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Definition: ExpressCard

The third-generation expansion interface from the USB Implementers Forum (www.usb.org). Introduced in 2003 by the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA), the ExpressCard was a plug-in module that superseded the PC Card standard for adding functionality to laptops. ExpressCard boosted the data rate from 132 to 342 Mbytes/sec. It supported USB 2.0 and single lane PCI Express simultaneously (see USB and PCI Express).

Smaller than PC Cards
ExpressCards were 11mm shorter than PC Cards and came in two widths: 54mm and 34mm. ExpressCard 54mm slots accommodated both sizes.

An Almost-Internal USB Solution
The ExpressCard eliminated the need to carry an external USB storage device and cable. For example, a hard drive or flash drive could remain within the laptop when traveling, with only a small protrusion jutting out from the side. See PC Card.

The two leftmost ExpressCards are 54mm modules, while the other four are 34mm modules. (Image courtesy of Personal Computer Memory Card International Association.)

Two ExpressCard Sizes
The same 5mm thickness as Type II PC Cards, but 11mm shorter, ExpressCards came in two widths (see PC Card). (Image courtesy of Personal Computer Memory Card International Association.)