A decade ago, memory card manufacturers were crowing that they’d managed to squeeze eight gigabytes of data storage into a fingernail-sized microSD card. Now, Western Digital has unveiled a SanDisk microSD card that can hold a record-breaking 400GB.
It is already possible to get larger SD cards that take up to a full terabyte (1024GB) of data, but until now the limit for microSD cards—the kind you can insert in most smartphones—has been 256GB. The SDXC technology that underpins today’s memory cards can support sizes of up to 2TB, so there is still room to grow before requiring a new generation.
The 400GB Sandisk Ultra microSDXC card certainly won’t come cheap at a recommended retail price of $250. However, it will be able to hold about as much information as most laptops.
“Mobile devices have become the epicenter of our lives, and consumers are now accustomed to using their smartphones for anything from entertainment to business. We are collecting and sharing massive amounts of data on smartphones, drones, tablets, PCs, laptops and more,” International Data Corporation vice president Jeff Janukowicz, an outside analyst, said in a Western Digital statement.
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Hard-drive maker Western Digital bought Sandisk, which makes flash memory chips, in 2016 for just under $16 billion. The deal gave Western Digital a stake in a chip-production joint venture with Toshiba that is currently causing great tension between the two companies.
Toshiba wants to sell its share to offset massive losses in its Westinghouse nuclear power business, and Western Digital is leading a consortium that’s bidding for that share, while at the same time engaging in a legal fight to stop the sale from going ahead unless it gets first refusal. Bain Capital has reportedly recruited Apple to join its rival bid, and Taiwan’s Foxconn is heading up a third bid.