Cite from ASAM:
MDF (Measurement Data Format) is a binary file format to store recorded or calculated data for post-measurement processing, off-line evaluation or long-term storage. The format has become a de-facto standard for measurement & calibration systems (MC-systems), but is also used in many other application areas.
As a compact binary format, ASAM MDF offers efficient and high performance storage of huge amounts of measurement data. MDF is organized in loosely coupled binary blocks for flexible and high performance writing and reading. Fast index-based access to each sample can be achieved by loss-free re-organization (i.e. sorting) of the data. Distributed data blocks even make it possible to directly write sorted MDF files. The file format allows storage of raw measurement values and corresponding conversion formulas; therefore raw data can still be interpreted correctly and evaluated by post-processing tools.
Since it became an ASAM standard, MDF has been developed in close alignment with other ASAM standards such as MCD-2 MC (ASAP2) or ODS. Consequently, ASAM MDF supports special data types and information particularly required in the automotive area, e.g. structures and arrays (curves/maps), bus events and synchronized video data.
In addition to the plain measurement data and all necessary meta information for its interpretation, MDF can also store descriptive and customizable supplementary data within the same file. ASAM MDF offers flexible extensibility via generic XML fragments and a range of new features like custom signal grouping, events or attachments.