Flash memory giant Lexar has announced that it is developing some of the first SD Express cards. This is a new format that clearly triples the speed of today’s UHS-II cards.
A new card is under development with the addition of a new microSD Express equivalent to a small device such as a drone, but will not arrive until 2022. But with some delays, it’s big news for the next generation of format battles. A few years.
The new SD Express card boasts a data transfer rate of nearly 4GB / s and promises to reach a maximum read speed of 985MB / s. What does that really mean? These are ideal for today’s demanding mirrorless cameras for 8K video, continuous live burst, and 360 degree cameras.
Today’s mirrorless cameras already have a next-generation card format called CFexpress developed by the CompactFlash organization and are available in three flavors (Types A, B and C). However, it seems that another memory card format war is about to begin, as SDExpress is a response from the SD Association, the organization that manages the SD card standard.
We’ve already seen Taiwanese storage maker ADATA announce plans to launch SD Express memory cards in late 2021, but the arrival of Lexar is really boosting the momentum of the new format. The SD Express card obviously has a capacity of up to 512GB, and the microSD card is up to 256GB.
The only question now is which cameras and other devices will adopt the new SD Express format. CFexpress is off to a better start than its rival format, and modern cameras like the Sony A7S III have slots that accept both the current UHS-II SD card and the new CFexpress Type A card.
However, it is quite possible that both new formats will co-exist and appear on different types of cameras and devices depending on the target audience. This could mean a ceasefire that photographers and video makers can choose according to their shooting needs, not a format war.
Analysis: Who will win?
One of the problems with CFexpress cards is the considerable cost. Their prices are slowly declining, and sales events like Amazon’s recent Prime Day have brought them closer to affordability, but remain much more expensive than current SD cards with comparable storage. is.
The price of the SD Express card is not yet known, but it could be one of the areas that seems to be below CFexpress. Both SD Express and CFexpress use similar technology, the former using the PCIe 4.0 and NVMe interfaces found on solid-state drives, and CFexpress currently using PCIe 3.0.
However, they differ in the physical design and the number of PCIe lanes provided by the different cards. CFexpress cards tend to adopt a more robust and metallic design, which definitely adds to the high price tag, but SD Express may have more in common with today’s mass market SD cards. ..
This means that SD Express has been adopted for hobby level cameras, like cameras that currently support UHS-II SD cards, and various formats of CFexpress are professional, especially when that format moves up. A possible scenario is that it remains an option for the photographer. To PCIe 4.0.
However, one of the minor issues with SD Express is that it is backward compatible with UHS-I cards rather than the new UHS-II interface. This means that if you have a camera with an SD Express slot, you can achieve super-fast with your new card or much slower with your current card.
In any case, it may take some time for the hardware to catch up with the new SD Express format. Meanwhile, anyone who buys a new high-end mirrorless camera may buy CFexpress.