Millions of people across the world retreated into their homes this year as public health officials advised social distancing measures to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. With many outside attractions and activities shut down and closed off to the general public, people turned to their devices to stay connected and entertained in an unprecedented era.

At a time when physical interaction has been discouraged, people have used all of their devices to facilitate communications for personal and professional needs. The high demand for advanced devices is not unique to the concept of social distancing, but stay-at-home mandates underscored people’s expectations for lightning-fast data transfer speeds and expanded storage capacities. For years, the SD Association (SDA) has not backed down from high-performance demand expectations, but has embraced them as part of the leadership role in the evolution of memory card innovation. Now is no different.

With the new SD 8.0 (SD8.0) specification for the SD Express memory card, the SDA has yet again set a new standard for memory cards. The new SD Express uses the PCI Express® (PCIe®) version 4.0 specification to great effect, with the end result being data transfer speeds of up to 4 gigabytes per second.

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Meanwhile, the full-sized cards continue the use of NVM Express™ (NVMe™) upper layer protocol, giving them advanced memory access mechanisms. And, as with all SDA advancements, SD Express maintains backward compatibility. By using existing standards, implementing SD Express into future products is made easy.

Additionally, SD Express creates more variety in the market. By dramatically increasing the speeds for SD Express, the SDA is providing device manufacturers and system developers with more storage choices. It is conceivable that SD 8.0 may open even more opportunities for extra high performance solutions using removable memory cards.

SD8.0 comes about one and a half years after the SDA released the SD 7.0 specification (SD7.0). In July 2018, SD7.0 brought in the PCIe 3.1 and NVMe architectures to SD memory card design, providing a new option alongside legacy SD interfaces. Those advances, and a subsequent advance in February 2019 with the introduction of the microSD Express 7.1 specification, continued to drive progress in memory cards.

With SD8.0, anyone taking a slow-motion video of their surroundings or taking burst photos of an athletic event, SD Express helps capture the moments at the highest qualities. That means 4K and 8K video capture and playback, as well as 360-degree videos can be recorded and played back flawlessly. SD Express also supports ever-evolving gaming systems, allowing people to continue playing video games at faster speeds than ever before. The microSD Express, meanwhile, brings these advantages to mobile devices, IoT devices, drones and more.

Mats Larsson, a senior markets analyst at FutureSource, praised SD Express’ use of PCIe and NVMe interfaces to “deliver faster transfer speeds,” thereby “creating more opportunities for devices to use SD memory cards.” Larsson added that the SD Express memory card is setting up a more flexible future.“This combination of trusted and well-known technologies makes it easier for future product designs to leverage the benefits of removable storage in new ways,” Larsson said.

Removable Memory Cards Sequential Performance

SD Express anticipates the future by preparing for ever-increasing performance levels. It is not just a memory card for today’s demands, but an investment for the future with strong capabilities that will stand the test of time.

Hiroyuki Sakamoto is president of the SD Association. He can be reached at

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NVM Express™ and NVMe™ are trademarks of NVM Express, Inc.
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