How to pick the right SD memory card

How to pick the right SD memory card

Summary: Need help deciphering SD card specs? The SD Association has just announced two new symbols to help consumers choose the best SD memory cards for their specific needs and devices.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Processors
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Not all memory cards are created equal, and it's easy to get confused when faced with the alphanumeric soup of specs splashed all over SD card packaging, all claiming to be the fastest and the best. Well help is on the way. The SD Association has just announced two new symbols to help consumers choose the best SD memory cards for their specific needs and devices.

The symbols identify high-speed performance standards for SDXC and SDHC memory cards and devices: The UHS-I symbol (a bold capital letter I) is for products with bus interface speeds up to 104 Megabytes per second (which is four times the existing 25 Mb/sec speed maximum) , and a new UHS Speed Class 1 symbol (a number 1 nestled inside a letter U) is for UHS-I cards and products that include a performance option to designed to support real-time video recording.

While the new Speed Class 1 symbol will only appear on UHS-I SDXC and SDHC products, note that the existing Speed Class symbols (Class 2, 4, 6, and 10) are for non-UHS SD, SDHC, and SDXC products and refer to the minimum write speed performance of the cards.

Memory cards and devices that sport the new symbols are backward compatible (so you can still use older SD cards in the newest devices, or use new UHS-I memory cards in old devices) but as you'd expect, you'll get the maximum performance with UHS-I products if both your memory card and your device (digital camera, camcorder, etc.) support the standard. The new symbols allow consumers to match symbols as they shop for cards or devices and achieve the most benefit when they are paired up.

The SD Association was founded in 2000 by Panasonic, SanDisk, and Toshiba to set industry standards and promote SD products, and currently has about 1,000 members.

Still confused?  Read the SD Association's primer on how to Find the Right SD Memory Card, or check out this slightly annoying video for a no-brainer explanation:

Topics: Hardware, Processors

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15 comments
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  • Very Confusing

    Ugh, PCMCIA. I wish they could just use numbers instead of adjectives- ie 25Mb/s or 104Mb/s (or Tx25 and Tx104, or R/W25 and R/W104, or Bus: 25 and Bus: 104). That way- there are two easy numbers- speed and storage. Bigger is better. Easy.

    This naming scheme, seems very short sighted- Unless they don't plan on going beyond 'Ultra High Speed' Speed Class. The next version is going to be what- Ultra Super High Speed Speed Class? Then 'Ludicrous Speed Speed Class?'

    Look at Intel now, with the i3/i5/i7- so simple. Please, tech industry- follow suit.
    Gritztastic
    • RE: How to pick the right SD memory card

      @homant@...

      (sarcasm mode="snarky")
      That is what happens when marketing weasels get involved with product merchandising. By the extreme use of superlatives, they have to conjure up some `newfangled` tier of performance when technology advances. Now, why should they want you to figure out exactly what you need, without first attempting to confuse the h--- out of you???

      it's all about obsolescence, or more importantly `perceived obsolescence`!!!
      (/sarcasm)
      fatman65535
    • RE: How to pick the right SD memory card

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  • Shame that what you say is contradicted by what the video says...

    You say:
    Memory cards and devices that sport the new symbols are backward compatible (so you can still use older SD cards in the newest devices, or use new UHS-I memory cards in old devices)

    But the video at 3:04-3:10 says:
    Backwards compatible means you can use any of your existing SD and SDHC memory cards with an SDXC device. However, you cannot use a SDXC memory card in a SD or SDHC device.
    fskrotzki@...
    • RE: How to pick the right SD memory card

      @fskrotzki@... the speed grading is what's up/down compatible.. it's just another speed grading, and perhaps a much less useful one compared to the Class system. This doesn't erase the differences between SDHC and SDXC (which, tragically, are not physical differences, but just about the use of FAT32 in the former case, exFAT in the latter case -- there's no reason you couldn't have 64GB SDHC cards, other than the SDHC folks not giving their blessing for these).
      Hazydave
      • RE: How to pick the right SD memory card

        @dave@...
        I understand the difference between Fat32 and exFAT, the specific part of the statement "use new UHS-I memory cards in old devices" is INCORRECT as it's not possible to use a UHS-I cards in an old device or a exFAT formatted device in a older device.

        Same way there is clear typo in 3rd paragraph. "While the new Speed Class 1 symbol" class one? Try Class I.

        Do people proof things?
        fskrotzki@...
    • RE: How to pick the right SD memory card

      @fskrotzki@... I have a cannon SD450 camera that uses SD cards, up to 2 GB, I tried a 4 GB SDHC card in it and it went nuts and would not use it. Tells me compatibality is an issue between devices and cards.

      dbajohn
      john.l.bechtle@...
  • They're adding more confusion, not less here.

    Hmmm... "designed to support real-time video recording". For a conventional camcorder, that's already met by devices that meet Class 4 or faster... this is really a non-issue, and entirely expressed by write-speed minimums, not bursts, not bus interface speed, and not read performance. Some DSLRs need faster cards, Class 6 most likely, for full speed video capture. A flash-based MPEG-2 Standard Definition camcorder will be happy with Class 2.

    In short, there's no one number that means "real-time video recording"... it depends on what you're doing with it.
    There are SxS card modules that take SDHC cards inside, for even higher bitrates using parallel SD cards.... a completely different set of conventions for "real-time video recording".

    I did applaud the SD people for creating the Class system, which delivers the information you need to know in an easy to understand nomenclature (eg, Class 4 = 4MB/s writes, class 6 = 6MB/s writes, etc... both guaranteed minimums). This new thing would seem to obfuscate the problem, and if anything, it'll have consumers paying for performance levels they don't come close to needed, just because they're now convinced they need this for video.

    Dumb move.
    Hazydave
  • RE: How to pick the right SD memory card

    I think the issue that most people are missing here is that the FAT32 SDHC format has a limit of 32GB. The technology simply doesn't allow larger capacities than this. The main reason why SDXC has been developed is because the technology has a max limit of 2TB which means this format will be around for a long time and within a couple of years it will be the only format that we are using. New camcorder and camera technology demands higher speed and higher capacity cards. High resolution camcorders recording in HD demand lots of
    storage and the files will only get bigger in the future as higher res devices are introduced to the market. These larger files also take longer to process
    which is why SDXC
    <a href="http://www.lowpricememory.co.uk/">memory
    cards</a> will operate faster than the SDHC format. This really is a technology for the future and it should stand the test of time in my opinion.
    timt@...
  • Image Recovery software

    The above post are really helpful to find out right sd memory card. Many times if the memory card is not of good quality produce data loss. So always buy a good memory card.
    ronald20
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    Nice tips to pick the right memory card. But some of the tips are not understandable by common user.
    ronald20
  • video recovery software

    I am still confused to check the symbol and understand which memory card is right. Can you please upload a video which describes it clearly.
    ronald20
  • video recovery

    Thanks for writing tips to choose best SD memory card. I will always follow these tips purchasing a SD memory card.
    ronald20
  • Photo Recovery

    I will always see UHS-I symbol on SDXC and SDHC memory card at the time of purchasing.
    ronald20
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    Thanks for sharing such a hot topic i.e to choose the right SD memory card. Because in present era, lots of people use memory card for there purpose.
    Shane75