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The race to more storage capacity is still on

The new CFast flash card storage boost reading and writing speed to over 500MB per second, that is 4Gbps. Credit: Sony

I haven’t been posted for quite a while news on the evolution of storage performance. Moore’s law has come to a halt in 2015 in terms of economic squeezing of cost per transistor but industry kept working on improving storage media under the pressure of end users demand. The shift from HDTV to 4K that is now a reality in the mass market has multiplied the demand for storage at consumer level. Considering that over 70% of data are produced at consumer level it is easy to understand the industry interest.
In particular smartphones data stored and exchanged has kept growing with an expected CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) between 2016 and 2021 of 47%, with mobile video taking the lion share (over 60% growth per year and leading to 40EB per month exchanged by smartphones worldwide).

Hence it was no particular surprise to see SanDisk unveiling a 1TB SD card in September 2016 (a prototype, on the market we have today “only” 500GB SD cards…) nor the 400GB micro SD card in August 2017.

However, progress is more than stuffing more and more bits in a single card. It is also about how fast you can “stuff” them. And her comes the news from Sony announcing the availability of a new 128GB card with a reading/writing speed exceeding 500MB, that is over 4.5Gbit per second!

The new card is an evolution of the compact flash technology (CFast) and flanks the other technology , XQD, that Sony contributed to create.

The new card targets professionals creating 4k video but it will be soon in the hands of amateurs as well.

Is this race going to continue in the next decade? Well, we have the 8k video on the horizon and that will multiply the storage demand, and writing reading speed, by 4. 8k will be exceeding our human eyes capabilities so anything further will not be perceivable by us. Of course higher resolution would allow for higher zooming capabilities, which is what you do with your … foot. As you approach an object you are basically multiplying your resolution and that keeps going on till you reach some 5 cm of distance between your eye and the object.

Hence, Virtual Reality can become the driver in the next decade to further the demand for more resolution and more storage.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.