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US 20030084221A1

(19) United States

(12) Patent Application Publication (10) Pub. No.: US 2003/0084221 A1

Jones et al.

(43) Pub. Date: May 1, 2003

(54) FLASHTOASTER FOR READING SEVERAL

(76) Inventors: Larry Lawson Jones, Palo Alto, CA

(US); Sreenath Mambakkam, San

Jose, CA (US); Arockiyaswamy

Venkidu, Menlo Park, CA (US)

Correspondence Address:

Joseph A. Sawyer, Jr.

P.O. Box 51418

Palo Alto, CA 94303 (US)

(21) Appl. No.: 10/039,685

(22) Filed: Oct. 29, 2001

Publication Classi?cation

(51) Int. Cl.7 ................................................... .. G06F 13/00

(52) US. Cl. ............................................................ .. 710/302

(57) ABSTRACT card reader includes an Integrated Device Electronics (IDE) interface for transferring data to a personal computer; and an

IDE converter, coupled to the IDE interface, for converting multiple ?ash-card interfaces to a format used by the per sonal computer interface. The multiple ?ash-card interfaces include a CompactFlash interface and smaller interfaces having feWer pins that the CompactFlash interface. The ?ash card reader includes a CompactFlash connector, coupled to the IDE converter, for receiving a CompactFlash card through a single slot in the single-slot multi-?ash-card reader, the CompactFlash connector making electrical con nection With the CompactFlash card for signals in the

CompactFlash interface. The ?ash card reader also includes an adapter, having a physical shape to remove or insert into the CompactFlash connector. The adapter has a mating

CompactFlash connector that ?ts the CompactFlash connec tor. The adapter also has a smaller connector, the smaller connector for ?tting to other ?ash-memory cards having the smaller interfaces. The reader includes a Wiring means, in the adapter, connected betWeen the smaller connector and the mating CompactFlash connector, for directly connecting signals from the smaller connector in the smaller interface

With signals in the mating CompactFlash connector. The adapter alloWs the other ?ash-memory cards having the smaller interfaces to ?t into the CompactFlash connector through the single slot to be read by the IDE converter. A system and method in accordance With the present invention alloWs an IDE interface to replace the USB interface. This

Will alloW a ?ash reader to be built that could be put into the front panel of a PC in a manner that is similar to placing a

CDROM into the front panel.

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US 2003/0084221 A1

May 1, 2003

FLASHTOASTER FOR READING SEVERAL

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to ?ash memory readers, and more particularly for interfacing sev eral different types of ?ash-memory cards to a personal computer or any computing appliance.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Digital cameras have become one of the most popular of electronic devices. In a recent year, more digital cameras Were sold than traditional ?lm cameras. Images from digital cameras can be doWnloaded and stored on personal computers. Digital pictures can be converted to common formats such as JPEG and sent as e-mail attach ments or posted to virtual photo albums on the Internet.

Video as Well as still images can be captured, depending on the kind of digital camera.

[0003] Digital cameras typically capture images electroni cally and ultimately store the images as bits (ones and Zeros) on a solid-state memory. Flash memory is the most common storage for digital cameras. Flash memory contains one or more electrically-erasable read-only-memory (EEPROM) integrated circuit chips that alloW reading, Writing, and block erasing.

[0004] Early digital cameras required the user to doWnload or transfer the images from the ?ash memory Within the digital camera to a personal computer (PC). Astandard serial cable Was most Widely used. HoWever, the limited transfer rate of the serial cable and the large siZe of the digital images made such serial doWnloads a patience-building experience.

Serial doWnloads could easily take half an hour for only a feW doZen images.

[0005] Digital camera manufacturers solved this problem by placing the ?ash memory chips on a small removable card. The ?ash-memory card could then be removed from the digital camera, much as ?lm is removed from a standard camera. The ?ash-memory card could then be inserted into an appropriate slot in a PC, and the image ?les directly copied to the PC.

[0006] FIG. 1A shoWs a ?ash memory card and adapter for transferring images from a digital camera to a PC. Auser takes pictures With digital camera 14 that are stored in image

?les on ?ash memory chip(s). The ?ash memory chip is contained in CompactFlash card 16, Which can be removed from digital camera 14 by pressing a card-eject button. Thus

CompactFlash card 16 contains the image ?les.

[0007] While some smaller hand-held computers or per sonal-digital-assistants (PDA) have slots that receive Com pactFlash cards, most PC’s do not. Laptop or notebook PCs have PC-card (earlier knoWn as PCMCIA, Personal Com puter Memory Card International Association) slots that can receive PCMCIA cards. Many functions have been placed on PCMCIA cards, such as modems, Ethernet, ?ash memory, encryption keys, and even miniature hard drives.

[0008] CF-to-PCMCIA adapter 10 is a passive adapter that contains an opening that receives CompactFlash card 16.

FIG. 1B shoWs CF-to-PCMCIA adapter 10 With Compact

Flash card 16 inserted. Such CF-to-PCMCIA adapters 10 sell for as little as SSS-10. CompactFlash is a trademark of

SanDisk Corp. of Sunnyvale, Calif.

[0009] FIG. 1C shoWs a PC connected to a PCMCIA reader. Most laptop and notebook PCs contain one or tWo

PCMCIA slots 22 that CF-to-PCMCIA adapter 10 can ?t into. Then the user merely has to copy the image ?les from

CompactFlash card 16 to the hard disk of PC 20. Since high-speed parallel buses are used, transfer is rapid, about the same speed as accessing the hard disk. Thus a half-hour serial-cable transfer can be reduced to less than a minute

With the $5 CF-to-PCMCIA adapter.

[0010] Desktop PCs usually do not have PCMCIA slots. accepts CF-to-PCMCIA adapter 10 and connects to PC 20 through a parallel or high-speed Universal Serial Bus (USB) cable.

[0011] Multiple Flash-Card Formats

[0012] Although the CompactFlash card format is rela tively small, being not much more than an inch square, other smaller cards have recently emerged. FIG. 2A illustrates various formats of ?ash-memory cards used With digital cameras. Many digital cameras still use CompactFlash card

16, Which can be inserted into CF-to-PCMCIA adapter 10 for transfer to a PC. Other smaller, thinner formats have emerged and are used With some manufacturer’s digital cameras. For eXample, SmartMedia card 24 is less than half an inch long, yet has enough ?ash memory capacity for doZens of images. SmartMedia-to-PCMCIA adapter 10 is available commercially for about $60. The higher cost is believed to be due to a converter chip Within adapter 10.

Also, different adapters 10 are required for different memory capacities of SmartMedia card 24. SmartMedia is a trade mark of the SSFDC Forum of Tokyo, Japan.

[0013] Other kinds of ?ash-memory cards that are being championed by different manufacturers include MultiMedi aCard (MMC) 28 and the related Secure Digital Card (SD) includes SanDisk Corp., In?neon Technologies, and others,

While SD is controlled by the SD Group that includes

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., SanDisk Corporation,

Memory Stick 18. Memory Stick has a PCMCIA/Floppy

[0014] The different physical shapes and pin arrangements of cards 24, 26, 28 and Memory Stick 18 prevent their use in CF-to-PCMCIA adapter 10. Indeed, most of these cards

24, 26, 28 have less than a doZen pins, While CompactFlash card 16 has a larger 50-pin interface. Furthermore, serial data interfaces are used in the smaller cards 24, 26, 28 While a parallel data bus is used With CompactFlash card 16.

[0015] FIG. 2B shoWs a Memory Stick-to-PCMCIA adapter using an active converter chip. Memory Stick 18 ?ts into an opening in Memory Stick-to-PCMCIA adapter 15, alloWing adapter 15 and the Memory Stick to be plugged has an integrated circuit (IC) converter chip 11 Within it.

Converter chip 11 may be needed to convert the serial data format of Memory Stick 18 to the parallel data format of a

68-pin PCMCIA slot. Inclusion of converter chip 11 in adapter 15 signi?cantly increases the cost and compleXity of

US 2003/0084221 A1

May 1, 2003 adapter 15 compared to CF-to-PCMCIA adapter 10 Which is a passive adapter Without a converter chip.

[0016] While the advances in ?ash-memory card technol ogy are useful, the many different card formats present a confusing array of interface requirements to a PC. Different adapters are needed for each of the card formats. PCMCIA card reader 12 can be replaced With other format readers, such as a SmartMedia Card reader, and even some multi standard readers are available, such as a universal reader from LeXar Media that reads CompactFlash or SmartMedia in addition to PCMCIA.

[0017] What is desired is a universal adapter for ?ash memory cards of several different formats.

[0018] A single-slot multi-?ash-card reader is disclosed.

The ?ash card reader includes an Integrated Device Elec tronics (IDE) interface for transferring data to a personal computer; and an IDE converter, coupled to the personal computer interface, for converting multiple ?ashcard inter faces to a format used by the personal computer interface.

The multiple ?ash-card interfaces include a CompactFlash interface and smaller interfaces having feWer pins than the

CompactFlash interface. The ?ash card reader includes a

CompactFlash connector, coupled to the IDE converter, for receiving a CompactFlash card through a single slot in the single-slot multi-?ash-card reader, the CompactFlash con nector making electrical connection With the CompactFlash card for signals in the CompactFlash interface. The ?ash card reader also includes an adapter, having a physical shape to removably insert into the CompactFlash connector. The adapter has a mating CompactFlash connector that ?ts the

CompactFlash connector. The adapter also has a smaller connector, the smaller connector for ?tting to other ?ash memory cards having the smaller interfaces. The reader includes a Wiring means, in the adapter, connected betWeen the smaller connector and the mating CompactFlash con nector, for directly connecting signals from the smaller connector in the smaller interface With signals in the mating

CompactFlash connector. The adapter alloWs the other ?ash memory cards having the smaller interfaces to ?t into the

CompactFlash connector through the single slot to be read by the IDE converter.

[0019] A system and method in accordance With the present invention alloWs an IDE interface to alloW a ?ash reader to be built that could be put into the front panel of a

[0025] FIG. 3A shoWs a universal CompactFlash adapter that accepts SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and Memory Stick ?ash-memory cards.

[0026] FIG. 3B shoWs a CompactFlash reader that reads

SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and Memory

Stick ?ash-memory cards through passive adapters to the

CompactFlash form factor.

[0027] FIGS. 4A-E shoW card-type detection using the

CE2, CE1 pins of the CompactFlash reader interface.

[0028] FIG. 5 is a table of pin mappings for the Smart

Media, MMC/SD, and Memory Stick to CompactFlash

adapters.

[0029] FIG. 6 is a diagram of a multi-slot embodiment of the ?ash-card reader.

[0030] FIG. 7 shoWs a ?ash-memory reader Within a PC.

[0031] FIG. 8 shoWs a PC chassis With a ?ash-card reader in one of the drive bays.

[0032] FIG. 9 is a diagram of a stand-alone FlashToaster that accepts several formats of ?ash-memory cards and can copy images to a removable disk Without being connected to a host PC.

[0033] FIG. 10 is a diagram of the IDE converter chip for the ?ash-memory reader.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0034] The present invention relates to an improvement in

?ash-memory card readers. The folloWing description is presented to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention as provided in the conteXt of a particular application and its requirements. Various modi? cations to the preferred embodiment Will be apparent to those With skill in the art, and the general principles de?ned herein may be applied to other embodiments. Therefore, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the par ticular embodiments shoWn and described, but is to be accorded the Widest scope consistent With the principles and novel features herein disclosed.

[0035] In U. S. patent application Ser. No. 09/610,904, entitled “A Flash Toaster For Reading Several Types of front panel.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020] FIG. 1A shoWs a ?ash memory card and adapter for transferring images from a digital camera to a PC.

[0021] FIG. 1B shoWs CF-to-PCMCIA adapter 10 With

CompactFlash card 16 inserted.

[0022] FIG. 1C shoWs a PC connected to a PCMCIA reader.

[0023] FIG. 2A illustrates various formats of ?ash memory cards used With digital cameras.

[0024] FIG. 2B shoWs a Memory Stick-to-PCMCIA adapter using an active converter chip.

2000 and assigned to the assignee of the present application, a universal adapter is disclosed that can be constructed using the CompactFlash card form factor. A reader that reads

CompactFlash cards can then read any of the other ?ash memory cards that plug into the CompactFlash adapter. The adapters are simple, inexpensive passive adapters Without a conversion chip.

[0036] In addition, the above-identi?ed application dis closes a pin mapping from the smaller ?ash-card formats to

CompactFlash that alloWs for easy detection of the type of

?ash-memory card inserted into the adapter. Detection of the type of ?ash-memory card is thus performed automatically by electronic detection by the CompactFlash reader. The

CompactFlash reader is modi?ed to perform this card-type detection. Signal conversion such as serial-to-parallel is performed by the CompactFlash reader rather than by the adapter. Adapter costs are reduced While CompactFlash reader cost is increased only slightly. The CompactFlash reader can use a single CompactFlash slot to read multiple

US 2003/0084221 A1

May 1, 2003

?ash-card types, including SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard,

Secure Digital, Memory Stick, and CompactFlash.

[0037] In another embodiment, the CompactFlash reader is somewhat larger, and has multiple slots. The adapter is not needed in this embodiment. Instead, a slot is provided for each of the ?ash-memory card formats—SmartMedia, Mul tiMediaCard, Secure Digital, Memory Stick, and Compact

Flash reader can be connected to the PC by a USB cable, or it can be located Within the PC chassis.

[0038] In a third embodiment, the CompactFlash reader is a stand-alone device that can operate Without a PC. A removable disk media such as a R/W CD-ROM is included.

Images from the ?ash-memory card are copied to the removable disk media by the CompactFlash reader. Asimple interface is used, such as having the user press a button to initiate image transfer.

[0039] Although the above-identi?ed compact ?ash reader operates effectively for its stated purpose, it cannot be utiliZed With an Integrated Devices Electronics (IDE) inter face effectively in certain circumstances. It is desirable that a compact ?ash reader be utiliZed With an IDE interface for several reasons. Firstly, the IDE interface is a proven inter face and an easy interface to design to, for devices such as digital cameras, printers, etc., Which may Want to embed this chip in their devices. Secondly, the IDE interface is extremely fast and Will boost the transfer rates of the devices. IDE ports are freely available on most systems

(since only 2 or at the most 3 of the total of 4 IDE ports are used up). Finally, attaching to the front panel of an IDE interface is possible for 100% of all PCs/Macs, etc., Whereas an internal eXpansion slot for USB is utiliZed in many neWer systems.

[0040] A system and method in accordance With the present invention alloWs an IDE interface to replace the

USB interface. This Will alloW a ?ash reader to be built that could be put into the front panel of a PC in a manner that is similar to placing a CDROM into the front panel. To further describe the features of the present invention, refer noW to

the folloWing description.

[0041] Universal, Passive Adapters

[0042] FIG. 3A shoWs a universal CompactFlash adapter that accepts SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and Memory Stick ?ash-memory cards. Digital camera 14 stores images on ?ash memory that is in one of several card types. CompactFlash card 16 uses a 50-pin connector and transfers image data in a 16-bit parallel format.

[0043] SmartMedia card 24 is smaller ?ash-memory card

With a 22-pin interface and transfers data in an 8-bit parallel format. SmartMedia adapter 30 converts the 22-pin Smart

Media interface to ?t Within the 50-pin CompactFlash interface. When SmartMedia card 24 is plugged into Smart

Media adapter 30, both can be plugged into a CompactFlash slot on a CompactFlash reader. Of course, ordinary Com pactFlash readers Will not be able to read SmartMedia card

24 since special signal conversion is required by the Com pactFlash reader.

[0044] MultiMediaCard 28 and Secure Digital card 26 are

?ash-memory cards With serial interfaces (MMC is 7-pin

While SD is 9). Serial data transfer is used through a single

Data I/O pin. MMC/SD adapter 32 has an opening With a

9-pin connector to receive either MultiMediaCard 28 or

Secure Digital card 26. Once MultiMediaCard 28 or Secure

Digital card 26 is inserted into MMC/SD adapter 32, then

MMC/SD adapter 32 can be inserted into a CompactFlash slot on a special CompactFlash reader. The CompactFlash reader then detects the card type and performs serial-to parallel conversion.

[0045] Memory Stick 18 is also a ?ash-memory card With a 9-pin, serial-data interface, but is narroWer and longer than

MultiMediaCard 28 or Secure Digital card 26. Memory

Stick adapter 34 has an opening With a 10-pin connector to receive Memory Stick 18. Once Memory Stick 18 is inserted, Memory Stick adapter 32 can itself be inserted into a CompactFlash slot on a special CompactFlash reader. The

CompactFlash reader then detects the card type and per forms serial-to-parallel conversion.

[0046] FIG. 3B shoWs a CompactFlash reader that reads

SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and Memory

Stick ?ash-memory cards through passive adapters to the

CompactFlash form factor. CompactFlash reader 42 has an opening or slot With 50-pin connector 44 that accepts

CompactFlash card 16. An IDE converter chip 40 performs handshaking With CompactFlash card 16 and performs data transfer. CompactFlash reader 42 also connects to a PC over

IDE connector 46. The IDE converter chip 40 also controls the IDE interface to the host PC, alloWing image ?les to be transferred to the PC from CompactFlash card 16.

[0047] Other kinds of ?ash-memory cards can also be read by CompactFlash reader 42. For eXample, adapter 34 alloWs

Memory Stick 18 to be read. Memory Stick adapter 34 has an opening that Memory Stick 18 ?ts into, While Memory

Stick adapter 34 itself ?ts into 50-pin connector 44, since adapter 34 has the same form factor as a CompactFlash card.

[0048] SmartMedia card 24 can also be read by Compact

Flash reader 42, using SmartMedia adapter 30. LikeWise,

MultiMediaCard 28 or Secure Digital card 28 can be read using MMC/SD adapter 32.

[0049] Adapters 30, 32, 34 are passive adapters that only connect pins from the smaller ?ash-memory cards to the

50-pin CompactFlash connector. An active converter chip is not required, greatly reducing cost and compleXity.

[0050] Detection of Card Type

[0051] FIGS. 4A-E detail detection of the type of ?ash memory card by the CompactFlash reader. Since the same

CompactFlash slot is used for many kinds of ?ash-memory cards, a detection method is useful so that the user doesn’t have to explicitly indicate What type of ?ash-memory card is inserted into the CompactFlash reader.

[0052] The inventors have carefully eXamined the pins of the interfaces to the various ?ash-memory cards and have discovered that type-detection can be performed by eXam ining tWo pins. Pins CE1 and CE2 are the chip enable pins for addressing the 50-pin CompactFlash interface. These pins are normally inputs to the CompactFlash card and thus are driven by the CompactFlash reader. When the reader does not drive CE1, CE2 to the inserted CompactFlash card, the CE1, CE2 pins ?oat or are pulled high by pull-up resistors.

US 2003/0084221 A1

May 1, 2003

[0053] Address pins are not present on the other kinds of

?ash-memory cards. Instead, the address and data are mul tipleXed. For MMC/SD and Memory Stick, the address is sent serially. Using the adapters, pins from the other ?ash memory cards can be connected to the CompactFlash pins.

Pins CE1 and CE2 are used to detect the type of card. For

SmartMedia, the addresses are sent by using a special control sequence folloWed by 3 or 4 bytes of starting address.

[0054] In FIG. 4A, the CE1, CE2 pins of the Compact

Flash reader interface are highlighted. The IDE converter chip 40 in the CompactFlash reader normally drives all 11 address pins in the CompactFlash interface When reading a

CompactFlash card plugged into connector 44. The CE1 pin from the CompactFlash card plugs into connector cup 56,

While the CE2 pin from the CompactFlash card plugs into connector cup 58 of SO-pin connector 44.

[0055] Card-type detector 50 has tWo pull-up resistors added to lines CE1, CE2. Resistor 52 pulls line CE1 high to poWer (Vcc) When neither the IDE converter chip 40 nor a card plugged into connector 44 drives line CE1. Likewise, resistor 54 pulls line CE2 high When line CE2 is not being actively driven. During detection mode, the IDE converter chip 40 is programmed to not drive lines CE1, CE2 and instead use then as inputs to the detector logic.

[0056] In FIG. 4B, 21 CompactFlash card is inserted into the connector for card-type detection. CompactFlash card 16 is plugged into connector 44. Since CE1 and CE2 are inputs to CompactFlash card 16, they are not driven by Compact

Flash card 16. During detection mode, the IDE converter chip 40 also does not drive pins CE1, CE2. Thus lines CE1,

CE2 are left ?oating and are each pulled high by resistors 52,

54.

[0057] Detection logic in the IDE converter chip 40 reads card-select pins CD0, CD1 to detect the presence of a

?ash-memory card. When a neW card is present, detection logic then reads pins CE1, CE2 as inputs. Both inputs are high. The detection logic in the IDE converter chip 40 recogniZes the HH state of CD1, CE2 as indicating that a

CompactFlash card is plugged into connector 44. The IDE converter chip 40 then eXits detection mode and con?gures its interface to connector 44 for the SO-pin CompactFlash interface as shoWn later in FIG. 5.

[0058] In FIG. 4C, a MultiMediaCard or Secure Digital card is inserted into the connector for card-type detection.

MMC/SD card 28 (not shoWn) is plugged into MMC/SD adapter 32 Which is plugged into connector 44.

[0059] The IDE converter chip 40 does not drive pins

CE2, CE1 during detection mode. Thus pin CE2 ?oats and is pulled high by resistor 54. The CE1 pin is driven loW by

[0060] Detection logic in the IDE converter chip 40 reads card-select pins CD0, CD1 to detect the presence of a

?ash-memory card. When a neW card is present, detection logic then reads pins CE1, CE2 as inputs. While CE1 is loW,

CE2 is high. The detection logic in the IDE converter chip

40 recogniZes the LH state of CE1, CE2 as indicating that a

MMC or SD card is plugged into connector 44. The IDE converter chip 40 then eXits detection mode and con?gures its interface to connector 44 for the 9-pin MMC/SD interface as shoWn later in FIG. 5.

[0061] In FIG. 4D, 21 SmartMedia card is inserted into the connector for card-type detection. SmartMedia card 24 (not shoWn) is plugged into SmartMedia adapter 30 Which is plugged into connector 44. The adapter 30 does not connect pins CE1, CE2 from the CompactFlash interface to any pins on the SmartMedia card. Adapter 30 internally connects pin

CE2 from the CompactFlash interface to the ground pin on the CompactFlash interface.

[0062] The SmartMedia card does not drive either pin

CE2, CE1, although adapter 30 drives pin CE2 loW. Like

Wise, the IDE converter chip 40 does not drive pins CE2,

CE1 during detection mode. Pin CE1 ?oats and is pulled high by resistor 52.

[0063] Detection logic in the IDE converter chip 40 reads card-select pins CD0, CD1 to detect the presence of a

?ash-memory card. When a neW card is present, detection logic then reads pins CE1, CE2 as inputs. While CE1 is high,

CE2 is loW. The detection logic in the IDE converter chip 40 recogniZes the HL state of CE1, CE2 as indicating that a

SmartMedia card is plugged into connector 44. The IDE converter chip 40 then eXits detection mode and con?gures its interface to connector 44 for the 22-pin SmartMedia interface as shoWn later in FIG. 5.

[0064] In FIG. 4E, 21 Memory Stick card is inserted into the connector for card-type detection. Memory Stick card 18

(not shoWn) is plugged into Memory Stick adapter 34 Which is plugged into connector 44.

[0065] Detection logic in the IDE converter chip 40 reads card-select pins CD0, CD1 to detect the presence of a

?ash-memory card. When a neW card is present, detection logic then reads pins CE1, CE2 as inputs. Both pins CE1,

CE2 are loW. The detection logic in the IDE converter chip

40 recogniZes the LL state of CE1, CE2 as indicating that a

Memory Stick card is plugged into connector 44.

[0066] Pin Mapping

[0067] FIG. 5 is a table of pin mappings for the Smart

Media, MMC/SD, and Memory Stick to CompactFlash adapters. The pin numbers for the smaller interfaces for

SmartMedia, MMC/SD, and Memory Stick are not shoWn but can be in any order or designation. The adapter connects the proper pin on the smaller interface to the CompactFlash pin number shoWn in FIG. 5. Simple Wiring such as indi vidual Wires, ?at cables, printed-circuit board (PCB), or

Wiring traces can be used.

[0068] The ground pins on the smaller interfaces are connected to CompactFlash pins 1 and 50. PoWer pins are connected to CompactFlash pins 13, 38. Pins 25, 26 are the card detect signals for CompactFlash, Which the adapters connect to the card-detect signals on all smaller interfaces.

[0069] The CompactFlash connectors use pins 2-6, 21-23,

27-31, and 47-49 for the 16-bit parallel data bus to the

CompactFlash card. Pins 8, 10-12, and 14-20 form a sepa rate 11-bit address bus. The separate data and address buses provide for rapid random addressing of CompactFlash cards.

Other control signals include pins 6, 32 chip enables, pin 9 output enable, pin 36 Write enable, interrupt pin 37, reset pin

41, and register REG pin 44. REG pin 44 is the Attribute

Memory Select, de?ned based on the CF mode of operation, i.e. PCMCIA I/O mode, IDE or PCMCIA Memory

Mode.Several pins in the SO-pin interface are not connected.

US 2003/0084221 A1

May 1, 2003

[0070] The smaller SmartMedia interface also has a par allel data bus of 8 bits. These are mapped to pins 2-6, and

21-23 of the CompactFlash interface to match the Compact

Flash D0:7 signals. While no separate address bus is pro vided, address and data are multiplexed. Control signals for latch enables, Write enable and protect, output enable, and ready handshake are among the control signals. Output enable—OE and Write enable—WE are mapped to the same function pins 9, 36 of the CompactFlash interface. The total number of pins in the SmartMedia interface is 22.

[0071] The Memory Stick and MMC/SD ?ash-memory card interfaces are smaller still, since parallel data or address busses are not present. Instead, serial data transfers occur through serial data pin DATAIO, Which is mapped to pin 19

(A1). Data is clocked in synchronization to clock SERCLK on pin 18. Acommand signal CMD or BITSET occupies pin

20 (A0). The MMC/SD and Memory Stick interfaces require only 6 pins plus poWer and ground.

[0072] Detection logic in the IDE converter chip 40 reads card-select pins CD0, CD1 to detect the presence of a

?ash-memory card. When a neW card is present, detection logic then reads pins CE1, CE2 as inputs to determine the card type. The pull-up resistors of FIG. 4A together With

Wiring inside the adapter and the card’s behavior determines

Whether CE1, CE2 are pulled loW by the adapter or pulled high by the pull-up resistors.

[0073] Multi-Slot Multi-Flash-Card Reader

[0074] FIG. 6 is a diagram of a multi-slot embodiment of the ?ash-card reader. While the single-slot embodiment of

FIG. 3B results in the smallest physical design, someWhat larger ?ash-card readers can be made that have separate slots for each type of ?ash-memory card, rather than a single slot.

This negates the need for the adapters.

[0075] Four connectors are provided in ?ash reader 42: a

50-pin CompactFlash connector 62 that ?ts CompactFlash card 16, a 9 pin MMC/SD connector 64 that ?ts MultiMe diaCard 28 or a Secure Digital card, a 22-pin SmartMedia connector 66 that ?ts SmartMedia card 24, and a 10-pin

Memory Stick connector 68 that ?ts Memory Stick 18.

[0076] Each of the four connectors 62, 64, 66, 68 route their signals to the IDE converter chip 40. The IDE converter chip 40 detects When a ?ash-memory card has been inserted into one of the connectors 62, 64, 66, 68 and con?gures itself to read ?les from the inserted card using the pin interface of

FIG. 5 corresponding to the card type.

[0077] The IDE converter chip 40 executes various rou tines to perform handshaking With the ?ash-memory cards and accept data, either serially or in parallel. The data is buffered and then sent to the host PC 20 through IDE connector 46. The IDE converter chip 40 generates the appropriate IDE-interface signals to transfer the data to host

PC 20.

[0078] Having separate connectors 62, 64, 66, 68 With separate slots in ?ash reader 42 alloWs for card-to-card transfers. For example, images or other ?les from Memory

Stick 18 could be transferred to CompactFlash card 16 by the IDE converter chip 40 reading serial data from Memory

Stick inserted into connector 68, converting to parallel, and

Writing to connector 62 and CompactFlash card 16. Each of the ?ash-memory cards in connectors 62, 64, 66, 68 can be assigned a different drive letter by the operating system, such as e:, f:, g:, and h:.

[0079] In this embodiment, ?ash reader 42 is contained in an external housing that connects to host PC 20 through an

IDE cable. Of course, other cables and interfaces such as

IEEE 1394 FireWire may be substituted.

[0080] Flash Reader Within PC

[0081] FIG. 7 shoWs a ?ash-memory reader Within a PC.

Four slots and four connectors are provided in ?ash reader card 16, a 9-pin MMC/SD connector 64 ?ts MultiMedi aCard 28 or a Secure Digital card, a 22-pin SmartMedia connector 66 ?ts SmartMedia card 24, and a 10-pin Memory

Stick connector 68 ?ts Memory Stick 18.

[0082] Each of the four connectors 62, 64, 66, 68 route their signals to the IDE converter chip 40. The IDE converter chip 40 detects When a ?ash-memory card has been inserted into one of the connectors 62, 64, 66, 68 and con?gures itself to read ?les from the inserted card using the pin interface of

FIG. 5 corresponding to the card type. Each of the ?ash memory cards in connectors 62, 64, 66, 68 can be assigned a different drive letter by the operating system, such as e:, f:, g:, and h:.

[0083] The IDE converter chip 40 executes various rou tines to perform handshaking With the ?ash-memory cards and accept data, either serially or in parallel. The data is buffered and then sent to the CPU 21 in PC 20 through an internal IDE-interface bus. The IDE converter chip 40 generates the appropriate IDE-interface signals to transfer the data to CPU 21.

[0084] FIG. 8 shoWs a PC chassis With a ?ash-card reader in one of the drive bays. PC 20 is enclosed by a chassis or case that has several drive bays alloWing the user or manu facturer to insert peripherals such as hard and ?oppy disk drives, CD-ROM and DVD drives, and tape drives. HDD bay 72 contains a hard-disk drive, While FDD bay 74 contains a ?oppy disk drive. These are connected by cables to cards inserted into an IDE converter or other expansion bus connectors on the motherboard.

[0085] Flash reader 42 is inserted into one of the drive bays. The four slots face forWard, alloWing the user to insert

?ash-memory cards into ?ash reader 42 much as a ?oppy disk is inserted into the ?oppy-disk drive in FDD bay 74.

[0086] Flash reader 42 can be installed by the user from a kit purchased at a store, or it can be pre-installed by an original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) or retailer. The user can easily transfer digital images from a digital camera, regardless of the type of ?ash-card used by the camera, due to the many different formats of ?ash-memory cards read by

?ash reader 42.

[0087] FlashToaster

[0088] FIG. 9 is a diagram of a stand-alone FlashToaster that accepts several formats of ?ash-memory cards and can copy images to a removable disk Without being connected to a host PC. Digital photographers may not alWays have their

PCs nearby. While extra ?ash-memory cards can be pur chased and sWapped in the digital camera, these ?ash memory cards are someWhat expensive, especially When many high-resolution images are captured. Especially dur ing a long trip aWay from the PC, the user may be limited by the capacity of the ?ash-memory cards.

US 2003/0084221 A1

May 1, 2003

[0089] FlashToaster 80 has four slots and four connectors are provided in FlashToaster 80. A 50-pin CompactFlash connector 62 ?ts CompactFlash card 16, a 9-pin MMC/SD connector 64 ?ts MultiMediaCard 28 or a Secure Digital card, a 22-pin SmartMedia connector 66 ?ts SmartMedia card 24, and a 10-pin Memory Stick connector 68 ?ts

Memory Stick 18.

[0090] Each of the four connectors 62, 64, 66, 68 route their signals to the IDE converter chip 40. The IDE converter chip 40 detects When a ?ash-memory card has been inserted into one of the connectors 62, 64, 66, 68 by sensing card select lines CD0, CD1 and con?gures itself to read ?les from the inserted card using the pin interface of FIG. 5 corre sponding to the card type.

[0091] The IDE converter chip 40 executes various rou tines to perform handshaking With the ?ash-memory cards and accept data, either serially or in parallel. The data is buffered and then sent either to host PC 20 through IDE connector 46 or to removable mass storage 70. The IDE converter chip 40 generates the appropriate signals to trans fer the data to host PC 20. The IDE converter chip 40 also generates the control signals for removable mass storage 70, alloWing the image data read from the ?ash-memory card to be Written to removable disk 76. Removable disk 76 could be a standard or a high-density ?oppy diskette, a tape drive, a Write-able CD-R/W disk, or other proprietary media such as LS 120 by Imation of Oakdale, Minn., or ZIP drives by

Iomega Corp. of Roy, Utah.

[0092] Each of the ?ash-memory cards in connectors 62,

64, 66, 68 can be assigned a different drive letter by the operating system, such as e:, f:, g:, and h:. Removable mass storage 70 can also be assigned a drive letter.

[0093] When FlashToaster 80 is not attached to host PC

20, image ?les may still be copied to removable mass storage 70. FlashToaster 80 may be carried along on a trip by the user, alloWing the user to doWnload image ?les to removable disk 76. Since removable disk 76 ordinarily has a much higher capacity than the ?ash-memory cards, many pictures may be captured When no access to host PC 20 is available. FlashToaster 80 can be provided With battery poWer or With its oWn AC converter.

[0094] FlashToaster 80 is provided With a simple user interface, including light-emitting diode LED 78 and button

79. When the user inserts a ?ash-memory card into one of connectors 62, 64, 66, 68, and removable disk 76 is inserted into removable mass storage 70, the user presses button 79.

This activates the IDE converter chip 40, Which determines

Which of connectors 62, 64, 66, 68 has a memory card inserted, and copies the image ?les to removable mass storage 70. LED 78 can be programmed to blink during the copying process, and remain lit When the copying is com plete, or vice-versa. This provides a simple visual indication to the user of the copying progress. Errors can be indicated

With additional LED indicator lamps, or other blinking arrangements or colors.

[0095] IDE Converter Chip 40

[0096] FIG. 10 is a diagram of the IDE converter chip 40 for the ?ash-memory reader. The IDE converter chip 40 can be implemented as a commercially-available micro-control ler chip that is programmed to read and Write I/O pins that are connected to the ?ash-memory-card connectors and the

IDE interface. Several different control and transfer routines are Written and programmed into RAM/ROM 94. CPU 92 can sense When a ?ash-memory card is inserted. CPU 92 can then begin execution of another routine speci?c to that type of ?ash-memory card. Transfer and handshake sub-routines can then be called.

[0097] General-purpose input-output GPIO 99 provides

registers or I/O ports that drive external I/O pins of the IDE converter chip 40, or read the logic-levels or voltages on input pins to the IDE converter chip 40. CPU 92 can read registers in GPIO 99 that are Written by control signals that are coupled to I/O pins of the IDE converter chip 40 from connectors 62, 64, 66, 68. Control signals to the ?ash memory cards can be sWitched high or loW by Writing a 1 or a 0 to a register for that control signal in GPIO 99.

[0098] Timers 96 are useful for asserting control signals for a required amount of time. For example, a control signal may need to be asserted for a speci?ed number of micro seconds. CPU 92 can Write a 1 to a register in GPIO 99 and start a timer in timers 96. Timer 6 can sent an interrupt to

CPU 96 When the speci?ed time has elapsed, or CPU 92 can continuously or periodically poll timers 96 to determine

When the speci?ed time has elapsed. Then CPU 92 can Write a 0 to the register in GPIO 99, causing the control signal to transition from 1 to 0.

[0099] Shifter 98 is connected to the data and clock signals from connectors 64, 68. When data is read from the ?ash memory card, a clock is pulsed to synchroniZe the data transfer. Shifter 98 clocks in one bit (serial) or Word (par check (CRC) can be performed on the data to detect errors.

CPU 92 can request re-transmission of data from the ?ash memory card When an error is detected.

[0100] Data read by shifter 98 can be sent over internal bus

90 to be stored in a buffer in RAM/ROM 94. Later, CPU 92 can execute a routine to transfer this data from RAM/ROM

94 to IDE interface 100. IDE interface 100 then transmits the data over an external IDE link to a host PC. When a removable mass storage is present, some of the I/O pins from GPIO 99 can connect to the removable mass storage, or a separate disk controller can be included on IDE con verter chip 40.

[0101] As is Well knoWn, IDE interface only supports one drive per connector. Accordingly, in a system and method in accordance With the present invention, special IDE com mands must be provided to alloW the interface to be expanded. Typically, there are tWo slots in a PC, a Master slot and a Slave slot. Accordingly, in a preferred embodi ment, tWo neW commands from the CPU 92are needed, a

?rst command to aWaken the device by the converter chip and a second command to identify the device.

[0102] The ?rst command Which aWakens a MultiLUN device such as a CompactFlash+SmartMedia+Memory

Stick+MultiMediaCard+Secure Digital Card reader Would be described as folloWs:

[0104] nn is set to 1 to aWaken the device and 0 to make the device go to sleep (by default it Would be asleep). This can be achieved by asserting a pin on the chip to be loW at poWer up so it Would stay inactive until it sees the “Wake-up” command.

[0105] mm is OXEO if the device is connected as

Master and OxFO it is a Slave.

US 2003/0084221 A1

May 1, 2003

[0106] The second command for reading/Writing to the

RAM/ROM 94 loads a plurality of registers as follows:

0107 0 nn y 0 0 0 mm X W ere:

[0108] nn is the number of bytes to Write/read

[0109] y is 1 for read and 0 for a Write

[0110] mm is OxEO if the device is connected as

Master slot and OxFO if the device is connected as a Slave slot.

[0111] Accordingly, through the present invention, the

Master and Slave slots are expanded to handle multiple devices via the IDE converter.

ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION

[0112] Auniversal adapter for ?ash-memory cards accepts cards of several different formats. The adapter accepts

SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and Memory

Stick cards. The ?ash-card reader With a single slot accepts any format card using the adapter. Special detection logic on the ?ash reader distinguishes betWeen the many ?ash-card formats. The loW-cost passive adapter does not need an use With a PC. HoWever, a stand-alone ?ash reader can copy image ?les from ?ash cards Without a PC. Additionally, preparation of media for use in devices (format and erase operations) can be done using this reader. pactFlash card form factor. A reader that reads Compact

Flash cards can then read any of the other ?ash-memory cards that plug into the CompactFlash adapter. The adapters are simple, inexpensive passive adapters Without a conver sion chip.

[0114] The disclosed pin mapping from the smaller ?ash card formats to CompactFlash alloWs for easy detection of the type of ?ash-memory card inserted into the adapter.

Detection of the type of ?ash-memory card is thus per formed automatically by electronic detection by the Com pactFlash reader. The CompactFlash reader is modi?ed to perform this card-type detection. Signal conversion such as serial-to-parallel is performed by the CompactFlash reader rather than by the adapter. Adapter costs are reduced While

CompactFlash reader cost is increased only slightly. The

CompactFlash reader can use a single CompactFlash slot to read multiple ?ash-card types, including SmartMedia, Mul tiMediaCard, Secure Digital, Memory Stick, and Compact

Flash.

[0115] Alternate Embodiments

[0116] Several other embodiments are contemplated by the inventors. Different ?ash-card formats can be supported such as Smart Cards, and more or less than the four slots shoWn in the multi-card ?ash reader can be included. Other adapters can be used for neWer ?ash formats for the single slot CompactFlash reader. Any device that needs Control

Bus, Clock, Data Bus and Address Bus can be designed to

?t into this slot. Examples of such devices include (but are not limited to) DSL Modems, Fingerprint security devices,

Miniature Hard disks, Digital Cameras, Video Cameras etc.

[0117] While the invention has been described as connect ing to a personal computer PC host, the host may also be an

Apple computer such as the iMAC or G3. The host may also be a SUN computer, or any host computer using IDE interfaces. The invention can also apply to Personal Digital

Assistants (PDAs) such as by Palm Computer or other handheld appliances, such as a Cell phone With IDE capa

bility.

[0118] The term “CompactFlash reader” has been used for simplicity, since digital images are often read from the

?ash-memory card and then Written to the PC. HoWever, the

CompactFlash reader is capable of reading ?les from the PC or from another ?ash-memory card and Writing the ?le to the

?ash-memory card. Thus the CompactFlash reader is really a reader/Writer.

[0119] In a second embodiment, the CompactFlash reader is a stand-alone device that can operate Without a PC. A removable disk media such as a R/W CD-ROM is included.

Images from the ?ash-memory card are copied to the removable disk media by the CompactFlash reader. Asimple interface is used, such as having the user presses a button to initiate image transfer.

[0120] In other alternate embodiments, the CompactFlash reader/multi-?ash reader can be designed into a self-hosted appliance such as an MP3 player or a keyboard or a monitor or a stereo appliance. Additionally, the CompactFlash/multi

?ash reader can also be designed into handheld data collec tion scanner devices. The CompactFlash/multi-?ash reader can also be designed into personal digital assistant devices, pocket personal computer devices that use, for example,

Microsoft Palm operating systems. The compact Flash/ multi-?ash reader can also be designed into hand terminal devices, personal communicator devices, advanced tWo-Way pager devices, audio recorder and player devices.

[0121] In addition, the compact Flash/multi-?ash could be designed into monitoring devices for various purposes. The devices include, but are not limited to, any device Which requires a PC or paper readout, projector devices, industrial

computer devices, printer devices, human input devices,

medical devices and digital picture frame devices. These monitoring devices, for example, could be pacemakers, fetal monitors, insulin monitors, chemical monitors, seismic monitors, or the like.

[0122] The foregoing description of the embodiments of the invention has been presented for the purposes of illus tration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Many modi?cations and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. It is intended that the scope of the invention be limited not by this detailed description, but rather by the claims appended hereto.

What is claimed is: an Integrated Device Electronics (IDE) interface for trans ferring data to a personal computer; an IDE converter, coupled to the personal computer interface, for converting multiple ?ash-card interfaces to a format used by the personal computer interface;

Wherein the multiple ?ash-card interfaces include a Com pactFlash interface and smaller interfaces having feWer pins that the CompactFlash interface;

US 2003/0084221 A1

May 1, 2003 a CompactFlash connector, coupled to the IDE converter, for receiving a CompactFlash card through a single slot in the single-slot multi-?ash-card reader, the Compact

Flash connector making electrical connection With the

CompactFlash card for signals in the CompactFlash

interface;

an adapter, having a physical shape to removably insert into the CompactFlash connector, the adapter having a mating CompactFlash connector that ?ts the Compact

Flash connector, the adapter also having a smaller connector, the smaller connector for ?tting to other

?ash-memory cards having the smaller interfaces; and

Wiring means, in the adapter, connected betWeen the smaller connector and the mating CompactFlash con nector, for directly connecting signals from the smaller connector in the smaller interface With signals in the

mating CompactFlash connector;

Whereby the adapter alloWs the other ?ash-memory cards having the smaller interfaces to ?t into the Compact

Flash connector through the single slot to be read by the

IDE converter.

2. The single-slot multi-?ash-card reader of claim 1

Wherein the Wiring means connects card select signals from all of the smaller interfaces to card select signals in the

CompactFlash connector;

Wherein the IDE converter includes card-detect means, coupled to sense the card select signals, for detecting presence of a ?ash-memory card inserted into the

CompactFlash connector,

Whereby the IDE converter detects presence of Compact

Flash and the other ?ash-memory cards having the smaller interfaces.

3. The single-slot multi-?ash-card reader of claim 2

Wherein the Wiring means connects signals from the smaller interfaces to signals CEl, CE2 in the CompactFlash con nector;

Wherein the IDE converter includes card-type-detect means, coupled to sense the signals, for detecting a type of a ?ash-memory card inserted into the CompactFlash connector;

Wherein the type of ?ash-memory card detected includes

CompactFlash cards and smaller ?ash-memory cards having the smaller interface;

Whereby the IDE converter detects the type of ?ash memory card inserted including CompactFlash and the other ?ash-memory cards having the smaller interfaces.

4. The single-slot multi-?ash-card reader of claim 3

Wherein the signals comprise signals CEl, CE2, address signals A0, A1 signals in the CompactFlash interface;

Wherein the A1 signal is connected to a serial data signal in the smaller interface When the smaller interface is a

MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital interface or a Memory

Stick interface,

Whereby type detection is performed using the CEl, CE2 signals connected to the serial data signal of the smaller interfaces.

5. The single-slot multi-?ash-card reader of claim 4

Wherein each type of the ?ash-memory cards for the smaller interfaces drives signals connected to the signals by the adapter to different logic levels;

Wherein CompactFlash cards do not drive the signals,

Whereby the signals ?oat for CompactFlash cards, but at least one of the signals are driven by the other ?ash memory cards having the smaller interfaces When con nected by the adapter.

6. The single-slot multi-?ash-card reader of claim 5 further comprising: pull-up resistors, connected to the signals from the Com pactFlash connector, for pulling the signals high When the IDE converter and the ?ash-memory card are not driving signals connected to these signals,

Whereby the pull-up resistors assist card-type detection.

7. The single-slot multi-?ash-card reader of claim 6

Wherein the Wiring means is a passive Wiring means Without active components including integrated circuit chips, tran sistors, resistors, or capacitors,

Whereby the adapter is a passive adapter.

8. The single-slot multi-?ash-card reader of claim 7

Wherein the smaller interfaces are selected from the group consisting of MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and Memory

Stick ?ash-memory-card interfaces.

9. The single-slot multi-?ash-card reader of claim 8 further comprising: a second adapter, having a physical shape to removably insert into the CompactFlash connector, the second adapter having a mating CompactFlash connector that

?ts the CompactFlash connector, the second adapter also having a second smaller connector, the second smaller connector for ?tting to a SmartMedia ?ash memory cards having the smaller interface for Smart

Media,

Whereby the second adapter connects SmartMedia ?ash memory cards to the CompactFlash connector.

10. The single-slot multi-?ash-card reader of claim 9 further comprising: a third adapter, having a physical shape to removably insert into the CompactFlash connector, the third adapter having a mating CompactFlash connector that

?ts the CompactFlash connector, the third adapter also having a third smaller connector, the third smaller connector for ?tting to a Memory Stick ?ash-memory cards having the smaller interface for Memory Stick,

Whereby the third adapter connects Memory Stick ?ash memory cards to the CompactFlash connector.

11. The single-slot multi-?ash-card reader of claim 10

Wherein the CompactFlash interface has 50 pins including poWer and ground pins;

Wherein the smaller interfaces have no more than 10 pins including poWer and ground pins.

12. The single-slot multi-?ash-card reader of claim 10

Wherein the IDE converter further comprises: serial-to-parallel means, receiving serial data from the smaller interfaces, for converting serial data to a par allel data format for transfer to the personal computer,

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