New UFS memory cards leave microSD in the dust in terms of speed, but it will be a while before they become common.
Samsung announced today the industry’s first memory cards based on the UFS removable card standard. The new standard was finalized in March by JEDEC, an industry body that develops standards used in the semiconductor industry, and is based on UFS 2.0.
UFS 2.0 is the internal storage standard that is designed to replace the more common, and slower, e-MMC standard. Samsung used UFS 2.0 memory for the first time on the Galaxy S6.
Now Samsung brings the same super-fast standard to removable storage. The Korean company announced UFS cards ranging from 32GB to 256GB with read/write speeds that range from twice to hundreds of times higher than microSD.
Specifically, the 256GB UFS card provides sequential read speeds of up to 530MB/s, which is five times higher than the typical microSD, according to Samsung. This read speed puts the UFS card in the same league with the most common SSD drives on the market. In terms of random reading, UFS cards are 20 times faster than typical microSDs.
The performance improvement carries over to write speeds: random write speeds (35,000 random IOPS) are a whopping 350X higher than microSD. Sequential write speeds (170MB/s) are almost twice as high as typical microSDs.
Samsung says that devices equipped with UFS cards can read a 5GB movie in 10 seconds, compared to 50 seconds for a 95MB/s microSD card. UFS cards can write 24 large JPG images in 7 seconds, compared to 32 seconds for a UHS-1 microSD.
Samsung says UFS cards will be used in “high-resolution mobile shooting devices such as DSLRs, 3D VR cameras, action cams and drones.”
Notably absent are smartphones. It’s possible that Samsung doesn’t want to create the expectation that its upcoming mobile devices, especially the Note 7, will feature UFS card slots. But in theory, there’s nothing stopping Samsung and other manufacturers from equipping their devices with UFS support.
Now for the big caveat: UFS cards don’t appear to be compatible with microSD card slots. Their shape and pin layout are different. And for now, there are no devices on the market that can accept UFS cards. Surely, that will change over the next years, but the ubiquitous microSD will remain the standard for electronics devices for a while.
Again, we have to stress that Samsung did not mention any smartphone applications in the press release announcing the new UFS card line. That’s why we think that the Galaxy Note 7 will stick with microSD. But that may change with the 2017 crop of flagship phones.
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