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Memory Cards Reach to the Terabytes

This holiday season saw ridiculously low pricing for memory cards and USB drives, with 16 GB SDHC cards now around $32, and even 32 GB cards coming into range.

So now casual photographers can just keep on shooting, storing more and more photos for weeks and months, without having to worry about off-loading the memory. But digital photos continue to take up more storage, with higher-res cameras (10+ megapixels) and uncompressed formats (RAW). And video camcorders that shoot in HD resolution gobble up even more capacity.

However, the rush to higher capacity has hit a wall (see previous post) -- as the SDHC format, which was designed to boost the SD format to High Capacity, hits its design limit at 32 GB.

Time for a new format, just announced at CES -- SDXC (SD eXtended Capacity) raises capacity up to 2 terabytes, and transfer speed up to perhaps 104 MB/s this year, with a road map to 300 MB/s.

That's a lot of data -- a 2 TB card can store some 100 HD movies, 480 hours of HD video, or 136,000 fine-grade photos. That should hold us for a while longer...

The SDXC specification is due to be completed this quarter, and we could start to see products taking advantage of the format around the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Sony has worked with SanDisk to also bump up the capacity of its Memory Stick card format.

The new "Memory Stick Format for Extended / Expanded High Capacity" format (tentative name) will also support up to 2 TB, with expanded versions for Memory Stick PRO / PRO-HG and Memory Stick Micro / HG. The data rates will remain the same: up to 20 MB/s , or 60 MB/s for HG data rate.

See my Portable Storage Gallery for more on storage formats and devices.

    Find Kingston SDHC cards on Amazon.com

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This entry posted on January 13, 2009.

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