Balena’s Etcher software is a free, cross-platform tool for Windows, Mac, or Linux that makes it easy to flash an OS image to a bootable SD card or USB flash drive. You can use it to load an operating system on a card for devices like the Raspberry Pi single board computer or PinePhone smartphone.

But what if you want to prepare a whole bunch of SD cards? You could do them one by one. Or you could buy some dedicated hardware that lets you write to multiple cards at once.

The new Balena EtcherPro is designed to do just that: it’s a new device from the company that can flash the same disk image to up to 16 cards, microSD cards, or USB flash drives at the same time. Later this year a software update will also make it possible to connect up to 10 EtcherPro devices together so you can flash up to 160 cards.

The EtcherPro is expected to sell for $990 plus tax and shipping, but it’s up for pre-order now for a deposit of $50.

While that’s a heck of a lot more expensive than a typical SD card reader that plugs into your PC, the EtcherPro is more of a purpose-built device that has 16 microSDXC, 16 SDXC, and 16 USB 3.0 Type-A ports.

It also has a 7 inch touchscreen display, Gigabit Ethernet, dual-band WiFi and the system runs a light-weight Linux distribution called BalenaOS.

The EtcherPro automatically downloads software updates from the internet, and the internet connection also allows you to download a disk image from the internet and flash it to up to 16 disks. Or you can insert a SD card or flash drive with the disk image on it into one of the ports and flash that image to up to 15 other cards.

If you have a single-board computer, smartphone, or another device that supports flashing a disk image directly to internal storage via a USB connection, you may also be able to use the EtcherPro to do that.

Balena says disk write speeds top out at 200MB/s when you’re flashing an image to a single drive or SD card or 52 MB/s when writing to multiple devices at the same time.

via Tom’s Hardware

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  1. Sounds pretty cool. If the chaining of 10 works reliably at 52MB/s, I know some folks for whom that would be very worth the sub $10k investment.

  2. Or, if you buy a USB hub and some card readers, you could do the same thing. A USB 3 hub will be able to get those transfer speeds. If the box running the imaging has multiple USB lanes, you can increase the speed by attaching fewer cards to each of them. While this box organizes all of that hardware more neatly, it doesn’t do anything you can’t do with a basic computer and $100-150 of parts. Meanwhile, if you need to produce an industrial-level quantity of cards, imaging 16 at a time isn’t going to cut it.