SD Card, Memory Stick formats to reach 2 terabytes, but when?

The two major flash memory card formats for consumer electronics devices both announced plans to launch versions of their technology that expand capacities to up to 2 terabytes, but neither specified an expected release date.

The SD Card Association said yesterday that it would be rolling out the SDXC (SD eXtended Capacity) standard to succeed SDHC and become the format for capacities greater than 32GB. Eventually SDXC cards will be able to hold 2 terabytes of data and offer transfer speeds of 300MB per second.

Panasonic has already announced plans for a 64GB SDXC card, although didn't specify when it would be available, and noted that it would hold more data than a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray disc.

SanDisk and Sony, meanwhile, teamed up on Thursday to announce a new Memory Stick standard tentatively named "Memory Stick format series for extended high capacity." The long name may be intended to reiterate the standard's ability to eventually store 2TB of data, just like its SDXC rival.

One notable difference, however, is the transfer rate. Sony and SanDisk say the new Memory Stick format will only support speeds up to 60MB per second. Memory Stick cards are primarily used in Sony products.

Licensing for the new Memory Stick format is expected to start this year, the companies said, but offered no specific timeframe.

Of course, a big question is: what would people do with 64GB of storage space, or even 2 terabytes in the future? HD camcorders are a prime target, and Sony notes that such capacities open the door for wider applications.

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