Future SD cards: Expect monster 128TB storage, plus zippier data transfers

New SD specification will bring SSD performance to the next generation of SD cards.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Video: SanDisk competitor to sell half-terabyte mircoSD card.

Standards body the SD Association has announced a faster data-transfer interface, dubbed SD Express, and SD Ultra Capacity, which offers a 128TB maximum capacity.

SD Express incorporates PCI Express or PCIe and Non-Volatile Memory express or NVMe, the standard software interface for PCIe SSDs.

The addition of PCIe should enable maximum data transfer rates of 985 megabytes per second, and together with NVMe will allow SD cards to be used as removable SSDs.

SD Ultra Capacity (SDUC) cards would be a huge jump from today's maximum SD card capacity of 2TB.

SD Express and SDUC are part of the new SD 7.0 specification unveiled at Mobile World Congress Shanghai this week.

SD Express will be initially offered on SDUC, SDXC and SDHC memory cards. The speedier interface will enable future SD cards to support gaming and other apps on cards, 8K video capture and playback, VR, video streaming, and large images.

SEE: Executive's guide to the business value of VR and AR (free ebook)

The SD Association has published a whitepaper detailing the specification detailing backward compatibility and requirements for maximum performance.

The new cards with SD Express will have the same shape as today's SD cards and will include the SD UHS-I interface to support legacy SD interfaces.

However, achieving maximum performance requires that a card and host support SD Express, so in reality many of today's devices will support data transfer speeds of far less than 985MB/s.

If the host has UHS-II or USH-III pins with an SD Express card, it will enable up to 104MB/s data transfers, according to the whitepaper.


SD Association has outlined the card types and expected maximum performance for the new spec.

Image: SD Association

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