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What Does ExpressCard Mean?

An ExpressCard is a proprietary printed circuit board that is inserted into a slot to provide additional features to a computer system by way of a computer bus, which transfers information between the peripheral device and the computer’s internal hardware.


The ExpressCard is the successor of the PC Card, which was originally designed for laptop computer storage expansion but was also used in early digital single-lens reflex cameras and as plug-in components that contained devices like network adapters, solid state drives, hard disks, sound cards and modems.

The ExpressCard supports multimedia, basic network and wireless communications, as well as additional memory and security features.

Techopedia Explains ExpressCard

An ExpressCard contains electronic circuitry and connectors that allows a module to be connected using technical standard requirements. The current ExpressCard standard is sustained by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF).

There are two form factors standards: ExpressCard/34 and ExpressCard/54. The 34 mm slot is used only for 34 mm cards, while the 54 mm slot can use the 34 mm and 54 mm cards.

The ExpressCard is not compatible with older versions of the 16-bit PC Card slot, but an adapter can be used to connect an ExpressCard/34 card to a 32-bit CardBus slot.

There are various devices that can be plugged into a computer using the ExpressCard such as:

  • USB 2.0
  • Sound cards
  • Solid-state drives
  • Television tuner cards
  • FireWire 800 (1394B)
  • Graphics cards such as PCI Express
  • USB 3.0 just with ExpressCard 2.0
  • Wireless network interface cards
  • Connect cards or mobile broadband modems
  • Serial advanced technology attachments
  • Ethernet that has a data transfer rate of 1 Gbps
  • Common access card readers issued as identification for active-duty military personnel

The ExpressCard supports several hosts such as USB 2.0, PCI Express and SuperSpeed USB using just the ExpressCard 2.0. Additionally, it is hot-pluggable, so the system will not be interrupted while adding the device. Prior to the ExpressCard and the PC Card, a computer’s case had to be opened in order to add hardware. In addition, new hardware had to be configured and a driver for the hardware had to be installed.

Compared to the 32-bit CardBus, the ExpressCard has a lot more bandwidth because of its direct connection to the system bus. The CardBus uses only the PCI interface and has a bandwidth of 1.06 Gbps, while the ExpressCard has a throughput of 2.0 Gbps through the USB 2.0 and 2.5 Gbps using PCI Express. The newest version is the ExpressCard 2.0, which is said to have up to 5 Gbps bandwidth and is backward-compatible with previous compliant products.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.