2 terabyte micro sd cards: Meet the world’s first 2 TERABYTE microSD card!

Meet the world’s first 2 TERABYTE microSD card!

(Image credit: Kioxia, Future)

Not so long ago to get 2 terabytes of storage you’d need a thumping-great 3.5-inch mechanical hard disk drive. But now the Japanese company Kioxia Corporation claim to have produced a working prototype of a 2TB microSDXC card. To put that in context, even full-size SD cards aren’t yet available in a 2TB capacity, currently topping out at 1TB. Though Kioxia have apparently only confirmed the card’s “basic operation”, it’s nonetheless incredible that so much storage could be packed into a sliver of plastic the size of a thumb nail.

(Image credit: Devenorr/Getty Images)

A 2TB microSD card fulfils the SD Association’s maximum theoretical storage capacity for the microSDXC format, but up to now no manufacturer has been able to produce an actual working 2TB card. Kioxia’s attempt is a UHS-I card, so won’t be the fastest performer, but the highest capacity SD and microSD cards rarely set any speed records. The card uses Kioxia’s “3D flash memory ‘BiCS FLASH’ and a controller developed in-house”. Utilising “thin-chip multi-layered packaging technology, 16 1-terabit (128-GB) flash memory chips are stacked inside a microSD memory card package with a maximum chip mounting thickness of 0.8mm.”

2 terabyte CFexpress Type B cards have been around for some time, so why still no 2TB SD cards? (Image credit: OWC)

The prospect of full-size 2TB SD cards has been talked about for some time, but no cards seem to have materialised for purchase. We’d wager that 2TB microSD cards could well be similarly elusive, as while great in theory, the cost would likely be at least double that of a 1TB card (or possibly slightly more) making them a tough sell unless you really must have that much storage capacity on a single card. Nevertheless, Kioxia says Fujitsu allegedly plans to begin mass production of a 2TB microSD card in 2023. If so, it’ll be good news for drone, action camera and camera phone users who want to shoot high resolution / high bitrate video without worrying about storage capacity.

Read more:

  • The best microSD cards
  • The best memory cards
  • The best CFexpress cards
  • The best SD card cases
  • The best recovery software for photos & SD cards

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Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he’s in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He’s also the team’s man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he’s a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys. 

The World’s First 2TB microSD Cards are on the Way

MicroSD card storage and data storage technology in general are advancing all the time, so large space volumes aren’t much of a surprise, except when they truly breach major barriers.

This is definitely going to be the case (at least for a while) with the latest planned development from Japanese computer memory manufacturer Kioxia.

The company has announced the pending arrival of microSD storage cards that can manage a whopping 2TB of internal storage. So far, the cards are just “working prototypes” but a consumer market release apparently isn’t far off.

It’s worth noting here that 2 terabytes, or 2000 gigabytes, is the supposed highest physically possible capacity for microSD technology according to data from the SD Association.

According to Kioxia, the system they’re using to develop the new cards relies on a highly “innovative” BiCS FLASH 3D memory architecture and proprietary controller mechanism that combine together to effectively deliver the 2TB storage in this format.

So far, no other manufacturer on the market has reached this level of storage with microSD technology. Again, 2TB is in fact considered the maximum physically possible density of memory that the medium is capable of.

Kioxia has however claimed that it successfully met the SD Associations density threshold by using ambiguously termed “proprietary manufacturing technology” through which the cards are assembled.

This new technology basically stacks sixteen one-terabit 3D flash memory dies to a maximum thickness of 0. 8mm in the die mounting area to achieve the storage space of these prototypes.

Kioxia has also claimed the obvious by stating that the enormous storage capacity of these microSD cards makes them useful for uses in which… lots of storage capacity is needed.

This does indeed mean many potentially powerful uses for devices such as smartphones, compact portable game consoles, and of course, compact cameras of all kinds.

The new prototype cards will also be very useful in non-creative, non-recreational uses that might include security recording needs in which direct video transfer to remote servers isn’t possible.

Currently, the limits of microSD technology available on the consumer market extend no further than 1.5TB with cards made by Micron.

This 1.5 TB space lets users save up to 120 days of video footage shot in lower resolutions such as HD or 720p. This is particularly useful for people who want to just record videos or shoot photos without swapping out their media continuously.

Other storage media technologies are however already beating out even the theoretical best from microSD tech.

Specifically, CFexpress storage technology, which brands like Lexar, Delkin, ProGrade Digital, and more recently, Sony, have been producing for the consumer market, can store up to 2TB in its Type B form. This however comes in cards that are twice the physical size of their microSD counterparts.

However, CFexpress Type A storage, which is physically the same size as microSD, is also gaining ground; Sony recently announced an upcoming release of a new Type A card with 640GB capacities for $1,249. These are now even available for preorder.

What’s more, planned, near-future developments in CFexpress storage are also already referring to the possibility of storing hundreds of terabytes (that’s right, terabytes) in individual cards. This is far beyond the limit of what microSD is even capable of with any current technology.

For now, we’re still impressed by Kioxia’s achievement and looking forward to seeing when these cards come out and what they cost.

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