What is ASI and what advantages does it offer?
In a future release, the Flash XDR will also fully support
Asynchronous serial interface (ASI) for both input and output, as
an extra cost option.
ASI is a streaming data format for the broadcast industry. ASI has
many applications, but is commonly used by mobile units to get
their video and audio signal back to the station via microwave.
ASI is MPEG2 mapped onto an SDI transport stream. ASI allows direct
connection to satellite uplink as well as internet connectivity via
ASI → IP converter.
What video and audio formats are supported for
ASI uses long-GOP 4:2:0 MPEG2 video and MPEG1 Layer II compressed
What ASI stream parameters can be programmed?
The complete list is still being defined, but video, audio PMT, and
PCR PIDs, as well as the PAT TS ID are planned. These parameters
can be saved and recalled for later use.
Recording and Playback
Can the box be set up for time-lapse (interval)
Yes. Flash XDR has an internal clock / calendar, so interval
recording over a wide range of time increments will be available.
This is accomplished by recording the desired frames using I-Frame
Only option. Long-GOP is not suitable for time-lapse recording.
What are the record trigger (start / stop)
Record start / stop can be triggered by one of 3 selectable
1. Incrementing time-code (Usually requires Record Run
2. Record Start/Stop button on the Flash XDR box
3. External Remote Control (GPI trigger)
Do you have protection against accidentally pressing the
“Stop” button during a recording?
Yes, the Stop button must be continuously held down for three
seconds before the recording will be stopped.
Can I trigger multiple cameras to start
Yes, the simplest approach is to connect the GPI triggers from all
cameras together to one master start/stop switch.
Does Flash XDR support fast-forward, rewind, and single-step
Initially, Flash XDR will only support normal playback. These
advanced modes may be supported in the future.
What is Compact Flash?
Compact Flash (CF) is an industry standard memory card widely used
in digital cameras.
CF utilizes solid-state NAND Flash memory, which are extremely
rugged (no moving parts), consume very little power, and are very
At this time the Convergent Design has fully qualified two
Transcend 32 GB 133x
Transcend 16 GB 300x
As other promising cards come on the market, we will full test them
for compatibly with the Flash XDR. We are expecting 64 GB cards
Can I write the same data to two cards simultaneously (for
This is planned for a future release. This will allow you to create
two original masters simultaneously.
The same data will be written to two cards simultaneously.
Writing the video/audio to two cards simultaneously creates an
automatic backup; so one card could then be safely stored away,
while the second card is handed off to the editor.
How many Compact Flash card slots on Flash
Flash XDR supports four CF cards. Users can enjoy very long record
times, as the Flash XDR will automatically close one clip and start
another on the next available CompactFlash card. This is seamless
across both record and playback.
Can I hot-swap the cards and continue recording
At this time no. This is planned for a future release.
When the CF card in one slot is full, will the Flash XDR
automatically switch to a card in the next slot? How do I know
it’s time to remove the first card?
Flash XDR automatically closes the clip (file) and switches to the
next CF card when the current card is filled to capacity.
There are LEDs, next to each CompactFlash card slot, which indicate
the current status of the card (idle, writing data to the card,
ready to eject, etc).
The overall remaining capacity of the card will be displayed on the
What are typical read / write speeds and capacities for
Compact Flash cards?
The read / write speeds of CF is based on the old Compact Disk
standard of 1X = 150 KB/s. So, a 133X CF card is rated at 133 x 150
KB/s ≈ 20 MB/s or 160 Mb/s.
Note: At this time only two CompactFlash cards are qualified for
use in the Flash XDR:
Transcend 32 GB 133x for bit-rates up to and including 100
Transcend 16 GB 300x for all current bit-rates.
Two notes of caution on CF cards:
a. There have been some reports of fake CF
cards on the market, so be very careful about your source for the
b. Some card manufacturers’ rate
their cards based on the read speed only.
For example, one CF card manufacturer boasts 300X performance,
which sounds great until you check the fine print and find
it’s 300X read and 133X write. .
Does Compact Flash have sufficient read/write bandwidth for
Yes, CF has sufficient bandwidth and storage capacity for MPEG2 HD
Video, provided you use the recommended CompactFlash cards, cards
which we have thoroughly tested and fully qualified.
Why Compact Flash instead of SxS cards?
CompactFlash cards have been proven in professional applications,
as have the SxS cards.
Our testing showed, that with the proper CompactFlash cards, we
could provide safe, convenient, reliable, and highly reusable
memory for the Flash XDR.
In addition, the CompactFlash cards, even the highest quality,
highest speed versions are significantly less expensive than SxS
The Transcend cards come with a lifetime warranty.
Finally, low-cost high-performance Firewire-800 readers are widely
available for CF cards.
Four of the Lexar UDMA (US $60) readers can be daisy chained using
Firewire-800, providing access to 128 GB (four 32-GB cards) of
video data for editing or download.
What advantages /disadvantages does Compact Flash offer
over disk or tape-based storage systems?
Compact Flash is based on solid-state NAND FLASH memory. There are
no moving parts, tapes to stretch or break, no dropouts and they
are completely silent. Here’s a brief comparison of Compact
Flash vs hard-disk drive:
Hard Disk Drive
Solid State NAND FLASH
Magnetic Rotating Platters
> 1 million hours
< 300 K Hours
2000G / 2ms
-25 to 85 C
5 to 55 C
Compared to tape based systems, Compact Flash offers true random
access to any data file or video frame. The transfer time to your
NLE is typically 2X to 6X faster (file transfer vs 1:1 video
Also, Compact Flash does not exhibit dropouts like tape and has an
extremely long shelf life.
How fast can I transfer the files to my NLE?
For 50 Mbps recordings, the files will transfer approximately 6
times faster than real-time. Stated differently, the transfer will
take 1/6th the amount of time it takes to record, playback, or
capture using tape.
For 100 Mbps recordings, the files will transfer approximately 3
times faster than realtime. Stated differently, the transfer will
take 1/3rd the amount of time it takes to record, playback, or
capture using tape.
The above assumes that a Lexar Firewire 800
card reader is used with the Transcend 133x card or the Transcend
300x card. The “read speeds”
for both of these CompactFlash cards is approximately 300x.
The transfer times will be longer with a
USB 2.0 card reader.
Can the Nexto device be used for temporary storage of the
Yes, our testing has shown that the Nexto DI eXtreme ND2700 device
is an excellent device for the temporary storage of your clips. The
500 GB Nexto is great for off-loading your footage onto another
medium, especially when a laptop or other computer is not
The clips on a CompactFlash card can be transferred to the
Nexto’s hard drive at approximately 25 megabytes per second
When extracting the clips to another computer, via the built-in
ESATA interface, the transfer speed is approximately 60 MBps.
We recommend purchasing the extra battery with the Nexto, as the
internal rechargeable battery power is limited to a transfer of
approximately 80 Gigabytes.
Caution: It is risky, at any point in your production, to have your
footage on any single device.
For important shoots, we highly recommend that you always have your
footage on at least two devices, be they CompactFlash cards, hard
drives, Nexto devices, or any other medium. This advice still
applies, no matter how reliable the storage media is.
If you want to transfer your footage to the Nexto, then erase your
CompactFlash cards immediately, we recommend first transferring the
footage to two separate Nexto devices.
What is your recommended CompactFlash card
Sandisk Extreme Firewire 800/400 CompactFlash card reader or the
Lexar UDMA Firewire-800 (each approximately US $60).
The SanDisk FireWire 800/400 reader can also operate at the older
400 (1394a) rate.
The FireWire 400 read performance is similar to USB 2.0.
Is Compact Flash reliable enough for professional
Compact Flash has been widely adopted by professional photographers
who demand the same reliability and data integrity as professional
CF card manufacturers typically specify 100,000 write cycles and
10,000 card insertion / removals (well beyond typical expected
The Transcend 16 GB 300x card is rated at over 1,000,000+ write
cycles, which is higher than the rating for the Transcend 32 GB
133x card. In either case, there are more write cycles than one can
expect to reach.
Each write cycle applies to individual memory cells, not to the
device as a whole. Thus one can easily record well over 50,000
The operating temperature range for the Transcend cards is -25 to
85 degrees C, with excellent shock and vibration characteristics.
Transcend offers a limited lifetime warranty.
With an all solid-state construction, and mean time between failure
of greater than 1,000,000 hours (Transcend figures), Compact Flash
is arguably one of the most reliable mediums available to store
How can I be sure that the CF card I just loaded is working
Flash XDR will automatically read the card ID parameters to ensure
it has sufficient I/O performance to match the current selected
Additionally, a small file will be written to and read from the
card to ensure basic operation each time the card is inserted into
the Flash XDR.
Can the CF cards be formatted on the Flash
Yes, up to four CompactFlash cards can be formatted simultaneously.
The formatting process takes under 15 seconds for four 32 GB
Be certain to remove all cards with footage before formatting any
cards, as the formatting process formats all cards in the Flash
In what file format is the MPEG2 data stored on Compact
In the current release, you have the option of Quicktime format, or
Convergent Design’s own “CDV” format, which is
similar to MXF, but without all of the header information.
In a future release, we will support MXF, OP-1A, in which the video
and audio information is interleaved (same as Sony XDCAM HD)
Can I record to the internal tape on the camera (for
backup) and to Compact Flash simultaneously?
Yes, but as this is a camera function, it depends on the
Can I erase the last clip?
This is planned for a future release, but we are not guarantying
that this feature will be released. If we find that this feature is
workable, without causing negative side effects, we will release
Will Convergent Design publish a list of qualified
As mentioned above, we have qualified the Transcend 133x and 300x
cards, and the Lexar 300x UDMA CompactFlash cards.
Other promising cards will be qualified when they are released and
pass our internal tests.
Transcend is a high quality card, with great performance, a good
warranty, and a low price. The CompactFlash card market is very
dynamic. We intend to test other promising cards in the future.