SD Express Cards are Coming, Just in Time for 8K

8K is coming fast. REALLY fast. And while most people won’t be able to tell the difference between a 4K and 8K image, from an archival and source material standpoint, shooting in 8K makes a lot of sense. But that kind of workflow requires not only a lot of storage space, but also faster read and write speeds to keep up with the imagery a media card is designed to ingest. To that end, there’s a new SD media card format coming called SDExpress, and it’s going to be faster than filmmakers can imagine.

In a published white paper by the SD Card Association, the next generation spec for SD Expression (SD Express) has been in development since 2018. Thanks to a faster way of communicating to the computer through the NVMe interface that is built into the flash storage of all SSD drives and other flash storage, SD Express UHS III cards will enjoy read/write speeds of a theoretical limit of a gigabyte per second.  That’s blazing fast and more than enough to handle the choking bandwidth of 8K video.

But there is a cost to all that performance. Because SD Express blazes a new trail for how to handle all that data, the SD Express spec will not be able to be downwards compatible at that rate of performance. While users will be able to deploy SD Express cards in any SD Slot at far reduced speeds of 100 MBps (not that you’d want to, these things are going to be expensive).

This is all theoretical, mind you, and likely a year or two off. And even then, who knows if computers and cameras will adopt the new spec as quickly. Many are looking at CF Express to shoulder the high data load, and so this may be an effort to keep SD as a viable standard for DSLR video production for the foreseeable future. Only time will tell where the spec, and the trends will take this state of the art. Still, speed is always welcome when dealing with an emerging 8K workflow.

In other SD card news, users can now enough 1TB of storage in an microSD card. Yes, you read that right. At last February’s Mobile World Congress, Sandisk announced the Sandisk Extreme UHS-1 microSD card with a maximum storage capacity of 1 terabyte, and read/write speeds of up to 160/90 MBps. There is also an Extreme plus V30 version which will boost that rate up to 170MBps.  The 1TB microSD is A2 and V30 certified for 4K video and uses Western Digital’s flash technology for transferring data to your computer 50% faster than the current top of the line microSD card.

BTW it was only about 14 months ago that the state of the art was 400GB, That’s how fast SD card development is going. Here’s a breakdown of the specs:

  • Built for extreme conditions: temperature proof, water proof, shock proof, and x-ray proof
  • Delivers 4K Ultra HD and Full HD video recording and playback
  • Meets the new UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) and V30 for 4K/UHD video
  • Capacity: 1 TB
  • Read Speed: up to 170 MB/s
  • Write Speed: up to 90 MB/s
  • Video Speed: C10, U3, A2, V30
  • Form Factor: microSDXC

No word on shipping date, but the SanDisk Extreme and Extreme Plus are available for pre-order from B&H for an MSRP of $449

About James DeRuvo 801 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

2 Comments

  1. I can’t wait for us to hit Star Trek’s mythical “Gigaquad” of memory on a chip!

    If you drop your 1TB µSD card on an old DEC 14MB Diskpack that was running, you’d lose it and the diskpack wouldn’t even notice it was there.

  2. On a more serious note – I see a µSD RAID array coming that offers 15TB of RAID 5 storage that fits in an NVMe sized card.

    Or, a full height PCIe card that has slots for 100 of these.

    Remember, you read it here first, folks.

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