Memory cards are great for expanding limited storage on some Android phones but can reduce performance due to low read and write speeds. Here comes the new microSD Express standard: it can achieve transfer rates of up to 985 MB/s, even surpassing some SSDs; and enables capacities up to 128TB.
The microSD Express was announced this week by the SD Association, which sets standards for memory cards. It promises high speeds for a variety of uses, including mobile apps, portable game consoles, IoT devices, action cameras, virtual reality and more.
There are three types of memory cards, depending on their capacity and file system; all perform sequential transfers up to 985 MB/s:
- microSDHC Express: up to 32 GB, FAT32 system
- microSDXC Express: up to 2 TB, exFAT system
- microSDUC Express: up to 128 TB, exFAT system
Express microSD cards have two rows of pins
How can microSD Express perform transfers so fast? The secret is in the second row of pins. It adopts PCIe 3.1 and NVMe v1.3 protocols to achieve higher speeds thanks to advanced features such as host memory, bus mastering, and multi-queue.
Meanwhile, the first row of pins maintains compatibility with existing microSD readers. That is, you could put a microSD Express in your cell phone – but it would work at lower legacy speeds.
The microSD Express opens up the possibility of expanding the storage of phones and tablets without worrying about performance. Just insert the memory card into the phone, activate Android’s “adoptable storage,” and that’s it.
Of course, there are no microSD Express compatible devices yet, not even memory cards in this standard. For now, we have to settle for slower accessories: the SanDisk Extreme 1 TB card, for example, reaches 160 MB/s in reading and 90 MB/s in the recording.