Samsung's blazing fast UFS storage cards could replace micro-SD media

Samsung introduces the first ever UFS removable storage cards, but devices with slots for the media aren't available yet

A 256GB UFS media card from Samsung

Samsung has announced super-fast removable data storage cards that could one day replace the slower micro-SD cards in devices.

The UFS card, based on the Universal Flash Storage 1.0 Card Extension standard, will come in capacities from 32GB to 256GB. The storage media could be used in cameras, drones, robots, virtual reality headsets and ultimately, even mobile devices.

There is a need for faster and high-capacity removable storage in electronics, and UFS media fits that requirement. UFS cards can blow away micro-SD media in performance by moving data in and out of the card much faster.

Users will be able to read 5GB of data -- or a full high-resolution movie file -- in 10 seconds from a UFS card, Samsung claimed. A UHS-1 micro-SD card would take 50 seconds to do the same.

Cameras are now shooting 4K video, and UFS cards can be as fast as internal storage, with the ability to extract and write video without lagging. That is something micro-SD cards struggle with, especially in top-line cameras.

But UFS cards will fit only in specific slots, which aren't in devices yet. Samsung couldn't say when UFS card slots will reach devices, but it could take time. Device makers will have to design UFS slots into products and chipmakers will have to make circuits and  controllers.

Questions remain on how successful UFS will be as storage media. The faster speed may give device makers a reason to put UFS slots over the ubiquitous micro-SD. However, micro-SD cards today offer more storage, with capacities up to 512GB.

Samsung claims the 256GB UFS card has a sequential read speed of 530 megabytes per second (MBps), similar to that of some SATA-based solid state drives. The random read speed is 20 times faster than a micro-SD card.

The sequential write speed is about 170MBps, which Samsung estimates is two times faster than micro-SD cards. The random write speed is 350 times faster than micro-SD, Samsung claimed.

The cards are based on the Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 1.0 Card Extension standard, which was approved in March. It is an offshoot of the UFS 2.0 standard for internal flash storage, which was finalized in 2013. That standard is intended to replace the eMMC standard, which is used in low-cost laptops and Chromebooks.

Samsung did not provide pricing or availability information for the new UFS storage cards. Toshiba also makes UFS storage, but hasn't released cards based on the UFS 1.0 Card Extension standard.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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