At MWC Shanghai, SD Association (SDA), the organisation that sets standards for SD cards, has announced benefits of its new SD 7.0 specification. The specification enables two new functionalities - SD Express and SD Ultra Capacity (SDUC). SD Express cards will use the PCIe high-speed interface and NVMe upper layer protocol to manage a transfer rate of a whopping 985MBps. Thanks to these speeds, SDA says SD Express cards will act like removable SSDs, and are compatible with billions of existing SD hosts in the market, giving manufacturers a new storage facility to store mammoth content. With SDUC, the maximum storage of SD cards goes up to 128TB, significantly higher compared to the earlier 2TB maximum capacity of SDXC cards. Previous peak transfer speeds seen in UHS-III SDXC cards were 624MBps. SD Express cards will initially be offered in the SDHC (32GB), SDXC (2TB), and SDUC (128TB) formats.
Alongside the existing UHS-I interface, the PCIe interface has been added to let SD Express cards operate interchangeably in new SD Express capable hosts as well as billions of existing SD host products in the market today. The high 985MBps transfer speeds enables storage for high-resolution content applications such as super-slow motion video, RAW continuous burst mode photography, 8K video capture and playback, 360 degree video, multi-channel IoT devices, and numerous automotive storage needs as well. The NVME upper layer protocol enables the SD Express cards to use advanced memory access mechanism. Specifically, SD Express cards use PCIe 3.0 and NVMe version 1.3 standards giving new options to developers like bus mastering, multi queue support, and host memory buffer.
"With SD Express we're offering an entirely new level of memory card with faster protocols turning cards into a removable SSD," said Hiroyuki Sakamoto, SDA President, in a statement. "SD 7.0 delivers revolutionary innovations to anticipate the needs of forthcoming devices and content rich and speed hungry applications."
"SD Express' use of popular PCIe and NVMe interfaces to deliver faster transfer speeds is a savvy choice since both protocols are widely used in the industry today and creates a compelling choice for devices of all types. The SD Association has a robust ecosystem with a strong history of integrating SD innovations and has earned the trust of consumers around the world," said Mats Larsson, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource, in a statement.
SDA said SD Express cards can be used in UHS-I, UHS-II, UHS-III and SD Express host devices, but faster performance levels will only be attained when matching the card to the host device. Thereby, if you wish the transfer rate to be at 985MBps, it is best to use these cards with a SD Express host.