SD cards are set to get four-times faster thanks to the new SD 8.0 Specification for SD Express memory cards.
The SD Express memory card standard was introduced back in June, 2018 and brought with it the promise of 128TB cards enjoying transfer speeds of up to 985MB/s. Two years on and the SD 8.0 spec brings with it a four-fold increase in transfer speeds to offer a maximum of 4GB/s (3,940MB/s).
The SD Association managed to achieve such a big increase in transfer speeds by adopting the PCI Express (PCIe) 4.0 specification. The new cards will use two PCIe 4.0 lanes, which enable them to achieve 4GB/s speeds, but only if used in a card reader/device that also supports the 8.0 spec. Thankfully, they will also retain backwards compatibility, so you can purchase one of these cards for use with older devices knowing it will get faster when you upgrade.
Hiroyuki Sakamoto, SDA president, commented, “By dramatically increasing the speeds for SD Express we’re giving device manufacturers and system developers more storage choices … SD 8.0 may open even more opportunities for extra high performance solutions using removable memory cards.”
Three SD Express cards are going to be available. The existing SDHC Express card, which uses the SD 7.0 spec and offers 985MB/s transfer speeds. Then there’s the SDXC Express card, which only uses one PCIe 4.0 lane and therefore is limited to 1,970MB/s, and finally the top-end SDUC Express card with two PCIe 4.0 lanes and 3,940MB/s transfer speeds.
Offering faster SD cards is important as we’re in a period of transition where 4K content is becoming the norm and 8K content looms on the horizon. The downside, as with any hardware spec update, is that you’re only going to be able to take full advantage by upgrading all your kit.