The SD Association has revealed a few major updates that could bring faster, higher capacity SD cards.

The new SD 7.0 specification includes new technologies that will enable support for SD cards with up to 128TB of storage and data transfer speeds as high as 985 megabytes per second.

Right now the theoretical maximum amount of storage for an SD card is 2TB, but even the highest capacity cards on the market top out at only about a quarter of that. So it’ll probably be a few years before we start to see storage cards come anywhere close to the new maximum. But the new SDUC (SD Ultra Capacity) standard will make it possible.

The new SD Express protocol, meanwhile, adds support for PCI Express and NVMe interfaces. Basically, this means you can use an SD card like a removable SSD… and it’ll support SSD-level data transfer speeds too.

Earlier this year Western Digital showed off a PCIe SD card capable of achieving 880 MB/s read speeds and 430 MB/s write speeds. But you can’t just plug it into any old SD card reader on your laptop or camera and expect to get speeds that fast. It requires an PCIe interface, making it more likely that this is something you’d find tucked inside a computer where you’d normally find something like an M.2 SSD.

Still, the new cards will be the same size and shape as their predecessors, and they’re backward compatible. So you can theoretically pop out an SDUC card with SD Express technology and plug it into a standard card reader. It’ll just be a lot slower (with top speeds in the 50 MB/s to 104 MB/s range, depending on the card reader you’re using).

press release

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9 replies on “Next-gen SD cards to support up to 128TB of storage, 985 MB/s speeds”

  1. What are they doing to ensure data integrity?
    Since the data is usually worth a lot more than
    the storage medium, customers will be hesitant
    to adopt the new technology if adequate safeguards
    aren’t in place.

      1. Assuming they hit their theoretical storage limits, at 985 MB/s, it will take over 36 hours to complete a backup. Even if consumer devices only hit a quarter of that storage like the current cards, that’s still 9 hours to copy, and that’s even generously assuming maximum theoretical read speeds. So with that bottleneck, regular backups could be a major pain.

        This is already starting to be a problem in large RAID arrays with large hard drives, since rebuilding a RAID 5 or 6 array after a drive failure where each drive can possibly be 8+ TB these days can mean a long time before you’re fully operational. There are ways around it, but it’s certainly worth considering how long the rebuild time will be, and the odds of a second failure in that time given the low transfer speeds of a hard drive relative to capacity.

        1. The vast majority of consumers will never need to store remotely close to that amount of data locally, so it’s unlikely we’ll see many consumer devices more than a few TB in size, unless there is some completely new use case found for them.

          The only possible need today is HD video, but I suspect uploading to the cloud for safekeeping is going to be more popular as upload speeds improve. (Yes, even with the security and privacy concerns that come with cloud-based solutions.)

          1. I caution anyone making claims about future storage needs with the tales of such previous predictions, but besides that, what if you’re a pro who actually needs this sort of multi-TB storage NOW for 4K video? Sam’s questions still rightly apply. If they’re going to create a standard for this, Sam is right to bring up these issues.

            Personally, I have a 4K dashcam that is only recording in 1080p right now because of SD card limits. If I were to have a high capacity storage option like this, I would want to make sure there is some sort of data integrity, and high enough speeds that I could offload large files in a reasonable amount of time.

            The current use cases abound. I use SD cards to expand the storage on my tablet computer in addition to recording HD video, and run my Raspberry Pis. I’m all ready for TB and beyond.

          2. Maybe in Europe or the more modernized parts of Asia, here in the US, the prospects of getting access to fast upload speeds are pretty spotty and the situation probably won’t improve any time soon if ever.

  2. Is it just me or is anyone else amazed at the amount of storage that fits into such a tiny form factor?

    1. I still have a 5 1/4 inch full height floppy disk drive from an IBM PC kicking around, capacity 360kB.

      The highest capacity micro-SD card available today is 512GB, or 153 million times the data density than the floppies used in that drive.

      Yeah, I’d say things have come a long way in the last 35 years.

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