New microSD Express Format Brings SSD-Level Removable Storage Performance To Smartphones

microsd express
With smartphone these days including an increasing amount of onboard storage, it's easy to forget that microSD card storage is also expanding at a rapid clip. However, the biggest downside to microSD expansion is that it is often much slower than internal storage, which can be a problem when accessing apps or media stored externally.

The SD Association (SDA) is looking to change this with the introduction of the new microSD Express removable storage format. The new cards will adhere to SD 7.1 specifications and take advantage of the PCIe (3.1) and NVMe (1.3) interfaces to deliver SSD-levels of performance.

In fact, the SD Association says that the microSD Express is spec'd to deliver maximum data rates of 985 Mbps, which is quite the accomplishment for removable storage that can be used in a smartphone, tablet, or notebook computer (among other usage cases). In addition to the speed improvements, the SDA is promising lower energy consumption than existing microSD cards, while maximum power consumption will stay at the same level (or lower).

And thanks to leveraging existing PCIe and NVMe technologies like Bus Mastering and Host Memory Buffer, microSD Express cards should be able to communicate with other hardware components without having to first task the CPU.

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

galaxy s10 family

With the arrival of smartphones packing in an incredibly 1TB of storage (a la the Samsung Galaxy S10+) and the debut of 1TB microSD cards, the eventual move to microSD Express could really turn smartphones into even higher-performing mobile powerhouse multimedia machines.