Flash memory devices are non-volatile and solid-state, and thus are more robust than disk drives. Cards consume around 5% of the power required by small disk drives and still have reasonable transfer rates of over 45 MB/s for the more expensive 'high speed' cards.
Card speed is usually specified in "x" ratings, e.g. 8x, 20x, 133x. This is the same system used for CD-ROMs and gives the data rate as a multiple of the data rate of the first CD-ROMs (i.e. the data rate of an audio CD). The base rate is 150 kB/s, so for example, 20x = 20 * 150 kB/s = 3.0 MB/s.
The following table lists some common ratings and their respective maximum transfer rates.
Rating Speed (MB/s)
200x 30.0 EXTREME3
266x 40.0 EXTREME4
600x 90.0 UDMA