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Western Digital is working on 900MB/s and 2TB SD cards, set to launch later this year

Something to look forward to: Memory card makers have only recently begun unveiling products that meet the SD Express performance standard, despite the specification having been available for a long time. These new cards feature unprecedented speeds, aiding content creators and broadcasters in quickly encoding high-resolution, high-refresh-rate video. Additionally, Western Digital plans to introduce standard SD cards with multi-terabyte capacities.

Western Digital unveiled several new memory cards this week at the 2024 NAB Show in Las Vegas, pushing speed and capacity to new levels. With this announcement, Western Digital joins Samsung in introducing commercially available ultra-portable SD Express storage in 2024.

The top choice for high-speed microSD cards in our SD card buyer’s guide – the SanDisk Extreme UHS-I U3/V30 A2 – features a read speed of roughly 200MB/s, but the newly announced SanDisk SD and microSD Express variants can achieve nearly four and a half times that speed. Western Digital’s testing suggests that they might reach 900MB/s.

The company doesn’t mention write speeds, but the listed performance targets could nearly double that of a typical SATA SSD. The products are slated for general availability starting this summer, but pricing remains unclear.

Western Digital plans to offer the Express cards in 128GB and 265GB capacities, but the company is also introducing the largest-ever UHS-I products. The highest-capacity cards currently available top out at 1TB or 1.5TB, but WD plans to break the 2TB barrier for SD and microSD cards in the summer, with 4TB models coming in 2025.

Although the company hasn’t discussed price tags, 1TB cards can hover around $100 or $200, so products doubling or quadrupling that storage space could cost hundreds of dollars.

Also read: microSD and SD Card Buying Guide

Samsung announced its first SD Express cards last month, boasting 800MB/s read speeds and 1GB/s write speeds, with a launch planned for later this year. The company also unveiled its first 1TB microSD cards, albeit trailing behind the competition.

The SD Express standard has existed for some time, and the SD Association released the SD Express 9.1 specification late last year, which could harness PCIe 4.0 and NVMe hardware to achieve speeds of 2GB/s. However, manufacturers have been slow to adopt the standard because existing products can already handle 4K video.

Use cases and supporting hardware for higher-performance memory cards remain somewhat limited. However, SD Express could prove useful for tasks such as 8K video and 120Hz video, or potentially AI applications.

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