I have a 200GB microSD card in my Nintendo Switch, and I ran out of space months ago. So naturally, I’m always on the lookout for a good deal on something larger. But I don’t think I want to spend the money to just double my space to 400GB. I want something even bigger. Thankfully, SanDisk and Micron are about to deliver a very expensive answer to my dilemma.
SanDisk and Micron each announced 1TB microSD storage cards today. These are the first two cards to have that capacity in this form factor, and you might expect, you’re gonna have to pay for the privilege of owning one. The Micron and SanDisk microSD cards are going to launch in Q2, and SanDisk is pricing the 1TB version at $450, which is $150 more than a Nintendo Switch.
But while that price is quite high, the technology that enables these cards should ensure that production costs drop quickly.
QLC NAND is catching on fast
Micron is using quad-level cell (QLC) NAND that it arrays in 96 layers. This enables Micron to create denser storage on smaller modules. This should save the company money and enable it to produce higher-capacity storage drives and cards than ever before.
“Micron’s technology leadership in 3D NAND with CMOS under the array and 96-layer QLC has been instrumental in developing and launching the world’s first 1TB microSD card,” Micron NAND boss Aravind Ramamoorthy said. “The new c200 1TB microSD card gives consumers the freedom to capture, share, store, and enjoy more content while supporting their mobile-centric lifestyles.”
The problem with QLC NAND is that it’s slow, which is why for an SSD storage drive, companies like Samsung and Intel pair large single-level cell (SLC) caches to read and write most data quickly. But this is less of an issue for SD cards because they typically do not have super fast speeds, and the 1TB microSD cards from Micron and SanDisk are no different.
SanDisk’s card reads at 160MB per second and writes at 90MB per second. Micron’s card, meanwhile, reads at 100MB per second and writes at 95MB per second. But both cards also meet the A2 performance classification, which means that the cards can queue and cache app data to load programs faster.
Nintendo Switch probably won’t be able to take advantage of the A2 spec, but other devices definitely will.