I distinctly recall paying more than $100 for a 1GB SD card many years ago. Now, the cards are smaller, faster, and have much higher capacities. SanDisk announced an Ultra-series 256GB card at CES this year, but the new Extreme card is even faster with support for the A1 U3 standard.

The new SanDisk Extreme 256GB card will support random read input-output access per second (IOPS) of 1,500 and write IOPS of 500. The transfer speed maxes out at 100MB per second, slightly faster than the A1 UHS-I cards it announced at CES this year (i.e. not U3). SanDisk is pushing this card as a better way to use adoptable storage on Android devices, but it's also plenty fast for recording 4K video and working with other large files.

The new cards will be available starting in March with an MSRP of $199.99. They'll probably sell close to that for at least a few weeks, then I'm sure we'll start to see sales.

Press Release

BARCELONA, Spain--(BUSINESS WIRE)--MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS – Western Digital Corporation (NASDAQ: WDC), a global storage technology and solutions leader, today announced the company is working with industry-leading smartphone technology manufacturers to ensure consumers can take full advantage of the new A1 specification with its SanDisk products. Together, A1-enabled smartphones and SanDisk A1 performance class microSD™ cards offer consumers a new dimension of performance when it comes to loading and launching apps.

According to a recent survey by the company1, many consumers are looking to improve their launch app experience. Of those surveyed, more than 50 percent found slow app loading and launching to be a problem. In an effort to offer consumers an enhanced experience, SanDisk has expanded its line-up of A1 compatible microSD cards to now include its high-performance 256GB2 SanDisk Extreme® microSDXC™ memory card.

“By specifically addressing app performance, A1 is a real game-changer for the industry. We are excited to play a significant role in the evolution of the microSD format, and work with the top smartphone technology manufacturers to offer more advanced storage solutions,” Dinesh Bahal, vice president of product development, Client Solutions, Western Digital.

The A1 spec allows the SanDisk microSD cards to manage random read input-output access per second (IOPS) of 1,500 and write IOPS of 500, so it can quickly open apps and process accompanying tasks, such as audio, graphics, saved profiles and in-app permissions. With the introduction of the Android Marshmallow 6 and Nougat 7 operating systems, users can expand storage capacity on smartphones by selecting the microSD card as preferred or adoptable storage, which means apps can now be loaded and launched directly from the A1 microSD card. For more information on the new A1 specification, please review the SD Association’s white paper: Application Performance Class: The new class of performance for applications on SD memory cards.

Western Digital is working closely with leading mobile technology industry leaders to deliver an even better consumer app experience with the A1 standard.

“Qualcomm Technologies has always been focused on supporting new opportunities in the mobile ecosystem, and we are excited to be a part of promoting new standards, and related products including the SanDisk portfolio of A1 microSD cards, that drive the industry to create improved solutions for consumers,” said Anand Srinivasan, director, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

The A1 standard is also supported by top ecosystem players including HTC, Huawei, Lava, Lenovo, MediaTek, Meizu, Micromax, Oppo, Vivo and ZTE.

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