SDHC to be replaced by SDXC

March 6, 2009 // 9:56 a.m.

Tags: #32gb #flash-memory #pretec #sd #sdhc #sdxc #solid-state #solid-state-storage #ssd

The format war is back again – but this time it's solid state, rather than optical, storage that's in the firing line as SDHC sees stiff competition from newcomer SDXC.

According to an article over on I4U, flash memory specialist Pretec has taken the wraps off what it claims is the world's first memory card based around the new Secure Digital eXtended Capacity format. Designed as a drop-in replacement for current SDHC-based systems, the new technology takes over where the current leaves off: where SDHC maxes out at a not-inconsiderable 32GB, that's where SDXC starts.

The SDXC technology – of which the 32GB offering from Pretec is but the first implementation – promises to scale to 2TB without breaking out of the SD form factor, and has data transfer speeds of 50MB/s jumping to 104MB/s “in the future,” according to Pretec. The SDXC standard itself promises to hit 300MB/s before theoretical limitations stop being quite so theoretical.

While the form factor is the same as the SDHC – and SD – cards before it, the good news stops there: SDXC is completely incompatible with both SD and SDHC-based systems, and will require specially designed hardware to take advantage of the increased speed and capacity it offers. Software implementations will need to be updated too: while SD and SDHC both used the FAT32 file system, SDXC uses Microsoft's proprietary exFAT as standard.

While the increased storage capacity is welcome, the new format could well see a challenge from SDHC in the near future: while the current specification is limited to 32GB, this is an arbitrary figure in the SD 2.0 standards documentation. Should this limitation be removed in future revisions of the standard, there's nothing to stop SDHC also scaling to 2TB – albeit without the speed boosts offered by SDXC.

Does the thought of a 2TB SD card with a 300MB/s read/write speed in your camera fill you with joy, or will it take more than that to tempt you away from good old Compact Flash? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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