Samsung's new UFS memory cards as fast as SSD drives

Samsung's new memory cards as fast as SSD drives
Credit: Samsung

Games, cameras and mobile devices stand to benefit from a super-fast, new microSD-like card using UFS

External storage cards that read more than five-times faster than normal microSD cards are being released by Samsung, the company announced.

The cards, using the Universal Flash Storage (UFS) standard read at 530 megabytes per second. That read speed is comparable to SATA Solid State Drives or Disks (SSDs).

Write speeds are about double the fastest microSD cards, with sequential write speeds of 170 megabytes per second, Samsung claims in a press release.

The cards will be welcomed by photographers and gamers and should “significantly reduce multimedia data downloading time, photo thumbnail loading time and buffer clearing time in burst shooting mode,” the electronics firm says.

Samsung uses the example of continuous shooting mode and says that a DSLR camera should see gains of 25 seconds for a 24-shot burst.

“To shoot 24 large, extra fine JPEG photographs continuously with a high-end DSLR camera, the 256GB UFS card takes less than seven seconds, compared to a UHS-1 microSD card, which typically takes about 32 seconds,” Samsung says.

Benefits of faster read/write

Movies will read faster, and 3D virtual reality (VR) cameras, GoPro action cams and unmanned vehicles will benefit from the faster read/write. A faster write, in the case of a drone, for example, allows more flight data to be collected in real time.

A quicker read allows faster graphing of unmanned vehicle analysis data sets, for example. In general, combining faster read/write with the wireless bandwidth increases that are anticipated, with 5G by 2020, will allow IoT to be increasingly data-driven.

The Samsung cards, available in 256, 128, 64 and 32 GB variants derive from existing 256 GB UFS embedded flash storage chips used in some of the recent Korean manufacturers' phones. That memory is used to improve Ultra HD video playback on large-screen mobile devices, Samsung says. It also helps with multitasking, where multiple apps can be open on a split screen. Downloading videos and searching image files is also helped in that environment.

Samsung also says it can speed up data transfers between devices that use USB 3.0 when UFS memory chips are used.

Interestingly, the chips in the phone are smaller than microSD cards, meaning phones could get smaller, if that was what the consumer wanted. It appears, however they do not—larger screened devices are popular.

UFS, the JEDEC standard used by Samsung in its new cards, was specified in 2013. This new UFS 1.0 removable card extension standard was finalized in March of this year. JEDEC is a standards developer for the microelectronics industry.

“360-degree video and drones with multiple 4K/8K recording cameras, as well as smartphones which are beginning to evolve into intelligent hubs for IoT and mobile environments,” will benefit from UFS cards, says Kenny Han, vice president of NAND product planning at Samsung, in JEDEC’s press release about the card standard ratification in March.

Samsung’s UFS cards, as they should be called, will not fit in devices that have common microSDXC slots, according to BGR, which has written about the battle between memory vendor SanDisk and Samsung over the future of memory cards. SanDisk’s latest microSDXC cards provide write speeds of 90 megabytes per second, BGR says on its website. That is about half the speed of the new Samsung UFS cards.

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