I’m sure if you showed a 4TB M.2 NVMe to the inventor of the first ever computer storage drive, they’d be quite shocked. Today these absurdly large storage devices are somewhat normal for avid file hoarders, and even more absurdly large HDDs are out there. Yet as someone who is plenty familiar with modern storage standards, even I’m taken back by how Micron has squeezed 1.5TB of storage onto this microSD card the size of my fingernail. There’s some wizardry going on there.
This is Micron’s new 1.5TB i400 Industrial microSD, announced at Embedded World 2022. It’s built to run all day, every day for up to five years. Though 1.5TB of storage might be gobbled up long before then, in a month or four, apparently. Still, it’s meant to make life easier for an always-on camera, and it sure sounds up for the job.
Now that’s not the most exciting use case for a high capacity storage device if you’re a budding PC gamer, and it might be a little slow to run games slotted into your Steam Deck (at 30MB/s it’s not the fastest around—though the handheld does support up to 2TB, as do many phones), but there’s some interesting tech at work behind the scenes here to make this sort of high-capacity SD possible.
Micron is rolling out its 176-layer 3D NAND to deliver that sort of high capacity in a compact area—the more layers you have, the more bits you can fit into an area and the memory density shoots right up. This is a relatively new technology (announced back in 2020 (opens in new tab)) for the company, and it’s only recently dropped into new SSDs in the form factors we prefer on PC (opens in new tab) at the tail-end of last year (with the P5 Plus) and the beginning of this year (with the P3 Plus).
Large jumps in NAND layers means bigger drives in smaller chips, and Micron’s next step is 232-layer 3D NAND (opens in new tab), marking another major jump in memory density.
Storage technology really is advancing at a rate of knots.