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SD 3.0 memory card penetration rate to hit 20% in 2014

Posted: 28 Oct 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SD 3.0? UHS-I? NAND flash? memory card?

According to DRAMeXchange, a research arm of TrendForce, the penetration rate of SD 3.0 memory cards may only be around 10 per cent this year. This is due to the fact that the SD 3.0 format has yet to be widely adopted in system products (smartphones, tablets and cameras), and that the majority of the demand comes only from the channel market, which has fewer shipments proportionally compared to system OEM market. Should the above situations gradually improve, the penetration rate of SD 3.0 memory cards is predicted to approach 20 per cent in 2014.

The maximum bandwidth SD 3.0, also known as UHS-I, offers a transfer speed of 104MB/s (much quicker than SD 2.0's 25MB/s), and a write speed that easily surpasses 10MB/s (equivalent to Class 10 level). In order to take full advantage of SD 3.0's rapid read and write speeds, memory card vendors will often attempt to stack two or more NAND flash dies into a single package. Because of this, the density of SD 3.0 memory cards generally begins at 8GB. Judging by the kinds of density and performances offered by SD 3.0 memory cards, it is clear that such a product will be most suitable in the high-end markets, particularly for products such as smartphones, tablets, video recorders and single lens reflex cameras.

According to TrendForce's senior manager, Alan Chen, smartphones and tablets account for more than 80 per cent of the demand in memory card markets. The rapid growth experienced by such devices, however, has not stimulated demand for SD 3.0, in part because of the inability of their application processors (AP) to support the SD 3.0 interface (only a few smartphones and tablets are currently known to support such a format). Even if SD 3.0 supports backward compatibility (SD 2.0), this alone would not be enough to impress nor entice potential clients. SD 3.0 memory card demand, all in all, remains most heavily concentrated in the high-end camera and camcorder markets.

Another important reason for the lack of strong SD 3.0 demand, in addition to the one mentioned above, is that many smartphones and tablets are equipped with 4/8GB and above eMMCs, which are generally sufficient to support the read and write speeds required of the said devices. This has effectively encouraged the market's largest memory card buyers to direct the majority of their attention towards the relatively cheaper SD 2.0 memory cards. Tablet and smartphone OEMs using 16GB and above eMMCs for high-end products will generally opt to not provide any free memory cards in order to lower their cost.

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