Other World Computing (OWC) has announced its new Atlas Pro (buy here) and Atlas Ultra (buy here) CFexpress 4.0 cards. The new CFexpress 4.0 spec offers new speed limits of up to 4GB/sec for Type B cards.
Obviously, this isn’t going to benefit existing CFexpress Type A cameras, as none of them need to write this fast. Yet. That will come in time, but for now, it lets you unload those massive cards in half the time of existing CFexpress 2.0 cards.
[Related reading: CFexpress 4.0 doubles current card speeds up to 8GB/sec]
OWC Atlas Ultra CFexpress 4.0 Type B
First up, the OWC Atlas Ultra CFexpress 4.0 Type B cards. These cards offer read speeds of up to 3,650MB/sec and write speeds of up to 3,000MB/sec (minimum 1,500MB/sec). While there aren’t currently any cameras on the market that require these sorts of bitrates, they are coming.
Current cameras barely break 1GB/sec at the upper end of the limit, meaning that CFexpress 2.0 Type B is still plenty fast enough for their needs. But OWC has designed these cards for future cameras with 12K and 16K+ resolutions. These will require massive data transfer speeds.
Given that they’re intended for high-resolution, high-bitrate cameras, they also require large capacities. The OWC Atlas Ultra CFexpress 4.0 Type B cards are available in 1TB and 2TB capacities, offering a lot of space for images and footage.
That being said, it’s not going to last long at super high bitrates. Hypothetically, if you were shooting at the guaranteed minimum 1,500MB/sec write speed of these cards, that 2TB card would allow you to store around 23 minutes of footage. The 1TB card, a little over 11 minutes.
Today’s cameras, with their much lower bitrate requirements, you’ll get a lot more than that. And they’re fully backwards compatible, even with old Nikon DSLRs and mirrorless cameras that used XQD cards (assuming you’ve installed the firmware).
OWC Atlas Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type B
The OWC Atlas Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type B cards also offer the same 3,650MB/sec max read speed as the Atlas Ultras above. The biggest difference between the Pro and the Ultra CFexpress 4.0 cards is in the write speeds.
While the Atlas Ultra guarantees a minimum sustained write speed of 1,500MB/sec, the Atlas Pro has a more subdued 800MB/sec limit. 800MB/sec works out to 6,400Mbps. So, these are still ridiculously fast cards, and far more than most cameras on the market require today.
This drop in capacity and sustained write speed also comes with a pretty large drop in price compared to the Ultras above.
Upgrade CFexpress 2.0 cards to 4.0 spec for free
It seems that OWC has been thinking well ahead with the new CFexpress 4.0 specification. They’ve also announced that their 2nd generation OWC CFexpress 2.0 cards can be upgraded to the new CFexpress 4.0 specification completely free.
Yes, that’s right. Just a little firmware update essentially doubles your card speed. The company’s free Innergize software allows you to do this very easily.
There are some caveats. It’s only available for OWC’s second generation CFexpress cards, which offer up to 1,850MB/sec read speeds. You also need to have an OWC reader in order to be able to apply the firmware to your existing CFexpress 2.0 cards.
As well as offering free upgrades for existing 2nd Gen card owners, the new CFexpress 4.0 cards are being released at the exact same price as their predecessors. This means that new customers can choose to buy either the 2nd gen CFexpress 2.0 cards and upgrade them or just go straight for the CFexpress 4.0 cards.
[Related reading: ProGrade Digital first to announce 3.4GB/sec CFexpress 4.0 cards]
Price and Availability
The OWC Atlas Ultra CFexpress 4.0 Type B cards are available to pre-order now for $579.99 and $999.99 for 1TB and 2TB capacities, respectively. The OWC Atlas Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type B cards are also available to pre-order now for $169.99 and $199.99 for 256GB and 512GB capacities, respectively.