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June 29, 2018

Future SD cards could be as fast as an SSD — and hold more than your hard drive

by John_A

Future SD cards could operate as fast as a speedy solid-state drive (SSD), while others could hold more than data than your current computer. The SD Express will allow up to 985 megabytes per second, while the SD Ultra Capacity has the potential to hold a whopping 128 TB of data. The SD Association unveiled both new card formats on Wednesday, June 27.

The SD Express offers some serious speed by integrating PCI Express and NVMe interfaces, existing tools that essentially turn the small cards into a removable SSD, the SD Association suggests. That design requires a second set of metal connectors on the card, but aligning those additional pins with the extra row on UHS-II cards will help allow the new card category launch with compatible devices already on the market, along with offering backward compatibility.

The 985 MB per second maximum speed offers a boost over the UHS-II card speed of 600 MB per second. That enhanced speed allows the cards to keep up with high-resolution cameras, including shooting virtual reality, 8K and continuous bursts of RAW photos. Serving as a removable SSD drive, the cards can also be used for running mobile applications that require more speed, along with uses for IoT devices and automotive. The association says the first types of SD Express cards will be SDXC and SDHC, as well as the new SDUC.

The second new card type is designed not for speed, but for big capacities. SD Ultra Capacity, or SDUC, has the potential to fit up to 128 TB on a standard-sized SD card. The SDUC card system is defined as cards holding between 2 TB and 128 TB, but exactly what storage options hit the market will depend on the manufacturers.

SD Association sets the standards for memory cards but doesn’t manufacturer them — so while there are now two new SD card categories, it is unclear just how long before it is actually possible to buy one. Fast, high-capacity memory cards are among the highest priced options. A 512 GB UHS-I SanDisk runs for about $300 on Amazon, for example.

The new card types were announced during Mobile World Congress Shanghai.

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