Android owners: Get ready for blazing-fast SSD-like speeds with microSD Express

The new microSD Express format will deliver up to 985MB/s data transfer rates.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

A new format for microSD cards is here and will deliver data-transfer speeds of up to 985 megabytes per second (MB/s), opening up new possibilities for mobile gaming, apps, and future Raspberry Pi-type development boards. 

microSD Express follows SD Express in using the PCIe interface and NMVe comms protocol to deliver blisteringly fast memory-access speeds on mobile devices, around 10 times faster than what's possible with today's microSD cards. 

microSD Express comes by way of the new SD 7.1 specification, unveiled at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday. In a nutshell, using PCIe and NMVe on external mobile cards enables the same speeds available on solid-state (SSD) storage drives on laptops and mobile devices. 

The faster transfer speeds could be a game changer for Android handsets, which depend on SD cards to make up for restricted built-in storage. The other category of hardware they could help is future Raspberry Pi and other bare-bones developer boards that rely on SD cards for the operating system and apps.  

"microSD Express gives the mobile industry a compelling new choice to equip mobile devices with removable SSDs," said Hiroyuki Sakamoto, SDA president, in a statement. "SD 7.1 prepares consumers and mobile-device manufacturers to meet ever-increasing storage demands for years to come."  

Cards using microSD Express would leave today's fastest microSD cards in the dust. For example, Western Digital just announced the 1TB SanDisk Extreme UHS-I microSDXC card, which offers transfer speeds up to 160MB/s and is the fastest on the market.  

The new SD 7.1 spec will be offered in microSDHC Express, microSDXC Express, and microSDUC Express. Besides lower latency and fast transfer speeds on mobile apps, the new standard will support emerging IoT applications, autonomous vehicles, higher resolution videos, mobile cameras, and so on. 

microSD Express also uses PCIe 3.1, which includes the low power state that enables more energy-efficient implementations of SD Express for the mobile market. 

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