MDF (Measurement Data Format) is a binary file format for measurement data that was developed by Vector in collaboration with Robert Bosch GmbH in 1991. After the MDF format quickly emerged as the de facto standard in the automotive industry, the revised Version 4.0 was ultimately published as an official ASAM standard in 2009. The format was last updated as ASAM MDF 4.1 in 2012.
Vector played a crucial role in shaping the MDF standard both during its original development and over many years of maintenance and further development into an ASAM standard. All of the experience gained in the process as well as special automotive expertise leave its mark in the comprehensive MDF support of products.
Many Vector tools store the data they acquire in MDF by default. Many other providers also now support MDF or store their measurement data as MDF files.
An important factor contributing to the success of MDF is its ability to store measurement data very efficiently, i.e., memory space-saving and fast storage. Moreover, the read access to data in the file can also be optimized. To do so, the file must, if necessary, be "sorted" once (for example, when opening it for the first time). This enables indexed and thus faster access to the data. Starting from MDF 4.0, MDF files can also be written as sorted files without any appreciable loss of performance.
MDF contains both the raw measurement data acquired during a measurement and metadata necessary for interpreting the raw data. This includes, for example, information for converting the raw data into physical values, or the ASAM-compliant signal name. The available data fields in MDF are specially oriented to the requirements of the automotive industry. Thanks to available data fields in the MDF file, you can also store your own comments and even binary data. You will find details on this in the specification.
Compatibility was a constant focus when expanding the specification. As a result, you continue to evaluate older MDF files with current tools. This compatibility along with the stability of the format has contributed to the widespread use of the MDF format.