SD cards hit 128TB capacity and gain advanced data transfer protocols

New specs add PCIe, NVMe and vastly increased max spec

SD cards now have a maximum capacity of 128TB and support for advanced data transfer protocols, following the launch of new specs from the industry body behind the technology.

The SD Association, which is responsible for guiding and developing the underlying technology behind the storage format, released version 7.0 of the architecture behind SD cards, adding some substantial updates.

Arguably the most important is support for a new theoretical maximum size of 128TB thanks to the new SD Ultra Capacity (SDUC) classification - orders of magnitude larger than the previous upper limit of 2TB. This would offer substantially more storage capacity than most SSDs, while taking up a fraction of the physical space.

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It's worth noting, however, that this is a theoretical maximum limit; the 2TB maximum limit of the previous specification is still yet to be reached by any manufacturer, and we're unlikely to see 128TB SD cards any time soon.

The other major update from the new spec, on the other hand, is likely to arrive much sooner, and that is vastly improved SD card speeds, thanks to support for PCIe and NVMe technology. A common feature of SSD drives for a number of years now, these two interfaces enable much greater data transfer speeds - up to 985MB/sec, according to the SD Association.

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"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, SD Association president. "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," said Mats Larsson, senior market analyst at Futuresource.

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