SD Association Announces Next-Gen Ultra High-Speed Spec

To address the anticipated needs of professional and consumer 4K recording, the SD Association recently announced a new specification and branding designed for memory cards capable of handling 4K video. According to the group, “a new Ultra High Speed (UHS) Speed Class 3 (U3) symbol will indicate products capable of recording 4K2K video and will operate exclusively on SDXC UHS-I and UHS-II memory cards and devices and SDHC UHS-I and UHS-II memory cards and devices.”

“This means 4K2K video, live broadcasts and content can be recorded on high-performance cameras such as Digital Single Lens Reflex (D-SLR), Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (D-SLM), camcorders and video cameras and then played back smoothly,” explains the press release. “Consumers will benefit from a single card that is capable of meeting all of their video, photo, music, document and data storage needs.”

“The world’s favorite SD memory card continues to evolve and meet shifting industry needs,” said Brian Kumagai, president of the SD Association. “Our new UHS Speed Class 3 standard will give consumers and businesses more flexibility and capability as the market shifts to 4K2K video formats.”

New devices offering UHS Speed Class 3 will be backwards compatible, notes the SD Association.

“One such new capture device is Sony’s FDR-AX1, which supports the rival XQD format for 4K recording; although it can also support SD cards for Full HD, there’s no indication yet if the camcorder will support the new U3 format via a firmware upgrade,” reports Digital Trends. “Like all new card formats, U3 will probably be pricey in the beginning, as will the first-gen 4K products.”

“The new specification requires 30 Megabytes per second constant minimum write speed in order to qualify, more than enough for 4K2K video,” adds Popular Photography. “We don’t know as of yet if there’s an associated minimum read speed alongside the U3 branding — but it means that SD cards will probably continue to be the memory card of choice for the vast majority of digital cameras.”