What is an XQD Card?

Written by John Harris, Updated on October 11, 2023

XQD Card

The XQD card is a memory card developed for flash memory cards, using PCI Express as a data transfer interface.

It is used in digital cameras that make use of HD recording mode. These HD videos or snapshots require quick transfer of data from the imaging device to the memory card. XQD cards offer read and write speeds from 1 GBPS to about 5 GBPS.

Sony first introduced the XQD card. The Compact Flash Association developed and released it in 2011. However, the Nikon D4 is the first camera device with the XQD card slot. It uses two different technologies: CompactFlash Technology and the PCI express interface technology. CompactFlash is another mass storage device format implemented for portable electronic devices. The first and foremost technology stores data even without a power supply. Now a new generation has just arrived called CFlast.

If you intend to shoot high-speed events such as sports or action, it's vital that you have an XQD card that can keep up with the pace and capture high-quality HD videos.

Technology and Features

PCI Express Interface Technology:

The XQD card utilizes the Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCI Express) interface technology. PCI Express interfaces offer enhanced throughput, fewer pins, and excellent performance scaling for bus devices.

Internal Design and Structure:

The internal design of XQD cards is similar to Compact Flash type cards. It uses solid-state technology, NAND, and NOR technologies. These technologies utilize cell arrays in layers along with a device controller. The cells can store data even without a power source, ensuring data retention.

Power Usage and Performance:

XQD cards consume power when connected to a media device or PC. Their high performance, while advantageous, results in a relatively lower lifetime due to the demanding nature of their usage.

Data Storage Range:

XQD cards do not have a fixed data storage range, indicating their flexibility in accommodating different storage capacities.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • XQD cards offer high-speed data transfer rates.
  • XQD cards are known for their robust build and durability resistant to physical damage.
  • It can handle high-quality video recording, including 4K and 8K video.


  • XQD cards can be more expensive than some other memory card formats.
  • XQD card slots are not as widely available in consumer-level cameras and devices.
  • XQD cards require specific card readers or adapters for use with computers.
  • Most of all, the XQD type cards are not backward compatible. (That means the user using old CF cards cannot update their data and slots for these XQD cards. In case anyone tries to force update the XQD card with old memories it will fail.)

NOTE: Read the attached article to learn more about XQD card recovery .

In 2018, Lexar, under new ownership at the time, announced the discontinuation of support for the XQD card format in favor of CFexpress.

Even though XQD cards are not as relevant as they were, there are still camera and memory card manufacturers that support XQD cards:

  • Camera manufacturers: Sony, Canon, Nikon.
  • Memory card manufacturers: Toshiba, Sony, ProGrade Digital.


Though the XQD memory cards are excellent in all areas, they bow to SD cards and CFast memory cards. When the XQD card is compared with SD cards, the SD cards also provide all the chief advantages like size and speed. The physical size and the cost of the SD card are negligibly lower than the XQD card. So ultimately, the user will prefer the SD card.

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