In recent years we have seen the development of 3D NAND push up the capacity and push down the prices of all sorts of flash devices, from SSDs to phones, and everything in between. Due to startup cost and longevity needs, we’ve seen 3D NAND focused primarily on permanent storage so far, but it looks like that is soon going to change, and 3D NAND will more widely make its way to removable storage.

This morning at the Photokina trade show in Germany, Western Digital is demonstrating a prototype 1TB SDXC card. This comes just 2 years after the previously-SanDisk portion of the company first demoed a 512GB prototype back at the show in 2014, meaning the new 1TB card comes more or less right on schedule with the breakneck pace of the NAND industry. More importantly, to our knowledge this is the first time that a 1TB SDXC has been shown off in any capacity. And while it’s clearly a prototype – Western Digital isn’t talking about when it’s going to ship – that day will be sooner than later.

At the moment Western Digital isn’t saying too much about the card, and its presence at Photokina is primarily to show off that they can now make such a card. The card is being related under the SanDisk Extreme Pro brand, but performance figures aren’t being published at this time. We have however received confirmation that the card is internally composed of 32 NAND dies, which means we’re looking at a 32 x 256Gbit configuration. So although Western Digital is not saying so at this time, the card is almost assuredly using the company’s jointly developed 256Gbit 48 layer “BiCS” 3D NAND, or a newer incarnation thereof. In fact 1TB is the first SDXC capacity that would require 3D NAND, as 512GB cards could be build using 128Gbit planar dies.

Overall, Western Digital is pitching the new SDXC card at the photography and videography markets. In the case of the latter in particular, the company believes that the increasing use of 4K and 8K recording will drive greater storage requirements.

Source: Western Digital/SanDisk

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  • ddriver - Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - link

    What was that? Did someone fart? Smells like it...
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - link

    You talk like 256 GBit dies and 32-high chip stacks would have been around for a long time. They were not, at least not with any prospect of affordable mass production.
  • xype - Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - link

    You and your reason are getting in the way of a perfectly fine mini-conspiracy-theory!
  • bill.rookard - Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - link

    Just waiting for a 20 slot, USB 3 card adapter to go with a bunch of them. Imagine a NAS which can be plugged into the USB port on a router that draws about 5 watts? 10 card JBOD in a RAID mirror. Might not be the fastest, but it would be 'fast enough' for a write-once-read-often type of storage like a media server.
  • jwhannell - Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - link

    Why not just buy a single 32TB SSD and put it in a USB drive cage and plug it in. It sounds nuts but that will be doable in just a few years...

    I love the novelty of your idea though! It would look pretty funny.
  • WithoutWeakness - Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - link

    It would be absurdly expensive though in terms of cost per GB. The 512GB version of this card sells for ~$350 on Amazon which means the street price of this 1TB card will certainly be over $500 and likely closer to $800 when it launches. You could buy an 8TB desktop external hard drive for $200 and run it for a lifetime before the cost of electricity offset the upfront cost of buying 8x 1TB SD cards. And if you wanted SSD storage, a 4TB Samsung 850 Evo in a USB 3 enclosure would be around $1500 (less than the cost of 3x 1TB SD cards) and would probably consume around the same amount of power as multiple SD cards in a giant multi-card adapter.

    A few people had a similar ideas when large (128GB+) USB flash drives started hitting the market but the upfront cost is just too high for what you get both in terms of capacity and performance.
  • fanofanand - Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - link

    Yet we still see phones with 8/16 GB as the base storage.
  • mkozakewich - Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - link

    I'm sure Apple considers selling an iPhone with 512 GB for an extra $200.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - link

    Meh, 256GB microSD cards are more impressive, and useful.
  • mkozakewich - Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - link

    Oh man, it's nearly the end of SDXC! Remember when it first came out, and we finally had a means of getting cards higher than 32 GB?

    I assume they'll reach the maximum of 2 TB in a couple years, and then will just kind of hold it there until the price comes down to a couple hundred dollars. Maybe they'll switch to UFS II or III by then.

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