Microsoft today said it would license its exFAT file system to third parties to spread its use in computers and portable devices. The technology is already found in the SDXC card format but will now be available in a flexible system that depends on the device. Simple devices like cameras and photo frames will involve a pay-once $300,000 fee, while more advanced devices like computers and smartphones will pay a royalty for every unit sold.
The system is part of Windows 7 and is optimized for flash memory as well as audio and video. Compared to the original FAT system, it supports a much larger 256TB of storage as well as many more files in a single folder. It's better designed for speed and is partly behind SDXC's theoretical peak 300MB per second transfer rate.
Not all flash devices need to support exFAT as some CompactFlash cards, as well as portable media players like the iPod touch, currently have capacities of 64GB or more. However, the Microsoft format will be necessary for most current and future computer operating systems as they will need to recognize attached devices.