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June 24, 2021

8K, 5G Driving Storage and Connectivity Requirements

We know that 8K files require more storage, but did you know that the rollout of 5G and the applications it is enabling is also driving the need for more storage along with faster media connectivity?  According to Itzik Gilboa, the senior director of mobile segment marketing at Western Digital, “Average capacity continues to grow and we’re seeing phones coming out with 1 terabyte this year. 5G is introducing a step function in connectivity requirements from about 100 megabytes per second to 500 Mbps today and then going into 1 Gbps next year — and perhaps 2 Gbps later. That requires our interface speeds to keep up as well.”

As a result, Western Digital has released a second-generation UFS 3.1 storage product aimed at 5G smartphones. The Western Digital iNAND MC EU551 delivers the high-performance storage consumers need to be able to use their phones for emerging applications like ultra-high-resolution cameras, augmented reality and virtual reality, gaming, and 8K video.

Meanwhile, Lextar is developing a new range of SD Express cards that can address similar needs for smartphones and cameras. They will be available next year in SD and microSD format will read speeds of up to 824MB/s and write speeds of up to 410MB/s.

The new range incorporates PCI Express 4.0 and NVMe Express will enable the cards to deliver transfer rates of up to almost 4GB/s – three times faster than the fastest UHS-II SD cards currently on the market.

“Lexar SD Express memory cards are made to meet the increasing demands of users for moving large amounts of data including 8K video capture and playback, RAW continuous burst mode, 360-degree cameras and videos, and more data-intense applications and workloads,” said the company. “SD Express will become available in capacity options up to 512GB, and microSD Express with capacity options to 256GB.

The SD Express memory cards will be built with Silicon Motion’s SM 2708 controller. “Many of the latest high-end cameras and mobile phones are capable of recording video in 8K and require a fast transfer rate,” added the company’s Nelson Duann. “With the SM2708 controller now supporting the SD 8.0 specification which offers more than triple the throughput, applications such as 8K video capture, RAW photo capture, multi-channel IoT devices, multi-processing automotive storage and other applications requiring ultra-high data speeds are now possible.”

In a VentureBeat article, Gilboa provided some additional information on their iNAND MC EU551 device. “We are introducing our second-generation product and the key drivers for it are graphics, larger files, moving from 4K to 8K video recording, the advent of 5G and Wi-Fi6E, [and] requiring faster communication, as well as new and novel applications brought upon by AR and potentially some AI training requirements,” said.  “All of these things are converging on the requirements that we think we can meet with a new generation of UFS 3.1 coming out. When we move from 4K to 8K, we’re almost doubling our memory profile. If you’re recording at 60 frames per second, you get a 600-megabyte file at 4K, and moving to 8K it’s 1 gigabyte.”

Wi-Fi6 is expected to move to Wi-Fi7 in 2024, and that’s going to deliver 5G-like performance at that point.

The iNAND MC EU551 mobile storage device is the first product built on Western Digital’s new UFS 3.1 platform, first announced on May 26 at the company’s Flash Perspective event. Leveraging faster NAND, a faster controller, and an improved firmware design, the iNAND MC EU551 delivers:

  • a 100% improvement in random read performance
  • up to 40% on random writes to help support mixed workload experiences, like running multiple applications simultaneously.
  • a 90% improvement in sequential writes to help realize the new 5G and Wi-Fi 6 download speed potential. This gives consumers a better experience when streaming rich media files such as 8K video, as well as improved performance for applications like burst mode photography.
  • a 30% improvement in sequential reads that lets applications launch faster with shorter boot-up time and enables faster upload speeds.

The Western Digital iNAND MC EU551 UFS 3.1 embedded flash drive (EFD) is sampling now with volume availability planned for July 2021. The storage solution is available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities. Smartphones with flash memory should come out by the end of 2021.