Flashtoaster for reading several types of flash

Flashtoaster for reading several types of flash

(12)

United States Patent

Jones et al.

US006438638B1

(10) Patent N0.: US 6,438,638 B1

(45) Date of Patent: Aug. 20, 2002

(54) FLASHTOASTER FOR READING SEVERAL

TYPES OF FLASH_MEM()RY CARDS WITH

6,026,007 A * 2/2000 Jigour et al. ................ .. 365/51

6,075,706 A 6/2000 Learmonth et al. ....... .. 361/737

6,264,506 B1 7/2001 Yasufuku et al. ......... .. 439/638

6,353,870 B1 * 3/2002 Mills et al. ............... .. 710/301

Arockiyaswamy Venkidu, Menlo Park, LeXar Media Weg Pages—Parallel Port, Universal Readers,

all of CA (US)

(73) Assignee: OnSpec Electronic, Inc., Santa Clara,

FAQ, Jumpshot, Jun. 5, 2000*

Microtouch Smart Media to PCMCIA Adapter Product

Sheet, Jun' 8, 2()()()_*

CA (US)

* cited by examiner

( * ) Notice: Subject to any disclaimer, the term of this _ _ patent is extended or adjusted under 35 P

U_S_C_ 154(k)) by 267 days_ Assistant Examiner—Tim V0

(74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm—Stuart T. Auvine

(21) Appl. N0.: 09/610,904 (57) ABSTRACT

(22) Filed: Jul- 6’ 2000 A?ash-memory-card reader reads and Writes multiple types

(51) Int. c1.7 .......................... .. G06F 13/00; G06F 1/16 of ?ash-memory Cards> including C°mPaCtF1aSh> and the

(52) US. Cl. ...................................... .. 710/301- 710/303 Smaller SmartMedia> MuMMediaCard’ Secure Digitah and

, ’

(58) Field of Search ............................... .. 710/300, 301,

710/302 303

. 1 f t f t h t 1 t PC S . 1_ srgnas or rans er 0 a'os.persona compu er( er1a

’ to-parallel data conversion is performed for the smaller card

(56)

.

References Clted formats With serial data interfaces, but not for CompactFlash

With a parallel-data interface. A single slot has a 50-pin

U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS connector for CompactFlash cards or passive adapters. The

5 296 692 A * 3/1994 Shino 235/486 passive adapters have the CompactFlash form factor and a

5’394’2O6 A * 2/1995 Cocoa """""""""""" " 354/21 smaller connector ?tting smaller ?ash cards. Passive adapt

5,576,698 A * 11/1996 Card ~~340/82552 “5 have no Components but Simply Wire the Smaller Con‘

5,589,719 A * 12/1996 Fiset ................. .. 307/131

5,640,541 A * 6/1997 Bartram e161. ..... .. 395/500

Hector to the CompactFlash Connector- A Pin mapping allOWS Card-type detection by Sensing the LSB address Pins

5,729,204 A * 3/1998 Fackler et a1, __ 340/825_04 of the CompactFlash interface. A larger CompactFlash

5,786,769 A * 7/1998 Coteus et al. ............. .. 340/687 reader has multiple slots for each card type. The reader is

5,815,426 A * 9/1998 .llgOllI 61 al. ................ .. 395/883

5’877’975 A : 3/1999 Jlgour et a1‘ g * gigs 5:211:

[he

365/52 from the ?ash-memory card to a removable disk media.

Pressing a button initiates image transfer.

5,995,376 A * 11/1999 Schultz et al. . 361/788

6,006,295 A * 12/1999 Jones et al. ................. .. 710/62 28 Claims, 11 Drawing Sheets

USB

CHIP

213,5

MMC/S

SM MED

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U.S. Patent Aug. 20, 2002 Sheet 1 0f 11 US 6,438,638 B1

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U.S. Patent Aug. 20, 2002 Sheet 2 0f 11 US 6,438,638 B1

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SM-TO-CF SMART MEDIA

US 6,438,638 B1

MMC

MEM STK-TO-CF

MEM STICK

@ C

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Aug. 20, 2002

Sheet 4 0f 11 US 6,438,638 B1

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Aug. 20, 2002

Sheet 5 0f11

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US 6,438,638 B1

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U.S. Patent Aug. 20, 2002 Sheet 6 6f 11

Smart Media

Ground

D3

D4

D5

MMC/SD

Ground

US 6,438,638 B1

Ground

Stick

U.S. Patent Aug. 20, 2002 Sheet 7 0f 11 US 6,438,638 B1

4_2_

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Q ‘- 28

USB / —

CHIP

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PC FIG. 6

U.S. Patent

Aug. 20, 2002 Sheet 8 0f 11 US 6,438,638 B1

USB

CF

/2 +- E

MMC/S

64 4

USB /— EDI

CHIP

SMMED

MSTK

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CPU

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U.S. Patent Aug. 20, 2002 Sheet 9 0f 11 US 6,438,638 B1

FIG. 8

U.S. Patent Aug. 20, 2002 Sheet 10 0f 11 US 6,438,638 B1

USB

PC J‘E CHIP

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USB

Q

REMOVABLE

MASS

STORAGE m

MMC/S

28

SM MED

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M STK

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U.S. Patent Aug. 20, 2002 Sheet 11 0f 11 US 6,438,638 B1

CPU

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ROM

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CLK

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US 6,438,638 B1

1 2

FLASHTOASTER FOR READING SEVERAL

TYPES OF FLASH-MEMORY CARDS WITH

FIELD OF THE INVENTION 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.

Desktop PCs usually do not have PCMCIA slots. Then

This invention relates to ?ash-memory readers, and more particularly for interfacing several different types of ?ash memory cards to a personal computer.

CF-to-PCMCIA adapter 10 and connects to PC 20 through such serial doWnloads a patience-building experience. Serial doWnloads could easily take half an hour for only a feW a parallel or high-speed Universal Serial Bus (USB) cable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

10

Multiple Flash-Card Formats

Digital cameras have become one of the most popular of electronic devices. In a recent year, more digital cameras

Although the CompactFlash card format is relatively

Were sold than traditional ?lm cameras. Images from digital small, being not much more than an inch square, other smaller cards have recently emerged. FIG. 2A illustrates cameras can be doWnloaded and stored on personal com

15 puters. Digital pictures can be converted to common formats various formats of ?ash-memory cards used With digital cameras. Many digital cameras still use CompactFlash card such as JPEG and sent as e-mail attachments or posted to virtual photo albums on the Internet. Video as Well as still

16, Which can be inserted into CF-to-PCMCIA adapter 10 images can be captured, depending on the kind of digital for transfer to a PC. Other smaller, thinner formats have emerged and are used With some manufacturer’s digital camera.

Digital cameras typically capture images electronically

camera to a personal computer (PC). Astandard serial cable an inch long, yet has enough ?ash memory capacity for and ultimately store the images as bits (ones and Zeros) on doZens of images. SmartMedia-to-PCMCIA adapter 10‘ is a solid-state memory. Flash memory is the most common available commercially for about $60. The higher cost is storage for digital cameras. Flash memory contains one or

more electrically-erasable read-only-memory (EEPROM) integrated circuit chips that alloW reading, Writing, and

25

block erasing.

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 trademark of the SSFDC Forum of Tokyo, Japan.

Early digital cameras required the user to doWnload or

Other kinds of ?ash-memory cards that are being cham transfer the images from the ?ash memory Within the digital pioned by different manufacturers include MultiMediaCard

(MMC) 28 and the related Secure Digital Card (SD) 26.

Was most Widely used. HoWever, the limited transfer rate of cameras. For eXample, SmartMedia card 24 is less than half the serial cable and the large siZe of the digital images made

While SD is controlled by the SD Group that includes

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., SanDisk Corporation,

doZen images.

Digital camera manufacturers solved this problem by

35

Memory Stick 18. Memory Stick has a PCMCIA/Floppy 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.

FIG. 1A shoWs a ?ash memory card and adapter for

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. takes pictures With digital camera 14 that are stored in image

45

FIG. 2B shoWs a Memory Stick-to-PCMCIA adapter using an active converter chip. Memory Stick 18 ?ts into an

?les on ?ash memory chip(s). The ?ash memory chip is

opening in Memory Stick-to-PCMCIA adapter 15, alloWing

contained, in CompactFlash card 16, Which can be removed adapter 15 and the Memory Stick to be plugged into a from digital camera 14 by pressing a card-eject button. Thus

CompactFlash card 16 contains the image ?les.

While some smaller hand-held computers or personal integrated circuit (IC) converter chip 11 Within it. Converter chip 11 may be needed to convert the serial data format of

digital-assistants (PDA) have slots that receive Compact

Flash cards, most PC’s do not. Laptop or notebook PCs

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 adapter 15 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

55 compared to CF-to-PCMCIA adapter 10 Which is a passive adapter Without a converter chip. on PCMCIA cards, such as modems, Ethernet, ?ash memory, encryption keys, and even miniature hard drives.

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

While the advances in ?ash-memory card technology 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

Flash card 16 inserted. Such CF-to-PCMCIA adapters 10 sell for as little as $5—10. CompactFlash is a trademark of

SanDisk Corp. of Sunnyvale, Calif. 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

FIG. 1C shoWs a PC connected to a PCMCIAreader. Most

65 to PCMCIA.

22 that CF-to-PCMCIA adapter 10 can ?t into. Then the user

What is desired is a universal adapter for ?ash-memory cards of several different formats. An adapter that accepts

US 6,438,638 B1

3

SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and Memory

that accepts any format card using the adapter is desired.

Special detection logic on the ?ash reader is desired to distinguish betWeen the many ?ash-card formats is desir able. AloW-cost passive adapter is desired that does not need an expensive converter chip. A multi-format reader is

4

FIGS. 4A—E shoW card-type detection using the A1, A0 pins of the CompactFlash reader interface.

FIG. 5 is a table of pin mappings for the SmartMedia,

MMC/SD, and Memory Stick to CompactFlash adapters.

FIG. 6 is a diagram of a multi-slot embodiment of the

?ash-card reader.

FIG. 7 shoWs a ?ash-memory reader Within a PC. can copy image ?les from ?ash cards Without a PC is also desired.

10

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

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. puter interface for transferring data to a personal computer.

A converter means is coupled to the personal computer

15

FIG. 10 is a diagram of the converter chip for the

?ash-memory reader.

interface. It converts multiple ?ash-card interfaces to a format used by the personal computer interface. The mul tiple ?ash-card interfaces include a CompactFlash interface and smaller interfaces having feWer pins that the Compact

Flash interface.

A CompactFlash connector is coupled to the converter means. It receives a CompactFlash card through a single slot in the single-slot multi-?ash-card reader. The CompactFlash

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

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 applica tion 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 connector makes electrical connection With the Compact

Flash card for signals in the CompactFlash interface.

An adapter has a physical shape to removably insert into the CompactFlash connector. The adapter has a mating

25 applied to other embodiments. Therefore, the present inven tion is not intended to be limited to the particular embodi ments shoWn and described, but is to be accorded the Widest scope consistent With the principles and novel features herein disclosed.

CompactFlash connector that ?ts the CompactFlash connec tor. The adapter also has a smaller connector. The smaller connector ?ts to other ?ash-memory cards having the smaller interfaces.

The inventors have realiZed that a universal adapter can be constructed using the CompactFlash card form factor. A reader that reads CompactFlash cards can then read any of

A Wiring means in the adapter connects betWeen the the other ?ash-memory cards that plug into the Compact

Flash adapter. The adapters are simple, inexpensive passive

smaller connector and the mating CompactFlash connector.

It directly connects signals from the smaller connector in the

35 smaller interface With signals in the mating CompactFlash connector. Thus the adapter alloWs the other ?ash-memory adapters Without a conversion chip.

The inventors have found 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 cards having the smaller interfaces to ?t into the Compact

Flash connector through the single slot to be read by the adapter. Detection of the type of ?ash-memory card is thus

performed automatically by electronic detection by the

converter means.

In further aspects the Wiring means connects card select signals from all of the smaller interfaces to card select signals in the CompactFlash connector. The converter means

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 includes a card-detect means that is coupled to sense the card While,CompactFlash reader cost is increased only slightly. select signals. It detects presence of a ?ash-memory card

45 inserted into the CompactFlash connector. Thus the con verter means detects presence of CompactFlash and the other ?ash-memory cards having the smaller interfaces.

The CompactFlash reader can use a single CompactFlash slot to read multiple ?ash-card types, including SmartMedia,

MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, Memory Stick, and Com pactFlash.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

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

FIG. 1B shoWs CF-to-PCMCIA adapter 10 With Com pactFlash card 16 inserted.

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,

MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, Memory Stick, and Com

FIG. 1C shoWs a PC connected to a PCMCIA reader.

55

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

In a third embodiment, the CompactFlash reader is a

FIG. 2B shoWs a Memory Stick-to-PCMCIA adapter using an active converter chip. from the ?ash-memory card are copied to the removable

FIG. 3A shoWs a universal CompactFlash adapter that

accepts SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and

Memory Stick ?ash-memory cards.

FIG. 3B shoWs a CompactFlash reader that reads

SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and Memory

65

Stick ?ash-memory cards through passive adapters to the

CompactFlash form factor. is used, such as having the user presses a button to initiate

image transfer.

Universal, Passive Adapters—FIGS. 3A—B

FIG. 3A shoWs a universal CompactFlash adapter that

accepts SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and

US 6,438,638 B1

5

6

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.

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 address pins. Address pins A0 and A1 are the

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 SmartMedia interface to ?t Within the 50-pin CompactFlash interface.

When SmartMedia card 24 is plugged into SmartMedia

least-signi?cant-bits (LSB) of the address of the 50-pin

CompactFlash interface. These pins are normally inputs to the CompactFlash card and thus are driven by the Compact

Flash reader. When the reader does not drive A0, A1 to the adapter 30, both can be plugged into a CompactFlash slot on 10 a CompactFlash reader. Of course, ordinary CompactFlash inserted CompactFlash card, the A0, A1 pins ?oat or are

pulled high by pullup resistors.

Address pins are not present on the other kinds of ?ash readers Will not be able to read SmartMedia card 24 since

special signal conversion is required by the CompactFlash

reader. memory cards. Instead, the address and data are multiplexed.

For MMC/SD and Memory Stick, the address is sent seri

ally. Using the adapters, pins from the other ?ash-memory

MultiMediaCard 28 and Secure Digital card 26 are ?ash

15 cards can be connected to the CompactFlash pins. Pins A0 memory cards With similar 9-pin interfaces. Serial data transfer is used through a single Data I/O pin. MMC/SD and A1 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. 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

20

In FIG. 4A, the A1, A0 pins of the CompactFlash reader interface are highlighted. Converter chip 40 in the Com

MMC/SD adapter 32, then MMC/SD adapter 32 can be inserted into a CompactFlash slot on a special CompactFlash pactFlash reader normally drives all 11 address pins in the

CompactFlash interface When reading a CompactFlash card reader. The CompactFlash reader then detects the card type

and performs serial-to-parallel conversion.

Memory Stick 18 is also a ?ash-memory card With a

25 plugged into connector 44. The A0 pin from the Compact

Flash card plugs into connector cup 56, While the A1 pin from the CompactFlash card plugs into connector cup 58 of

9-pin, serial-data interface, but is narroWer and longer than

MultiMediaCard 28 or Secure Digital card 26. Memory

50-pin connector 44.

Card-type detector 50 has tWo pullup resistors added to

Stick adapter 34 has an opening With a 10-pin connector to a CompactFlash slot on a special CompactFlash reader. The

CompactFlash reader then detects the card type and per lines A0, A1. Resistor 52 pulls line A0 high to poWer (Vcc) receive Memory Stick 18. Once Memory Stick 18 is inserted, Memory Stick adapter 32 can itself be inserted into

30

When neither converter chip 40 nor a card plugged into connector 44 drives line A0. LikeWise, resistor 54 pulls line

A1 high When line A1 is not being actively driven. During detection mode, converter chip 40 is programmed to not

forms serial-to-parallel conversion.

FIG. 3B shoWs a CompactFlash reader that reads

SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and Memory

35

Stick ?ash-memory cards through passive adapters to the

CompactFlash form factor. CompactFlash reader 42 has an drive lines A0, A1 and instead use then as inputs to the

detector logic.

In FIG. 4B, a CompactFlash card is inserted into the connector for card-type detection. CompactFlash card 16 is plugged into connector 44. Since A0 and A1 are inputs to opening or slot With 50-pin connector 44 that accepts

CompactFlash card 16. Controller chip 40 performs hand shaking With CompactFlash card 16 and performs data transfer. CompactFlash reader 42 also connects to a PC over

USB connector 46. Controller chip 40 also controls the USB

40

CompactFlash card 16, they are not driven by CompactFlash card 16. During detection mode, converter chip 40 also does not drive pins A0, A1. Thus lines A0, A1 are left ?oating and are each pulled high by resistors 52, 54.

Detection logic in converter chip 40 reads card-select pins interface to the host PC, alloWing image ?les to be trans ferred to the PC from CompactFlash card 16.

Other kinds of ?ash-memory cards can also be read by

45

CD0, CD1 to detect the presence of a ?ash-memory card.

When a neW card is present, detection logic then reads pins

A0, A1 as inputs. Both inputs are high. The detection logic

CompactFlash reader 42. For example, adapter 34 alloWs

Memory Stick 18 to be read. Memory Stick adapter 34 has in converter chip 40 recogniZes the HH state of A0, A1 as indicating that a CompactFlash card is plugged into con 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.

50 nector 44. Converter chip 40 then exits detection mode and con?gures its interface to connector 44 for the 50-pin

CompactFlash interface as shoWn later in FIG. 5.

SmartMedia card 24 can also be read by CompactFlash

reader 42, using SmartMedia adapter 30. LikeWise, Multi

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

MediaCard 28 or Secure Digital card 28 can be read using

SD card 28 (not shoWn) is plugged into MMC/SD adapter 32

MMC/SD adapter 32.

Adapters 30, 32, 34 are passive adapters that only connect pins from the smaller ?ash-memory cards to the 50-pin

55

Which is plugged into connector 44.

Converter chip 40 does not drive pins A1, A0 during detection mode. Thus pin A1 ?oats and is pulled high by

CompactFlash connector. An active converter chip is not

required, greatly reducing cost and complexity.

Detection logic in converter chip 40 reads card-select pins

Detection of Card Type—FIGS. 4A—E.

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

60

CD0, CD1 to detect the presence of a ?ash-memory card.

When a neW card is present, detection logic then reads pins

A0, A1 as inputs. While A0 is loW, A1 is high. The detection logic in converter chip 40 recogniZes the LH state of A0, A1

Flash 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.

65 as indicating that a MMC or SD card is plugged into connector 44. 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.

US 6,438,638 B1

7 8

In FIG. 4D, a 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 A0, A1 from the, CompactFlash interface to any pins on the SmartMedia card. Adapter 30 internally connects pin A1 from the CompactFlash interface to the ground pin on the

CompactFlash interface.

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.

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 DIO, Which is mapped to pin 19 (A1).

The SmartMedia card does not drive either pin A1, A0, although adapter 30 drives pin A1 loW. Likewise, converter chip 40 does not drive pins A1, A0 during detection mode.

Pin A0 ?oats and is pulled high by resistor 52.

MMC/SD and Memory Stick interfaces require only 6 pins plus poWer and ground.

Detection logic in converter chip 40 reads card-select pins

Detection logic in 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

15

A0, A1 as inputs. While A0 is high, A1 is loW. The detection

CD0, CD1 to detect the presence of a ?ash-memory card.

When a neW card is present, detection logic then reads pins

A0, A1 as inputs to determine the card type. The pullup as indicating that a SmartMedia card is plugged into con resistors of FIG. 4A together With Wiring inside the adapter and the card’s behavior determines Whether A0, A1 are nector 44. Converter chip 40 then eXits detection mode and con?gures its interface to connector 44 for the 22-pin

pulled loW by the adapter or pulled high by the pullup

resistors.

SmartMedia interface as shoWn later in FIG. 5.

In FIG. 4E, a Memory Stick card is inserted into the connector for card-type detection. Memory Stick card 18

Multi-Slot Multi-Flash-Card Reader—FIG. 6

FIG. 6 is a diagram of a multi-slot embodiment of the

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

is plugged into connector 44.

25

?ash-card reader. While the single-slot embodiment of FIG.

3B results in the smallest physical design, someWhat larger

Detection logic in converter chip 40 reads card-select pins

?ash-card readers can be made that have separate slots for

CD0, CD1 to detect the presence of a ?ash-memory card. each type of ?ash-memory card, rather than a single slot.

When a neW card is present, detection logic then reads pins

This negates the need for the adapters.

A0, A1 as inputs. Both pins A0, A1 are loW. The detection logic in converter chip 40 recogniZes the LL state of A0, A1

Four connectors are provided in ?ash reader 42: a 50-pin

CompactFlash connector 62 that ?ts CompactFlash card 16, as indicating that a Memory Stick card is plugged into a 9 pin MMC/SD connector 64 that ?ts MultiMediaCard 28 connector 44. or a Secure Digital card, a 22-pin SmartMedia connector 66

Pin Mapping—FIG. 5

FIG. 5 is a table of pin mappings for the SmartMedia,

35

MMC/SD, and Memory Stick to CompactFlash adapters.

that ?ts SmartMedia card 24, and a 10-pin Memory Stick connector 68 that ?ts Memory Stick 18.

Each of the four connectors 62, 64, 66, 68 route their signals to converter chip 40.

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

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 shoWn in FIG. 5. Simple Wiring such as individual Wires, ?at cables, printed-circuit board (PCB), or Wiring traces can be used. pin interface of FIG. 5 corresponding to the card type.

Converter chip 40 eXecutes various routines to perform

handshaking With the ?ash-memory cards and accept data,

The ground pins on the smaller interfaces are connected

45 to CompactFlash pins 1 and 50. PoWer pins are connected to either serially or in parallel. The data is buffered and then sent to the host PC 20 through USB connector 46. Converter

CompactFlash pins 13, 38. Pins 25, 26 are the card detect signals for CompactFlash, Which the adapters connect to the chip 40 generates the appropriate USB-interface signals to transfer the data to host PC 20. card-detect signals on all smaller interfaces.

Having separate connectors 62, 64, 66, 68 With separate

The CompactFlash connectors use pins 2—6, 21—23,

27—31, and 47—49 for the 16-bit parallel data bus to the slots in ?ash reader 42 alloWs for card-to-card transfers. For example, images or other ?les from Memory Stick 18 could

CompactFlash card. Pins 8, 10—12, and 14—20 form a separate 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

55 be transferred to CompactFlash card 16 by converter chip 40 reading serial data from Memory Stick inserted into con nector 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:.

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 50-pin interface are not connected.

In this embodiment, ?ash reader 42 is contained in an external housing that connects to host PC 20 through a USB cable. Of course, other cables and interfaces such as IEEE

1394 FireWire may be substituted.

The smaller SmartMedia interface also has a parallel data bus of 8 bits. These are mapped to pins 2—6, and 21—23 of the CompactFlash interface to match the CompactFlash

DO:7 signals. While no separate address bus is provided, address and data are multiplexed. Control signals for latch

65 enables, Write enable and protect, output enable, and ready

Flash Reader Within PC—FIG. 7

FIG. 7 shoWs a ?ash-memory reader Within a PC. Four slots and four connectors are provided in ?ash reader 42. A

50-pin CompactFlash connector 62 ?ts CompactFlash card

16, a 9-pin MMC/SD connector 64 ?ts MultiMediaCard 28

US 6,438,638 B1

9 10 or a Secure Digital card, a 22-pin SmartMedia connector 66

?ts SmartMedia card 24, and a 10-pin Memory Stick con nector 68 ?ts Memory Stick 18.

Each of the four connectors 62, 64, 66, 68 route their signals to converter chip 40. 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:.

10 either serially or in parallel. The data is buffered and then sent either to host PC 20 through USB connector 46 or to removable mass storage 70. Converter chip 40 generates the appropriate USB-interface signals to transfer the data to host

PC 20. 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 Writeable CD-R/W disk, or other proprietary media such as LS120 by Imation of

Oakdale, Minnesota, or ZIP drives by Iomega Corp. of Roy,

Utah.

Converter chip 40 executes various routines to perform

handshaking With the ?ash-memory cards and accept data,

either serially or in parallel. The data is buffered and then

15 sent to the CPU 21 in PC 20 through an internal USB bus.

Converter chip 40 generates the appropriate USB-interface signals to transfer the data to CPU 21.

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 signed a drive letter.

When FlashToaster 80 is not attached to host PC 20,

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 image ?les may still be copied to removable mass storage

70. FlashToaster 80 may be carried along on a trip by the has several drive bays alloWing the user or manufacturer to user, alloWing the user to doWnload image ?les to removable insert peripherals such as hard and ?oppy disk drives, disk 76. Since removable disk 76 ordinarily has a much

CD-ROM and DVD drives, and tape drives. HDD bay 72

higher capacity than the ?ash-memory cards, many pictures

contains a hard-disk drive, While FDD bay 74 contains a may be captured When no access to host PC 20 is available.

?oppy disk drive. These are connected by cables to cards inserted into a USB, ATA, or other expansion bus connectors

25

FlashToaster 80 can be provided With battery poWer or,With its oWn AC converter. on the motherboard.

FlashToaster 80 is provided With a simple user interface, including light-emitting diode LED 78 and button 79. When

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 the user inserts a ?ash-memory card into one of connectors

62, 64, 66, 68, and removable disk 76 is inserted into inserted into the ?oppy-disk drive in FDD bay 74. removable mass storage 70, the user presses button 79. This to the many different formats of ?ash-memory cards read by

?ash reader 42. activates controller chip 40, Which determines Which of

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,

35 regardless of the type of ?ash-card used by the camera, due 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 complete, 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.

FlashToaster—FIG. 9

Converter Chip—FIG. 10

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.

FIG. 10 is a diagram of the converter chip for the

?ash-memory reader. Converter chip 40 can be implemented as a commercially-available micro-controller chip that is

45 programmed to read and Write I/O pins that are connected to the ?ash-memory-card connectors and USB interface. Sev eral different control and transfer routines are Written and programmed into RAM/ROM 94. CPU 92 then executes these routines. Ahigh-level scanning routine 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

FlashToaster 80 has four slots and four connectors are memory card. Transfer and handshake sub-routines can then be called. nector 62 ?ts CompactFlash card 16, a 9-pin MMC/SD

General-purpose input-output GPIO 99 provides registers

connector 64 ?ts MultiMediaCard 28 or a Secure Digital card, a 22-pin SmartMedia connector 66 ?ts SmartMedia

55 or I/O ports that drive external I/ O pins of converter chip 40, or read the logic-levels or voltages on input pins to converter card 24, and a 10-pin Memory Stick connector 68 ?ts

Memory Stick 18. chip 40. CPU 92 can read registers in GPIO 99 that are

Written by control signals that are coupled to I/O pins of

Each of the four connectors 62, 64, 66, 68 route their signals to converter chip 40. Converter chip 40 detects When converter chip 40 from connectors 62, 64, 66, 68. Control signals to the ?ash-memory cards-can be sWitched high or 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 corresponding to the card

type.

65 loW by Writing a 1 or a 0 to a register for that control signal in GPIO 99.

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 microseconds.

Converter chip 40 executes various routines to perform

handshaking With the ?ash-memory cards and accept data,

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

US 6,438,638 B1

11 12

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

not limited to) DSL Modems, Fingerprint security devices,

Miniature Hard disks, etc. the speci?ed time has elapsed. Then CPU 92 can Write a 0 to the register in GPIO 99, causing the control signal to

While the invention has been described as connecting to a personal computer PC host, the host may also be an transition from 1 to 0.

Apple-computer such as the iMAC or G3. The host may also

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 (parallel) of data

for each clock pulse. A cyclical-redundancy-check (CRC)

10 can be performed on the data to detect errors. CPU 92 can 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 USB capa

bility.

request re-transmission of data from the ?ash-memory card

When an error is detected.

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

15 execute a routine to transfer this data from RAM/ROM 94 to USB interface 100. USB interface 100 then transmits the

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. data over an external USB 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 controller

chip 40.

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,

MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, Memory Stick, and Com

ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION

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

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

In a third embodiment, the CompactFlash reader is a

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 from the ?ash-memory card are copied to the removable the ?ash reader distinguishes betWeen the many ?ash-card formats. The loW-cost passive adapter does not need an is used, such as having the user presses a button to initiate

image transfer.

use With a PC. HoWever, a stand-alone ?ash reader can copy

The foregoing description of the embodiments of the image ?les from ?ash cards Without a PC. Additionally, preparation of media for use in devices (format and erase

35 invention has been presented for the purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit operations) can be done using this reader. the invention to the precise form disclosed. Many modi?

A universal adapter is constructed using the Compact cations and variations are possible in light of the above 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.

teaching. It is intended that the scope of the invention be limited not by this detailed description, but rather by the claims appended hereto.

We claim:

The disclosed pin mapping from the smaller ?ash-card a personal computer interface for transferring data to a

personal computer;

formats to CompactFlash alloWs for easy detection of the

45 type of ?ash-memory card inserted into the adapter. Detec tion 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 Compact

Flash reader cost is increased only slightly. The Compact a converter means, 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;

Flash reader can use a single CompactFlash slot to read

multiple ?ash-card types, including SmartMedia,

55

MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, Memory Stick, and Com pactFlash.

ALTERNATE EMBODIMENTS a CompactFlash connector, coupled to the converter means, for receiving a CompactFlash card through a single slot in the single-slot multi-?ash-card reader, the

CompactFlash connector making electrical connection

With the CompactFlash card for signals in the Com

pactFlash interface;

an adapter, having a physical shape to removably insert

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

65

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

?t into this slot. Examples of such devices include (but are 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

connector, for directly connecting signals from the

US 6,438,638 B1

13

14 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 converter means.

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;

10

Wherein the converter means 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 converter means detects presence of Com

pactFlash and the other ?ash-memory

15

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

SmartMedia, Whereby the second adapter connects

SmartMedia ?ash-memory cards to the CompactFlash connector. cards having the smaller interfaces.

10. The single-slot multi-?ash-card reader of claim 9

further comprising:

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

Wherein the Wiring means connects signals from the smaller interfaces to least-signi?cant-bit (LSB) address signals in

the CompactFlash connector;

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

Wherein the converter means includes card-type-detect means, coupled to sense the LSB address signals, for detecting a type of a ?ash-memory card inserted into

25

the CompactFlash connector;

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

Wherein the type of ?ash-memory card detected includes

CompactFlash cards and smaller ?ash-memory cards

having the smaller interface;

Whereby the converter means detects the type of ?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;

memory card inserted including CompactFlash and the other ?ash-memory cards-having the smaller inter faces.

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

Wherein the LSB address signals comprise an A0 signal and an A1 signal in the

CompactFlash interface; Wherein the A1 signal is con nected to a serial data signal in the smaller interface

When

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 converter means 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,

Whereby serial data from the smaller interfaces is con verted to parallel, but parallel data from CompactFlash cards are not converted. the smaller interface is a MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital interface or a Memory Stick interface,

Whereby type detection is performed using the A1 signal

connected to the serial data signal of the smaller interfaces.

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

45

Wherein each type of the ?ash-memory cards for the smaller interfaces drives signals connected to the LSB address

signals by the adapter to different logic levels;

Wherein CompactFlash cards do not drive the LSB address signals, Whereby the LSB address signals ?oat for CompactFlash cards, but at least one of the LSB address signals are driven by the other ?ash-memory cards having the smaller interfaces When connected by

the adapter.

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

55 further comprising: pullup resistors, connected to the LSB

address signals from the CompactFlash connector, for pull

ing the LSB address signals high When the converter means and the ?ash-memory card are not driving signals connected to the LSB address signals,

Whereby the pullup 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,

65 transistors, resistors, or capacitors,

Whereby the adapter is a passive adapter.

a host connection for transferring data to a host computer; a converter chip, coupled to the host connection, for converting signals from ?ash-memory cards to read data from the ?ash-memory cards for transfer to the host computer; a ?rst connector, coupled to the converter chip, for accepting a CompactFlash card inserted into a ?rst slot for the ?rst connector, the ?rst connector having a parallel-data bus and an address bus and control signals for controlling parallel data transfer from the Compact

Flash card to the converter chip; a second connector, coupled to the converter chip, for accepting a SmartMedia card inserted into a second slot for the second connector, the second connector having a parallel-data bus and control signals for controlling parallel data transfer from the SmartMedia card to the converter chip; and a third connector, coupled to the converter chip, for third slot for the third connector, the third connector having a serial-data pin and a clock pin for controlling

chip;

Wherein the converter chip controls parallel data and address transfer for the CompactFlash card, parallel

US 6,438,638 B1

15 16 data transfer for the SmartMedia card, and serial data transfer for the MMC card,

Whereby multiple ?ash-memory cards can be read by the multi-?ash-card reader using the converter chip.

14. The multi-?ash-card reader of claim 13 Wherein the

?rst connector, the second connector, and the third connector each have card detect signals for detecting presence of a

?ash-memory card inserted into a connector;

Wherein the converter chip senses a voltage change in the card detect signals from a connector and activates a

1O a removable mass storage, coupled to the converter chip, for accepting a removable disk through a ?fth slot in the external housing, the removable mass storage storing data from the ?ash-memory card in response to the converter chip,

Whereby data is transferred to the removable mass stor age.

21. The multi-?ash-card reader of claim 18 Wherein the multi-?ash-card reader is located in a drive bay for an extra disk drive in the computer chassis. routine to access the ?ash-memory card activating the card detect signals,

22. The multi-?ash-card reader of claim 20 further com

prising:

Whereby ?ash-memory cards are detected by the con verter chip. an activating sWitch, closable by a user, for initiating transfer of data from a ?ash-memory card inserted into the ?rst, second, or third connector to the removable

15. The multi-?ash-card reader of claim 14 further com

prising:

mass storage, the activating sWitch coupled to activate a transfer routine in the converter chip, a fourth connector, coupled to the converter chip, for accepting a Memory Stick card inserted into a fourth slot for the fourth connector, the fourth connector having a serial-data pin and a clock pin for controlling serial data transfer from the Memory Stick card to the converter chip;

Whereby user-activated data transfer to the removable mass storage is initiated by the activating sWitch.

23. The multi-?ash-card reader of claim 22 Wherein the

activating sWitch operates

Wherein the converter chip also controls serial data trans fer for the Memory Stick card.

16. The multi-?ash-card reader of claim 14 further com

prising:

25

When the host connection is not currently connected to the host computer, Whereby the multi-?ash-card reader is a stand-alone reader for transferring data from a ?ash memory card to the removable mass storage.

24. The multi-?ash-card reader of claim 23 Wherein the a fourth connector, coupled to the converter chip, for accepting a Memory Stick card inserted into the fourth removable mass storage accepts a removable tape or a removable rotating disk as a storage media. connector, the fourth connector having at least one serial data pin and a clock pin for controlling serial data transfer from the Memory Stick card to the converter chip;

Wherein the converter chip also controls serial data trans fer for the Memory Stick card.

17. The multi-?ash-card reader of claim 15 Wherein the host connection is through an external cable to the host

computer;

35 a host connection for transferring data to a host computer; a converter chip, coupled to the host connection, for

converting signals from ?ash-memory cards to read

data from the ?ash memory cards for transfer to the host computer; a ?rst connector coupled to the converter chip, for accept ing a CompactFlash card inserted into the ?rst connector, the ?rst connector having a data bus and an address bus and control signals for controlling parallel data transfer from the CompactFlash card to the con verter chip;

Wherein the multi-?ash-card reader is in an external housing separate from the host computer chassis,

Whereby the multi-?ash-card reader is external.

18. The multi-?ash-card reader of claim 15 Wherein the host connection is through an internal cable to a board for the host computer; Wherein the multi-?ash-card reader is in a computer chassis that contains the host computer, Whereby

45 the multi-?ash-card reader is internal.

19. The multi-?ash-card reader of claim 15 Wherein the converter chip further comprises: a second connector, coupled to the converter chip, for accepting a SmnartMedia card inserted into the second connector, the second connector having a data bus and

control signals for controlling parallel data transfer

from the SmartMedia card to the converter chip; and a third connector, coupled to the convener chip, for a memory for storing routines for detecting presence of the ?ash-memory cards in the ?rst, second, and third connectors, and routines for transferring data from the

?ash-memory car to the host computer; connector, the third connector having at least one serial-data pin and a clock pin for controlling serial data central processing unit means for executing the routines stored in the memory;

55 timers, coupled to the central processing unit means, for determining a time interval; input-output means, responsive to the central processing unit means, for sensing input signals from the ?rst, second, and third connectors, and for driving output signals to the ?rst, second, and third connectors; shift means, responsive to the central processing unit means, for shifting serial data from the third and fourth connectors, but for shifting parallel data from the ?rst and second connectors.

65

20. The multi-?ash-card reader of claim 17 further com

prising:

Wherein the converter chip controls parallel data and address transfer for the CompactFlash card, data trans fer for the SmartMedia card, and serial data transfer for the MMC cared,

Whereby multiple ?ash-memory cards can be read by the multi-?ash-card reader using the converter chip. a host connection for transferring data to and from a host

computer;

a converter chip, coupled to the host connection, for converting signals from ?ash-memory cards to read data from the ?ash-memory cards for transfer to and from the host computer; a ?rst connector, coupled to the converter chip, for accepting a CompactFlash card inserted into the ?rst

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