SD Express Adopts PCIe And NVMe For Blazing Fast Memory Cards Up To 128TB

Memory cards for digital cameras and other devices are about to get a whole lot faster and more capacious at the same time. At the 2018 Mobile World Congress Shanghai (MWC Shang) that runs from today through June 29, the SD Association announced a new SD memory card standard called SD Express. The new standard taps into the PCIe bus with an NVMe interface to bring a maximum data transfer rate of 985 megabytes per second (MB/s). It also raises the capacity ceiling from 2TB with SDXC to 128TB with the new SD Ultra Capacity (SDUC) card format.

"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," said Mats Larsson, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource. "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."

The move to a faster and more capacious standard paves the way for consumers and professionals alike to more easily manage projects and tasks that move large amounts of data. This is especially important as 4K resolution videos become more common. It's also a forward-thinking upgrade to deal with the eventual shift to 8K video capture and playback, along with super slow motion video, RAW continuous burst mode, and 360-degree video for VR applications.

"NVMe is the industry-recognized performance SSD interface from the client to the datacenter, shipping in millions of units," said Amber Huffman, NVM Express Inc. president. "Consumers will benefit by SD Association adopting the NVMe specification for their new SD Express cards."

SD Express is built around the PCIe 3.0 specification and NVMe v1.3 protocols defined by PCI-SIG and NVM Express. This is implemented into the second row of pins used by UHS-II cards today. The importance of that is the new cards are backwards compatible with existing equipment. It also makes it easier for device makers to implement full support for the new cards in upcoming gadgets.

It's not clear when these newer, faster, and more capacious cards will make it to market or how much they will cost.