PC Cards are credit-card-sized expansion cards that are used in portable computers rather than the full-sized expansion cards used in desktop systems. PC Card expansion slots provide additional functionality to laptop systems. The PC Card standard was developed by the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA) and PC Cards were previously known as PCMCIA cards. PC Cards are 4 mm wide by 85.6 mm long, and have a female 68-pin connector that plugs into a 68-pin male connector inside a slot in the side of the computer.
Figure: A PC Card.
PC Card Types
There are three types of PC Cards approved by PCMCIA.
Used Primarily For
|I||3.3 mm||Memory. (These are obsolete.)|
|II||5.0/5.5 mm||Memory, modems, network adapters, wireless network adapters, USB, FireWire, and SCSI connectors. Might have pop-out XJACK connectors or dongles for network cables or phone line connections. Some laptops had two Type II slots with no barrier in between; this would allow the insertion of either two Type II cards or one Type III card.|
|III||10.5 mm||Miniature hard drives.|
PC Card Uses
The following describes some common uses for PC Cards.
Adds modem capabilities to notebooks that do not have built-in modems. May have a retractable XJACK in which to plug the phone cord. Alternatively, you may need to use an adapter, called a dongle, to plug in the phone cord. One end of the dongle has a connector that plugs into the PC Card and the other end of the adapter has a connector to plug in the phone cord.
Network adapter (NIC):
Adds networking capabilities to notebooks that do not have built-in NICs. Like the modem card, it may have a retractable XJACK in which to plug a network cable or it may require you to use a dongle.
Wireless network adapter:
Provides wireless networking for notebooks that do not have built-in wireless capability. Often includes a built-in antenna for wireless communication.
Allows users to connect SCSI devices, such as a printer or external hard drive, to the notebook if it does not have a built-in SCSI adapter.
Allows users to connect USB devices, such as external memory devices or printers, to the notebook if it does not have a built-in USB adapter.
Provides a connection for devices such as external hard drives.
PC Cards use a bus type called CardBus. It is the most common bus used by PC Cards and it enables PC Cards and hosts to use 32-bit bus mastering and to operate at speeds of up to 33 MHz. Bus mastering enables the PC Card to communicate directly with other cards without going through the CPU.
Procedure : Install a PC Card
To install a PC Card:
1. Slide the PC Card into the PC Card slot until it is fully inserted. Make sure the PC Card is right side up. There is usually a label on the top with an arrow and/or the word “Insert,” indicating which way to install it. You can bend the pins if you attempt to install it upside down.
2. If prompted, install any required drivers for the PC Card.
3. Verify that the system recognizes the PC Card. You can look for an icon in the System Tray, or you can use Device Manager to verify that the device is working properly. PC Cards must be compatible with the device and the device’s operating system.
4. Connect any external devices or cables to the card. For example, PC Card network adapters might require a short adapter cable, called a dongle, between the PC Card’s connector and the standard network cable.