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Mobile Storage Capacity - Where are we?

|November 26 2010 |market research, Break through, Mobile Storage

What's the maximum you can take your phone's storage capacity to? 32GB. Very few phones such as iPhone, Nokia X6, offer 32GB as in-built memory, the remaining phones offer the 32GB in the form of expandable memory. As of today, there are 250+ phones which support upto 32GB storage either through in-built or as expansion. 32GB expansion mostly comes in the form of microSD Cards and microSD cards has hit a limitation of 32GB mainly due to the FAT32 filesystem employed. This maximum storage limitation is by design and according to Microsoft was imposed because many tasks on a very large FAT32 file system become slow and inefficient. So, how do we overcome this limitation? And do we need storage capacities beyond 32GB at all in our mobile phones?


Lets overcome the limitation first. Fortunately, industry has been working on the next generation filesystem called as exFAT. exFAT is championed by Microsoft and exFAT can be used where the NTFS file system is not a feasible solution, due to data structure overhead, or where the file size or directory restrictions of previous versions of the FAT file system are unacceptable. exFAT takes the storage capacity to unprecedented levels. Theoretically, the maximum storage capacity possible through exFAT is close to 64 zetabytes! (Remember Robot in which rajinikanth says "Speed 1 Terahertz memory 1 zetabyte"? :)) But remember, that's the theoritical max..the recommended max comes close to 512 Tera bytes. exFAT overcomes another limitation. In the current FAT32 filesystem, the maximum size of one file is limited to 4GB. Because of this limitation we are unable to store full-length HD movies on SD cards. exFAT takes the limitation away and you can store files with sizes upto 16 exabytes! These numbers are based on the sources indicated in the reference section and the actual figures can vary..but the bigger point is that the storage capacity would be taken to unprecedented levels...!


So, where is memory card industry on this exFAT? They have successfully embraced exFAT and formulated SD 3.0 specification and have rolled out SDXC Cards in the market. SDXC (Secure Digital Extended Capacity) is the latest format for SD cards and the maximum capacity for SDXC cards would be 2 Tera bytes! SDXC not only pushes the storage capacity frontier, it also improves on the read/write speed. SDXC cards available in the market belong to 'UHS-I' class speed and can achieve transfer rates of upto 104 Megabytes per second overcoming the existing limitation of 25MB/s. What does this mean to mobile phone users? They can carry more data with them and the improved transfer rate opens up new possibilities in terms of real-time full-HD recording and super-high-resolution photography with little lag and startup time! A 2TB SDXC memory card can store 100 HD movies, 480 hours of HD recording or 136,000 fine-grade photos. Faster bus speeds will enable professional-level recording in compact consumer camcorders and increase the number of frames shot in a second with SDXC cameras. That's an incredible possibility!



Currently Linux (with appropriate driver to handle exFAT filesystem), Microsoft Windows 7/Vista/XP SP2 and Mac OS X snow leopard are the operating systems that support SDXC. Good news is that Android will get a driver as it is based on linux kernel!

What are the current products available? Well, transcend has released a 64GB SDXC card and so has sandisk and few others. Based on the market price, a 64GB SDXC card will cost around $250-350. In Indian rupees works out to Rs. 12,500-17,000. Since 2TB cards are not available yet, we can only estimate the prices which might work out to $6,500-7,500 which is Rs.3 -3.5 lakhs in Indian rupees! Sure, as the industry progress and the consumer demand grows the cost would come down. The evolution is on...and the storage industry is keeping up with the pace of processors, displays, batteries and operating systems!

Backward compatibility chart of SDXC

These figures help you get the perspective. Did you know?

microSD Cards are the smallest available commercial memory cards measuring only 15x11x1 mm in dimension!

A popular expression claims that "all words ever spoken by human beings" could be stored in approximately 5 exabytes of data

As of March 2010, the global monthly Internet traffic is estimated to be 21 exabytes.

One exabyte is the equivalent of about 50,000 years of DVD quality video.

1 zetabyte is equivalent to the amount of data that would be generated by everyone in the world posting messages on the microblogging site Twitter continuously for a century.

Enjoy more portable HD Content with SDXC

SDXC: New Uses for Content in Mobile Devices

Using SDXC Card is easy


Current Speed Classes:
What are the applications for Speed Class?
Class 2 : H.264 video recording, MPEG-4, MPEG-2 video recording
Class 4: MEPG-2 (HDTV) video recording, DSC consecutive shooting
Class 6: Mega-pixel DSC consecutive shooting, professional video camera
Class 10: Full HD video recording, HD still consecutive shooting
UHS Speed Class 1: real-time video recording on video cameras and digital cameras

Kingston SDXC Cards - http://www.kingston.com/flash/sdxc.asp
Sandisc SDXC Card - 349$ http://www.sandisk.com/products/dslr/sandisk-ultra-sdxc-cards
Transcend SDXC Card - 239$ http://shop.transcendusa.com/product/ItemDetail.asp?ItemID=TS64GSDXC10


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