Samsung’s new microSD card is faster than some SSDs

To enjoy those speeds, you’ll need a device that supports SD Express.

Samsung

Samsung’s upcoming microSD card will offer a dramatic speed boost. The company’s 256GB SD Express microSD — Samsung’s first SD Express card — can read data at up to 800 MB/s, significantly faster than the microSDs you can buy today. However, we don’t yet know how much it will cost, and the card won’t be available until later this year.

The 256GB SD Express microSD will have (theoretical) sequential read speeds of up to 800 MB/s, which is over 2.5 times as fast as the read speeds in UHS-II microSD cards and 1.4 times faster than SATA SSDs. So, at least in theory, Samsung’s new card should be noticeably faster than the cheapest solid-state drives.

Samsung added heat management capabilities to help keep temperatures in check. “To ensure stable performance and reliability for the small form factor, Dynamic Thermal Guard (DTG) technology maintains the optimum temperature for the SD Express microSD card, even during long usage sessions,” the company wrote in a press release announcing the new card.

Samsung (perhaps unsurprisingly) is shoehorning the almighty “AI” buzzword into the card’s zippier speeds. “With our two new microSD cards, Samsung has provided effective solutions to address the growing demands of mobile computing and on-device AI,” Samsung VP Hangu Sohn wrote.

The company’s Galaxy S24 series goes big on AI, but Samsung hasn’t included a microSD slot in its flagship phones for the last four generations. (Nor has most of the rest of the smartphone playing field.) So, while future AI-powered devices could benefit from the extra speeds, Samsung’s current batch of high-end phones aren’t on that list. In addition, although SD Express is backward compatible, not many devices (yet) support SD Express, which requires an extra row of pins on the host device. In other words, the card’s full potential won’t be realized until we have new gear to support it.

Product image for a 1TB Samsung microSD card. Two cards (one white, another blue) against a white background.
Product image for a 1TB Samsung microSD card. Two cards (one white, another blue) against a white background. (Samsung)

Although unrelated to the speedy SD Express card, Samsung also unveiled a new 1TB microSD with UHS-1 speeds. “Samsung’s new 1TB microSD card stacks eight layers of the company’s 8th generation 1-terabit (Tb) V-NAND within a microSD form factor, realizing the high-capacity package that used to be possible only in SSDs,” the company wrote. The 1TB card includes protection against water, extreme temperatures, drops, X-rays and magnets.

Samsung’s zippy 256GB SD Express microSD card will launch “later this year,” while the 1TB UHS-1 microSD arrives in the third quarter of 2024. The company hasn’t said how much either will cost.

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