Micron breaks capacity record by unveiling first 1.5TB microSD memory card

Micron’s new i400 microSD memory card offers 1.5TB of storage capacity through the use of 176-layer 3D NAND flash memory, with three data bits per cell.

With the arrival of 3D NAND flash memory, which uses several layers of transistors, manufacturers have explained that the storage of SSDs and memory cards will steadily increase. The new microSD memory card just announced by Micron is proof of this with an increase from 1 TB to 1.5 TB, which represents a new record for this type of support.

However, do not look for the i400 memory card at your favorite retailer, you will not find it! Indeed, Micron intends it for a very specific professional market: that of video surveillance. Currently, the manufacturer is sampling the i400 card to its customers, including Verkada, a provider of security services for corporate buildings.

Thus, the card is more robust in terms of writing than consumer models. According to the manufacturer, it is guaranteed for five years of continuous high-quality recording, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It supports an average of two million hours of recording before a possible failure. It can simultaneously handle 4K video recording and up to eight events per second, such as detection and recognition of faces or license plates. Its capacity allows it to store approximately four months of video locally, which makes it possible to optimize data processing, such as analysis by artificial intelligence, by freeing itself from the cloud. However, the manufacturer does not provide information on the read and write speeds of the microSD card.

To achieve this capacity, Micron uses its fifth generation 3D NAND flash memory, which has 176 layers, with 12 blocks of 128 GB.

128 GB block of 176L 3D flash memory
A 128 GB block with 176 layers (c) Micron

This TLC memory (three bits of data per cell) is also used in the latest Crucial SSDs. Thus, the manufacturer went from 32 layers to 64 layers, then to 96 and 128 layers. And it’s not over, since Micron plans to produce a 232-layer flash memory for next year.

The i400 memory card undoubtedly foreshadows 1.5 TB consumer models, but we do not yet know their marketing date. Currently, you can buy a 1TB microSD card, for example the Extreme Pro from SanDisk, for around 200 euros. But still it is necessary that the users need such capacities. If the need exists for storing photos and videos, memory cards are slower than the internal memory of smartphones and sometimes do not have the necessary speed. These considerations explain, for example, the absence of a microSD slot in Samsung’s latest Galaxy S22s. And on the side of Apple, we remain deeply resistant to microSD cards for the iPhone.

It is therefore possible that manufacturers of microSD cards reserve their very high capacity models for specific uses where speed and price are not a constraint.

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