SD and Memory Stick cards to hit 2TB: What you need to know

The 1GB card in your digital camera will look decidedly out of date in a few years once the new SDXC cards hit the streets. They could offer as much as 2TB of storage! How will you fill that?

Nate Lanxon Special to CNET News
2 min read

Want to store your PC's hard disk, every movie you own, every CD you own, and every picture you've ever taken, on a piece of plastic little larger than a first class stamp? Read on.

The SD Association -- a global organisation founded by Panasonic, SanDisk and Toshiba that sets standards for, and promotes, Secure Digital technologies (read: SD cards) -- has announced SDXC (Secure Digital Extended Capacity) technology, which promises SD cards for devices like digital cameras, with a theoretical maximum capacity of 2TB -- that's 2,000 gigabytes of storage.

Today's maximum SDHC cards hit 32GB. But Panasonic has announced already its intentions to produce a 64GB SDXC card, and 128GB shouldn't be more than a few handfuls of months after that.

These epic new cards will also be significantly faster than existing cards. In 2009, the SDXC technology will read and write at just over 100MBps. That'll copy one MP3 album in about one second. But the current roadmap specifies speeds three times faster, at 300MBps.

No official date has been released, but Panasonic's 64GB SDXC card probably won't show its head until early next year. No-one has said how long it will be until the 2TB cards are on sale, but our best guess is that it's at least five years away.

But there's more. Sony and SanDisk are bringing SDXC technology to Sony's Memory Stick world, with Memory Stick Pro, Pro HG, and Memory Stick Micro M2 cards, all getting bumped into the Extended Capacity world of two-terabyte-maximum territory.

Nice numbers, but why should I even care?
Because camcorders are all moving towards 1080p HD, digital cameras are shooting in epic RAW formats, music devices are increasingly supporting lossless audio and we're all going to need cards that can support several new generations of recording devices.

The only issue is that these expensive new cards will not be backwards-compatible, meaning they won't work in existing devices. But we'll worry about that when Average Joe calls up to tell us he's bought an SDXC card and it doesn't work.