SD Express is getting a major speed boost

Eric Abent - May 19, 2020, 3:00pm CDT
SD Express is getting a major speed boost

It looks like SD Express is in for a fairly big improvement to transfer speeds, as today the SD Association announced what the SD 8.0 specification will do for the format. According to the SDA, the next generation of SD Express cards will potentially reach transfer speeds of up to 4GB per second, which blows even earlier SD Express generations out of the water.

To see the difference in transfer speeds for yourself, check out the table that SD Association president Hiroyuki Sakamoto shared today in his announcement. Earlier SD Express generations were limited to 985MB/s or 2GB/s, but with the arrival of the SD 8.0 spec, we’ll see that jump to 4GB/s in some cases.

We’ll see support for PCI Express version 4.0 in these cards, along with the NVMe upper layer protocol. These new SD Express cards will be full-size cards, and they’ll be backward compatible with previous SD specifications. There’s no word yet on when we’ll see these SD Express 8.0 cards hit shelves, but it could be quite some time before that happens.

The fact that we’ll be limited to full-sized cards means that we’ll probably see these used in the context of photography most often. Transfer speeds like that can better facilitate 4K and 8K video along with RAW photo captures, making those large files transfer a lot quicker when offloading them to a PC for post-processing or allowing for faster on-device playback.

Of course, real-world transfer rates may not always hit the 4GB/s the SD Association is touting here, but we should see faster speeds over previous generations nonetheless. As with all new formats and technologies, the big question now is pricing, which is something that probably won’t be discussed until we’re closer to SD Express 8.0 cards appearing on shelves.

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