Samsung UFS micro SD Card Alternatives Promise High Sequential and Random I/O Performance

UFS (Universal Flash Storage) chips are now commonly found in premium smartphones, but the UFS standard has also been published for removable cards, and Samsung has just introduced their first cards based on UFS 1.0 Card Extension Standard* for use in high-resolution mobile shooting devices such as DSLRs, 3D VR cameras, action cams and drones, as a new alternative to micro SD cards.

UFS_Micro_SD_CardsBefore getting into more details about the Samsung card, let’s go through the main features defined by UFS card specifications:

  • Based on the UFS 2.0 standard and compatible with the UFS HCI 2.0 standard
  • Supports MIPI M-PHY HS-Gear3, HS-Gear2 (optional), and PWM-Gear1
  • A detailed mechanical definition is defined by the JEDEC MO-320 outline
  • Features common to embedded UFS 2.0 devices:
    • Support for multiple logical units, each with configurable characteristics
    • Reliable write and background operations
    • Secure operations such as purge and erase to enhance data security
    • Includes write protection options, including permanent and power-on write protection
    • Provides task management and power management functionality
  • Boot capability NOT supported at this time

Samsung UFS removable memory cards come in 32, 64, 128, 256 GB capacity, and the latter is said to deliver up to 530 MB/s sequential read speed, 5x times faster than typical micro SD cards, and similar to what you’d get with an SSD, as well as a random read rate of 40,000 IOPS, or about 20 times faster than a typical micro SD card. Writing performance is not too shabby either with 35,000 random IOPS, two levels of magnitude faster than typical micro SD cards achieving a few hundred IOPS, and up to 170MB/s sequential write speed. This could potentially become an excellent boot device for new development boards eventually, once/if the standard adds support for boot capability, and boards get UFS card support.

Samsung has not released any pricing info so far, but those cards are likely to be a little pricey,  least at the beginning, considering they match the performance of some SSDs.

Thanks to Harley for the tip.

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