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Data Storage Technology

Panasonic Working On 2-Terabyte SD Cards 270

An anonymous reader writes "SD cards with a theoretical maximum capacity of 2TB are in development by Panasonic and the SD Association, it has been announced. The technology is called 'Secure Digital Extended Capacity', or 'SDXC', and Panasonic has announced it will soon show off a 64GB SDXC card. Using the new technology, read/write speeds are set to hit 300MBps. SanDisk and Sony are using the same standard to develop Extended Capacity cards in Sony's Memory Stick Pro and Memory Stick Micro range. SDXC utilises Microsoft's new exFAT file system — AKA 'FAT 64' — which first appeared in Windows Vista SP1, and has a theoretical file size limit of 16 exbibytes." Reader xlotlu adds a note about the "proprietary exFAT file system, which is available for licensing under NDA. There are currently no specific patents on exFAT, but its legal status is uncertain since it's based on FAT. The FAT patents have been previously upheld in court."
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Panasonic Working On 2-Terabyte SD Cards

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  • by ( 463190 ) * on Thursday January 08, 2009 @06:57PM (#26378975) Homepage

    This article is absolute blithering bullshit. They're talking about the interface / file systems' _addressable_ size. Compared to actually achieving higher storage densities, that's about as hard as pulling a number out of the air. It has absolutely nothing to do with the technology needed to fit 2TB or any other number of bytes into whatever little card.

    And oooh theyre making a 64GB card but "working on" a 2TB card? Yeah right, so only a 30-fold increase in density left to go!

    Then he goes on to discuss throughput as if that has anything to do with it....

    • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @07:03PM (#26379049)

      No! They're working on a 2 TiB card and have a 64 GiB card just about ready. They have a theoretical limit of 16 EiB!

      Get with the times, accept the ibi!

      (Fuck ibi. 1 KB = 1024 bytes.)
      (Fuck this article. Might as well say Sony is working on a new battery that will recharge in less than 1 minute and last for days, while Intel is working on 32 nm CPUS, and later, 20 nm!)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times ( 778537 )

      Yeah, I came in here to point out how silly this is. There's no announcement about any hardware in the pipeline. They're planning on using a filesystem built on FAT but with a 2TB theoretical limit? Who cares? There are better filesystems than FAT with theoretical limits much higher than 2TB.

      In fact, the bigger question in my mind is, why is Microsoft coming out with a new version of FAT to support bigger filesystems? Wouldn't the effort be better spent on figuring out how to kill FAT once and for all

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cheater512 ( 783349 )

        It could be *much* worse.
        It could be based on NTFS.

        I still cant understand why Microsoft is the only company who hasnt been able to make fragmentation resistant file systems
        Hell OS/2 had HPFS which didnt fragment and that was ages ago and made partly by Microsoft.

        Or maybe they desire the 'gradual slow down' effect that fragmentation causes.
        So they release a new version of Windows just in time and advertise that its even faster, and it does actually seem faster.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by geniusj ( 140174 )

          Don't worry.. In the coming years, fragmentation won't matter nearly as much. On will come the log-structured filesystems and their ilk to replace the heavily disk-tuned mainstream filesystems we use today.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 08, 2009 @09:16PM (#26380595)

          I still cant understand why Microsoft is the only company who hasnt been able to make fragmentation resistant file systems
          Hell OS/2 had HPFS which didnt fragment and that was ages ago and made partly by Microsoft.

          Bullshit. Many filesystems can and do experience fragmentation; fragmentation in NTFS is only such a big deal because of the existence of defragmentation tools. One of the new features of ext4 is an online defragmenter []; there was an ext2 offline defragmenter, but nothing for ext3. XFS [] has an online defragmenter as well. OS X's HFS+ also does limited automatic defragmentation [].

        • Unless you have a file system that simply refuses to do a write when there is no contiguous block large enough you WILL have fragmentation. Go do some brief searches if you don't believe it. For example one of the features ext4 will have over ext3 is an online defragmenter, meaning you can defragment the volume while it is in use (as Windows defragmenters do).

      • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <`gro.uaeb' `ta' `sirromj'> on Thursday January 08, 2009 @08:22PM (#26379977)

        > Wouldn't the effort be better spent on figuring out how to kill FAT once and for all and
        > replace it with something that doesn't completely suck?

        1. NTFS is to complex and undocumented to be used in embedded consumer electronics.

        2. Microsoft needs to keep control over the file system used in consumer electronics. If they hadn't offered this up (for a small fee of course) vendors might have been forced to look elsewhere... at the many filesystems in Linux or BSD that easily scale to the sizes required and have free reference implementations available, although the GPL would preclude many embedded vendors from directly using many of the more popular ones's code.

        If I had to guess Microsoft will give em a sweet deal on the license fees so long as they give desktop linux some patent hell on implementing support, thus allowing SuSE to ride their trojan horse again.

        And from the 2TB upper limit I'm guessing the are not reworking the maximum block size so there will still eventually have to a "LBA48" style incompatibility breakage at some point. Because 2T on a full size SD card isn't decades away.

        • by Lorien_the_first_one ( 1178397 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:48AM (#26382425)
          You're right about that, except for the patent hell part. The proprietary part will reverse engineered in short order and MS will be afraid to sue. Why? Eben Moglen points it out very nicely here in the "Be Very Afraid Tour": [] So while it's true that MS and Novell have a deal that could protect their customers, the success of MS' patent threats depend on the ignorance of the companies that could be threatened by them. And besides, once a lawsuit is filed, MS is going to have a lot of public explaining to do in discovery. And their patents will still have to withstand recent rulings. Its only a matter of time before it will become politically and economically untenable for MS to use those patents against Linux.
  • 2TB? exFAT? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anthony_Cargile ( 1336739 ) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @07:01PM (#26379031) Homepage
    Well even if I would take so many pictures on my camera that I'd need twice the size of the library of congress to hold them all, not too happy about some proprietary filesystem (assuming it isn't ro/rw on all platforms yet).

    But still, I would buy one just so I could take it out of my pocket whenever I was having a problem so I could say, "Well, this was possible, so...." despite never using it.

    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      not too happy about some proprietary filesystem (assuming it isn't ro/rw on all platforms yet).

      Is there any decent modern FS that is reliably read/write on Win/*nix/osx platforms? I'm still looking for one.

      • ext3? I hear you can get it on Windows without too much trouble.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          The problem with ext3 is the same as with NTFS. They are journaling file systems, meaning that they do a lot of read/writing to the media. This is no problem with hard drives but flash media have just a limited amount of these. That's why non journaling file systems are employed on them. Mainly some kind of VFAT but ext2 would also do the job quite nicely. Problem is, that ext2 is not supported on the Windows platform as a default option. Additional installation is not an option for the avarage Joe. The big
      • NTFS doesn't absolutely suck, and it works on all of 'em.

        Mac has MacFUSE... though I can't comment on that personally.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)


        There are plenty of available drivers.
        If MSFT wanted to roll their own, they could base their ext2 driver off of the one of the ones in one of the BSDs. Why the fuck is MSFT reinventing the wheel again? :(

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by denzacar ( 181829 )

      Think Personal Life Recorders.

      Stick 2TB card in a audio/video/photo/data/navigation/internet device - record EVERYTHING.
      You could store about a years worth of video in more than a decent quality PLUS have a shitload of space left for everything else.

      Attach a portable viewing device and make nearly every form of artistic entertainment delivery model obsolete.
      Movies? In theaters? Why? There are going to be so many cams on the day 0 that SOME of them must be watchable.
      Most people have no sense for quality anyw

  • FAT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @07:02PM (#26379047) Journal

    The only, ONLY good thing about FAT is that it is very well understood and supported everywhere. Why on earth would someone license a proprietary filesystem based on an awful filesystem when they don't need to?

    Oh, and why on earth would a SD card manufacturer need to license a filesystem in the first place? It's not like it'll care what data is on there.

    • Re:FAT (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @07:15PM (#26379187)

      because they ship them formatted because 90% of buyers are stupid.

      it is cheaper for them to pay a fee to licence a file system - preformat the card than it is to ship them blank only to have the consumer call in saying it is broke + the costs associated with said consumer returning perfectly good products thinking they are broken.

      users are idiots - if they ship them non formatted then people will think they are broken

      - yes it's sad - yes its true

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        - yes it's sad - yes its true

        Well, it certainly is sad, and most likely true to some extent, but seriously I'm only 31 and I recall easily the days when all disks were shipped unformatted. I would like to think that ^most^ consumers could get the hang of formatting disks fairly quickly.

        But then with ^most^ users using Windows, wouldn't they format it with FAT anyway?

        • Re:FAT (Score:4, Insightful)

          by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Friday January 09, 2009 @03:15AM (#26383315) Homepage
          Back when disks were shipped unformatted most people didn't have computers, only geeks and technologically oriented people did. Which meant they could read a manual. When your market expands, so does the bell curve, and with it come the people at further ends of the capability spectrum.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Detritus ( 11846 )
          Some disks have always been shipped formatted because they were used in systems that could not format their own disks. That was common for 8" floppy disks. See the DEC RX01 for an example.
      • Re:FAT (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @07:33PM (#26379403)

        because they ship them formatted because 90% of buyers are stupid.

        Stupid != not wanting to waste mental bandwidth on how to prepare a digital medium for use.

        The world is too amazing. and life is too short, for all intelligent person to waste time worrying about that crap.

        • No, I completely disagree. These days the computer is too ubiquitous to not "waste mental bandwidth" learning at least a bit about how to operate it. It's not like many jobs exist where people spend most of the time in front of one. To use a tired car analogy, it's like a mechanic not wasting mental bandwith on learning how to use a wrench because he has that important job of fixing cars to get on with.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You're talking to an audience of people who would buy shirts with RTFM in bold caps on them.

          While a part of it is a smug hubris, we do wear them to make a statement about people who "don't have the time" to read simple instructions or a guide. We especially hate it when people with that ideology then start to run their fucking mouths off about how much something sucks because they had to read a manual. We also hate it when by their din of whining cries we are forced into industry standards that treat us lik

        • Re:FAT (Score:4, Insightful)

          by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <> on Thursday January 08, 2009 @09:03PM (#26380469)

          No. Stupid is returning a product that works because you're too stupid* to read the back of the package that says THIS MUST BE FORMATTED.

          All digital cameras have a format option.

          *And I meant stupid, not ignorant. Ignorant would be 'well I didn't know I had to do that, but now I do'. Stupid is not even checking.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        You're right. When I buy something, I don't want to be able to plug it in and use it. I want to have to sit for $X $unit_of_time before being able to put my files on it!

        What's this with computers coming pre-built and even pre-installed with $operating_system_name, anyways? I don't want to plug it in and have it work, I want to have to spend $X $unit_of_time before I'm able to use it!

        ... your point remains true that people would think it's broken, but I'm not sure that "smart people" wnat to have to for

        • Let's see...I pop in a new card, the camera LCD screen says, "Memory card is not formatted. Format now? Y/n?"

          Hmmm. Yep, it's a quandary. Makes you wonder how people ever managed to thread a 35mm leader onto a spool in ancient times.

      • Re:FAT (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MrCrassic ( 994046 ) <<deprecated> <at> <>> on Thursday January 08, 2009 @08:34PM (#26380165) Journal

        1. Pop the card in...
        2. Windows tells you that it's unformatted...
        3. You format it...
        4. You're done!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by innocence18 ( 897646 )
          I don't want to put it in my machine first. I want to put it in my camera and start taking photos. Unless every single possible device I could put it in lets me format it, then shipping it unformatted is completely unacceptable.
          • So far as I know, many products that need additional instructions have labels or some other informative, yet prompt, insert that informs the user of actions that need to be taken before using the device.

            Last time I bought a hard disk, they did the same thing.

            I do agree with you, though. Most consumer applicances should be ready to use right out of the box, so it's really not a big deal that they are formatted FAT32 beforehand (not to mention that most cameras and appliances that make use of SD/CF/xD/M
          • Unless every single possible device I could put it in lets me format it, then shipping it unformatted is completely unacceptable.

            Furthermore, devices exist which don't support FAT on SD cards, so the only completely acceptable way to ship cards is prepartitioned with a few dozen filesystems on them.


      • Also, FAT32 is only an issue if you are dealing with single files larger than 4GB. Considering that most cards are still smaller than that there is no problem. If you are the type of person who is aware enough about file systems that you want something different, you are free to reformat it for no extra effort than you would have had to expend if it came unformatted. And if they are going to come formatted, FAT32 is a pretty good choice as a no-hassle work anywhere format.

    • Re:FAT (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @07:49PM (#26379599) Homepage Journal
      Don't let the name fool you. This is less a "FAT" file system than FAT32 was to FAT16. It barely resembled anything FAT AT ALL. Long file names are different. Storage is different. The boot sector layout is different. File entries are different.

      A snippet from wikipedia (since I can't find a link to the specification right now):

      exFAT is an incompatible replacement for FAT file systems that was introduced with Windows Embedded CE 6.0. It is intended to be used on flash drives, where FAT is used today. Windows XP file system drivers will be offered by Microsoft shortly after the release of Windows CE 6.0, while Windows Vista Service Pack 1 added exFAT support to Windows Vista. exFAT introduces a free space bitmap allowing faster space allocation and faster deletes, support for files up to 2^64 bytes, larger cluster sizes (up to 32 MB in the first implementation), an extensible directory structure and name hashes for filenames for faster comparisons. It does not have short 8.3 filenames anymore. It does not appear to have security access control lists or file system journaling like NTFS, though device manufacturers can choose to implement simplified support for transactions (backup file allocation table used for the write operations, primary FAT for storing last known good allocation table).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 08, 2009 @07:04PM (#26379075)

    But it died on the table.

  • by banffbug ( 1323109 ) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @07:14PM (#26379173)

    cannot wait until everyone's walking around saying "pebibytes". Thou some people will call them pebeebytes and that will annoy me to no end.

  • Waste of time (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <> on Thursday January 08, 2009 @07:25PM (#26379301) Homepage
    Since everyone is getting rid of DRM anyway would it not be a good idea to drop the SD standard altogether and continue where MMC left off? a bit like the way Sony are getting rid of MagicGate

    SD is just a RIAA-approved version of MMC with extra DRM features added. Maybe I'm just a bitter old sod but I find this continuation of the SD standard and it's DRM suspicious, perhaps they are waiting for a good time to re-introduce DRM on a massive scale and since every SD card ever made already supports it they will have no problem implementing it

    I bet most the supposedly hardcore RIAA-hater nutjobs don't even realise SD has the built in DRM. They have been selling DRM-enabled cards for about 10 years now and just because the SD DRM hasn't seen any widespread use nobody batts an eyelid.
    • "I bet most the supposedly hardcore RIAA-hater nutjobs don't even realise SD has the built in DRM."

      The term "Secure" in "Secure Digital" should have been a clue :-/

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by marcansoft ( 727665 )

      SD is more than MMC+DRM. It added the 4-bit protocol which is pretty different from the SPI-style that MMC used and which helped improve transfer speeds. There are also quite a number of changes to the protocol. The DRM seems to be pretty worthless anyway - does anyone actually use it?

      On a sidenote, SDHC already has a maximum addressable space of 2TB (2**32 512-byte sectors), though it's limited to 32GB purely artificially by the wording of the spec. Methinks this is mostly marketing and not a real change.

  • by w0mprat ( 1317953 ) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @07:29PM (#26379349)
    With the continual increase in the capacity of storage, exponentially decreasing cost per size, and ever increasing bandwidth to link it all together, I wonder if there is there any use worrying about piracy.

    You could say piracy moved to the internet because floppy disks were useless and CD/DVD burning costly, even when it's now rather cheap. Generally piracy has been scaling with availability of bandwidth and storage. But is there a point where it gets so stupidly cheap and powerful that old world business models become completely untenable?
    • that old world business models become completely untenable?

      As long as you are just selling bandwidth and storage, your business model would seem to be primed for success.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by moogsynth ( 1264404 )
      I've been pilfering the mp3 collections of everyone I know via meatspace for some time now, and have a pretty massive collection stored over several drives. I call it my INFINITY JUKEBOX! People come to me when they want music, rather than get it online. I've given complete mirror images of the drives to a couple of people already. When it gets to the stage where all this data can fit on to a single shitty card, hell, I'll hand them out in the street for free.

      I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this.
    • i believe the main problem associated with these ridiculously large storage capacities is that the exponential growth of storage capacity has been faster than the exponential growth of bandwidth.

      1.5TB is the largest hard drive that isn't overly expensive, which (at the 1.9Mb/s bandwidth which is the median internet speed in America, is 76.6 days. Even in Japan (with a median of 61Mb/s) it takes 58 hours.

      20 years ago with a 56k dialup and a 300MB hard drive it would only take 12 hours to copy it.

      (hard drive

  • ZFS? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by argent ( 18001 ) <peter&slashdot,2006,taronga,com> on Thursday January 08, 2009 @07:36PM (#26379445) Homepage Journal

    Given that ZFS has been optimized for flash, why bother with FAT?

    • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

      Presumably because you can't pull a ZFS-formatted SDXC card out of your digital camera, plug it into your Windows laptop's onboard reader, and pull the photos off onto your desktop.

      • You can't currently do that with extFAT on any version of Windows older than Vista SP1. (With the exception of CE 6.) What's your point?

        MSFT could have licensed *any* *number* of suitable filesystems. They could have freely used any number of BSD implementations of said filesystems and quickly had *wide* compatibility with existing systems. Rather, they chose to roll yet another FS that they can control completely. :/

    • No license stream if you pick a sensible filesystem, sorry. Instead you get Microsoft further extension of FAT. Ack.

    • It doesn't matter what file system you put on these devices. The flash memory is managed by a little hardware controller.
    • ZFS has been optimized to take advantage of SSDs as ZFS intent log devices (whatever those are) in conjunction with regular drives. I think you may want to take a look at this [] for instance.

      I haven't seen any specific optimizations for ZFS on standalone flash drives, but I would love to. Can you please provide any links?

    • by nxtw ( 866177 )

      Given that ZFS has been optimized for flash, why bother with FAT?

      Because ZFS is a filesystem with lots of features that are useless in systems in which SD cards are normally used. ZFS's goals are completely different than those of exFAT.

  • what? The nt == no text ;)
  • Crazy to use exFAT (Score:3, Informative)

    by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @08:23PM (#26379993) Homepage

    Since Linux, Mac and even most existing Windows users won't be able to use exFAT/FAT64 formatted media, they're not doing anyone any favors.

    They could use NTFS as a more common file system, except for that whole journaling burning up the flash thing.

    The most reasonable alternative is ext2, though I wouldn't want to spend a day fscking a 2TB SD card any more than I'd want to spend a day with chkdsk on an exFAT formatted one.

    If flash sizes are going to continue to grow, they need to deal with journaling filesystems. Perhaps the easiest, most cost effective way to do this is by pre-partitioning the unit, with the bulk of the storage in one partition, but a second partition for a much smaller external journal aligned to more robust flash (e.g., 128MB with a 50M+ write life). Even with a 5 second journal update interval, that would give you about 8 years of 24 x 7 x 365 usage. Ext3 supports this configuration, not sure about NTFS or HFS+.

    • Why not use HFSplus? It is open source, has existing open source implementations on several operating systems and isn't patent-encumbered or restricted.

      It would be trivial to write a Windows filesystem driver for HFSplus which could be packaged with cameras and card readers, and HFSplus doesn't suffer from any of the filesystem and file size restrictions that FAT32 does.

      On top of all this, we know it works well on flash devices, otherwise Apple wouldn't use it on Mac-formatted iPod Nanos.

      • Why not use HFSplus?

        The problem is the same; as a journaled filesystem, it would significantly shorten the life of the flash. A quick google search doesn't point to HFS+ being able to support an external journal either.

        • by alannon ( 54117 )

          HFSPlus (MacOS Extended) is only optionally journaled. The option just happens to be the default.

        • by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

          HFSPlus has journaling as a plugin option. It doesn't have to have journaling unless you use hard links (currently only Apple uses them on time machine). Theoretically it is even possible to add journaling to FAT under OS X as journal is just a plain file which can be any place on disk.

          Apple does do very interesting things while enhancing their HFS+ but are wise to keep backwards compatibility same time. You can read more at TN article at []

          The real option to

      • by Tweenk ( 1274968 )

        It would be trivial to write a Windows filesystem driver

        FS drivers are the least trivial of all, and moreover Windows IFS drivers are incompatible between Windows versions. So you would have to write at least 4 different drivers just to cover the NT family.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 08, 2009 @08:30PM (#26380117)

    Says Wikipedia "the SD 2.0 standard in SDHC uses a different memory addressing method (sector addressing vs byte addressing), thus theoretically reaching a maximum capacity of up to 2 TB (2048 GB). However the SD Card association has artificially defined the maximum limit of SDHC capacity to 32 GB"

    Sounds like another way to extort people into using MS only standards. Hooray!

    • by Timmmm ( 636430 )

      Yeah I was wondering about that. At what point did it make sense to introduce a standard with a range of 2-32 GB?

  • FAT 64 (Score:5, Funny)

    by fru1tcake ( 1152595 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:20AM (#26382655)

    a theoretical file size limit of 16 exbibytes

    That's almost enough to store a picture of yo mama!

In 1869 the waffle iron was invented for people who had wrinkled waffles.