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What is ExpressCard?

By Garry Crystal
Updated: May 16, 2024

The Expresscard module is a new technology that slots into a computer system to allow the addition of hardware capabilities. The Expresscard was introduced by the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA) in 2003 and is a thinner, lighter and faster modular expansion for users of desktop and notebook computers. Hardware capabilities such as extra memory, wired and wireless communication tools and security devices can be added by inserting these modules into the system.

The Expresscard module comes in two sizes. The Expresscard/34 is 34 mm wide, while the Expresscard/54 is 54 mm wide. The modules are both 5 mm high and 75 mm long. The 34 mm module has the advantage in that it can fit into the slot designed for the 54 mm card, but not vice versa. The Expresscard simply slots into a USB interface that is already integrated on most desktop computers and notebooks.

All the existing capabilities of a PC card will be available as an Expresscard, but using only half the size of a PC card. The Expresscard will also have the power, thermal dissipation and circuit board size to provide a range of extra applications, including multimedia applications such as television tuners, video grab and multiple monitors. It will also have storage facilities, such as solid state (flash) and small rotating magnetic and rotating micro-drives.

The Expresscard will also have adapters such as flash memory cards, as well as built-in security and identity sensors. Most of these applications will be built into the smaller 34 mm size, but there are some that will only be available in the larger 54 mm size. Smartcard readers, some hard drives and Compact Flash Readers are too large to be incorporated in the Expresscard/34 and are only available in the larger size. In time, as the technology develops, it is hoped that all applications will be available for the 34 mm size.

Expresscard technology gives users the “sealed box” computing benefits in a PC card form. Previously, to add hardware to a desktop computer, it was necessary to open up the computer with a screwdriver to add the new card. With Expresscard, you simply slot in the card to an existing expansion slot. This makes it easier to adapt to and helps to keep cost down. There is no need for computer manufacturers to ensure that there is appropriate safety and clearance space inside the computer.

System developers have welcomed the Expresscard technology with open arms because of the number of benefits it offers. The cards pair expansion facility with higher performance, using less space. The technology also supports future implementations and high performance technology, and helps to drive down the cost due to standardization. The Expresscard has gained support from most of today's leading technology manufacturers.

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Discussion Comments
By sapphire12 — On Feb 22, 2011

@flowerchild, I think the average person can use these pretty easily. I have not myself, but I know tech geeks and other people who do recommend them for their friends and people like me, who have trouble with even really simple computer tasks.

By flowerchild — On Feb 02, 2011

So if I understand this correctly, the Expresscard will allow us to update a computer without having to call an expert? Will the average computer user be able to use this?

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