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SD Association Announces SD Express Interface

The SD Association has added the PCI Express and NVMe interfaces to the legacy SD card interface. The enhancements speed up SD card compatibility for a new generation of cameras and other devices.

The SD Association said the PCIe interface delivers 985 megabytes per second (MB/s) maximum data transfer rate and the NVMe upper layer protocol enables an advanced memory access mechanism, enabling new opportunities for the SD memory card.

The maximum storage capacity in SD memory cards grows from 2TB with SDXC to 128 TB with the new SD Ultra Capacity (SDUC) card. These innovations maintain the SDA’s commitment to backward compatibility and are part of the new SD 7.0 specification.

SD Express keeps pace with growing performance levels of mobile equipment as they adopt faster communication and embedded storage protocols designed to make processing data faster.

“With SD Express we’re offering an entirely new level of memory card with faster protocols turning cards into a removable SSD,” said Hiroyuki Sakamoto, SDA president. “SD 7.0 delivers revolutionary innovations to anticipate the needs of forthcoming devices and content rich and speed hungry applications.”

SD Express delivers speeds necessary to move large amounts of data generated by data-intense wireless communication, super-slow motion video, RAW continuous burst mode and 8K video capture and playback, 360 degree cameras/videos and speed hungry applications running on cards and mobile computing devices.

SD Express will be initially offered on SDUC, SDXC and SDHC memory cards. It uses the PCIe 3.0 specification and NVMe v1.3 protocols defined by PCI-SIG and NVM Express, respectively, on the second row of pins used by UHS-II cards today.

By relying on protocols already in the marketplace, the SDA gives the industry an advantage allowing utilization of existing test equipment and saving in the development process by usage of existing building blocks in existing designs.

These cards also provide system developers new options offered by PCIe and NVMe capabilities, such as Bus Mastering, Multi Queue (without locking mechanism) and Host Memory Buffer.

The SDA released visual marks to denote SD Express and SDUC memory cards for easy matching with devices’ recommendation for the best SD memory card for optimal performance.

A new white paper, “SD Express Cards with PCIe and NVMe Interfaces,” provides more details on the new capabilities and features found in the SD 7.0 specification.

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