KarbosGuide.com. Module 5a5

About PC Cards.

The contents:

  • PC Card
  • PC Card II

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  • The PC Card

    In portable PCs, the adapter is usually a PC Card. This is a little tiny box which fits into a special slot. The PC Card used to be called a PCMCIA card, but this obviously was a little difficult to remember.

    The first generation of PC Cards were technically connected to the ISA bus. The newer ones are PC Card32 working with the CardBus. They are internally connected to the 32 bit PCI bus.

    Here you see a network controller, as a PC Card. It is about the size of a credit card, but slightly thicker:

    The PC Card is placed in a special socket, where it can be inserted or removed, while the PC is operating. Actually, each socket acts like an I/O unit, regardless of whether there is a PC Card in it or not. When the card is inserted, it is automatically configured with I/O address, IRQ, etc. Windows 98 provides by far the best support for PC Cards.

    I use two PC Cards myself: The network controller you see above connects my laptop to my network. And my digital camera (Canon Powershot 600) uses a PC Card with 4 MB Flash RAM. Having taken the photos I just move the PC Card from the camera to the laptop. Here it instantly becomes a D-drive and I use Explorer to move the photos to a folder on the server. The operation takes less than a minute.

    PC Card II

    The latest standard (PC Card II) makes it possible to use harddisks within the PC card. The IBM Microdrive is very handy when using digital cameras. All modern cameras of good quality can hold such a harddisk of 340 MB. This gives room for more than 300 pictures in a very high quality.

    The PC card, holding Compact Flash Card, SSFDC (SmartMedia) or a MicroDrive, can be read by a USB-connected reader like these:

    If you use PC Card, you should invest in a reader for USB. It is very handy and speedy.


    The new high speed serial ports USB and FireWire will also become available for portable PC users. CardX is a new PC Card interface built on FireWire and allowing transfers of up to 400 megabit per second.

    Two function adapters

    Integrated adapters with more than one function are space savers. Especially, the ASUS company has introduced dual function boards to stationary PCs, since they utilize both the ISA and PCI bus to share a slot:

  • Graphics + sound
  • SCSI + sound There are also two function PC Cards for portable PCs:

  • Ethernet network controller + modem
  • Token Ring network controller + modem

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    Learn more

    Module 5b about EIDE, Ultra DMA and AGP.

    Read Module 5c about SCSI, USB etc.

    Read Module 6b with a little about Windows 95/98.

    Read Module 6c about the relationship between BIOS, OS and hardware

    Read Module 7a about the videosystem

    Read about video cards in Module 7b.

    Read about digital sound in Module 7c.

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