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SanDisk Breaks Storage Record With 400GB microSD Card

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SanDisk is offering a new 400GB microSD card, a breakthrough that would make it the largest microSD currently on the market. SanDisk, which is owned by Western Digital, hasn’t revealed details beyond stating that the capacity breakthrough was the result of WD “leveraging its proprietary memory technology and design and production processes that allow for more bits per die.” Western Digital set the previous record two years ago, when it launched a 200GB microSD card.

The speed appears to come with a tradeoff. SanDisk trumpets its A1 speed rating, saying: “Rated A1, the SanDisk Ultra® microSD card is optimized for apps, delivering faster app launch and performance that provides a better smartphone experience.”

This is a generous reading of the A1’s target performance specification. Last year, the SD Association released a report discussing the App Performance Class memory card specification and why the spec was created in the first place. When Android added support for running applications from an SD card, there was a need to make certain the cards people bought would be quick enough to run apps in the first place. The A1 is rated for 1500 read and 500 write IOPS, with a sequential transfer speed of 10MB/s. The SD Association writes:

It’s not bad. It’s just not fast.

“The SD 5.1 Physical specification introduced the first and most basic App Performance level, which sets the absolute minimum requirement bar named A1 or App Performance Class 1. Higher App Performance Class levels will be introduced to meet market needs.” (Emphasis added).

This SanDisk drive should run applications just fine. SanDisk claims it can be used for recording video, not just storing it. But it’s not going to be fast enough for 4K data; Class 10 devices are limited to 10MB/s of sequential write performance. Obviously not all phones support shooting in 4K anyway, so whether this is a limitation will depend on what device you plan to plug it into. The 100MB/s speed trumpeted by Western Digital is a reference to read speeds; write speeds are lower and likely closer to the 10MB/s sequential target mentioned above.

The microSD card is expected to retail for $ 250, which honestly isn’t bad for a product that could fit on a thumbnail. From the product description, however, it looks like this drive will work best for moderate recording needs. It won’t be suitable for 4K video, but if you’re shooting a lot of 1080p it should work well. An updated SanDisk Memory Zone app for managing data storage on your Android device is also available for download.

Now read: How do SSDs work?

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