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PCMCIA - Personal Computer Memory Card International Association

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Definition: PCMCIA is an industry organization best know for developing a standard network adapter using the PC Card form factor. The PC Card form factor was designed for thinness, and PCMCIA is therefore especially well suited for notebook computers. Most notebooks contain two PCMCIA slots that hold one or two of these cards.

PC Cards come in three types. All PC Cards have the same width and length - 54.0 millimeters wide and 85.6 millmeters long - but vary in thickness:

• Type 1 - 3.3 millimeters thick
• Type 2 - 5.0 millimeters thick
• Type 3 - 10.5 millimeters thick

Ethernet PCMCIA network adapters were originally all Type 2 PC Cards. These cards feature a dual-speed or Fast Ethernet jack and sometimes a second jack for an onboard dial-up modem. Type 1 PC Cards cards generally contain computer memory and Type 3 cards generally contain disk storage.

Type 2 PC Cards are too thin to fit a full-sized Ethernet (RJ-45) jack and/or a full-sized phone (RJ-11) jack. Instead, Type 2 Ethernet PCMCIA cards require proprietary jacks and short external cables called dongles that interface a proprietary jack to a standard one.

However, an increasing number of PCMCIA Ethernet adapters are now being built using the Type 3 form factor. Being twice as thick as Type 2 adapters, Type 3 adapters work without dongles because they fit a full-sized Ethernet (RJ-45) jack and/or a full-sized phone (RJ-11) jack. One Type 3 ("double high") adapter fills both PCMCIA slots in a notebook computer.

Also Known As: PC Card; Personal Computer Memory Card International Association; People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms
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