Sony is to begin selling memory cards with write speeds of 125Mbps, the fastest in the industry, from February. They're announced at the same time as Nikon's new D4 flagship digital SLR, which is the first to use the new standard.

The new cards are the first to be announced under a new standard called XQD, a specification from the CompactFlash Assocation announced in December.

The cards are meant for working with data-heavy formats such as raw image and video data in high-end cameras, where write speed to memory is becoming a bottleneck as image sensors and processors become more advanced. Faster write times will mean less pause between pictures snapped in data-heavy formats such as RAW, and snappier editing for previously saved data.

Sony said it will launch 16GB and 32GB versions initially, as well as readers that work with USB 3.0 and PCI slots in computers. In Japan, the cards will have estimated prices of ¥20,000 (£167) and ¥33,000 (£276), while the readers will each cost ¥4,000 (£33) and are slated to go on sale Feb. 15.

A Sony spokesman said the products will also be released outside Japan on a similar time frame.

CompactFlash is an older rival to formats such as Secure Digital (SD) which is now widely used for storage in mainstream digital cameras, mobile phones and personal computers.