back to article SD cards add PCIe and NVMe, hit 985 MB/sec and 128TB

The SD Association, the industry body behind the SD card memory spec, has announced a new version 7.0 spec for its tech that makes the postage-stamp sized memory cards rather more interesting. The new spec has two big updates. One is called “SD Ultra Capacity” and expands the maximum capacity of SD cards to 128 terabytes, …

  1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    128TiB in an SD card?


    *Flings bags of cash at you*



    Seriously, I'd love to have a few of those. I could build a RAID NAS box & store everything I've ever downloaded/produced for decades to come. Every document, every old photo (even if I can no longer see them), every song, every movie, every ISO, *everything*... and have multiple redundant backups of it all just in case.

    And then there's all that porn. Mmmmm... <Homer Simpson>Porn</Homer Simpson>

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: 128TiB in an SD card?

      The problem with a 128TB card is that your will realize that your, um, collection has been severely degraded by past attempts to make it fit on ancient storage. You'll need the remasters, the low-loss compression, the 8K ultra high definition, the high dynamic range, the biggest you can get - the TMI file format.

      I'm curious if any phone makers will replace their microSD card tray with a a full SD card. The 400GB microSD cards are already enabling phones to replace laptops for some uses.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: 128TiB in an SD card?

        ... not to mention bitrot. Which is real thing if you store large enough set of data.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: 128TiB in an SD card?

        Your array will probably get hot very quickly and the cards will start to throttle performance.

        Speed causing heat problems in big, fat SSDs and m.2 cards, squish that down onto an SD card (or a micro-SD) and you are going to run into heat disipation problems very quickly, if you are using it as a traditional drive.

    2. GIRZiM

      Re: Mmmmm... <Homer Simpson>Porn</Homer Simpson>

      You know, that would be less disturbing if you had got the syntax right:

      <Homer Simpson>Mmmmm... Porn</Homer Simpson> or even, at a pinch, <Homer Simpson>Mmmmm...</Homer Simpson>Porn.

      But your Freudian slip there, whereby the thing you associate with Homer Simpson is the porn, not the "Mmmmm..."

      I mean, each to their own, whatever floats your boat and all that but, Homer Simpson? Really?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mmmmm... <Homer Simpson>Porn</Homer Simpson>

        you must be fun at parties

        1. GIRZiM

          Re: Mmmmm... <Homer Simpson>Porn</Homer Simpson>

          Even on the most off day of my existence, even I'm more fun at parties than you could ever hope to be be even if you were immortal and took non-stop lessons from the funnest person ever to live in the entire history of the universe for the entirety of eternity.

          What a sad, humourless individual you are; your life must be a whole barrel of laughs - got any more side-splittingly witty rejoinders to regale us all with here or do you have to reorganise your sock-drawer?

          <hint: the crusty ones go in the washing machine when your mom's not looking>.

          1. scrubber

            Re: Mmmmm... <Homer Simpson>Porn</Homer Simpson>

            I don't give lessons

            1. GIRZiM

              Re: I don't give lessons

              Well, that's no fun.

  2. Crisp

    Cool! Just like on Star Trek

    Except these are smaller than isolinear chips and probably hold more data.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cool! Just like on Star Trek

      Star Trek about millions of gigaquads and even millions of teraquads, so regardless of what a "quad" is this mere 128 TB card has a way to go!

  3. Davegoody

    No Wear Levelling hmmmmmm

    Bearing in mind that I typically replace my MicroSD cards in my DashCam around every 6-8 months, as they literally wear out, I don't see that these deserve in any way an enterprise moniker...... GREAT in principle as a write occasionally / read often media, but without wear levelling, they will wear out very quickly....... and 128TB on a single SD card is a lot of eggs in one (not very reliable) basket....

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: No Wear Levelling hmmmmmm

      You must be buying some cheap junk SD cards.

      My cards been in my dashcam for 2.5 years (since I bought my car) and it's absolutely fine.

      The card in my phone has been there for nearly 8 years. Also fine.

      I have a card inside a CCTV camera doing a timelapse. That's been six months+ and still fine. In fact the reason they include it is so that you can constant-record to it in case the system goes down, a lot of CCTV cameras do now.

      I get that they aren't certified to last forever, but if you're replacing every few months, you have a false economy on whatever junk it is that you're buying and just need to buy a decent card.

      1. illiad

        Re: No Wear Levelling hmmmmmm

        It rather depends on the memory on the card, AFAIK the new tech has problems with over use..

      2. Davegoody

        Re: No Wear Levelling hmmmmmm

        You are presuming a lot there Lee D - My DashCam is on 24/7 (monitoring Parking etc). I have had to replace SD cards on numerous occasions over the last year or two - as for junk - a great-big nope there They have been typically SanDisk ULTRA, Class 10 Cards. SanDisk have been great and replaced the cards with no fuss, which for a DashCam is no great loss. For "Traditional" data, such as document, music, photos etc, it's cold-comfort getting a new card when you have lost the data. As a Mac user everything I do is backed-up using Time Machine, but not everybody is quite so proactive..... On the flip-side of this, as a photographer (sometimes) I also only ever buy top-of-the range media, and have still been let-down a few times by faulty cards - and these are not cheap copies of SanDisk / Lexar media purchased from eBay (or other Tat-Bazaar), but through proper channels. I maintain that SD or other Flash media are not up to enterprise level storage (yet).......

        1. Alistair Silver badge

          Re: No Wear Levelling hmmmmmm

          I will be brutal here:

          Sanshit SSD's are not worth the extra crap prices they charge for them. Dude I know refuses to buy anything else, and is forever bringing me cards to 'recover' - I can generally get about 30 to 45% of his data back.

          Stop buying those things and get Kingstons. I have one of the earlier Kingston 8 64G microsd card in my phone and was in the previous .. 3 or 4 phones. My wife has had *one* 32G kingston micro sd card - has survived all her phones. We've about 8 or 9 others. I'll not buy a sandisk ever again.

          1. J. Cook Silver badge

            Re: No Wear Levelling hmmmmmm

            I've had SanDisk cards fail, Kingston cards fail, and no-name 'bought on a flash sale from Amazon" cards fail.

            for data storage, one is none, two is one. multiple copies are good. (and buy different brands of the same listed capacity, test all of them BEFORE using them for storing anything important or valuable.)

            And people wonder why I have a handful of thumb drives, and a bunch of different branded SD/MicroSD cards.

            (oh, and also, those SD to MicroSD adapter cards? they can (and do!) wear out; had one nearly melt on me from an internal short.)

          2. james_smith Silver badge

            Re: No Wear Levelling hmmmmmm

            Alistair - I seem to recall that Kingston have had serious issues with quality control as their suppliers have been known to slip them seconds on occasion. (They don't have factories of their own, they just get stuff made by various Chinese suppliers).

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: No Wear Levelling hmmmmmm

              I guess it's simply a cade of Your Mileage May Vary, as it seems EVERY manufacturer from SanDisk to Samsung has had bad days. My firsthand experience makes me trust Samsung and SanDisk most. Meanwhile, the only MicroSD card I've had wear out was a 16GB a dash cam.

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: No Wear Levelling hmmmmmm

      Six to eight months is only a few hundred writes. Nowhere near enough to hit the cell write limit unless you've got some very badly written code that somehow manages to continually write the same locations. I suspect it's your dashcam that doesn't deserve the enterprise moniker

      1. Davegoody

        Re: No Wear Levelling hmmmmmm

        That's a fair comment - perhaps a larger capacity card would help here..... But it's a NextBase DashCam, rather than a cheap eBay buy. It does get rather hot / cold in-car though which may well contribute to card failure too.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heat sink?

    Wouldn't the electronics needed to drive things at those speeds need some cooling rather larger than the sd card itself?

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Heat sink?

      Not at the stupendous low voltage they use, I imagine.

      0.4V and they separate it into multiple "few hundred mb/s" lanes. So no warmer than an Ethernet cable, in fact probably a lot less.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Heat sink?

        > Not at the stupendous low voltage they use, I imagine. ...


  5. Cuddles Silver badge

    No micro express?

    It already has the same extra pins for the high-speed bus, so why no sign of micro cards using the express interface? I just don't see the point in pushing technology to the limits like this if I'm not capable of accidentally inhaling the result.

  6. Brian Miller Silver badge

    Spec all you want, tech isn't there

    According to SanDisk, the tech isn't there for going above 512Gb. And if you did have a 128Tb card, a read speed of 90Mb/sec would mean you'd be waiting about 40 days for the data transfer to complete.

  7. doublelayer Silver badge

    Super fast...right

    I wonder why I'm not buying the extreme speeds they claim. I'm not sure. Maybe it's something to do with:

    USB 1:

    Speed rating: 12 megabits per second

    Speed in real numbers: 1.5 mb/s

    Real speed (relatively good): ~350 kb/s

    USB 2:

    Speed rating: 480 megabits per second

    Speed in real numbers: 60 mb/s

    Real speed (relatively good): ~4.5 mb/s

    USB 3:

    Speed rating: 5 gigabits per second

    Speed in real numbers: 625 mb/s

    Real speed (relatively good): 25 mb/s

    You can get faster speeds from these ports--if your device can send at their high rates, you will get data that fast. Still, the type of storage devices that are most frequently used on these (not talking about backup hard drives that cost more) are not capable. Flash drives don't go anywhere near the speeds the ports should let them, and neither do SD cards. Just because the standard can support it won't make SD cards SSD speed. Even if it has been proven to work via someone actually building a prototype, no cards actually providing that functionality will become available.

    Also, I'm guessing these "extremely fast" cards will have the same problem that affects current cards that are high speed and high capacity: they're great for storing lots of large files, but if you need to store a great many small ones, they become slow. No problem for a camera, especially those ones that take massive raw image files. No problem for my main use case, audio recorders that are frequently called upon to record for hours. But it is a problem for anything trying to run an operating system off one. Not many operating systems have files that are individually larger than about 128mb, but most do include lots of files hovering between 10 and 100 kb. For the SD card to run the OS, it will need to handle that well. Oh, by the way, do you think all those devices using SD cards will get off their addiction to FAT32, because we're already at the point where that file system isn't useful.

    1. HieronymusBloggs

      Re: Super fast...right

      mb = millibits

      Mb = megabits

      MB = megabytes

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Super fast...right

        OK, thanks. That was very helpful. Of course, the fact that A) MB is often printed in lowercase by many systems, B) bits and bytes are atomic such that a millibit and a millibyte are nonexistent concepts, and C) the point I was making is not related to abbreviations, but merely a translation from the units used by hardware manufacturers because it is more related to the engineering and it makes the system sound better to the units used by people actually using the systems involved (I.E. all of us) make your point significantly less useful. Still, I appreciate the pedantry and will consider myself justly chastised for my inaccuracy.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: What about auto-updates?

    >>Previous SD Card specs have lacked wear levelling and other niceties found in enterprise SSDs

    Neither does the NVMe spec nor usb mass storage. There is no enterprise "ssd spec"

    The sd card spec is not a flash specification, it is an interface specification - dealing with electrical, physical and interoperability specs. It also isn't remotely trying to address the enterprise market.

    Wear levelling, gc, sector/cluster/block mapping is the flash controller's job. It has nothing to do with the bus spec. The sd card manufacturer is free to choose flash technology, nor, nand, slc,mlc etc.

    and will need to decide the appropriate wear levelling/endurance/spare block and thus cost/profit balance they wish to target.

    This is what is different in the experiences reported by others about their cards. It isn't completely about brands, the older cards were typically better made, more expensive but do last longer as a result. Nowadays it's fewer ecc bits, fewer spare blocks, etc.

    I think the business model has changed where consumers expect less (as replacement cycles are far shorter and accepted) and brand marketing is more cost effective (to catch those replacement purchases).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It looks like with v7 you can use pcie/nvme to talk to the card device directly whilst still usable with cheaper/friendlier v6 and earlier cards. So this just inherits whatever the pci sig/nvme spec allows with the electrical spec offered with sd. Hence the 985 MBps rating - it is exactly lifted off the 1-lane PCIev3 limit.

    The extra storage size limits should work pcie/nvme or not.


    The 985 MBps and the other numbers of USB you quote are all bus speeds. They all most certainly offer those speeds.

    And you probably have a bad usb3 controller - my magnetic external hdd at 120 MBps is faster than the 25 Mbps.

  10. Charles 9 Silver badge

    I will admit, 128TiB in such a small form factor sounds tempting...but as no one's quoted a price, I have to assume (a) such a capacity doesn't really exist yet, and (b) if I have to ask for a quote, I probably can't afford it. Shame, as even an affordable 16TiB of solid state storage (form factor irrelevant) would be awfully nice right about now, especially as I look at my spinning rust collection with increasing trepidation.

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