SD card speed to triple

The SD Association has announced a new interface for flash memory cards that triples data transfer speeds.
Written by Stephen Shankland, Contributor

The SD Association has announced a new interface for flash memory cards that triples data transfer speeds.

SD card speed is expected to triple

The SD Card Association plans to speed flash cards arriving in 2012 with a new specification that nearly triples data transfer speeds. The faster speeds require a second row of electrical contacts. (Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET)

The faster SD card specification was expected since the group started previewing it in September. But more unusually for the consortium, the SD Association also announced an ebook specification at the Consumer Electronics Show.

"Our new ebook application ... opens broad consumer access to ebook content and turns billions of existing SD mobile phones and devices into e-readers," said Norm Frentz, chairman of the SD Association, in a statement. "SD continues to evolve its capabilities to support voracious consumer demand for portable movies, television broadcasts, high-definition home videos and now full-colour books."

It's not yet clear who among ebook reader makers, publishers or other companies are on board with the new specification. Such partnerships will be important to its success, though, and there already are other ebook formats such as ePub.

The group's core work is with SD itself, though. The format has largely extinguished two rivals, xD Card from Fujifilm and Olympus and Memory Stick from Sony, though CompactFlash retains clout in a high-end niche.

SD cards are growing in maturity, with Canon supporting them in its top-end SLR and offering dual SD slots in its new Vixia HF G10 high-end video camera. And Lexar announced 64GB and 128GB professional-grade SD cards, taking advantage of the new capacity of the SDXC standard. But even those newly announced and not yet available cards are relatively slow when it comes to transferring data — just 20MB/s.

To speed things up, SD developed the Ultra High Speed (UHS) communication technology for SD cards — either the older SDHC variety or the newer SDXC models with much higher data capacity. The first generation, UHS-I, reaches 104MB/s.

The new UHS-II, though, adds a second row of electrical contacts and boosts data-transfer speeds to 312MB/s. And there's more to come.

"We've tripled bus-interface speeds from last year's UHS-I development and we plan to double UHS-II speeds in the future," Frentz said.

Devices supporting the UHS-II technology will also be able to read older SD cards, the SD Association said.

In September, the group said UHS-II cards and devices using them would become available in 2012.


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