? (And expensive.)

It begs the question of when we may expect the first 1/3" camera using SD or Compact Flash technology - with four (say) slots taking up less space than two P2! Perhaps Panasonic have too much invested in P2 to go down such a route, but Grass Valley have already pointed the way with the Infinity. I wonder......
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Old June 11th, 2006, 01:40 AM   #4
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According to the Panasonc media guy at NAB, yield is another reason for the high price. They need to work over a range of temperature and such as well with full performance. Consumers may tolerate bad memory locations for their digicams, but professional videographers will not.

BTW, I've owned three different consumer flash cards that went bad. And they died while working with different equipment.

In any case, with no competition, Panasonic can charge whatever they want based on the value of the cards in the marketplace - totally decoupled from manufacturing costs.

(The best example of this was the early days of touch tone phones. The phone company would charge an extra buck a month for the service, even though the cost and maintanance of the electronic equipment was much lower than for the Rube Goldberg machines they used to detect dial pulses.)
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Old June 11th, 2006, 01:46 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Ash Greyson
32GB Flash drives can already be had for less than an 8GB P2 drive. So, using the same logic, if 64GB is $999, then a 16GB P2 would still come in at $2000. AFAIK, only Panny makes the P2... unless more people start making it, the price wont fall off as quickly as it should.


ash =o)
From what I understood (I don't keep track of P2) the P@ drive sues PCMCIA compatible cards (which Compact Flash cards are a smaller subset of) which is one of the oldest standards out. So, it should be easy enough to make replacement cards. But the whole thing, as David pointed out, is that you don't need P2. There are HDD recording solutions that would take this. So the competition will force P2 prices down from ridiculous highs, or just sue an alternative. Honestly, I didn't mention this because I thought the only thing people wouldn't argue about was P2.
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Old June 11th, 2006, 02:07 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst
According to the Panasonic media guy at NAB, yield is another reason for the high price. They need to work over a range of temperature and such as well with full performance. Consumers may tolerate bad memory locations for their digicams, but professional videographers will not.
They would say that, the drives mentioned here probably have nearly as much temperature range, performance and quality as the flash they use, and it probably cost very little to add (though the limited runs of the P2 would have influence on price). Flash systems are file systems, which allows them to easily isolate bad sectors, though back up regularly if you use something cheap.

But I think I saw a P2 example device that could be loaded with SD cards years ago, and you can buy PCMCIA card adaptors you can put SD cards into (wherever they are compatible enough with P2 is another matter).

Pity Panasonic sees itself having to put out equipment that is not the top competitor and with storage priced to make P2 have small influenced on sales for small sales. If there was real competition, how come they haven't produced something of better grade compared to XDCAM HD for the price. All this stuff disheartens me. The market is still well structured to accommodate very expensive cameras. At least the 50mb/s h264 codec should turn out to have reasonable professional quality, 100mb/s 4:4:4 would have made it a good level of quality.
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Old June 11th, 2006, 06:22 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst
According to the Panasonc media guy at NAB, yield is another reason for the high price. They need to work over a range of temperature and such as well with full performance. Consumers may tolerate bad memory locations for their digicams, but professional videographers will not.
I don't see that as a reason for P2 - it is, after all, based on selected SD cards, so surely the same selected SD cards used as such will work over a range of temperatures equally well!? Professional videographers may indeed not tolerate bad memory locations, but then neither do top professional stills photographers - who seem quite happy with Compact Flash. (Though no doubt using the faster and more expensive variants.)

Ask an industry rep the question "can I record broadcast quality video on a 1/4" tape running at slow speed" and he should answer yes. Ask the same question around 1960 and the answer is likely to have been an emphatic "NO" - probably with quite a lot of laughter! The point is that both yes and no answers are 100% correct IN THEIR OWN TIME.

Same with the conversation with the Panasonic rep. When P2 was first conceived it was indeed the only way to reliably record broadcast video with solid state - the solid state answer to quadruplex if you like! But times move on, and if the Infinity lives up to expectations, any justification by Panasonic reps of the need for P2 v CF or SD is going to sound increasingly hollow. The conversation ceases to be academic and becomes "well, if Grass Valley can manage it, why can't you?" Couple that with computers moving on to a different architecture for their expansion slot........

I suspect they were surprised by the amazing speed of improvemnts in solid state memory as much as most consumers. In hindsight, the real worth of P2 may be seen as pointing the way to the future, rather than as being successful in it's own right.
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Old June 11th, 2006, 12:38 PM   #8
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It is not that simple... P2 is a 32-bit card with an intelligent RAID inside... Also, as an HVX user I can tell you that currently, the HDD options are buggy. What would have been perfect is a camera that did DVCproHD to blueray discs... but of course that just makes too much sense =o)



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Old June 11th, 2006, 03:09 PM   #9
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What would have been perfect is a camera that did DVCproHD to blueray discs...
I suspect the reason we're not seeing that is that the discs couldn't handle the datarate of DVCPROHD.

Can you clarify what you mean by "it is not that simple"? P2 may indeed be a 32 bit card with intelligent raid, but the question is..... why is that (now) necessary? Now Compact Flash cards can be fast enough to handle the sort of data rates needed for video, why bother with the complexities of P2? If it can work for Grass Valley, doesn't that now mean that with todays technology it really can be that simple?
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Old June 11th, 2006, 03:26 PM   #10
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Well,

Cameras that record to BluRay are essentially XDCAM as that is what XDCAM media is. We may see such a thing (DVCPRO to BD/XD media), but personally I prefer the solid state recording. Makes so much more sense in terms of robustness in the field. IMO, P2 is a little premature and has a lot of things going against it. For starters, it should not be based on PCMCIA Cardbus as an interface... This is an interface that is being phased out and it will be increasingly difficult to acquire notebook computers with PC card interfaces, thus requiring P2 users to always have external media readers or separate readers installed in their desktop computers if they don't always want to use the camera itself as a reader. Why Panasonic couldn't have jumped to an ExpressCard 72 format is somewhat of a puzzle. I realize they were trying to maintain compatibility with their installed P2 infrastructure with the release of the HVX200 and planning other future P2 products, but the installed base was rather small. I also don't buy a lot of the "to maintain compatibility" claims when lately they have now thrown a lot of that thinking out of the window and are jointly working on new formats and new ways to use P2 that will be entirely incompatible with previous systems. Look at the new camcorders announced that will use multiple P2 cards in a RAID/interleaved arrangement for increased redundancy and speed. Makes perfect sense, but goes against a lot of their compatibility arguments.

As for P2 pricing, it's been hashed over so many times in the forums... It's true that Panny is using very high grade SD chips that must conform to industry standards for zero-defect claims as well as operations in extreme temperature and vibration/shock ranges. Such SD chips are available on the common market, but they're rather expensive. It's a rough guestimate, but I'd say the 8GB P2 card is selling for about double what it should right now. But with Panasonic as the only supplier, what do we do?
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Old June 11th, 2006, 03:34 PM   #11
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I remotely remember seeing a picture of 4 SD cards inside a PCMCIA form factor card for P2, if that is what you mean by Raid, I am not very impressed. Small cards have upto around 20MByte+ per second capacity, PCMCIA 32bit much much more, since the original 16 bit version I think they use an adaption of the IDE bus to transfer, so you can see the differences between the P2 and this gets smaller and smaller. I can't remember the data rate of SD, but I don't think it is slow in comparison. The data rate of DVCPROHD is around 12.5MB/s. Of course, getting individual SD cards and putting them into P2, might incur a cost based on the pre-manufactured SD card price.

Is there anybody that knows exactly what the P2 situation is from a engineering perspective?
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Old June 11th, 2006, 05:40 PM   #12
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Not that simpple meaning... the cost of making a P2 is much greater than just the cost of 4 SD cards...


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Old June 11th, 2006, 05:42 PM   #13
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The internals of a P2 card don't consist of 4 SD cards as we all commonly think of them. It's the same SD memory, just not in the plastic SD card shell we're all familiar with.

P2 is based on the 32bit Cardbus PCMCIA interface. This is a 33MHz, 32bit interface, which is capable of up to 1056Mbps maximum throughput or 132MB/sec. SD media has a base transfer rate of 115KB/sec, which is where we get into all those speed numbers like 133X that manufacturers like to claim. Right now, the SD chips being used in 8GB P2 cards are 2GB 133X chips. These have a maximum transfer rate of 14.9MB/s, but real-world numbers are closer to ~14MB/s read 11MB/s write from most vendors. Internally, the P2 cards are using a commonly available multichannel memory controller. The 4 SD chips are connected in interleaved fashion, just as multichannel RAM works in desktop PC systems and it's essentially the same thing as a RAID-0 hard drive setup (or striped array). But if we take the 14.9MB/s * 4 = 59.6MB/s. This is 476.8Mbps or over 4 times the data rate of DVCPROHD. A single SD chip at the 133X rating would theoretically be able to handle DVCPROHD on its own, but it may not in all circumstances, especially in extreme temperature situations. So in this respect, multiple SD chips make sense as it economically boosts capacity and performance. Also, there are 150X SD chips commonly available on the market these days and it's possible that some 8GB P2 cards are being made with 150X chips depending on availability. Samsung, as one of Panasonic's key SD suppliers, has been saying that common 4, 8 and 16 GB SD chips should be available starting this year and into end of '07 (for the 16GB) and at speeds up to 180X. Figuring 180X speeds as to how they pertain to a P2 quad-chip configuration, that yields the 640Mbps rate that Panasonic likes to claim P2 is capable of.

AFAIK, there is no specifics on how anyone must implement P2. What is being discussed thus far is how Panasonic has constructed their 2, 4 and 8GB P2 cards. Essentially, the interface must conform to the P2 standard and beyond that it could be anything the manufacturer can squeeze into the PCMCIA Cardbus form factor - be it a hard drive, WiFi device, etc.. An example would be the upcoming CinePorter from Specialized Communications. It is a P2 device, but instead of having storage inside the card, it is simply an interface card that has a cable run to an external HDD unit (capable of holding 1 or 2 drives), the P2 camera/deck/etc.. sees the CinePorter as a large capacity P2 device. So, if a major breakthrough in CF memory technology happens overnight and a 128GB CF card with 60MB/s data rates comes available, there's no reason a P2 manufacturer (Panny or 3rd party) couldn't build P2 cards around that CF chip.
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Old June 11th, 2006, 06:38 PM   #14
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Not that simpple meaning... the cost of making a P2 is much greater than just the cost of 4 SD cards...
Well, OK, granted, but that's not what I'm suggesting. Rather using an SD or CF card INSTEAD of P2, not building your own P2 card.

If you're an existing HVX owner I grant this may not be very relevant. I'm more looking ahead to the next generation of camera, as to be honest I don't see any of the HDV offerings or the HVX as anywhere near free of significant issues. I see solid state as potentially desirable, and going for a none P2 variant a way of making it more generally viable well before P2 could be, if one just waits for P2 costs to fall.

Just going by Jeffs figures above does show that single SD or CF cards are only just capable of DVCProHD speeds. They are easily capable of 50Mbs though - just as proposed for AVC-Intra or JPEG2000 - and even 50Mbs should have better than DVCProHD performance. (Quality wise, if not in ease of editing.)

If a CF 128GB card capable of 60MBs was to come available, then rather than see a P2 card built around it, I'd rather just see a CAMERA built around it! :-)
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Old June 11th, 2006, 11:49 PM   #15
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If a CF 128GB card capable of 60MBs was to come available, then rather than see a P2 card built around it, I'd rather just see a CAMERA built around it! :-)
...And it will happen too. In another 3 to 7 years, 128GB solid state chips will be commonly available. Within 10 years (and possibly in just 5 years), we'll all be buying $40 memory cards for our video cameras just like we do now for our still cameras and fitting hours worth of HD video on them. Taking 25Mbps DV/HDV into account, a 16GB SD card will have at least 3X the bandwidth needed and over 80 minutes of storage time. 16GB SD has already been demonstrated by several manufacturers like Samsung and should be available within a year, maybe 1.5 years. In 3 years or so, when they're commonly available for under $60 who would buy tapes? And it won't just be video cameras that drive the market for such high capacity chips... Portable media/music players, personal storage devices and still cameras will too. Imagine upcoming digital SLR and medium format cameras with 3xCMOS sensors @ 12 megapixels each that can capture 48bit color images in raw, uncompressed glory.... And one of those 16GB memory cards can hold 230 of those pictures. :)
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