Advancements in Storage

Digital images are saved to a physical storage medium, first in the camera, and then in an editing computer (or smartphone/tablet if that’s your primary capture device). Like everything else, storage technology evolves, and at the moment several factors are converging to make for a pretty big leap in throughput capability.

One is the move to faster and higher capacity memory cards. At the top of the heap is CFexpress, as exhibited in the recently announced Canon 1D X Mark III. These cards replicate the physical dimensions of XQD and several camera bodies with XQD slots will have firmware updates to accommodate CFexpress sometime in the future.

Second is the gradual proliferation of file transfer protocols (FTP), both internal and external. Internally, for several years PCIe 3.0 has provided the lanes for transferring data from one component to another. PCIe 4.0 has now arrived with double the potential data rate, though it is currently only supported through AMD processors and appropriate motherboards. New M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe solid state drives are also here, some exhibiting read speeds over 7GB/s! External devices are riding the wave too. By leveraging the NVMe interface, portable SSDs are orders of magnitude faster than platter-based hard drives with some achieving a 2,800MB/s data rate. Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) is still the fastest external FTP with a bandwidth of 40Gb/s, and though a lot of recent notebooks support this standard it’s important to understand that regardless of the theoretical capability, actual throughput still depends on the limits of the storage device itself. USB (in its various iterations) has a much broader installed base than TB3, and while previously having had a much lower bandwidth ceiling, USB4 will change that by also moving to a maximum 40Gb/s throughput and actually incorporating TB3 in the standard using the USB Type-C connector.

Without a doubt there are now more storage choices than ever before with the potential of significantly improved speed and efficiency.

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